Launching an Idea: What is Counterfear?
Friday, January 22, 2016
Welcome to Counterfear! This right here represents my first blog post, and something I didn't expect. That is because the word "blog" annoys the daylights out of me. It is an ugly word, although the idea behind it is good. I purposefully avoided using the word for several years, hoping maybe it wouldn't stick around. Hoping maybe it would fade away, like so many other really, really crappy words.
Sometimes the crappy words stick around. I'm hoping this word I've got isn't crappy, but sticks around anyway. I'm hoping it's a good idea, too. I'm hoping it's an idea that people like, and get. That it resonates. I hope people say, "Hey! I want that!"
The idea is "Counterfear."
It's pretty much a word I made up one afternoon in a coffee shop. Well, if we're being honest, I didn't make it up so much as it came to me… while I was trying to figure out the work I wanted to take on next with my life. I needed to do that because most of what I'd moved to Washington, DC to work on was not sticking. Some of it was fading away like the crappy words don’t. Words like "blog." Yes, I'm still annoyed.
A newer topic that I had more recently started working on was not getting traction either, but it was work that drew me in regardless.
That more recent work was resilience. After 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina - after so much economic and community impact from both - there was a big push in Washington to work on resilience. Resilience for communities. Economic resilience. Community resilience. Disaster resilience. There was a big push, by some. By some big businesses; by many critical infrastructure owners and operators. By citizens. By academics.
The federal government sort of understood that. There was some movement for a while. The word “resilience” has made it into a whole lot of policy, and also into some many handouts and websites. But it hasn’t “stuck,” in a deep and transformative way. We’re not significantly more resilient than we were on 9/11 or during Hurricane Katrina. We're not yet on an aggressive and visionary path to get there. Yet we could be. It is a key to realistically building the future we want. It is a key to making better communities, and better lives.
What I realized that afternoon in the coffee shop is that everything we had been working on in government in order to build resilience was at its core about one thing: countering fear. It was about building relationships, strengthening ties, and taking care of each other, our communities, and the infrastructure that makes it all work. Resilience is about recognizing that we may have tough times - we may get hit. There could be terrorists. Or more likely: tornadoes, blizzards, mass shootings, fires, heart attacks, falls, and traffic accidents.
But do we want to live our lives in fear of that stuff happening? Because here’s thing: it’s going to. Stuff, that is. We’re going to have tragedy, and death, and destruction. It’s part of being human. It’s part of living on a finite planet with an increasing world population living mostly in high-hazard zones.
What is also part of being human is love. Strength. Resilience. Knowing.
Knowing that we will survive. That we can do even better than that: we can thrive.
The fear machine drives us toward guns, guards, and gates. You can put up guns, guards, and gates until the cows come home… although it would definitely make it trickier for them to get there. You can try to gate every single thing, and stick an armed guard on top. But it’s not going to stop bad stuff from happening. It can’t. The world’s just too complex. Plus, it’s expensive as heck. Lot of money in fear.
And speaking of cows, you can’t put a fence around farm systems... even though it does work for the cows themselves. You can’t fence agriculture, or water, or electricity. Or the highways we drive on. Or the internet. Or our supply chain.
We need systems. We need community. We need people.
So what do you want? What do think about fear? Do you watch the news and come away discombobulated? Disempowered? Afraid?
I think we want a world where we’re not afraid of what the schools are putting in our kids’ lunches (story at eleven!). Where we’re not afraid of our neighbors… even if they’re quiet, or keep odd hours, or look suspicious, or aren’t from around here. A world where we’re connected. Where we’re part of many different communities. And where - in a crisis - we have community. Where we have resilience.
Counterfear is about getting there. Getting to that world – even if it’s only in our own heads. Even if it helps us one by one to become resilient people.
The intention here is to provide tools and to build a set of resources for folks to use every day to counter fear. At home. At work. In the world.
Lest you think this is sounding like a bunch of utopian hippy-granola cloud fluff full of rainbow sparkles, let me just say one thing: this is not for the faint of heart. This is very much about real life. Perhaps more so than we may be comfortable with. But that’s the whole idea.
The idea of countering fear is an idea about the life we want to live. It’s about fun, and happiness, and vision, and making that a reality. It’s about taking care of each other. It’s about facing our fears. It’s about the threat - whatever it is - and what to do about it. How to be ready for it, or how to deal with it when it happens. It’s about tools. Problem-solving. Innovation. Strength.
It’s for people who want to live a different life. Who want to live deeply. To thrive, and to flourish. To love.
It’s for us.
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Written: 2016-0122, 2341 hrs CST
For a deeper dive, check out "I Took the Red Pill: Why I'm on the Counterfear Path."
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