Past posts have talked about the harmony and abundance that the Good Neighbor Policy brings, especially to the disadvantaged among us. Honoring our neighbor’s choice and righting our wrongs brings us more than material benefits, however. Our inner peace, which helps to heal both body and spirit, is greatly augmented by embracing the non-aggression principle.
When we choose aggression as our means, we become suspicious of other people. For example, we fear that drug manufacturers might sell us a dangerous, untested drug just to make a few dollars. The people who benefit from pharmaceutical regulation encourage our hostility by focusing our attention on a few unscrupulous individuals. We forget about the many dedicated researchers trying to discover cures for our diseases and begin to view pharmaceutical manufacturers as enemies. When the aggressive regulations that we enact destroy competition and cause the price of drugs to skyrocket, we blame drug makers for “exploiting” us. We become cynical as our own original suspicions are validated by “proof” that we ourselves unwittingly create. Our self-destructive spiral continues as we demand more aggression-through-government.
Suspiciousness, hostility, cynicism, and blame, which “justify” our aggression-through-government, constitute the toxic core of Type A behavior. Negative judgments about others, rather than the fast pace associated with Type A attitudes, alters the body’s biochemistry in a way that accelerates cardiovascular disease even in individuals not genetically predisposed the heart problems.
As we’ve seen in previous chapters, the poor are hurt most by our well-meaning aggression. The lower rungs on the Ladder of Affluence are destroyed, preventing the disadvantaged from beginning their climb. Unable to legally create wealth, some steal it instead. Others simply give up in sheer frustration, succumbing to the seeming helplessness of their situation. Caught in the poverty trap, they resign themselves to their fate. The disenfranchised put up only a token struggle, believing that they “can’t fight city hall.” Consequently, their helplessness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These attitudes of frustration, helplessness, suppressed anger, giving up, and resignation are Type C traits that suppress our body’s immune system, making us more susceptible to cancer and other diseases. Aggression-through-government encourages Type C thinking in its victims.
Unlike Type A and C thinking, Type S (self-actualized) thinking focuses on how we can change our situation by changing ourselves. For example, if we want to be paid more, we can work harder or get training in a more lucrative field. When we stop looking toward others to fulfill our dreams, we automatically turn to strategies that make us less dependent upon them. We have greater control over our own lives when we stop trying to control others. As we practice Type S thinking, we become more disease resistant and live longer. People who get counseling to change their Type A or Type C beliefs to Type S beliefs can cut their chance of heart disease or cancer in half.
In dealing with others, Type A thinkers generally attack; Type C people generally submit; people with Type S attitudes generally do neither. Because of their fear-based strategies, people with Type A or Type C attitudes often feel isolated from others, while Type S personalities are most likely to feel connected.
The importance of feeling connected was revealed to me by a man involved in convincing the American public to accept aggression-through-government. I asked him what he wanted out of life, and he quickly replied, “Power and money.” He already had both, so I next asked what he thought would make him happy. Despite his apparent success, he felt disconnected and apart from the rest of humanity. Happiness, he believed, required this connection.
Years later, I finally recognized how profound this gentleman’s insight had been. With his “propaganda” campaigns, he regularly manipulated public opinion. Before we can deceive people, steal from them, or assault them, we must first separate ourselves from them internally. We feel justified in bending them to our will because we consider ourselves wiser, nobler, or stronger. In other words, we feel that we are somehow better than they are; we are different, separate, apart. Aggression is the physical manifestation of our judgment of others and our internal separation from them. In using aggression as his means, this power broker destroyed the connectedness (goodwill toward all) that appears to be a necessary precondition for happiness. In using aggression as his means, he sabotaged his ends.
Now we see that the thoughts used to justify aggression also keep us from health and happiness. Even those who have succeeded in acquiring power and money suffer until they learn this lesson. Their own quest for happiness will drive them to become Good Neighbors.
But won’t many aggressors die before they learn that nonaggression serves them? Certainly! However, as the importance of abandoning aggressive thoughts becomes more prevalent in our culture, the benefits of becoming Good Neighbors will become more obvious. More people will learn; fewer will aggress. Finally, aggression will become a cultural aberration, rather than being accepted as a necessary evil.
Indeed, a great deal of progress has already been made in the last few centuries. Slavery, at least in its most blatant forms, is no longer acceptable in “civilized” society. Women are no longer considered the property of their husbands in developed nations; most people there also consider torture barbaric.
The desire to end our own suffering and experience better health and more happiness drives each of us to become Good Neighbors. Truly, it can be—and will be—a win-win world!