Rafed English

Ignorance of the Character of Life

One of the basic factors that lead to anxiety and its growth to a dangerous point is ignorance of the characteristics of life. A person possessing courage knows well that life involves various kinds of hardships and setbacks. Whenever he encounters some difficulty, he maintains his composure, and this prepares him to face future adversities. For when one anticipates unpleasant events in the future, one will be somewhat prepared to face them.

And when the event actually takes place it will not affect him in an adverse manner. On the contrary, if someone does not possess the readiness to face life's tragedies, as soon as one of them occurs it will be a fearsome and shattering blow for him. Neglect and the lack of attention to the realities of life magnify the effect of tragic events and make them appear disproportionately deadly and frightful. Moreover, the readiness to face future tragedies prepares one mentally for the stage of recovery and smoothens the path of encountering them.

Voltaire says:

Throughout life man must advance like a warrior and die with his sword in his hand. Only weak and feeble-minded persons are knocked down by events. Only weak people constantly complain of the world's woes and hardships. As tong as there is uncertainty about the dangers involved in an event and so tong as there is any hope of averting it, don't give way to weakness. Remain steadfast with all the determination at your command. 2

In general, awareness and consciousness are the most basic means for the reduction of anxiety and fear. With the advancement of human knowledge and the growth of man's intellect there is a decrease in the stresses caused by fears. That is why many factors that created fear in primitive and semi-primitive men during the various eras of man's history have no significance today for people due to advancement of knowledge and intellectual growth.

Experience has shown definitively that knowledge by itself results in confidence and tranquillity, which takes the place of distressing anxieties. It is on this basis that all psychiatrists consider consciousness of that was previously subconscious and awareness of the causes of painful fears as part of the treatment for mental anxiety and depressing thoughts.

We should not forget the point that although the ancient fears have been dispelled to a considerable extent by the progress of science, the changes in modern life have substituted new anxieties for the fears of the past. In industrialised societies, which have created large cities with huge conglomerations of people who remain strangers to one another, human beings have become lonelier despite the heavy concentrations of population. The intimacy, friendship and attachment that marked interpersonal relations in the past have given way to feelings of estrangement and isolation. The concentration of population has lead to alienation and loneliness. Although people live close to one another, they are not friendly and familiar with the moral, personal and spiritual characteristics of one another. In times of need, they are extremely parsimonious in offering one another help or consolation.

Indifference, injustice, different forms of vices, and neglect of duty and moral criteria lead to the emergence of fear. In fact, fear is a kind of punishment that man receives due to deviation from the course of moral growth.

An American thinker says:

All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. They are punished by fear. Whilst I stand in simple relations to my fellowman, I have no displeasure in meeting him. We meet as water meets water, or as two currents of air mix, with perfect diffusion and interpenetration of nature. But as soon as there is any departure from simplicity and attempt at halfness, or good for me that is not good for him, my neighbour feels the wrong; he shrinks from me as far as I have shrunk from him; his eyes no longer seek mine; there is war between us; there is hate in him and fear in me.

All the old abuses in society, universal and particular, all unjust accumulations of property and power, are avenged in the same manner. Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions. One thing he teaches, that there is rottenness where he appears. He is a carrion crow, and though you see not well what he hovers for, there is death somewhere. Our property is timid, our laws are timid, our cultivated classes are timid. Fear for ages has boded and mowed and gibbered over government and property. That obscene bird is not there for nothing. He indicates great wrongs which must be revised. 3


2. Akfar e Schopenhaur, p. 97

3. Emerson, Ralph Waldo, "Compensation", in Man and Man: The Social Philosophers., pp. 447-8

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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