Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

Othering, Fears, Dragons and The Devil 

out-of-africa

There are no “others”.

“[Our genetic] history is messy: we are all the product of a tangled bush of genetic relationships between ancient and modern human groups.  Our genes demonstrate that none of us can claim to have ancestry from just a single region or place, as people have been on the move throughout history. [1]

DNA

“Take the “out of  Africa” theory as an example. Based on archeology and limited genetics, the established view was that humans left Africa at some point within the last 100,000 years, spreading out to eventually inhabit the rest of the world, replacing older resident species of humans. While more advanced genetics has confirmed this to be roughly the case, it has also shown that it is not the full story.”

DNA

“Ancient DNA sequenced from fossils has taught us that, following the initial expansion out of Africa, the ancestors of non-Africans lived side-by-side and interbred with Neanderthals some 37,000 to 42,000 years ago, rather than just pushing them out. We also know that the ancestors of some Asian groups interbred with a different group of archaic human – known only from their DNA – called the Denisovans.”

DNA

This bears repeating: “Our genes demonstrate that none of us can claim to have ancestry from a single region or place, as people have been on the move throughout history.  Food for thought indeed when migration is so high on the political agenda.”[1]

What motivates humans?

Several things immediately come to mind: Biology is our first mirror. The species demands 1. survival 2. reproduction. Our animal self, requires that we attend to breath, thirst, hunger and sex for starters.

quill

Watch  TV for thirty minutes. To produce and broadcast a television program is very expensive. Even Public Television requires “corporate sponsors” who anticipate that we will buy their product. And now, for more than a year, we are pummeled with political ads. Political ads are a laboratory in motivation.There is the

1.  “The Carrot”: [Pleasure] “I will make your life better” arguments and

2. “The Stick”[Fear] ” Them’ is going to harm or kill your family” argument. After a soft introduction of the first, invariably FEAR of THEM is the big stick to make us rally, contribute, volunteer, and vote. If you don’t vote for me, Them” is going to to marry your daughter , take away your religion, your home, your job, and chop off your head!” 

dragon

I believe that eighty percent of motivation used on us is fear. The Dragon is a symbol for our fears. [“Slaying your dragons” and Freeing the Fair Maiden] and conquering your fears.  I believe that eighty percent of fear is fear of the unknown [not yet understood].

dragon

In a Child ballad by Kemp Owyne, the dragon is a trapped maiden-in-hiding; the hero, based on Ywain from Arthurian legend, rescues her from the transformation with three kisses.[5]

dragon 2
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are Princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet [6]

I knew, well,  a very young man, son of an anxious mother who was quite frightened of illness and hospitals. When choosing a career, he chose, not to run away from his fear, but to engage his fears by going to medical school, becoming a physician and surgeon, thereby becoming in charge of that which he feared, It was the one of the most important decisions of his life. He found that there are some truly devastating threats but that most of his fears were baseless or manageable when the unknown became understood. You must “slay your Dragon by first engaging them. You will find that the greater part of your fear was a creation of you imagination which will leave your character and strength to conquer those fears which were not imaginary.

dragon

The Devil

Elaine Pagels has written the definitive explanation of the Devil: The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics.[2] The Devil is not real but is an invented personality which is employed  as a tool to use Fear to manipulate us. 

Satan “The second story of [The Four Gospels] tells of the bitter conflict between the followers of Jesus and their fellow Jews, a conflict in which the writers of the four gospels condemned as creatures of Satan those Jews who refused to worship Jesus as the Messiah. Writing during and just after the Jewish war against Rome, the evangelists invoked Satan to portray their Jewish enemies as God’s enemies too. As Pagels then shows, the church later turned this satanic indictment against its Roman enemies, declaring that pagans and infidels were also creatures of Satan, and against its own dissenters, calling them heretics and ascribing their heterodox views to satanic influences.”

“The Devil” was not a creature of the Hebrew Bible and not a message of Jesus Christ. The Devil was invented by [Christian] men to vilify  their perceived enemies.  For two thousand years, aggressive preachers have used this invented club to intimidate their followers.[2]

dragon

This process persists and accelerates with a modern name of “othering”. “The creation of “The Other” is done by highlighting [others] their weakness, thus extenuating the moral responsibility of the stronger self to educate, convert, or civilize depending on the identity of the other. Indeed, as defined by Martin Jones et al., [3] ‘…othering is a term, advocated by Edward Said, which refers to the act of emphasizing the perceived weakness of marginalized groups as a way of stressing the alleged strength of those in positions of power.”

dragon

“Othering” can be done with any racial, ethnic, religious, or geographically-defined category of people.”

