Since that awful day in 2001, I've been very clear about one thing. Fear is a weapon. Those who seek to control us, the people, wield fear as a weapon to control our reaction, our attention and pervert our American values. But what is fear, really?
When our survival mode kicks in due to physical threat, fear is real and grounded. It may keep us alive. I've felt fearful around violent or intoxicated people...a remnant of childhood when my survival seemed at risk. But this is a very different fear from imagining a violent incident or out-of-control situation. This type of fear is ungrounded. It is based in our minds by focusing on bad things that MIGHT happen. And those who use fear as a weapon are only too glad to help us paint fearful images, create panic and then seize control as the "hero" who will save us.
What should we do with this ungrounded fear? Bob Newhart delivers simplistic advice on ungrounded fears in this clip. I often find truth in humor.
What Mr. Newhart doesn't cover is the replacement or antidote to fear. What works for me is practicing courage. This is the exercise of taking action, despite fear. Action eliminates fear and restores our sense of control. We are no longer "at the mercy" of "whatever may happen."
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
How do you conquer your fear? Do you make plans "just in case?" Do you observe what you are thinking and treat fear like a weed... pulling out those thoughts and planting something nourishing? I'd love to hear stories from you about times when you've conquered fear and exhibited courage.
Our country needs us to be courageous. Our communities and families need to be courageous.