[The following is a rough draft from my upcoming book, The End of Fear Itself]
I plan to use a tree analogy to explain the evolution of Fear throughout human history.
At the root of the tree is the Fear of the Unknown.
It is Lizard Brain Fear, and is probably the first fear that our most ancient ancestors—long before we were primates—must have experienced, and one that we still experience, almost daily.
What we don’t know can be terrifying, or at the least, unsettling. Is this new thing in front of me a threat to my life, health, safety? Example: the first time you encounter a wild animal in the woods, a snake. What is your mental and physical reaction? Does your heart race? Your mind? Does the hair on your arms stand up? All these are Lizard Brain, fight or flight reactions to Fear, fear of the unknown.
This fear of the unknown, of course, doesn’t just manifest itself in the woods when faced with the serpent that we don’t know; it appears in many other forms, every day in our lives.
It’s most destructive form is in a Fear of the Other.
When I say other, I mean other humans that we don’t understand: other races, cultures, languages, religions, political views, etc. It is this very Fear that has led to every single war in the history of mankind, and every conflict of every size. It is the Fear that leads to arguments in the home between man and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, parents and child, and leads to divorce, to heartache, to stress, and sometimes to murder and suicide.
In my opinion, this Fear, the fear of the Unknown, is the most destructive of them all, and the root of nearly all the other categories of Fear. I would say ALL other fears, but there is one Fear that doesn’t fall under this category: the Fear of the Known.