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Saturday 24 October 2015

It Is By Will Alone (On Insecurity pt4)

This is the forth, and final, part of a series of blog posts on insecurity. Each one has had a different theme.

I read a fair amount of Nietzsche., wait, come back!

Okay okay. I HAVE read a fair amount of Nietzsche, and that's led me to some interesting thoughts about us as a people and how we do things.

So I agree with his thinking in terms of the "will to power" - the constant drive to succeed, achieve, and control one's environment. To put one's self in a position of power if at all possible. That's basic human behavior. You can see it as greed, but that's a gross oversimplification.

I think the reason why we want this, at a very base level - driven instinctively by that urge to control and command - is because we're insecure.

Yep, I've been banging on about it for the past three weeks - it is time to draw a conclusion.

We, at our core, are insecure. It is part of being sentient, of having an ego, of having consciousness. Our fear of failure is tied to our drive for success. When what you want is so deeply ingrained in you that it governs you, then surely the urge to have it is paralleled by an equal and opposite fear of NOT having it.

Doesn't that make a degree of sense? The urge to survive as a constant leads us to make that survival a stable thing, a given thing rather than a continuous struggle. We want that safety net, that security - we're afraid of the alternative, because the alternative is not surviving at all. We're afraid of it, avoid it in the same way as we instinctively avoid fire, dangerous situations and awful things.

Now a great many people will probably claim that this really doesn't apply to them. "But John," you will cry, hauling yourself out of the plastic bathtub filled with Tesco own brand whipped cream. "I'm not afraid, or insecure! Everything you have said is just an attempt to validate your own anxiety!"

Perhaps, but I also call bullshit.

There is a disorder called Urbach-Wiethe disease; it is a genetic disorder, and it damages two small almond-sized bits of your brain - and when that happens, you can't feel fear any more. Unless that happens, boy howdy, you feel fear. It's what you do with it, that counts.

We've all heard the saying - feel the fear and do it anyway. It's true. There's no bravery without fear. Everyone feels it and it is something that we need to admit to and acknowledge - ignoring our weaknesses and our flaws is a really good way to lose a hundred battles. (That's a Sun Tzu joke.)

We seek to make our lives better, to make our lives more secure, because we fear that lack of security. It's what we do, what we spend most of our time doing. We need to take control of our environment because we're afraid of what would happen if it controlled us.

Some of the worst situations people can be in involve loss of control and loss of agency. The most stressful situations are those out of our control, where we have to watch the disaster happen right in front of us. Knowing you can't change it. That is the real nightmare. Life taken out of one's hands, and placed at the whim of causality.

As long as we have power - as long as we have control over our lives - we can minimise our exposure to the things we are insecure about. We can reduce contact with toxic individuals, lower the chance of mishaps, ensure that our day-to-day lives pass by with as little fear as possible. In the modern world that often comes down to money; the power-money dynamic is well-documented in this day and age. The two are often conflated.

Hate the awkwardness of public transport? You won't ever have to worry about it if you get a car. Nervous about going to the gym because you don't like how your body looks (but want to go to the gym anyway because you don't like how your body looks)? Buy your own gym equipment, or find a gym with such open hours that you can go when no-one else is there.

This is the urge Nietzsche speaks of. To achieve and excel, and thus secure one's existence. Outrun your demons by feeding your angels. I've spoken before about how one's needs in life change as one's income or standing alters, right here. It's true. The end argument is that all we really want is to have agency over our lives - which is not only something we should want and strive for, but something that we should help everyone achieve.

Which is why we're so pissed off that the Tory government wants to get rid of the Human Rights Act, and if you're not pissed off, then you haven't been paying attention...but I digress.

Insecurity, then. It's the devil we run from, the constant whip against our backs. Sometimes we control it, negate it, nullify and minimise it - and sometimes it guides us. Sometimes it's a little of both. Sometimes it is one but we think it is the other.

It is the root of a great many evils. It leads to racism and greed and who knows what else. I could probably draw a line of causality between most crimes that occur on a daily basis, and a base insecurity that led to it happening.

It haunts us, this fear, this gnawing anxiety. It hides itself in other drives and motives. It poisons otherwise noble intentions, adds inflection to sentences and stills voices that would otherwise speak out.

It costs lives.

Insecurity. The burden of sentience, of creativity, of imagination.

If it were a dragon, we'd be well-served to slay it.

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