Beating the Fear Game
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, blog post ideas, and things pressing on my heart big and small: consent, Brexit, the presidential election, paying for college, saving for retirement, what to feed my family for dinner, how to coordinate driving my kids in opposite directions once band session starts..
Some of these things are the day-to-day concerns that any parents have. Some are things I can’t really control. I’ve had a morbid fascination with “reading the comments” lately. Not a healthy pastime, so I made myself stop. You never realize the true depths of human hate and fear until you dive deep into the comments on a politically related post on USA Today. Trust me. Or, better yet, simply take my word for it and move on. What is it about anonymous computer screens that make people say such awful things to each other?
Given the things that can terrorize us, paralyze us, enrage us (real, perceived, or manufactured)…it’s a tough world out there. Now, imagine being a teen. Not fully understanding what the fuss is about, but being infected by the fear anyway (see: lockdown drills). Older people will gamely say, “Ha, in my day we had atomic bomb drills!” This, as a means to tell younger people to “buck up” in the face of global turmoil…yeah, not so great. Because hardening hearts shouldn’t be the goal, at least not in my opinion.
See, to me that’s where the crux of the argument lies. To quote a great metaphysical thinker (Yoda): “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”
Think about how many outlets are trying to make you afraid enough to do something their way. Certain fear is healthy: Fear of falling off a cliff keeps you from leaning too far over that observation rail, yes? But the more insidious fear–fear of an unknown, fanned by the flames of hate, rhetoric, and “spin?” Well, that’s what keeps us up at night–even our kids. And yeah, we suffer for it.
What’s the cure? To me, it lies in simple, but powerful things… Love. An open mind. Curiosity. Education. Meeting new people. Stepping in to help. Acknowledging prejudice and doing your part to keep it out of your own way. Understanding the roots of fear, so you know what it is when you see it, and why.
Kindness. Generosity. To have hope, and to share it. Be infectious with it.
Look, I’m not a philosopher, a perfect person, or an expert in much, but I remember what I was taught as a child, before I looked at the world with inferred filters. Just think how things could be, regardless of our stance on any given topic, if each person choose to be kind for a single instance each day, when they otherwise wouldn’t be?
That’s the kind of world I hope my kids inherit.