Mastering fear

 Since I've been a teenager, I've been obsessed with the quest of how to attain peace... Why so much conflict, so much wars, so much hatred, so much will to stop listening and misunderstand?

I read obsessively history books, while my parents were arguing in the background, or giving themselves some silent treatment for days that would inevitably lead to more arguments a while later.

I later studied literature and read most of Shakespeare's plays on major political failures through history and wrote a dissertation on Frantz Kafka and Milan Kundera, with a teacher specialising in the literature of genocides... Afterwards, I enter a master in international affairs, just a few months after the September 11 attacks in 2001. 

As a journalist, I covered news in a time of new forms of conflicts: the war in Afghanistan, the Iraqi illegal conflict, the deterioration of the situation in the Near East and the worsening of conflicts in Central and East Africa were rumbling in the background. Since 2011, we have also witnessed only the powerless inaction in the face of the war in Syria. Mostly from afar.

I, personally, never wanted to cover conflicts. I went to cover elections, social issues, and specialised in the question of post-conflict: to find what can happen and be done after the fire has stopped. How do we restore peace? How do we foster reconciliation? How do we heal the wounds?


What I have learnt is that internal conflicts, family disasters and disputes are as harmful on the human psyche than terrible wars. Sometimes, both are even interconnected, on the personal level. 


The lesson I've learnt and am still learning is this one: the number one rule to overcome these prospect of fight, disagreement and conflict is to master not the way to win but the path to overcome your fear...

As long as you fear the other's violence or potentially violent response, you cannot master yourself and react in a position that can foster appeasement. 


Recently, I was discussing with a friend my will to write a book on how to achieve peace...

Tonight, I'm starting by sharing this advice: master your fear, calm the monster inside you, know, be aware that you can go through a situation. Don't give your power away to the bully...

Here are a few words from a real peace promoter, a woman whose life has achieved peacemaking way before I became aware of conflicts...

How do I deal with a bully, without becoming a thug? / Fighting with non-violence | Scilla Elworthy | TEDxExeter

How do you deal with a bully without becoming a thug? In this wise and soulful talk, peace activist Scilla Elworthy maps out the skills we need -- as nations and individuals -- to fight extreme force without using force in return. 

To answer the question of why and how nonviolence works, she evokes historical heroes -- Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela -- and the personal philosophies that powered their peaceful protests.


Scilla Elworthy


Three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee,  and Oxford Research Group founder. Author of  and .

More on non-violent action:

The secret to effective nonviolent resistance | Jamila Raqib

We're not going to end violence by telling people that it's morally wrong, says Jamila Raqib, executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution. Instead, we must find alternative ways to conduct conflict that are equally powerful and effective. 

Raqib promotes nonviolent resistance to people living under tyranny -- and there's a lot more to it than street protests. She shares encouraging examples of creative strategies that have led to change around the world and a message of hope for a future without armed conflict. 

"The greatest hope for humanity lies not in condemning violence but in making violence obsolete," Raqib says.


And this inspirational talk on personal experience in overcoming personal fears:

Reprogramming your brain to overcome fear: Olympia LePoint at TEDxPCC

Often called "The New Einstein," Olympia LePoint is best known for her role as an award-winning rocket scientist, science entertainer and educator driving to help people overcome fear. As an internationally-recognized science leader, LePoint helped launch NASA's Endeavour, Discovery, Columbia, and Atlantis Space Shuttles. She successfully helped launch 28 Space Shuttle Missions into Space. She won The 2004 Boeing Company Professional Excellence Award, and The 2003 Engineer of the Year "Modern Day Technology Leader" Award.  Mathaphobia: How You Can Overcome Your Math Fears and Become a Rocket Scientist is her debut self-help, educational book designed to empower adults and help students ace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education.   As CEO of OL Consulting Corporation, LePoint publishes educational books and executive produces Science TV shows.  With her extensive experience as a  math professor, LePoint educates in person and through the media. As a top-five graduate, LePoint holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Mathematics, and a Master's of Science Degree in Applied Mathematics from California State University Northridge.  LePoint advises for educational PBS TV programming with Wind Dancer Films, coaches through keynote speeches and workshops, and is as a media personality for TV, Radio, News Publications and Social Media outlets.

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