Because humans are highly developed beings, their wants, desires, likes, and dislikes are legion. Therefore, the sources of their fears are more numerous than those of other, less-evolved species. One facet of evolution is the development of a self-identity—asmita (“I-am-ness” or ego). A human being is a conglomerate of numberless identities. Each individual’s sense of I-am-ness contains myriad elements—good, bad, healthy, strong, rich, poor, Hindu, Muslim, American, European, wife, husband, son, daughter, and so on. Within each of these identities, an individual carries an enormous burden of likes and dislikes, attachments and aversions. Each element of this burden creates a fear that some part of the identity will be lost or taken away or that an unwanted identity will be imposed.
The more fearless we are, the more non-violent we become.
All fear can be traced to attachment and aversion, and attachment and aversion can be traced to self-identity—the sense of I-am-ness. Our inclination to defend or attack has its genesis in our fear of losing something that we believe to be integral to our identity. Just as pain is a symptom of disease, violence is a symptom of fear. Fever counters threats from a virus or bacteria, and violence counters threats to identity. Fever and violence are both indications of an internal struggle. An uncontrolled fever can jeopardize life, as can violence. As long as there is fear and the cause for fear, violence will recur. The more fearless we are, the more non-violent we become.
The freer a person is from fear, the more open that person is. A fearful person is sealed in his or her own little world and, as a result, suffers from emptiness and loneliness. But a person who is free from fear is open and loving. Such a person has minimized his or her attachment and aversion, and so is naturally less caught in the idea of losing and gaining—and is thus free of stress and tension. Such a person remains tranquil in all situations.
Source: Why We Fight: Practices for Lasting Peace (Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD)