Fear Of The Crowd Human - The Mass

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The idea that lies back of this form of fear may be one of several. Every such idea has a physical cause, only, or a psychic cause, or a psycho-physical cause (sources co-operating). And these causes may obtain in yourself or in others — that is, the predominating factor of the cause may operate in kinds of human nature met with, or in your own personal variety. What you are, this, indeed, determines the matter, but what other people are gives this determination its occasion. Your nature asserts itself because of other natures presented to you.

Whether such causes of fear of the mass be physical or psychic, they differ from the causes arising within yourself. You are — what you are; and, if you fear certain other kinds of people, the reason is that they are not what you are. Opposites may be affinities, but only where the one supplies what the other lacks, and needs or craves. Where one fails in such respect, there is indifference in the needing or craving person. Where one is opposite only, and not complementary at all, antagonism is inevitable if there is contact.

When the antipathy of your nature to other opposite non-complementary natures passes a certain limit, — always variable — determined by your sum-total nature and particular circumstances,— the ideas underlying opposition merely become transformed into the ideas underlying the feeling of fear: danger, injury, weakness, flight. Antipathy has now developed into fear.

This is in the case of yourself in contact with other individuals.

Sometimes the antipathy or the fear springs from facts which you yourself recongize. As often, perhaps, causes that you cannot detect underly your attitudes. Thus appear our regimes:


FIRST REGIME: Ignoring Antipathies. In this case, dealing with individuals, you are invited to ignore mere antipathy. You are what you are; others are what they are. Do not trouble yourself about the attitudes which they induce on your part, or exhibit on their own. This book believes that forced and conscious attempts to overcome natural antipathies are wasted because they muet prove futile in the end. For, they are expressions either of fundamental things in your nature or of mistaken impressions. In the former case, reform is impossible. In the latter case, it is the impressions that must be removed or corrected, not the antipathies, which will take care of themselves, and experience alone will avail in revealing the mistakes and learning; how to correct the impressions. Such experience needs no forcing; it will come along in its own time.

But the feeling of fear is another matter, and should be taken in hand, vigorously and persistently. Remembering that we are dealing with individual cases, you are now invited to reason with yourself some-what as follows:

SECOND REGIME: Recognition of Individuality.

"This person for whom I feel aversion has his life, as I have mine. We are entitled to the two lives. His qualities need not touch my personality. I am power! I live my own life. I see to it that this person shall never penetrate my world nor share my life's atmosphere. Why should I fear? Why should I feel that which is merely hateful to my mind but cannot touch my real life? Though he breathe the same air and behold the same things as I, we two are apart as far as the east is from the west. I do not fear him ! "

The purpose here is merely the substitution in your thought of ideas breeding courage for those that tend to breed fear — and to hold to that substitution. So doing, you will infallibly check or cure fear for opposites who do not and cannot complement your own nature.

It is a curious thing that some people are disturbed by fear for kinds of personalities in numbers for whom, as individuals, we have seen, they entertain merely antipathetic aversion, or, it may be, even less. That is to say: the emotion of fear arises because of mere numbers — the individuals arousing antipathy only. Here, again, suggestion is at work. For the individual A, or B, or C, and so on, there is aversion without fear-feeling, perhaps, because the fear-ideas of danger, injury, weakness, flight, do not arise, but the individual A and B and C and so on, as a crowd, do suggest the fear-ideas in addition to the thought or feeling of aversion. A man or a woman may face any other man or woman fearlessly, but many men or women suggest, out of the antipathy, an idea of harm. Sometimes the process occurs only in the subconscious self, and then there is a vague sense of uneasiness which may grow into fear. Sometimes the process works up into definite consciousness, and the feeling is no longer vague; it is something more than uneasiness — and is likely to become fear.

