Somebody must have kicked you around some.
Who knows? Maybe you were kidnapped,
Tied up, taken away, and held for ransom.
It don't really matter to me, baby,
Everybody's had to fight to be free…”
Tom Petty - Refugee
“So why, oh, why, oh
Why, oh, why, oh, why, oh
Are we still in denial when we know we're not happy here…”
Outkast – Hey Ya
I’m tired of fear. In fact, I’m not only tired of it; I hate it. I’m starting to hate it with a passion. I’m starting to see it for the Enemy it really is. Fear does three things and it does them exceedingly well.
Fear tells us that bad things will happen, things that usually don’t. In this way, it occupies our minds, like a squatter. It doesn’t belong there, but it’s taken up residence just the same. It creates a history that never existed. It tells us that life, as we know it, is ending and that the world is doomed and we’re all going to die unless we do something. It uses words like “values,” “war on….” well, anything, terror, drugs or video game violence.
This kind of fear propels us into action. But it’s the wrong kind of action. It’s the action of fundamentalist religions, political parties and dictatorial bosses. It’s the action of abusive husbands and fathers. It’s the action that created the Viet Nam conflict, segregation, the Holocaust, and most stock market crashes. In truth, fear-based action is really desperation, and that makes it all the more dangerous. This is the fear of the aggressor and the abuser.
Fear also keeps us from the good things in life by keeping us “safe.” It tells us to not take chances or make changes. It tells us that the same miserable, boring awful life or job or relationship isn’t as bad as what’s out there. “What’s out there,” fear tells us, “is far more horrible than whatever misery we’re in now.”
We tell ourselves that the misery we’re in now is really quite bearable. We just have to get comfortable with it. We simply have to adjust and accept. If fear causes a man to beat his wife, it causes his wife to stay in the relationship. It is the fear of the abused child who keeps the secret. It is also the fear of the man who keeps returning to prison and the student who gets C’s though capable of A’s and B’s. It is the fear of the artist who won’t share his or her work with the world. It is the fear of the sex slave and the emotionally abused. It is the fear of the unhappily employed. This is the fear of the victim.
Finally fear causes some to destroy themselves. It tells us that the worst will happen and that there is no hope. This is the fear of anyone who is addicted to anything legal or illegal. It is the fear of the drug addict, the non-clinically depressed, and the suicidal. This is the fear of the dead, even those who still have heartbeat.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear but fear itself,” he wasn’t just being clever. We should be afraid of fear. It is the fear of fear that keeps me motivated, the fear of inaction or wrong action or living death that keeps me moving. Fear is a destroyer. It destroys productivity, happiness and Purpose.
The only way, the ONLY way to defeat fear is to take action. There is no substitute. Not counsel or advice or sympathy or even prayer. Those things may help us, but we still have to take action. There is no substitute. (Yes, I repeated that sentence, but it’s that important.)
Those are the only ways to beat fear.