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Susan Ann Darley: Fear Reduction Comes Before Debt Reduction

Politicians in Washington must demand of themselves the maturity needed to act on behalf of the greater good

As a creativity coach I often ask a client, “What do you want your life to look like?” This ultimately leads to, “What is blocking what you want?” The basis of the block is usually fear or fantasy.

If someone wants a Lamborghini, an 80-room villa on the Italian coast and a passionate lover on each continent, it’s usually fantasy. I’ll let you in on a secret. Fantasy is often just a convenient cover-up for fear.

The United States has been operating on a bit of fantasy for years. With chests puffed out and far too little humility, we state that we are the most powerful country in the world. We pride ourselves in being the greatest humanitarian country on Earth as we pour funds into other countries — funds we don’t have. Our military is so powerful that it can destroy a country, then protect and rebuild it for years to come.

If there was a 12-step meeting for superpowers, we’d qualify. “Hello, I’m America and I’m co-dependent, addicted to oil, care what other countries think about me, and I’m careless with money. Welcome and keep coming back.”

What is it that keeps us so entrenched in fear? If we reduce the size of our military, are we afraid we’ll be perceived as weak? Are we so filled with fear that we believe that violence through warfare is the road to peace?

I’ll put my gun down if you’ll put yours down. It takes incredible courage to put the gun down first and without conditions. I once read that the country with the smallest military is the safest. Perhaps it is also the bravest.

We could invest in peace the amount of money we invest in war. Oh, we can’t. We are $14 trillion in debt. But we can justify the $1.26 trillion allocated to date to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because we’re told they’re necessary — and anyway, why should they have all the oil?


Creating policies for the common good of all requires both calmness of mind and emotions. An unselfish approach that rises above one-way attitudes. But this economic crisis has pushed the hot buttons of politicians, and the emotional dysfunction of Washington is thwarting healthy solutions.

We come together when there is a humanitarian crisis, or at least at the beginning of one. We pull it together and rally around when 33 miners are trapped underground or in our local neighborhood when a cat needs rescuing from a tree limb. Our focus is on one thing — protecting and saving a life.

Washington is currently out of focus. In this anemic economy, courageous and selfless acts are performed daily by ordinary people who are struggling to make ends meet, out of work for far too long or working two jobs to make ends meet.

The least our politicians can do is demand of themselves the level of maturity and grace that the average citizen has while under the heavy burdens of economic stress.

But fear does funny things to people, even makes them a little crazy. Like putting political and personal agendas ahead of job creation. Such as pounding their high chairs like 2-year-olds to get “their” way instead of acting on behalf of the will of the people.

Fear is ruling the day, and Washington’s dysfunction is spreading it around like wild fire. When we hired them to work for us, we obviously forgot the litmus test.

But recovery isn’t for all. Transparency demands rigorous honesty. Accountability demands maturity. A balanced budget demands discipline.

All of the above, when practiced, create clarity. And as every coach will tell you, clarity reduces and dispels fear. With clarity solutions will appear. It’s just that simple.

Washington, it’s time for emotional maturity. So get thee to a meeting. It’s time to realize that the knight on the white horse who charges in to save us is just a fantasy.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach and writer who works with artists, creatives and entrepreneurs to discover, use and market their talents. She offers a free 30-minute coaching session. Follow her on Twitter: @Coach7700. For more information, click here, e-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.845.3036.

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