Friday, January 7, 2011

Is the Only Thing to Fear Is "Fear, Itself"?

One of America's Presidents encouraged our country at the beginning of the Great Depression with the statement; the "only thing to fear is fear itself". But, is the only thing to fear is" fear, itself"?I heard today that when one has "lost everything", then fear dissolves, because you have nothing to loose. The presumption was that one only fears the loss of the material. This is true for some, but it is too broad a generalization.

Fear can be ingrained in response to pain. One can fear the dentist or the doctor because of a painful experience or their high sensitivity to physical pain. Or one can fear the emotional pain of loving again after a painful loss. So, fear is a human response to stimuli, whether present situations or past experiences.

Fear can be bred, when one experiences the unexpected. Trust is the opposite of fear, in this regard. Rules of behavior, written or unwritten code of social "norms" are values that protect us from "fear of the unexpected". These "norms" are built on trust and are the basis of human relationships.

Today's "talk" posed courage as the opposite of fear. This is true, as courage is about fearlessness, but courage that is baseless irrationality, which disregards past experience, one's personal propensity to pain, whether physical or emotional, or the trustworthiness of one's present community, are all rational considerations in evaluating whether fear is justified. Fear is not necessarily bad. It is an emotional response to pain. It serves as a warning. So, should we always disregard such fear and act in the face of fear? Some would regard acting in the face of fear as courageous, while others would think it the height of presumption and foolishness!

Courage is built when fear is faced, acknowledged and addressed. Sometimes the fear is an entrance into "self-knowledge", while other times it is a call to courageous acts.

One cannot be too simple in understanding human emotion.

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