power in words and pictures

The Risk of Fear

The Risk of Fear

“In time we hate that which we often fear.” 
― William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

Watching the leaves falling from the trees, I am fascinated with how they change colors at their own pace and fall when their time comes. Eventually, they land on the ground with every other leaf and decompose or get raked into a pile and hauled to the leaf pickup. Sometimes, there will be one lone leaf on a branch, looking as if it is clinging to the tree, “No, I don’t want to fall, I just want to be green!” it appears to be screaming, until finally it develops its beautiful colors and can let go and flutter to the ground with the others. How like that leaf we are — clinging to what we know, not realizing that moving beyond the fear lies a happier place. As Charmian warned Cleopatra, we often find that which we fear becomes something we hate, when simply letting go would take us to a happier place.

Morals to stories (lessons) exist everywhere — in great pieces of literature, movies, television shows, and even in the story of the leaf that didn’t want to fall from the tree. The lessons that continue to visit me are the ones about ‘fear’. We might think we aren’t afraid of anything, but faced with enough items, we will each find something that drives us to not only fear, but to eventually hate. 

Fear of weighing too much drove me to hate having to eat for several years. Fear of getting poison ivy drove me to hate having to work in the yard for quite a while. Fear of the squishiness of mushrooms drove me to hate eating casseroles for many meals. No one ever said fear was rational, and many times we can see it is not. Too many times, though, we forget that our fear is only a frightening, take your breath away, kind of feeling. We allow it to move from feeling to a fact, which is how our fear can lead to hate.

There is consistency in this theme — if we don’t understand something, we fear it, and eventually, our fear becomes hate. Remember the class in school that caused you the most problems? Maybe hate seems a strong word, but when a kid is afraid of being embarrassed because he or she doesn’t understand the material, the emotions become pretty strong in reaction.Take it a step further, (you might be uncomfortable here) and think of people you don’t understand. Do you fear them? Have you seen that fear cause you to hate?

People who look different than we do, who eat different foods, who dress differently, who worship differently, or maybe who just live differently (in a camper or in a mansion) all seem to create fear within so many of us. For some odd reason, instead of allowing someone to not be like you or like me, it is easier to ridicule and then to hate — all because of a fear of something foreign.

Fear is the emotion that waits at the door when we are meeting new people and waits on our pillow as we try to sleep. Want to live with fear? It’s good to figure this part out because fear won’t just disappear.

  • Acknowledge it. We fear what we do not know and quite sadly those things and people we think we know enough about to make a judgment.
  • Rise above it. Think of times you’ve feared situations, people, or things before and how glad you are you overcame it. Past success helps to overcome new fear.
  • Embrace as a tool. Use the opportunity to learn from your fear before it becomes hate.

“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.” ~Nelson Mandela

 

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