Suffering Leads to The Dark Side

Since I’ve been pondering this debate about this country and our incredible divisiveness, I want to talk about the dark side. The Dark Side. We bandy this about like we understand it from the Star Wars movies, but I want to talk about it for “reals.” Since we have to start somewhere, let’s talk about what it is.

According to Wookiepedia (gotta love it), the Dark Side is hubris, attachment, and greed for power. How did it show up? It showed up with anger, hate, fear, selfishness, aggressive feelings, and possession, and ultimately, those who tap into it are consumed by it. Sound like anyone you might know? Sound like anyone we all might know?

I discussed fear on another blog to which I contribute, But, even as we discuss fear, I’m going to go even broader and talk in very general terms about solving problems. I was thinking, today, about my company. Not “my” company but the company I currently work for. They have a very targeted and different approach to solving the problem of security awareness and security vulnerability. They focus on solving it at the “people” level. Is this not where fear generates? More on this in a moment…

Fear becomes “massive” when groups of people band together to stoke their fear. If one person sees something to be afraid of, then it might be a fluke. When dozens and hundreds and thousands of people see it in the same light, well, then it must be Truth. I don’t want to get into the psychology of this herd mentality; just consider that we all feel it. We know it when we see it. It’s the call right after a massive tragedy that says “We all need to do something now! Just do something! I don’t care what it is! Move away from it!”

To reiterate from my blog above, here are the ideas of how fear manifests:

  1. Self-depreciation is the fear of not being good enough – manifests as Humility (positive) to Self-Abasement (negative).
  2. Greed is the fear of not having enough – manifests as Egoism | Desire (positive) to Voracity | and Gluttony (negative).
  3. Self-destruction is the fear of losing control – manifests as Self-Sacrifice (positive) to Suicide |Immolation (negative).
  4. Martyrdom is the fear of not being worthy – manifests as Selflessness (positive) to Victim Mentality (negative).
  5. Stubbornness is a fear of change, of new situations – manifests as Willfulness |Determination (positive) to Obstinacy (negative).
  6. Impatience is the fear of missing or losing opportunities – manifests as Audacity (positive) to Intolerance (negative).
  7. Arrogance is the fear of being vulnerable – manifests as Pride (positive) to Vanity (negative).

These aren’t my ideas however I have pondered them enough inside my own psyche that I feel like they are true. I don’t suffer from all of them all the time but I have felt some of them stronger than others. The number one on the list, self-depreciation, seems to be my favorite as well as the favorite of many of my generation. Not being good enough is a powerful ego motivator to either push yourself to superhuman feats beyond expectation (and then fail, feeding the fear) or protect yourself by constantly demonizing yourself at every turn. If you hate yourself enough, you can spread that around.

Fear may have a positive manifestation if we choose to go that way. The first part is recognizing the fear and then how it manifests within our own nature. For me, I don’t have a lot of self-talk going on about how terrible I am; it generally comes out in my attitude toward my mistakes and my work not being “perfect.” I keep that part to myself, internally going over and over again what I could have done better. That is the suffering. We could get into a whole Pandora’s box on suffering… am I right?

There have been many books about fear, and for the purposes here, I think fear is the core of all these decisions to inflict control over another human being’s body, mind, and spirit. This fear turns into hate when those that are fearful can’t ease their fears, which turns into an ugly cycle of self-loathing and fear-building. If you can never beat your fear, you let your fear beat others. It feeds itself like a glutinous demonic, necrotic beast. It’s suffering.

Let’s think about it… I am afraid of an illness that you might carry (vulnerable, loss of control), which in turn breeds resentment that you don’t feel the same way (fear of the different, non-clan, fear of potential suffering or death) which brings out aggression, hostility, arrogance, stubbornness, and intolerance. None of this is real, and when fed with media misinformation, lies, and more fear – well, we get the U.S. response to the pandemic: a divided nation of people who don’t understand the “other.” The world wants us afraid; a fearful and hateful society can never build anything. It certainly can never build a better way.

I can apply this reasoning to violence of almost any sort. I can apply it to almost any crime, of any sort. We’re not counting mentally unstable people here, although I could argue that they are motivated by fear as well. Poverty begets a fear of not having enough. Parental instability leads to all kinds of manifested fears – self-depreciation, impatience, self-destruction, stubbornness, and arrogance. Slander, libel, and other verbal assaults – yes, fear. It masks as “hatred,” but come on, Yoda fans, have you not figured this out yet? If you push down the other long enough, your ego can feel safe.

How do we alleviate the suffering that comes from this?

It takes on a different cast when you think of someone suffering. Like Anakin Skywalker, there’s a little boy in there that feels the loss of his mother (fear), worried that all that he loves will be taken from him by someone better (anger and hatred,) and then living with the knowledge that he killed all those good things by his own hand and actions (suffering.) We can’t change the minds of others; they have to come to it themselves. However, sometimes some good old “I see you” unsettles the tirade. “I see you over there, afraid that you won’t be good enough if no one accepts your ideas or thoughts or beliefs. Don’t worry, I got you. I respect you as a human and you’re right to think what you want.” Does it always work? Oh, heck no. Most of the time, the first time, it doesn’t even really get started. But perhaps the betterment of the human race is a good reason to try.

And you know what? Stop watching the “news.” Stop getting your news from Facebook or some other profit-seeking source. Stop listening to what any news organization tells you is “truth.” There is an agenda – not some nefarious agenda to take over the world but people who speak have something they want you to believe, know, feel, or most likely, buy. Find out for yourself. I’m not saying to bury your head in the sand but all that fear is stoked by something. Try listening to a newscast with an objective ear. Stop listening for a week and then go back to it. Learn something directly – not through what someone tells you. Be skeptical and keep an open mind. Listen to your options. This is, in my estimation, the next step in ridding ourselves of fear. Think for yourself. Scary? Yes. Do you want to really be free? Then just do it. Your ego might, in the end, just thank you.

Photo by Aron Visuals on

Our “selves,” this temporary ego-driven mentality, will fade away when we take our last breath. The love or hatred we feel will be, like the energy we generate, carried into the entire universe. Energy to thrive, or energy to destroy. We can only affect our own little corners of the universe, and continue to work through action to make things better. Action includes talking, listening, and debating. Action also means doing something with what you learn. You want to fight fear, hatred, and suffering? You have to actually be a voice that changes the dialogue. You have to act to see equality and liberty for all humans, not just those you agree with. Maybe not a popular opinion. Just my opinion. And I am totally, completely open to discussion. Let’s get going!