For a long time during my twenties, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep much last night, either. I wasn’t up late because I couldn’t fall asleep and it wasn’t a case of falling asleep and then waking up; this was by choice. I stayed up to listen to Johann Hari, an author I’ve already written about, who was a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast as he was discussing things I’m interested in: depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Today, I’ll go to a group therapy session and we will also discuss depression, anxiety, and addiction. When I’m afraid of drinking again, when I’m unsure whether to assert myself, and when I am fine in my seclusion, I live these things. I don’t have to.
One morning, for some reason, I ended up writing about love, fear, and imagination. When I read what I had written, I felt a reaction to it is as if it had revealed a truth I had been missing. I recorded myself reading it, uploaded it to Google Drive, and shared it with strangers and friends.
Yesterday, I discussed a cobra protecting me, then shared some books that can help us understand some of the negative side effects of our current culture and what we can do to counteract them. Today, I’ll just recommend you check out Hari’s works, Lost Connections and Chasing the Scream, and see what they stir in you.
Now, a question for you: Is it love or fear that is more powerful in our imagination?
It’s not an easy question to answer and I imagine I didn’t think about it until I read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Humanity and imagination just go together, but our imagination isn’t something harmless. In my philosophy classes at Texas State University, we dedicated a lot of time to discussing moral imagination. Think about positive affirmations, prayers, or even the sense of dread you may sometimes experience. Aren’t you imagining a future, an outcome? Now, would you rather that imagined future be based in love or fear?
Hari, in discussing drug policy, posted to Twitter:
The countries with policies based on stigmatising, shaming & punishing ppl with addiction problems have massively growing addiction crises. The countries with policies based on love, compassion, & practical support have declining addiction crises. This is not a coincidence.— Johann Hari (@johannhari101) February 20, 2019
Notice the role love plays. It’s that important and it’s something we too often take for granted because, in my opinion, we’re too busy manufacturing problems we stay up all night thinking about.
In 2014, while at Texas State, a colleague and I were able to be guest lecturers in an ethics course. The auditorium seats around 400 students and we spent the ninety minutes we had trying to get the students to understand empathy and how it can be suppressed. I showed them my favorite clips in the world to help.
Why are we so frightened at the prospect of loving each other, but so comfortable with fear? Why can we empathize with imaginary humans or animals, but so often forget to grant that to real humans we come in contact with daily? I’ve often read that something, whatever it happens to be, “isn’t the panacea” and I think that phrase is accepted as universally applicable. Bullshit. Love is the panacea.
Love yourself. Love others. See what happens.
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