“Fear does not have any special powers unless you submit to it by empowering it” – Giovanni Niccolini.
Who is without fear in this planet? Did you just say it’s you? I am not sure you are being truthful to yourself if you answered yes to this question. Why are we constantly on the verge of fear? Are we born with the innate emotions to fear or we develop fears (irrational and rational) as we grow up as children or as adults? Or what is fear? These are questions that remain unanswered by many of us. Most of us usually have a reaction to fear “something” whether physical or perceived. For instance some people may have a fear of lightning, fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of going to hell….etc.
Are individual or collective fears nurtured when you are living in a world of ignorance or is it more pronounced when you are living in a world of technological advancement? In other words are our fears functional or dysfunctional for our everyday existence?
The greatest fear of advanced society today is the “US vs.THEM”. We are constantly afraid of “them” and not “us”. Is this irrational or it is a rational fear? We develop functional fears instead of innate fears. Looking at fear from a political perspective, this fear of the “Us vs. them” often yields into possible threats or attacks or may even go as far as protecting airspaces, water spaces, cyberspaces and the list goes on and on. What has even made this degree of fear of the “Us vs. them” worse is the inception of the terrorist attacks. For example, many people are afraid of flying recently because of an irrational fear that their aircraft might be brought down by terrorists or just something sinister would happen up there and that iron bird would suddenly drop from the skies killing everyone. What do you in that circumstance? Religion and its twin brother Faith come into play here by giving your some confidence, trust or encouragement. Once you are in the airplane and your fear and tension levels are high, you would want to say a little prayer to your God(Allah, Hari Krishna, etc) for a sound, smooth and safe flight whether you trust the pilots or the state of the airplane or not. Consequently, our fears override all our cognitive abilities to think. I remember a woman who lives in Belgium and would not fly after the 9/11 incident and has not seen his son who lives in France for quite some time now. She however, forgot or should I say “refused” to think of another alternative – going by road instead. This is the extent to which fear can do to us- break us down.
Even in our own families, you sometimes have this “fear feeling” that you’ve been left out in many things that matter most to us. This feeling automatically creates a sense of fear of not belonging. People who have that kind of strong sense of fear of not belonging would do all kinds of things either to belong (them) or rebel/fight or flee away from their oppressor (us). Many would do the second option of running away from such a family. If you feel like an outsider in your own family then you would hate your family and you might feel like joining a group that shares your sentiments in this case, “them”.
We cannot think straight when we are afraid and we need someone to say “this is what we need to do” to get you safe from point A to point B. This is where religion plays a major role in our lives.
Religion has often defined our lives and allayed our fears or worse still created fear in us. In religion, we are constantly fearful about SIN and DEATH. Not just death of any kind but death that will lead you to hell as a result of a life lived here on earth that was ungodly. You begin to cope with this anxiety that when you die, you might go to heaven where you will see all your family members or best friends. Subsequently, you become conditioned to do “good” so that in case you die you might be saved from eternal damnation.
The third medium for propagating fear is the media. The media has to a greater extent conditioned fear in many of us. It constantly feeds us with “negative stories” or breaking headlines news if you wish to call them that way but positive ones as well. This is because our minds are made to grasps fearful stories than a news item that simply says “a mother gave birth to beautiful baby girl”. Many listeners or viewers would not find that as news or something that is relevant for their consumption or survival. The media thus uses a carrot and stick approach. It plays up the dangers and fears of those things happening either to an individual or groups of individuals. That said, increasingly we get to know where disasters come from, where disease comes from, where danger comes from and how to get away from danger (flee). The media attitude portrayed makes one prone to fears and volatility that might lead to personal distraction.
Fear leads us to doubt and this doubt leads to discouragement and subsequently this discouragement results into distraction. What do you have to do to quell or uninstall these irrational fears? Just like installing an anti-virus in your computer that detects viruses, we can also install an anti-virus to detect our “fear viruses” in us.