It makes sense that we as an evolving species are still afraid of the unknown. Fear is a survival technique, but since we no longer have to worry about what may be waiting for us in a dark cave; we fear what the future holds for us.
In addition to the everyday "fears" that we combat (described better as stress), we are faced with much more pressing anxieties throughout our lives. I believe these main concerns include the inevitability of our own death and the fairly safe assumption that we are beings living by our own means on this planet.
"What will happen to me when I die?" We are the only living things that know we will expire at some point.
Depending on the religion you subscribe to, or the one that your parents subscribed you to, you may fear the concept of hell. You could be stressing about the requirements for getting into heaven.
Not only is there no reason to believe that such a place exists, but also it's an unhealthy way to perceive the life we're presently experiencing. Life is so much more beautiful when we acknowledge that we exist only by the slightest of chances. We're living; conscience beings and our days are numbered.
Why dream of another life when you already have one? Should we not just accept that this is our one chance to be happy, to feel fulfilled and to make a difference during the short time we have on this planet?
The entrance requirement for getting into heaven is the people you leave behind. If they believe you lived a life that would warrant access to a higher place after death then you have surely made the most of your years. Heaven only exists in the minds of the people who mourn your death.
Personally I choose to face the inevitability of death with a different attitude. I am a fan of logic, which rules out the possibility of eternal fire (or the equally hellish idea of an eternal church service). I believe that the best indicator of what it will be like when we die is what it was like before we were born. We will no longer exist and we won't know it, we won't remember that we lived and we won't know anything. It will be more nothingness than we can comprehend. I can say this with reasonable confidence since I have no reason to think anything else.
This realization brings with it the release of fear. I don't have to worry. I was born and will pass away, just like every other living and struggling organism on Earth. I can't change it, and in an odd way that delivers a sense of peacefulness. All I can do is live my life the way I want to. Appreciating what I have right now rather than what could be gained (or lost) in death.
"How could I get by on my own?" As devastating as many people find it, there is simply no reason to believe there is a God. This article is not to convince you; I speak now to the person who already knows that and fears living by his or her own means.
If you have the power to create a problem then you have the power to fix it. The idea of a God has crippled humans for thousands of years; it had us convinced that we are nothing more than filthy, unworthy and sinful beings. Dust, according to the Bible, clots of blood according to the Qu'ran. This belief was necessary if the idea of God was to persist. If we were taught that we were self sufficient, why would we need supervision?
We are an imperfectly evolved species, but look how far we have come! Apparently God didn't know what we do now. For example, we do not have dominion over the animals as it says in Genesis. Micro-organisms and bacteria actually have dominion over us.
Believe in yourself. You have an advantage over the religious in that, at least you can prove you exist.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 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
The assumption that minister Marianne Williamson maintains throughout this pseudo-inspirational message is that all people, as the offspring of God, who find themselves inadequate in any way are misleading themselves. A bold statement, yet a subtly insulting one to any freethinking human. I'm fairly indifferent to what gives consolation to the untalented and unintelligent masses, but I don't believe that the minister would have a case if it weren't for her religious affiliations. I refuse to believe, and feel put off by the idea that my life only has the potential to be brilliant and fulfilling as the result of divine direction. So allow me to correct her. Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, nor is it that we are powerful beyond comprehension. The great despair of the masses is found in the crawling feeling that we are alone. That we are the only entities in control of our lives, and further, that we will die and this life is the only chance we have to accomplish our goals.