Choosing Love over Fear

When it comes to mobilization in campaigning and activism, an impressive body of scholarship has provided campaigners and activists with valuable findings on human psychology and behaviour. The focus here tends to be primarily on cognition and rationality, motivated by a strive to gain better understanding of target audiences and to tailor campaign strategies. The bottom line is that in order to mobilize people it is important to also take into account affective or emotional dimensions. Even though emotions are a comparatively unexplored field, they are “as much a part of culture as cognitive understandings and moral visions” (Jasper 1998, p398).

Rollin McCraty and his colleagues from the Institute of HeartMath are among those who strongly emphasise the significance of emotions. Their research has found that whilst a “two-way communication between the cognitive and emotional systems is hard wired into the brain, the actual number of neutral connections going from the emotional processing areas to the cognitive centers is greater than the number going the other way” (McCraty, 2015, p78). This explains the huge influence emotions have on our thinking and implies that decisions we call rational are deeply rooted in our emotional system.

“There are two basic motivating forces; fear and love. When we are afraid from life, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement and passion”  – John Lennon

The current US election and Brexit referendum, both of which arguably represent votes fuelled by and based on fear have given ample evidence that we need to shift our focus towards the phenomenon of fear. However, if we want to simultaneously shift our attention to something that may be able to counter fear, I would concur with John Lennon and argue that it is love that can create an anti-pole to fear.

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Building upon the work of cellular biologist Bruce Lipton, who has found that a cell has two basic functions – growth or protection – Devaney (2016) writes that at times a cell needs to close off and protect itself. However, since extended periods of time in a closed system do not allow for adaption and change, the cell cannot grow, which would require an open system. “Ultimately,” he writes, “just like the cells within us, we have a choice between acting from love or fear. Love is an open system built on trust. Fear is a closed system built on suspicion and lack of trust” (Devaney, 2016). Consequently, I would argue that in order to create real and long lasting social change, to shape a world in which we can live together more peacefully based on mutual respect, we need to make sure that our campaigns and actions are based on and seek to propagate love instead of fear. Whilst fear surely is a powerful tool that can mobilize people quickly, fear ultimately leads to a dead end: perpetual fear. Love, on the other hand, whilst perhaps less immediate, is ultimately the only way to move us forward.

 


References

Devaney, J. (2016). Will Humanity Choose Love and Fear? Uplift Connect, 28 December. Available from http://upliftconnect.com/love-or-fear/ [Accessed 30 December 2016]

Jasper, J.M. (1998). The Emotions of Protest: Affective and Reactive Emotions in and around Social Movements. Sociological Forum, 13(3), 397-424.

McCraty, R. (2015). Heart-Brain Neurodynamics: The Making of Emotions. Issues of the Heart: The Neuropsychotherapist, special issued, 76-110. Available from https://www.heartmath.org/research/research-library/basic/16278-2/ [Accessed 30 December 2016]

Schwartz, S.H. (2012). Basic Human Values: An Overview. Available from http://segr-did2.fmag.unict.it/allegati/convegno%207-8-10-05/schwartzpaper.pdf [Accessed 30 December 2016]

 

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8 thoughts on “Choosing Love over Fear

  1. Here here! Being a dual citizen with the UK and the USA – the outcomes of the Brexit and the Election has given rise to some fear levels. Being a natural ‘what if’ person this could lead to a downward emotional spiral. Your blog reminds me to focus on love in a time of fear. In some Common Cause readings, they also advocate that campaigns focus on intrinsic values, of which love is one. Equally, it’s a reminder that fear is a risk in any campaign and thought should be made on how to counter-act that emotion in people too. Thanks for the post!

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this post and I think it bring about some very interesting points regarding the longevity and sustainability of campaigning. In your piece you used two examples, the US presidential election and the EU referendum: campaigns which I agree were based on fear and anger, respectively. In relation to this, I wonder if you think the two alternatives, Hilary Clinton and the Remain campaign, campaigned with the emotion or feeling of love, or whether we require a more revolutionary parties or groups which hold this ideal to eventually overthrow and negate the prevalence of fear and anger in our current political system?

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    1. Hi Bridey, thank you for your extensive comment. I am happy to answer your question…, but rather in person. I have to write a few more blog posts and this answer would be a long one based on philosophic ground. So, please remind me next semester in class…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, very true, we need to be reminded of the power of love to conquer fear and no doubt when campaigning for any issue, it is the love that will get you through. The other way of looking at it is the addressing and looking at people with different ideas and values from ours through the love lens. As you mentioned with the US and Brexit outcomes, it is time to pause and perhaps evaluate what has gone wrong.

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  4. Just stopping by to say, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s about focussing on love with is closely related to feelings of outrage then followed with a whole load of hope. Check out Manuel Castell’s here talking about trends in social movements. His argument is that most social order is based on fear and control of information and communications, he gives examples of social movements for dignity based on emotional outburst in “non-tolerable” situations. I agree with him too 🙂

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  5. Dear ‘The Unknown’, I want to thank you for this beautiful post which inspired me to write.

    You can find the post here, which I called ‘Why to love hate?’. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed reading yours 🙂

    I look forward to further discussions about these important topics.

    Thanks for helping bringing more light to the world :).

    Like

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