The Other ‘F’ Word: Fear

 

Fear unfortunately is all around us: world events, politics and heart wrenching or mind reeling stories that the media reports. It has caused many of us to become more anxious about not only our future but our children’s future. I don’t watch the news or read the New York Times anymore.  It’s just too much for me. By choosing to not watch, listen or read the news, I have chosen to avoid most of it. I will not buy into it; I will not be a party to it. I have noticed how sick and tired, literally, I become of this thing called fear which takes on a life of its own. Fear is pervasive. We absorb the fear and toxic or negative energies around us.

I don’t pretend that world events and soul shattering situations don’t exist. I’m not burying my head in the sand like an ostrich. Which is actually a myth.  An ostrich only appears to have its head buried in the sand.  When the flightless bird senses danger and cannot run away it collapses its big body to the ground. Keeping still, it lays its head and neck flat on the ground in front of it. The white feathers on its head and neck blend in with the sand or dirt on the ground.  So, again, I’m not burying my head in the sand like an ostrich, rather I am removing myself from a difficult situation. I am choosing to avoid something that seems dangerous and in this political season many, many people want to talk about and share their opinions. I must say I have become very good at redirecting the topic.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary describes fear as:  an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.

An awareness of danger…. How do we become aware of fear? I believe that fear is learned. We have learned since childhood to be afraid:  fear of not pleasing someone (authority, religion, family) and being punished harshly for it; a lack of abundance of money, food or love, and afraid of being without it again in the future; prejudices and witch hunts.  Like Pavlov’s dog, we have been trained to be fearful.

To be honest I have lived a part of my life feeling anxious and living in fear.  But, I have learned to step away from it. Fear can be un-learned.

What we fear (an object, a person, socializing, death, something emotional, physical or spiritual) manifests itself in our everyday actions and in each individual (mind, body and spirit). We become sick – physically and mentally. We become fearful of persons or situations and create scapegoats. The more energy we put out to this fear thing, the more power we have given it. This is exactly what is happening right now in our world whether it’s as big as world events and politics or as small as our own personal dramas. As this year has progressed, this fear thing has been intensifying.

The 32nd president of the United States assured Americans in the throes of the Great Depression in his first Inaugural address “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. “

Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.  While Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech to elevate the American people applied 80 years ago, I have wondered if this can apply to our World now.

Can we choose to be free from fear?

 

*Photos taken by the author at Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.

 

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Author: Leslie Sheridan

Writer and nature photographer

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