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It’s Not the Attacks on Paris We Should Fear

Attacks on Paris (1)
This post was written following the November 2016 attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

I grew up in the suburbs of Paris. Most of my family and friends reside in Paris proper. Should you be wondering, they are all safe for now, as safe as one can be in a world where we are never in control of the actions of others. Although the attacks on my city, the city I was just in two weeks ago, break my heart, they neither shocked nor surprised me. ,

“Fear is uncertainty in search of security.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti

This is not some lofty concept to be relegated to philosophy or late night talks about the meaning of life. This is a principle that is expressed in all our lives, everyday.

Humans want to know that the choices they make are right, that the things they have will be theirs forever, that they will neither suffer nor want, and that they will not experience loss. We want to know this with certainty, but the lack of certainty breeds fear. We seek security through mental analysis of outcomes, by attempting to control our environments and those in it, and through avoidance of change and anything that is different. As long as we pursue security in this manner, we are bound to feel fear, because certitude is impossible to achieve.

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The Politics of Fear

Earlier this week I started writing a post on this topic. The vector for discussing it was quite different. I was going to share a personal story, a surprising moment of awareness, prompted by a single question. This question, threw me off, the reaction I had to it so visceral, so motivated by fear that it made me re-evaluate a whole area of my life. Then Paris happened. The world is up in arms about the events that took place on Friday. I am less concerned about Friday and more concerned about the next month, year and decade. It is not the Paris attacks we should fear; it is our reaction to them that will be far more concerning.

[bctt tweet=”It is not the Paris attacks we should fear; it is our reaction to them that will be far more concerning.”]

With regards to the events of this weekend in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad, it means that the worst is yet to come. As the people who were hurt and the countries that were attacked seek to restore normalcy we will see measures being taken that reinforce division, fuel our fear while lulling some into a false sense of security. We will see nations and individuals do things that make no sense in the name of quelling their angst.

We’ve witnessed this in the U.S. post 9/11; ridiculous security measures that serve no purpose other than to trick people into feeling safe from harm, a strengthening of the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ attitude (as if profiling and categorizing others could confer some certitude that we are safe from those who would hurt us), rampant paranoia, and futile attempts to control all dangers in life (see helicopter parenting and babysitter states).

2015-10-26 18.16.20I am more saddened by how these events will likely impact my homeland in the months and years to come, than I am by the attacks themselves. I worry about the measures that will be taken in the name of security and the false safety that will accompany them. I worry about people’s deep, and irrational desire to avoid fear by trying to eliminate all uncertainty. Life is, simply put, neither inherently safe nor inherently dangerous; it just is. Trying to create a pain proof world is madness.

It’s Not All Politics. It’s You and Me Everyday.

Before Friday’s attacks, however, I was going to write about fear as it relates to you and me in our everyday lives. In that original post, the one I am no longer writing, I spoke of avoidance, and our tendency to limit risk. I discussed how we won’t take chances and avoid change for fear that pursuing anything else could result in failure. We conceded and accept “getting by” when what we desire is “great”.  We avoid taking action because we cannot guarantee outcomes, and that uncertainty is too hard to bear. We seek security by maintaining a status quo; we stick with the devil we know, even when it leaves us unfulfilled.

In the original post I urged you to take a closer look at your life and see how you are living that avoidance. How you are trying to create security and eliminate uncertainty? I urged you to ask yourself a simple question: “Is it worth it?”  I asked this because there is a truth that we don’t want to consider – there is no world in which we can achieve certainty. There is no choice for which you can guarantee an outcome; not in love, not in work, not with regards to your relationships nor your actions. Every choice you make is a partial gamble.

What you can do is pay attention to what you know about yourself, your values and your needs. You can use that insight to craft a plan and take action on that plan knowing that there is no guarantee it is perfect, but that at the very least it is right for you, and who you are right now. It takes awareness and courage to craft the life you want.

What is Life in Focus? How do you make choices that are right for you? Go Here to find out! 

Want more like this:

Your greatest fear Do the right thing (3) Dan Life in Focus Podcast - Ep 10 (1) Life in Focus Podcast - Ep 9

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Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.



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