Speaker: Vince Klassen

My dad was attacked by a dog early in his life. He was a small kid and the dog was huge (or at least that’s how he tells the story). To this very day, my dad is on guard around dogs, even if the dog is 1/10th his size. His brain associates “dogs” with “things to be scared of”.

How is it that a little moment from his childhood still impacts his actions today?

There is this strange circuit in our brains that is designed to keep us safe. In fact, this circuit has kept our species alive for millions of years, by making sure we are scared of things that can hurt us.


Is that circuit protecting us from things that can hurt us?

Or keeping us afraid?

Afraid of things that can hurt us? Things that we are unsure of? Things that we are not familiar with? Things that are strange?

Like that dog attack when my dad was little got encoded into his brain, so strangers are encoded into our brains as “things to be wary of”. 

Do you see how a circuit in our brain that evolved to protect us can go amiss in our day and age? Strangers are coded as threatening when they are just strange.

In a word:

Stranger Danger

Do you want to let that Stranger Danger feeling influence how you treat:

  • People from a different racial group?
  • People from a different part of Calgary?
  • People from a different gender or gender identity?
  • People who are different… in whatever way?

The highly evolved part of our brain, the spiritual part, says love. In our tradition we talk about

  • Loving our neighbor and
  • Loving our enemy
  • Loving the person we don’t even know, the Stranger

So how do we love those people who the Stranger Danger circuit in our brain says we should be scared of – should not trust?

Because the idea of Stranger Danger is a real feeling, but it might also be killing our ability to love anyone who isn’t like us, or from our group – that might not fit with the spiritual idea to love.

So join us for an informed, brain based, spiritual journey towards loving our neighbour by understanding and transcending the core feeling of Stranger Danger.


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