Taught Fear

21 12 2011

There was an old story once long ago in China that was told to its people. It might have been told by an emperor or magistrate to his people, or something along those lines. Anyway, the story goes that a couple was walking in the woods one day. They left the boundary of their territory, village, what have you, and came to the grim discovery that the entire outside world was nothing but a giant spider. This dismayed the couple, to say the least. In fact, it ruined their lives.

As most of us may suspect, the story wasn’t true. It was told as a way to keep the people within the boundary, content and obedient. And it worked. They were thankful to stay and play by the rules, thankful to not have to discover the terror that may lie beyond the boundary.

It made ruling over them a lot easier. When people think you have given them mercy, they are grateful for you, even if you are slapping them in the face. Times may be tough, and people may not agree with everything happening in their homeland, but at least they didn’t have to discover that the outside world was really just a giant spider!

The fear of learning more –learning too much– is a common theme in humanity’s history. Eve’s eating of the fruit, Pandora opening the box– these come to mind. It is usually a woman who starts the trouble, isn’t it? 😉

People are easy to control and manipulate, because it is our nature to want security. We want someone else to protect us, someone else to be in charge, and if someone warns us not to look behind the curtain we are all too willing to oblige because the fear of changing the way we live and think is much more terrifying to us than admitting that all our previous senses of security were built on lies. We put authority into the hands of others as sheep to a shepherd, and we are grateful for it. We don’t even mind that maybe we are being preyed on. To most people, knowing more is simply not worth the risk.

When it comes to birth, we have a choice:  believe in the spider, or risk the knowledge of everything that lies beyond the territory, even if it terrifies us. Face the unknown, or live inside the box. We have a choice to recognize that authority does not always present the truth or the whole truth for reasons which benefit them and/or maintain a system. Sometimes authority itself believes the tale, and in such ways are not entirely to blame. The emperor in this story, like many doctors and midwives you know, perhaps did not make up the tale himself. Maybe he was told by the previous ruler, or by an adviser,  or read it in a historical text, and they so believed as did the people of the countryside– never venturing or wandering. Never straying.

I’ve seen the land beyond the boundary. I promise you, it does not consist solely of a giant spider. Fear was taught to us by authority, written in books given TO authority, and everyone took everyone else’s word for it. Question. Seek. You will find.

Besides, even if I were wrong or lying, wouldn’t you rather discover the truth for yourself? Wouldn’t you rather know if the spider beyond the land were a fact, or would you too be content to live the rest of your life in obedience within the boundary that others mapped out for you?

“But doesn’t fear save lives, Elizabeth?

Not really. For the intention of freeing your minds, I like to differentiate between fear and instinct/knowledge/wisdom. The villagers in the story stay within their territory due to a common human trait– fear of the unknown; fear that was instigated and perpetuated by authority figures as a means to control. This fear, like most fear, was based on falsehood and illusion.

Instinct, knowledge, and wisdom, however, is what keeps us safe. It is not ignorance or fear that keeps us from putting our hand in a fire. Sure, no one desires to get hurt, but for the sake of this conversation, I wouldn’t call that “fear”, per se. We have the truthful understanding that it is all too likely we will cause ourselves harm to put our hand in fire. That instinct keeps us safe.

When it comes to birth, many live in fear. Fear of the unknown.  Fear from the stories they were told. They are controlled by what they are told, and live contentedly within the boundaries painted for them because they believe in the giant spider beyond. They would rather “play it safe”, because popping the bubble of the security illusion to risk finding out great terrors is not something most people choose to face.

It takes a certain leap of faith that these terrors were illusions in order to proceed beyond, and I would argue also good perception, intuition, and wisdom are required. Those of us returning with stories of the realities are laughed off, called liars, called reckless and dangerous, even censored. Some of you will believe that, but some of you will grow skeptical, begin to question, and maybe… just maybe… walk into the woods for yourself. That’s what makes it all worth it.

