People are only mean when they're threatened... and that's what our culture does. That's what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they worry about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture.
As agonizing a disease as cancer is, I do not think it can be said that our civilization is threatened by it. ... But a very plausible case can be made that our civilization is fundamentally threatened by the lack of adequate fertility control. Exponential increases of population will dominate any arithmetic increases, even those brought about by heroic technological initiatives, in the availability of food and resources, as Malthus long ago realized.
As a human being with notoriety and a big mouth, I've felt most threatened during the first Bush Administration. Whenever there's a Bush in the White House, many people die, and the rest of us are threatened. I just didn't think it would happen quite so quickly. The so-called USA Patriot Act, and the announcement of trying people in military tribunals if Bush or Rumsfeld's or Ashcroft's people think they somehow qualify as terrorists, basically, this is McCarthyism run amok.
I was always pretty broad. I've had a couple bad experiences. One time, I showed up late for a gig in Brooklyn at an Italian restaurant. I ran on stage, did my show, and then some guy in the audience threatened to kill me because he didn't like my joke. Instead of talking to him, I just ran off stage. And then, because I was late, the owner of the restaurant threatened to kill me. And I was 19 years old and so scared that I almost started crying. But, I've done every gig you can imagine, in every state.
As Atwood concludes after a random and informal sampling, men and women differ markedly in the 'scope of their threatenability': 'Why do men feel threatened by woman?' I asked a male friend of mine... '[M]en are bigger, most of the time... and they have on the average a lot more money and power.' 'They're afraid women will laugh at them, ' he said. 'Undercut their world view.' Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, 'Why do women feel threatened by men?' 'They're afraid of being killed, ' they said'.
Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.
If you have realistic ideals and can generally live up to them, your self-esteem will not be threatened. If your ideals are exaggerated and you cannot reach them, your good feelings from successes may be short lived, and you may feel that you are never good enough. The continued hope for the impossible, the expectation that you will or can be unconditionally loved and adored, is not facing reality but rather holding onto an idealized image of yourself and an idealized version of what others can provide. If this is the case, your sense of self may be threatened by shame and its resulting depression, or by feelings of inadequacy for not living up to your unrealistic ideals. A better understanding of shame may help you recognize your tendency to hide what you feel from yourself and others.
Mary C. Lamia
Men are easily threatened. And whenever a man is threatened, when he becomes uncomfortable in places within himself that he does not understand, he naturally retreats into an arena of comfort or competence, or he dominates someone or something in order to feel powerful. Men refuse to feel the paralyzing and humbling horror of uncertainty, a horror that could drive them to trust, a horror that could release in them the power to deeply give themselves in relationship. As a result, most men feel close to no one, especially not to God, and no one feels close to them. Something good in men is stopped and needs to get moving. When good movement stops, bad movement (retreat or domination) reliably develops.