This Thing Called Fear

Getting over my fears has been one of the biggest hurdles of my life.  I was born in fear.  It is likely one of the first emotions instilled in me.  What fear does is restrict and confine.  It kills creativity and silences debate and free thought.

I am ruminating about these things as read that Malala Yousufzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, has had a successful surgery but remains in critical condition.    Let’s all send our thoughts and prayers to her for a speedy and full recovery.  I know at the age of 14, I was ruled by the fears that bound me.  I admire this young girl so very much for laying down the gauntlet and saying that it’s not acceptable to be treated in the manner that young girls and women are in Middle East.  That they deserve equal footing, an education and the same rights and privileges that men do.  This is a world-wide issue for women everywhere, as even in the Western world, we are still not on equal footing with our counterparts.

Understand too, that fear is what was instilled in the men who took it upon themselves to shoot and try to silence her.  It is not some sort of power or bravado that drives them.  It is fear.

Fear of their God.

This for me is one of the most fundamentally incorrect statements ever uttered by religious leaders.  Why should I fear God?

Yet these young men are taken as boys and fed a barrage of hate which masquerades as religious training.  But teaching someone to blow themselves up and take as many infidels with you  or  shoot to kill for the sake of appeasing your God…well, sorry.  I don’t buy it.

These young men come out of this tormented state fearing the world around them.  Anyone who does not agree with their ideology is considered a threat and must be eliminated.

Very sad that this is allowed to continue under the name of religion.

I have met people from every religion.  Good, beautiful people who worship regularly.  They don’t fear me nor I them, despite our different points of views.  I have met many people who have walked away from the faith they were raised in and I have known people who have found solace in a different faith.

The beauty of it is, there is always a respect shown and given.  No judgements are passed. Believe what you will, as long as your heart is in a peaceful and loving place, that is what matters.  And a person who goes out and willfully shoots someone in the head does not have their heart in a peaceful and loving place.

For a very long time I existed within the confines of fear.  Then the question that kept coming up was “What are you afraid of?”  And you know, I couldn’t answer right away.  It was a line of thinking that had simply never allowed me to look beyond the chains that bound.  And when I did venture out and begin to look beyond the realm of fear, what I found was so very beautiful.

That said, fear doesn’t let you go that easily.  It will still creep up ever so subtly to work its way back into the recesses of your thoughts.

I have been thinking about a silent protest.  Now, I am somewhat ambivalent about the use of that word.  Protests are, by their very nature, confrontational which can lead to heated temperaments and violent interactions.  So perhaps I should say just a silent gathering.

Here is the idea.  Everyone who reads this post, please share the idea that on Sunday, October 14th, 2012 at 11:00 AM go outside of your home.  Gaze up at the sky and offer your heartfelt prayers  and wishes  to Malala for a speedy recovery  but also offer a prayer to the young men who did this that they might find peace and guidance.  I know that many will find it abhorrent to offer such sentiments in the face of such a horrific act, yet a part of me feels we must somehow let these young men see past their fear.  Perhaps this is a start in offering our energy to assist them in this endeavour.

I don’t know.  It’s just a thought, but I am going to do it.  I hope you will join me.


6 thoughts on “This Thing Called Fear

  1. I really like this post. I’ve always had an issue with crimes committed in the name of this or the other God, as some of the most grotesque atrocities in history have been so ascribed, as if that suddenly makes it okay. I can have compassion for the perpetrators to an extent, but ultimately, we are all responsible for our own actions, no matter what we’ve been taught. At some point, we need to lift the haze and start asking questions. Question everything!

    In regards to fear and the question of “What are your afraid of?”, I read somewhere that when people are afraid, it’s not really of the thing they think it is (e.g. flying, public speaking, big spiders,etc.) Rather, they’re afraid of their own reaction if brought face-to-face with that thing – afraid that they won’t be able to handle it. That is to say, they’re actually afraid of themselves. I’ve found this to hold some truth for me.


    • Thanks for your comments Janna. We are ultimately responsible for our actions, but there is something to be said for being spoon fed a narrow line of thinking from a very early age. Yes, those who commit such atrocities should be held accountable and penalized but I am deeply saddened that they are being trained to do this in the first place. Such tight and constrictive expectations do not allow for these men to think freely. I have watched documentaries on this. Are the boys abused? Oh yes.

      Fear has many faces. There are universal fears and fears that are induced. For example, if I am walking in the woods and encounter a bear, there will likely be fear in this encounter. This is a more primal fear that kicks in. I would likely feel threatened instinctively. And then there is the fear that is pounded into a person at a young age in a setting that is violent and designed to restrict the development of said person. I am not afraid of myself, though I may in fact be fearful of my reaction to something. Moreover for me, personally, it was a fear of pain and hurt unimaginable in their context.

      It is always interesting to look at the cause. Thanks again.


      • Hi Nancy. You are definitely right about there being many faces and degrees of fear. I hope what I wrote before didn’t come across as offensive or trivializing of the challenges that people have been through or continue to face, for that was in no way my intent. I just thought that what I read about fearing one’s reaction to a situation was an interesting way to look at it – perhaps almost philosophical. Like, if one encountered a bear, for sure there would be fear for one’s safety and survival. There might also be another layer of fear of doing the wrong thing in that situation – of running when you should have played dead, or of freezing up doing nothing at all. We never know how we’ll react in a given situation until it actually happens, and that unknowable aspect of the self – to me at least – is rather scary, as I much prefer to deal in things I can rely upon.

        As I said, I really enjoyed this post, and I appreciate what you were getting at.


  2. Pingback: Leadership Thought #407 – Fear Sells, But The Costs Can be Significant « Ed Robinson's Blog

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