• Victor V. Motti

We need both Futurists and Feariatrists

Updated: Feb 5

Fear is basic to human nature and in general to animals' instinct. Fear has been historically cultivated and used by the religious system of beliefs. In particular around the concept of hell and fear of death to attract more believers. Our first teachers to fear things in our environment are our own parents. But we are often not told how to make our conception of fear more sophisticated and manageable as we grow into adult persons. We stop learning about fear.

Writing this foreword amid the rising fear of Wuhan coronavirus epidemic, fear of death in the endless wars in the Middle East, the rise of artificial intelligence and technological structural full unemployment, and the last but not the least important the planetary confirmed trend of destruction of ecology, I can hardly overlook the importance of fear in our imagination, calculations, planning, and action.

My key interest in integral futures studies is focused on the identification and discussion of binary oppositions. This is done within the framework of the Persian mythology of the Lord of Wisdom versus the Ignorant Mind. One might name a few binary oppositions such as fearful versus fearless, raw versus sophisticated, simple versus complex, and negative versus positive types of fear.

The authors of this book ECO-FEARISM: Prospects & Burning Issues, Bhawani Shankar Adhikari, Osinakachi Akuma Kalu, and Desh Subba argue that a core parameter which can give us significant leverage in the world complex system is fear. However, we need to use the fear wisely and in a positive way to save the planet.

There is a strong connection between futures studies and fear studies. In science fiction we have dystopian and apocalyptic narratives. In the formal futures research the collapse or disaster scenario is not missing from a usual range of alternative futures that are generated. Existential risk centers and their scholars also deal with and use fear in large scale for policy recommendations.

A great advantage, and unique feature, of this book is that it contains the Western, the Eastern and interestingly the African voices and points of view. The authors also have a deep philosophical approach and even give prominence to a process of dephilosopy that puts the spotlight on fear ontology. Fear is the key driving force which is either moving forward the human consciousness or keeping it from flourishing and evolving toward a good future.

Understanding the fear broadly and deeply has practical applications. A fearlessness-based social or political movement sometimes is all what we need for large and radical change. For example, large number of human populations are still living in different types of dictatorships, authoritarian and totalitarian states. However, fearlessness is a negative quality too if possessed by the so-called elite class who are governing the world economy and committed to destruct the planet through rampant and careless resource extraction in the name of wealth generation.

Following the mantra of futures studies, learning, un-learning, and re-learning fear is therefore necessary. Insecurity, fear of the jobless future, fear of uncertainty, fear of foreigners or foreign languages are driving us into unwise decisions and actions. Challenging our consciousness by refining and re-framing fear will enormously help us overcome planetary grand challenges.

We need both Futurists and Feariatrists--a new term that you will learn more about after reading this book. Such new category of professionals can help more established experts like analysts who work on risk management, negotiators who develop diplomacy to resolve conflict situations, and even military commanders who imagine the future battleground. They are among the audience of this book. Because they will obtain fresh thinking and imagination about the complex phenomenon of fear.

But the most obvious focus of the book is theory building for the ecology and how to list actionable recommendations about adapting to and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, global warming, and the Anthropocene. Ecology can be saved and improved by a wise, reasonable and positive cultivation of fear. This book is a call for finding the wise balance or equilibrium between ecology, economy and fear.

One final note. As a professional futurist I continue to wonder about a particular scenario. What if the future belongs to smart machines equipped with Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) that have a built-in wise balance between fearfulness and fearlessness in contrast to us humans who cannot keep the balance. Those robots as the new actors and players could be designed by default to have complete freedom from fear or totally constrained by it, or even better to be somewhere in between, enabling Alternative Planetary Futures.


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