The truth is that there are some spiders beyond the woods of birth (metaphorically speaking), but most of them are manageable. The world is not just a spider, it’s the world. It has many things, and most spiders are little and benevolent. Like everything in life, there are potential dangers, and also glorious beauties and discoveries, but entirely worth believing in yourself enough to take the walk and live your life, free.


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8 responses

26 12 2011
Janet

From reading this post and many more of your posts I find you to be a hypocrite. You claim to be a feminist who is progressive and respects women “I am a progressive, believe in freedom and equality, and have been called a feminist since I was a child– and I am proud of that. I believe women are amazing goddesses and deserve the utmost respect”, yet you have a remarkable way of making the majority of women sound like uneducated, dumb sheep. “When it comes to birth, many live in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear from the stories they were told. They are controlled by what they are told,” or Women who go “searching” for a “perfect birth” are a threat to women who don’t. I don’t believe that most women live in fear of birth and are easily controlled. Women know about homebirth/natural birth and yet they choose hospital birth. A lot of us do our research and still we choose to birth in hospital. Some of us don’t think of birth as “empowerment” but a necessary step to meet our precious babies, yet you would claim that we have been brainwashed by the powers to be “I always thought a perfect birth is one where a baby comes out alive.” Well, you’d be wrong. Whether you are aware of it or not you “do” judge women “ I have done it both ways (drugged and not). I have received pain meds and been ever so grateful. I have also wished I would lose consciousness and had an excruciating “natural” birth. And, I have been liberated from the cycle by owning my birth and surrendering to it– naturally and physiologically. Guess which birth was best?” Reading between that lines you are really saying that you are liberated, empowered and ….. than women that have c-sections, meds and birth in hospital are just poor, unliberated sheep trapped because they didn’t birth unassisted. I certainly don’t think of myself as any better than my friends who had c-sections just because I had a natural birth. Nor do I think my friends that homebirthed are crazy hippies after “an experience”, I respect their choices and know that they choose to do the best thing for them and their babies. You need to start looking at what your words are really saying…… and that is you only respect women who agree with you, who have had home/unassisted/med free births. The rest of us are just stupid, naive women living inside the box.

27 12 2011
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

You are getting offended and because of it, missing the point. You can’t see the truth for what it is if you are wrapped up in personally identifying with the things I lament.

You seem to take issue that I believe that most of us are “sheep”. What you haven’t realized in my posts yet is that I am “one of you”. I, and the many, aren’t “sheep” so much as we had the proverbial WOOL pulled over our eyes, and through no faults of our own. You don’t have to be stupid to be deceived. Most of us are (or in my case, were) deceived. I gave birth in a hospital, too, remember? So, you can take personal offense to innocent ignorance, or, you can recognize the real possibility of ANY system in society to lie to and dupe even the smartest of us. I was a very smart young woman when I gave birth in the hospital, and hadn’t realized yet that I was being had. Hell, if you had called me a “sheep”, I probably would have been mad. Yet, I was wrong about my situation, and it took a VERY hard birth to deliver the appropriate wake-up call. I propose all of us waking up (before trauma does it for us). I know we can all do it, it’s just a matter of choosing to re-educate ourselves. Or not. You also have the option of believing what you were told.

No one is any BETTER than someone else for having right knowledge. They are just better informed. I am better informed now than I was 10 years ago before my first labor. I would love for every woman to empower herself and join me. I consider it reaching out to the former me. If only I could have known then what I know now! Well, I can’t turn back time, but I CAN let others in on this information before it’s too late for them.

This message will reach the right ears, those ready for it. Please, try not to take other people’s epiphanies so personally.

2 01 2012
Janet

Elizabeth, please reference which part of my initial reply where I took things personally?

As I said in my initial reply I find you to be a hypocrite, you have clearly stated that you think women deserve respect:

“I am a progressive, believe in freedom and equality, and have been called a feminist since I was a child– and I am proud of that. I believe women are amazing goddesses and deserve the utmost respect”

yet you often do not show respect towards other women. And from what you write you do think that you are better and more informed than most women.

2 01 2012
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

I’m not going to play the game where I call you out for taking it personally anymore. I think it stands alone, and I don’t think I need to dissect you right now.

