Blog: Fear & Consciousness

Andrew Scriven's Arctic Journey

Network photographer Andrew Scriven shares some self-reflections from the road during his three week trip to Svalbard in August 2014.

Protecting the Arctic
I have noticed there is a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction in London. It is a noise that constantly rumbles in the background. At times, it intensifies and dominates events in the foreground. It manifests itself in a variety of ways, most commonly in the form of moaning, negative commentary, jealousy, criticism and fighting. As part of this society, I recognize this phenomenon in myself.

I often wonder why this is the case in a city like London, an economically advanced society where everyone has access to the necessary commodities required for life. We have plenty of food in the shops and clean drinking water in our taps. We have a welfare system that offers a security blanket against absolute poverty and treats us if we are sick. We are free from the terror of war (think Gaza or Kiev and reflect on how different life could be) and are not threatened by earthquakes, poisonous snakes or wild elephants. The conditions for life then are comparatively good. So why are we not all happy?

Living in Fear
I believe a good reason is that we live in an environment of fear. For me, the biggest broadcaster of fear is our media. Newspapers and television networks love it! The end of everything is never far away. Terrorism is a permanent threat. Your childhood heroes are pedophiles. Religious extremists are coming for you. Cancer is too. You are overweight. Migration threatens the core values of our society. Sea levels are rising. Energy and food prices are rising. There is simply not enough supply to feed the growing population. You are going to lose everything. PANIC!

Do we need to live in fear?
One day, every one of us is going to lose all of our material possessions (we are all going to die one way or another) so perhaps we should fear everything. Bad things do happen. They might happen to you. But then they might not.

While living in an environment of fear, I feel we lose our power to instigate meaningful change in the world. The global system in which we live appears terribly complicated and riddled with danger. We therefore trust governments and global corporations to manage it for us and to make the right decisions.

Drilling in the Arctic
In our economic system, the primary aim of global corporations is to make money. They work closely with governments to this end and both benefit from the relationship.  Oil companies are not in the business of protecting the environment or building for a sustainable future. They simply wish to extract oil to make profits. I do not believe that drilling in the Arctic is the right decision. There are alternative supplies of energy available and the arctic environment is too valuable to destroy. I believe we should collectively take an interest to protect the arctic environment from drilling.

Being kind! The lessons learned from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
I believe we need to break away from fear. Making a conscious effort to be a positive component in our environment is a good place to start. Being kind and considerate. This includes considering the impact on your environment when you refuel your car and drive somewhere.

By collectively raising our consciousness, I believe we can instigate change in the world. Maybe one day in the future, we will live in a resource-based economy, rather than a profit-based one. Perhaps we will utilize the geothermal energy that is abundant in the earth and energy will be free for all. No more burning of fossil fuels, no more oil companies. This can happen. I hope it will.

I am conscious I am employing some double standards when writing this post. I began by sharing my thoughts on the abundance of fear broadcast by media and then I add to the noise by speaking about the dangers of global corporations and governments running amuck in the environment. I myself am broadcasting fear! How do I reconcile that?

The system we live in is not perfect. It continues to evolve and will change with time. I believe we all can influence how it changes. We are not silent passengers. If we can raise our levels of consciousness and aim to be kind, there is an opportunity to improve the system for ourselves and for future generations. It is not something to be afraid of. It is an opportunity.

See the full series from Andrew's travels here.
See his full photographer profile here.