Monday, January 08, 2007

Quote: Our Greatest Fear Is Our Own Power

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson, co-leader of the United States Department of Peace movement (quote often wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela). A Marianne Williamson was also executive producer of the long running television series Touched By An Angel, but I am not certain if the two are the same person.

The fear, if that be what we call it, applies as well to individuals as it does to peoples (societies).

At an international level, let's consider possibilities. If you are a US citizen, imagine what it must be like to be from any other country, thinking that the president of the USA believes that he is powerful beyond all measure, that the US is the greatest country in the world and that people of other countries are lesser forms of humanity? Whether or not any of these is true is immaterial, as they are perceptions held by many non-Americans.

What might you want to do if those arrogant people with their world-shattering weaponry and earth-shaking economic power threatened your way of life? It might explain some behaviours of non-American "terrorists" who want to frighten US citizens and cause them to spend extraordinary amounts of money to counteract perceived threats from "foreigners" they don't know or understand and whom they fear because of their skin colour or their form of dress.

Most of us likely know people who undervalue themselves, who could have done more with their lives but they were afraid to try. We also know of those who believe that they have superhuman powers to alter the way people conduct their lives. The latter are not afraid to act powerfully. They are not timid and they often succeed because no one wants to stand up to them.

Williamson's quote was not intended to apply to everyone. It was intended to speak to those who underestimate their abilities, who are afraid to be successful because they are not sure what they would do differently than those celebrities they read about in tabloids, and those who who simply do not understand what would be available to them and within their grasp if they knew how to proceed and how to apply themselves to the task of growing into what they aspire to be.

Perhaps the most important sentence is the final one where she says that those among us who manage to liberate themselves from fear provide role models for others who would dearly love to try. Oftentimes, all they need is to know that someone else has done it, especially if that someone is prepared to act as support for their own attempt to free themselves from fear, to live as they can be.

Those of us who have liberated ourselves from fear should adopt a responsibility for helping others to do the same. Too many among us lurk in the shadows in fear that we will be noticed, that a light will be shone upon us and we will be found wanting. We don't need more lurkers, we need them to become more effective people.

We can help them. That can be our way of making the world a better place.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show a better way.
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