THIRD REGIME Let Yourself Alone. Such aversions are not worth an effort toward removal so long as they are undeveloped into the fear-feeling. (The matter is not here a consideration of morals, but relates to courage only.) It is sound sense to take ourselves as we fundamentally and distinctly are. You are invited to set about doing this for the rest of your life. A vast deal of unhappiness and wasted energy springs from this notion that we must revolutionize our characteristic nature, a notion which is fostered by false religion, that somehow man's chief business consists in becoming something totally other than he is. For example: sex must suicide, ambition must be strangled, body must be "etherialized," mind must empty itself, and so on. And thus, since natural antipathies are conceived as growths of the depraved natural man, they are to be rooted out as in themselves necessarily evil. But this is an impossible ideal born of a misconception. A thing need not be evil merely because it is natural. All truly natural things are good — at least free from what we call "evil." A natural antipathy cannot, in the nature of things, be evil in a moral sense. Whatever is of nature — fundamental nature—has a profitable meaning for the whole system of things. Real evil is unnatural. Hostility in the form of desire for the injury of another person is evil because it is unnatural, and it is unnatural because it is contrary to the good of the whole. You may be aware of antipathy without hostility. Your fundamental aversions (which can be discovered only by experience and reflection) are expressions, not merely and alone of what you are, not merely and alone of what others are, but also of a relation — in the abstract or in the concrete — of one kind of person to another kind of person. You are, for this reason, invited to forego the futile effort to change the basis and essence of your make-up, and to let yourself go in those antipathies which mean no harm to others, but signify reasonable freedom in and for your own (and their) selfhood.

It is no more reprehensible to take your natural antipathies as they are, without worry, than it is to take your preferences and likes as they are, without moral uneasiness. Your antipathies run, neither necessarily to right things nor necessarily to wrong things. Antipathies are outcomes merely of personality related to personality (if they are fundamental). All this is true of likes and preferences, which also run, neither necessarily to wrong things nor to right things. Likes and preferences are mere outcomes of personality related to personality. Whether preferences, or likes, or antipathies, as natural expressions, signify evil to any one, depends, not on motives, for motive or intention behind an attitude introduces things entirely different from natural like or dislike, but depends upon what follows the feeling of antipathy or like. If you take an aversion as a luxury, this is a form of selfishness. If you take your likes as luxuries and so as standards for others, here also selfishness appears. It is possible to let yourself go as you find yourself, through experience and on reflection, to be, without strain to eliminate likes and dislikes, without making them luxuries or standards for others. You are, there-fore, invited to declare for your own selfhood, and for freedom in all natural antipathies and affinities,—but taken as no luxuries, kept to yourself,— and to go no farther in the matter. By so much as you do this, you of course grant all other persons similar right to their freedom and their nature. Thus you omit from your life a very active cause of social criticism and friction.

But by so much you also put away the feeling of fear originating in antipathies. For then you do not care about these antipathies. You feel them: well and good; let them go. The matter is not important. So, also, you know that others feel antipathies: let this go as well.. Coming to such negative attitude toward aversions, you find the inspiration to fear gone. Indifference toward a thing or person, as a personal attitude, cannot coexist with fear for the thing, person, attitude.

FOURTH REGIME: Indifference Toward the Mass Units. This analysis of any mass or group of people, thus disposed of, should obtain in relation to the group or mass. When you become indifferent toward your own aversions for all a's in the group A, and so on, and toward all antipathies in that group A, your antipathy for that group-kind of people loses foundation, dissipates. Take the item in the second analysis on page 324 "coarse-grained." Say this is group A. You think of a-(Smith), or a-(Brown), or a-(Jones), and so on. You take the antipathy for coarse a- (Smith) or any other member in the group, just as it is, and let it go; cease bothering about it; you stop worrying about it, since it is just a fact of your nature. You no longer care about this coarse-grainedness in a-(Smith) in itself, since its presence in Smith is indifferent to you, because it is just his, not yours, of his nature, not of your own. You simply let the thing go at that. You do not care about Smith in his coarse-grainedness, nor about coarse-grainedness in Smith. Then what obtains in Smith's case should obtain in Brown's and Jones' cases. Then the whole group — a-(Smith) --a-(Brown) — a-(Jones) becomes indifferent to you — just a "do n't-care" thing. You soon discover that your fears born of natural antipathies have vanished. For it is absolutely impossible to fear anything so long as you are wholly indifferent toward it — do n't care about it.

There is no form of fear without some form of interest in the thing feared. This study gives you the fear-cure of indifference. If you fear because of antipathies felt toward people, you will continue to fear so long as you nurse interest in those antipathies. When you regard such antipathies with indifference, your fears will vanish.

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