“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin
In Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, he crafts an extended metaphor he refers to as “The Law of the Few,” a concept where, “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” What does it take to become one of these few? It takes the ability to adopt a courage-based lifestyle over a fear-based one.
The first thing we must ask ourselves is how entrenched is our culturally-prescribed worldview. Asking this important question gets us closer to realizing what we might be afraid of, while also revealing any pesky underlying cognitive dissonance that might be swaying our perceptions. The thing is: all of life is based upon condition. What condition were we born into? What state of socioeconomic affluence? What nationality? What religion or philosophy were we raised with?
If, as Robert Green Ingersoll suggested, “the intellectual advancement of man depends on how often he can exchange an old superstition for a new truth” then it stands to reason that the evolution of mankind itself advances depending upon how often we can exchange outdated methods of governance with more updated ones.
And does this not further suggest that personal growth depends upon how often we can stretch comfort zones, break mental paradigms, and think outside the box? Is not growth the ability to “move past” precondition in a healthy way? If so, then adopting a courage-based lifestyle is necessary to moving past, or transcending, the condition.
Most of us were raised to believe that everything is separate; that it’s a dog-eat-dog world; that we should fear each other and especially the dreaded “Other” or we may find ourselves in harm’s way. Being raised in such a way inculcates a fear-based perspective. When we live in a fear-based way, paranoia and the seeming need for rampant security are the norm.
Living a fear-based life leads to the need to control, which leads to victimization, which leads to trauma, which leads to inertia, which leads to a variety of psychological neurosis. And here we are.
But we don’t have to live this way. We can choose to live in a courage-based way, where love and cooperation are the norm. But it does take courage, an enormous amount of courage, tantamount to Herculean proportions. That’s why it’s referred to as the Law of the few. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or a “pipe dream” or some wished-for, unattainable “utopia.”
It just means it will require an immense amount of effort. More than most can handle. Human beings once lived in healthy accord with each other, and with nature. We went from living in a democratic cooperative (eco-centric) way, to living in an exploitative competitive (ego-centric) way. But there’s nothing saying we can’t eventually reach a tipping point that tips the scales back in favor of a healthy equilibrium with the environment.
Living a courage-based lifestyle leads to freedom, which leads to the need to empower and free others, which leads to other courageous people, which can lead to a tipping point. It comes down to drawing a line in the “sand” of our all-too-conditioned hearts.
On the one side is the fear-based lifestyle. On the other side is the courage-based lifestyle. One side is coming from a place of fear and paranoia. The other side is coming from a place of courage and self-sacrifice.
If our goal is to become one of the few who will lead the majority toward a tipping point, then we need to become the type of person who is not filled with fear, but who is filled with ruthless love and unflinching compassion. We must leave behind the fear-based lifestyle; the lifestyle that panders to authority and quibbles over petty securities that just end up becoming shackles anyway.
But we also need to understand that the vast majority of people are still willing to live fear-based lifestyles. We should sympathize with them for having not woken up yet, but we should not pity them. It isn’t their fault that they were brainwashed and conditioned to live in a fear-based way, but it is definitely their responsibility to reeducate themselves and to break themselves of their condition.
We can lead people to knowledge, but we can’t make them think. We can, however, remain ruthless with our courage-based lifestyle, especially with those who are still living fear-based lifestyles. Call it hard love. Call it what you will. Like Derrick Jensen wrote, “Love does not imply pacifism.”
Part three of Becoming the Tipping Point will go into adopting a relationship-based lifestyle over an ownership-based one.