Fear: the Last Frontier

By | July 14, 2017

[July 14, 2017]  On my way back from visiting my doctor, I was listening to a local FM station personality talking about how we Americans overrate the fear factor in our daily lives.  For example he noted that tomorrow’s high temperature is predicted to be in the mid-90s and considered “highly dangerous.”  He asked rhetorically whether the citizens of Mosul, Iraq who are still under siege by ISIS would agree.

Yet, fear is the chief impediment to overcome in our development as leaders and as good people.  It is the last frontier for us to conquer as it holds our inner demons; freeing us to do those things that will make us better people.  Courage is, of course, the way people do this but it must be remembered that courage is not the absence of fear, it is the mastery of it.

The most famous quote regarding “fear” in the 20th Century was by past-U.S. President Roosevelt who said in 1933 during the darkest times of the Great Depression that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  He was right.  Fear is an enormously destructive force (and a survival force as well); one that harms us in ways we don’t even know.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu, ancient Chinese general

Conquering fear has been a subject of study since the beginning of civilization.  From the writings of philosophers, military and religious leaders, and psychologists and historians we see that fear is both a common subject and a stubborn human characteristic.  Our heroes are praised for their achievements that universally involve overcoming fear to do something that no ordinary person could do.

Exaggerating fear and playing upon it does not help people.  Like our radio personality noted above, he was pointing out that such hyperbole is counterproductive.  Too many young folks we meet withdraw in fright whenever asked if their future plans includes the U.S. military.  Their reaction is that they don’t want to be killed.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome

Fear will always be the friend of evil, terrorism, and tyranny; it’s manipulative of every one but especially of those weak in mind.  Through courage and wisdom it can be overcome.

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