How to Be Insecure

“When an old culture is dying, the new culture is created by those people who are not afraid to be insecure.” ~ Rudolph Bahro

It’s common to think of insecurity as a horrid feeling, a form of negativity/weakness that we must banish from our lives. It’s true that unchecked insecurity can drive us to paralysis. But looked at through the lens of Bahro, insecurity takes on a liberating, empowering quality. I see it as a call-to-action—to notice, boldly rest inside of, and utilize this freaky undercurrent.

Risk takers who push the boundaries on what is fair and worthwhile in our society are essentially courageous practitioners of insecurity. When feelings of doubt and incapability arise for me, these past and present risk-takers light my lamp:

Frederick Douglass, former slave and fierce abolitionist. After escaping slavery he became a celebrated speaker, plus he founded and ran a top-selling abolitionist paper in the US. His book My Bondage and My Freedom is a moving lesson on tenacity and perseverance.

Harriet Tubman, former slave who saved more than 300 slaves through her work with the Underground Railroad.

Victoria Woodhull, the first woman who ran for president in the US—50 years before women could even legally vote in that country. She was a real firebrand, to say the least.

James Baldwin, author and social critic. You can get a sense of his flair in the recent documentary I am Not Your Negro.

Frans de Waal, scientist and author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. His Ted talk on the moral behavior of animals challenges the notion that humans hold a monopoly on justice and compassion.

Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, whistleblowers. It takes real guts to blow the lid off the opaque machinery of US surveillance.

Laura Poitras, truth-telling artist/journalist. Her documentary CITIZENFOUR, about Snowden’s revelations and his subsequent hiding in Hong Kong? Dang.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master. His book The Art of Power provocatively flips conventional understandings of power. He calls out potential misuses of mindfulness.

Who inspires you to step into the zone of insecurity/courageousness?

Share your thoughts.