Ernest Becker 101

Asking people about living with the background knowledge of mortality does not make you popular at parties. You are likely to find less and less dinner invitations arriving.

Yet, the thing that Ernest Becker asked before I was cutting my eyeteeth in academic studies is likely still the most interesting and least considered topic on the planet.

We are an anemic culture where this topic is concerned. Our muscles are atrophied. We are not strong enough to have endurance for this conversation. But it is THE conversation that our very life may depend on. And maybe the well-being of the planet itself.

Out of Becker's work there is a whole body of existential psychology that is researching the effects of our death phobias under the moniker: Terror Management Theory. Most of these research project's findings support the idea that the fear of death causes the most extreme behaviors we exhibit as human creatures - for good or for ill. And it is the ill - the terror, the wars and terrorist activities and destruction - this is where the dark side of a death phobia will take us all.

So how do we strengthen?

Consider this blog a personal trainer. Here and many other places are talking about the taboo topic. Spend 5 minutes here or somewhere else on the web reading about death. Fit it in between your Farmville and your Twitter. In a month increase to 7 minutes of reading about death. In another month, try 10 minutes of reading.

Begin having 1 conversation about death with a trusted friend or spiritual leader. Next month, have 2. Next month, have 3.

Through small steps you can become a long distance runner with this topic. And your childrens world just might depend on it.