Fear: Messenger or Mind Killer?

“Fear is the messenger, not the message.”

I read this in a book many years ago, and I try very hard to live by it. Any time I feel myself getting angry or scared of something I try to stop and examine my fear; to figure out why I am afraid and what my fear is telling me.

Dune also has a pretty good take on fear, which (thanks to a new movie) is a far easier meme to find than an extremely obscure quote from an old Batman novel. (An actual novel, not a graphic novel.)

Lately, its been very easy to let my fear take hold of me and cause me to make stupid decisions. There is so much fear in the world. Disease, politics, global warming; conflict, and economic fear is EVERYWHERE. (And that is just the tip of the iceberg.) We get fed fear everyday through the news and through social media. Fear is terrible, and herd mentality makes it SO much worse. Social media makes “herds” easy to form, and herds do stupid things.

Its easy to let fear control us, because fear is loud, and powerful, and immediate. Fear inspires instant action, whether instant action is actually required or not. News media is dominated by stories that generate a lot of fear. I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories generally, but there is something to the idea that news media makes it easier to control the public through the generation of fear. A world wide conspiracy cant be proved, but that doesn’t mean that the result isn’t real.

The opposite of fear, is love. Not a romantic love, but a general love; as in “love thy neighbour”. I truly believe that love is more powerful than fear. The problem is that love is the true opposite of fear; where fear is loud, and immediate, love is quiet, and slow. It takes time, and effort, and it can be fragile. Love can spread though, the “Pay it Forward” movement is a prime example of spreading love.

Fear is ignorance, love is understanding. Loving thy neighbour is much easier then you understand your neighbour. The trap we are falling in to is that understanding your neighbour doesn’t mean that you have to agree with your neighbour. Disagreement does not equal hatred. I can understand your argument and still disagree with you; that doesn’t make us enemies.

In these very scary times, there is a simple thing that can help us through. Perhaps Jeff Winger from Community says it best here:

If you don’t want to watch the video, his main point can be summed up by this quote:

“The truth is, the pathetically, stupidly, inconveniently obvious truth is: helping only ourselves is bad, and helping each other is good.”

We don’t have to agree with each other to care for, and look out for each other.