Henri Nouwen on fear and scarcity

Fear is a pervasive quality of our lives. Fear makes us think in terms of scarcity. It makes us think “This is a dangerous world. How am I going to survive? There is not enough for everyone. There is not enough food for everyone. There is not enough knowledge for everyone. There is not enough affection and I want to live! I want to be sure that I live! I want to stay alive!” This is a very common response in us.

When we are concerned that there isn’t enough, our first response is to start hoarding. We start hoarding the bread, the fish. Hoarding honour. Hoarding affection. Hoarding ideas.

If we start hoarding we find ourselves with enemies.

There are always people who will say, “You have much more than me.” You might say, “I know, but I need it for emergency situations.” They respond, “But I need it now. I’m hungry now.” “I want to know this now.” “I want to build this now.”

If we think with a scarcity mentality we find ourselves with enemies who want to take some of what we have hoarded. We are more and more afraid, because the more we have, the more people want our surplus. The more surplus we have, the more we are going to build walls around what we have hoarded.

The higher the walls get, the more fear we have of the enemies we imagine outside the walls… We find ourselves in a prison that we have built ourselves because of a fear that comes out of a mentality of scarcity.

Henri NouwenFollowing Jesus

Do you think this is true? Do you see fear causing damage in your life, in your workplace?

Where do you or your colleagues see scarcity where there could be abundance and generosity?

See also:
Thoughts on copyright and sharing
Seth Godin on leadership, generosity and charisma

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...