When we don’t know or don’t understand what we face, our response is fear. Fear causes us to construct The Other from people of another race, creed, color, or nationality. Billions are spent identifying our fears and selling us artificial solutions that would allegedly save us from those fears.

dragon

Snake oil salesman and “spiritual self-appointed carnival barkers” sell us their solution to our concerns. Politicians seem to believe that fear-baiting is their most useful tool. There have been dozens of times charismatic cult leaders have convinced many believers, of their “visions”, predicting the “end of the world” when, in truth, they were the disaster. They seize on our fear of death and try to achieve our intellectual surrender, if not physical death, to quell our fear of death. Remember Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple 1978? (7) Nine hundred people simultaneously committed “revolutionary suicide” (This was the origin of the phrase: “drink the Cool-aid”). Today, those who shout with strong convictions, stimulate a passionate defense from a mirror-image crowd that demands equal time, each wanting us to “drink their Cool-aid”.[7]

dragon

Our culture is permeated by the “Zero-Sum Game” [Winners and Losers]. Professional sports [“Wining is the only thing!”] is pumped up with the “trash-talk” which is the perfect illustration of “Othering.” Our Politicians are even worse; vilifications and fabrications win elections!

There is no “Them”; there’s only us! 

Charles Clanton Rogers     January 18, 2016

charlesclantonrogers@gmail.com

  1. [1] http://theconversation.com/heres-how-genetics-helped-crack-the-history-of-human-migration-52918(7)
  2. [2] Elaine Pagels, The Origin of The Devil,©1995  (P)2014 Audible Inc.
  3. [3] Martin-Jones, David (2002) Becoming-other in time: the Deleuzian subject in cinema. Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow.
  4. [4] http://theconversation.com/heres-how-genetics-helped-crack-the-history-of-human-migration-52918
  5. [5] Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 1, p 306, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  6. [6] Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
  7. [7] Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University.Archived 13 February 2011 at WebCite

5 thoughts on “Why Do We Fear “Them”?

  1. Interesting article. We have thoroughly enjoyed Elaine Pagels books. If you have not already read it, you might enjoy

    Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence Paperback – November 14, 1997
    by Dale Peterson (Author), Richard Wrangham (Author)

    We don’t need preachers and politicians to instill the fear, they simply make use of it for their own purposes. Maybe the fear of others is so deeply into our DNA from eons of “others” raiding, killing, and stealing. We’ve all seen babies that are afraid of strangers. We see it in all kinds of other animals too. It is basic survival instinct in a cruel world.

    I suppose the problem is how to adapt that basic instinct to the modern world, the way we have to adapt the ‘fight or flight’ response or overeating when food is abundant. Just some thoughts of mine; I won’t claim they are right or even all that thoughtful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. clanton1934 says:

      They are quite thoughtful and therefore valuable. c

      Like

  2. AmyRose🌹 says:

    You intrigue me. I quietly read this post, something I normally do not due for many reasons, mainly though because I have a very challenging Life and I follow many blogs. You give me HOPE that there is a reasonable SANE man in medicine who actually THINKS, questions, and seeks, rather then walking blindly being dictated to as to how to treat people when ill. I am an RN and will not return to the system that is now called medicine which I no longer perceive to be a Healing Art. I have a huge lump in my throat for I LOVE to help others, and I have so much healing within me, so much so, that I now focus that Healing Ability on cats. I have worked many years studying and living with cats, trying to understand how best to treat disease in the least harmful/aggressive way. Many years of banging heads on brick walls with the “system”, many years of being pushed away, many years of rejection, have now ended in finally finding a VET who is open to our methods of healing. Medicine IMO needs to start opening its mind that alternative methods of healing do work and sometimes in combination with allopathic are truly the better way.
    I too like you are passionate about art and music, and have turned my passion to my camera, as I pour my Heart into my art. I like you have a questioning mind, and am determined to find Truth. I also agree with you that mankind has made up a devil for his own benefit and we many times are our worse enemy in allowing fear to dominate our Lives.
    Please forgive this “book”. I no longer feel so alone just by reading your words. Thank you from the bottom of my Heart for being the person you are. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. bbnewsab says:

      I can but agree!

      Like

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