What is the driving force behind your vote?
The upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament appears to be bringing with it a great deal of division. This is to be expected when you only have two choices, which are oppositional in nature. There is no middle ground here. There is not a “maybe” available. Only Yes or No. You are either for or against the Voice to Parliament.
So much attention is being placed on how people will vote, but I am not here to question personal preference. I am not here to tell people how they should vote. What I would like people to do is to take a moment and understand the “why” behind their decision. Is their vote being born from love or fear? While the outcome of this one vote is important, the motivating emotion will influence whether our nation can move forward with healing or remain trapped in hurt.
Love and Fear Are Opposites
Someone once told me that everything we do is done either out of love or fear. I wish I could remember who told me this so I can thank them for this insight. It has helped me understand much of what I see in this world. More importantly, it has given me a simple and powerful way to reflect on my motivations. I only need to stop and ask myself:
“Am I doing this out of love or fear?”
When I came to write this article, I decided to find out where the quote came from. The earliest reference came from Seneca the Younger (4BC — 65AD). He said:
“True love can fear no one.”
This statement suggests that there can be no fear when true love is present, and in the opposite, where there is fear, there is not true love. Here, we see the certain proposition that love and fear are opposites and cannot exist together.
With further research, I found that this assertion was made by three amazing modern and open-hearted thinkers — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, John Lennon and Michael Leunig.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a revolutionary in caring for the dying and dealing with death. She certainly would have seen the extreme perspectives of those facing their last days and the family and friends preparing themselves for a life without their loved ones. Here’s what Elisabeth said:
“There is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together at the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
John Lennon was one of history’s greatest poets, philosophers and protagonists. During his days with the Beatles, he passionately professed that “all you need is love” (1967). His solo song ‘Imagine’ (1971) was a testament to his vision of a world founded upon love, where there is no fear, and all the people are “living a life of peace”. John has been recorded as saying:
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.” ~ John Lennon
And from my spiritual guru — Michael Leunig[i]:
There are only two feelings.
Love and fear.
There are only two languages.
Love and fear.
There are only two activities.
Love and fear.
There are only two motives, two procedures, two frameworks, two results.
Love and fear. Love and fear.
So why is this important? Why should we care about which one, love or fear, we are motivated by? To answer this question, let’s look at the outcomes of each scenario.
What Does Acting from Love Look Like?
From the research conducted by Elizabeth Fredrickson,[ii], when acting from a place of love, you will see a flow of positive emotions. The person acting from love will feel happiness, contentment, peace and joy. Moreover, they will share this peace and joy with all around them. Lennon believed that acting from a place of love was vital to authentic creativity. He saw that when you work from love, you are open to life’s reality but have the passion and excitement to contribute and bring positive change.
These views are very similar to the work done by Dr David Hawkins[iii] in exploring the levels of consciousness. As shown in the summary below, the positive ‘Power’ emotions, of which love is one, lead to happiness, productivity, optimal performance, and extraordinary outcomes.
Operating from a perspective of love is beneficial not only for the person undertaking the activity but also for the good of the communities they are serving.
What do we mean by love, though? I like to think of acting from love as being motivated by deep and honest care for your well-being, spirit, future self, and care for the world around you. It means being vulnerable enough to show your true self and be brave enough to commit to something bigger than yourself. While everyone has their own definition, here is mine, developed from the incredible work of Barbara L. Fredrickson.
“Love is action taken to create happiness and remove suffering, for the purpose of understanding and achieving true potential.”
What Does Acting From Fear Look Like?
Being the opposite of love, it is obvious that from fear comes a flow of negative emotions. These can manifest in many different ‘Force emotions’, including pride, anger, desire, apathy, guilt and shame. It is evidenced by egotism and moral idealism and is the root cause of so much of the physical and psychological violence we see perpetrated today. Because spending our days in fear is nothing short of destructive — for the person living in fear and the world around them. Because as Lennon so wisely perceived:
“When we are afraid, we pull back from life.”
Fear closes us down to others and our potential. We mistrust ourselves and sacrifice our ability to contribute positively to this world. We hold back because we are afraid of loss — of physical possessions or the intangible assets of our public reputation. With love, we give all of our gifts freely. But when we are scared, we shut ourselves down. The result is that care, creativity and contribution are stifled. Gandhi recognised this when he said:
“Fear kills the soul.”
You may wonder why the emotion of pride is categorised as a fear-based response. Pride feels warm and fuzzy. It makes you feel that you have attained some level of success. For example, you can be proud of your achievements or the possessions you have been able to amass. The problem with pride, though, is that the foundations upon which it is based are fragile.
Pride is based on external circumstances, for example, the value of your property or others’ positive opinions of you. Pride, then, is not a solid and sustainable source of positivity. Due to the inevitable law of impermanence, sooner or later, things will change, and you may be back down at fear, grief, guilt or shame all over again.
Interestingly, pride is also an emotion correlated directly with racism. It is used to puff oneself up at the expense of others considered less worthy than yourself. If Australia is a racist country, it is because we have allowed ourselves to rise to, and then get stuck in, this superficial sense of superiority.
Read more in this article: The Emotional Journey of Reconciliation
How this plays out with The Voice
Hopefully, this discussion about love and fear has shown that the motivation behind the mark on the referendum paper matters most. Therefore:
I will respect any vote that is cast in the genuine belief that it will:
- Contribute to increased happiness for our First Nations people.
2. Reduce the suffering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the nation.
3. Enable Australia to live up to its fullest potential — as a nation driven by love.
I will despair at any vote that is based upon:
- Securing the position and privilege of a powerful few
2. Preventing loss of personal assets — be they physical or psychological
3. Instilling pride, guilt or shame among the people
4. Egotism or moral idealism — which are the roots of violence.
How Do You Move from Fear to Love?
So much rhetoric around this referendum is geared to keep us in a state of fear. More than this, though, our society is rife with sources of anxiety. Our legal and judicial systems are founded upon punishments and penalties. Marketers rely on FOMO to keep us spending our money on status symbols. In either case, we are defined by others as either good or bad, rich or poor, successful or a loser, a member of the tribe or an outsider.
In this context, how can we move from a place of fear where we are forced to make sub-optimal decisions for our security? How do we begin operating from a place of care for ourselves, our communities and our nation? As shown in the diagram above, there is one initial step: courage.
If you look the word courage up in the dictionary, you will see that the definition of courage is:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”.
This definition holds the key to what courage is all about. Courage does not mean that you don’t feel afraid. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Fear is an inherent part. Without fear, bravery does not exist. Dr Hawkins confirms this in his Map of Consciousness, asserting that one must work through the ‘Force’ emotions before one can rise above and operate from power.
I remember reading an interview with Paul McCartney when he discussed John Lennon’s insecurity about how we would remember him. Despite this concern, Lennon kept going. He kept pushing the boundaries and expressing himself in and outside his music. The Lennon we know and love was not born fearless, nor did he die fearless. But somewhere along the way, he chose that love for himself and the world in which he lived became more important than his insecurities. He chose to step out of the room of fear and into the room of love, bringing inspiration to so many.
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”~ Marianne Williamson
Courage is not living without fear but choosing to move beyond fear. It is the choice to sit with the discomfort of the unknown because of something more important.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
This referendum is so much greater than the choice between Yes or No. It is the choice between Love or Fear.
What is driving your decision?
Which will decide our future?
May today, you move one step further away from fear and one step closer to love.