However, I will defend myself. I call for the respect of women. I’m not a hypocrite for NOT respecting the system we’ve all been indoctrinated into (and admitting myself that I was a part of it– we all were at some point), and therein lies the difference. People do grow and learn, and we hopefully DO better. It took a lot of things happening to me to change my perspective which I now feel is more informed than ever, and it happens to be a perspective that would be fresh for most women in our culture. I don’t think that makes me a bad guy. We aren’t all coming to the same conclusions at the same time. Someone has to be a trailblazer. And, not to pat myself on the back, there are plenty of things that I am still in the mainstream on, in the dark on, or ways in which I could stand to follow the trailblazer. There are wise people on many topics, if we would be quiet and listen. I am a listener and guide both. Amounts vary based on topic. It just so happens that when it comes to birth, I think I am on the right path… I think I am on to something. You have the right to disagree, but the name calling and labeling of me here again points to you being painfully insecure about something.

3 01 2012
Janet

Dissect?
Regarding your respect for women, I refer to some of the names you referred other women as in your most recent post: idiots, trolls, clueless twit. You could have made your point without the name calling. You have called another woman a coward. Please tell me how this is respecting women? Just because someone is not on your path does not mean that they are on the wrong path, it is just their path.
What name calling have I done? I will accept the possibility that I labeled you so I will rephrase. your words do not always back up statements you make and therefore you sound hypocritical.

4 01 2012
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

Janet. I respect WOMEN. Individuals I reserve the right to NOT respect. And, everyone has my respect until they earn a demotion. I start off giving everyone benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. So, if you take issue with me calling people cowards, idiots, or trolls (which the people I’ve called are… more on that later), you need to take issue with yourself for calling me a hypocrite. Seems you’re allowed to dish it out but I’m not? Who’s the hypocrite now?

Now, on to the trolls and such. I take it you haven’t been reading me very long, or very much. If you had, you’d have a pretty thorough understanding of my history with people. The brief version is it all started when I was minding my own business talking to like-minded birth people and they took it upon themselves to form a hate club for me and track me down all around the internet. This has been going on for a year now. So, unless you are one of them, you are jumping to some pretty hasty conclusions about me, and what I do.

Respect for women doesn’t mean indiscriminate appreciation for everyone’s choices. It means standing up and fighting even when other women are trying to tear you down. Have a peachy day.

4 01 2012
Janet

The meaning of Hypocrite:
1.a person who pretends to have virtues or qualities that he or she does not have
2 : a person whose actions contradict their stated beliefs or feelings
You have stated time and time again that you respect people, however if they disagree with you have resorted to name calling. You state that you love others yet some of the comments you make do not show love. I have provided your comments to back up my statement that, your words do not always back up statements you make and therefore you sound hypocritical. Please tell me how I am a hypocrite?
My “hasty conclusions” as you put it, have been made from your comments on this blog, your blog- and I have backed up why I have come to the conclusion I have. So far you have not backed up any of your comments you have made about me:
taking things personally; name calling, being insecure; a hypocrite.
Since you like your Eastern stories here is one that I think you could apply:

Han Xin was a young Chinese man who had a reputation as a skilled Kung Fu fighter. One day Han was walking through the streets of his city, he was stopped by two men who had heard of his skill. The pair challenged him to a fight tot he death. Han tried to decline the challenge, but the men would not let him walk away. They insisted he must either fight or crawl like a dog through the leaders outspread legs. Although to the Chinese this is unspeakable humiliation, Han Xin chose to crawl rather to fight. Word of his humiliation and cowardice spread quickly through the city. He was openly laughed at, yet he never offered any explanation for his actions. Later in life he revealed himself to be one of the most formidable and fearless warriors in the history of China. To him, the men had posed no threat to him, he considered them unworthy adversaries. In his heart he know himself to be a fearless warrior he did not care what anyone else thought.

18 02 2013
Charlotte

Janet your defensiveness is beyond reproach.
Your need to be right and make others wrong is limiting you from seeing more.

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