Fixing To Die – Complacent and fanatics share same false premise
Today, I’m writing about complacency and fanaticism, and it’s a bit of a rant. Because it seems to me that complacency is a kind of death wish, and as a self-fulfilling prophecy helped along by fanatics, it could be killing us. Let me explain.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. -William Butler Yeats
Where the fate of the world is concerned, two opposing trends based in the same false premise conspire to make themselves come true. On the one hand, highly motivated people are doing all they can to hasten the end of the world. On the other hand, unmotivated people would allow the world as we know it to end and would do nothing about it.
The premise shared by the complacent and the fanatic? That life after death is better than life before death. Hurry it up or wait it out, sooner or later the END IS NEAR and that solves everything because the END IS BETTER. Ideas about the end of time have proliferated on earth since the beginning of time. They’ve been adopted and embellished by people who have reason to want it to be true; perpetuated and promoted by those who understand the human susceptibility for wishful thinking, and our capacity to experience fear. The END IS NEAR has been used ever since to intimidate the reticent and hopeless, and THE END IS BETTER has been used to extract a benefit from eager and hopeful.
Who uses this kind of leverage? In general, it’s people with agendas, such as building ‘grassroots’ support, or increasing enrollment in a program. How about self-proclaimed authorities who back their claim by encouraging others to fear a bad end if they fail to obey the authority, and to desire the reward of a good ever after by submitting to that authority. Such religiosity can be found in politics these days, where, as a matter of faith, opinions are taken as facts. The faithful learn to trust that this faith will one day be rewarded in the afterlife. At the least, it’s a good excuse for people who are more afraid to live than they are to die. Because there are those, I’ve met them and so have you, who look forward to the end as a way out of the uncertainty and difficulty of life. Their assumptions become traps, and people’s lives become cages in which they never really live, and wait to die.
Our inactions have consequences. Making the easy choice in the moment (doing nothing often seems the easiest of choices) or doing what’s most convenient (usually not the hard thing, the difficult thing, the uncomfortable thing) at the time almost always leads to complications and trouble. We’re talking a soap opera whose happy endings are fleeting setups for more difficulty and travail. When creative energy is inhibited and suppressed by avoidance and denial, the result is unconscious and self-defeating behavior that guarantees a future shock. Complacent people ignore the warning signs, until life itself forces them to change.
The mandate of successful living: Change we must. Earthquakes, war, fires and floods are insistent reminders about the precious nature of life. But why wait for disaster, when you can wake yourself and keep yourself awake? Isn’t that better than a rude awakening from the slumber of your contented discontent?
Whenever your life force is at a low ebb, the lack of energy and motion is a sign that your innate creativity is atrophying along with the rest of you. Fixin’ to die. Like food left in the freezer too long , or a vintage wine turned to vinegar, everything on earth eventually goes into decay, and if you’re not careful, that includes you.
To keep life fresh, you’ve got to make a little positive trouble now and then, stir the pot, thaw the food, pop the cork, rattle the cage, move it intentionally or lose it! Creative living stands out against the darkness of time, surrounded by the light of progress. As individuals, family members, and shareholders in communities, the use of our creative energy aimed at better tomorrows is self renewing, in that it allows us to slip the bonds of earth and soar to the heights of our hopes and dreams.
What can be done?
I’ll write about that in my next post. Meanwhile, I warned you this would be a rant. I welcome your active participation, through your own stories, opinions, comments and questions.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.