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Are You Fearless or Fearful?

Photo Credit: Doomsday Clock, The Bulliten of the Atomic Scientists Reveal 2018

Photo Credit:
Doomsday Clock, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Reveal 2018

Are you fearless? Or are you fearful?

Hopefully neither. They both result in the same undesirable outcome. And neither one is healthy.

Two media stories started me thinking these past few weeks about fear. Being fearless can kill you. Being fearful can cripple you. Both types of fear will eventually lead to a diminished existence. Both are the opposite of health and well-being.

The first story revolves around an unfortunate event at Bogus Basin this past week. A snowboarder, while trying to jump the road, was hit and killed by an oncoming car. This young man, in his 30’s, was clearly fearless and it cost him everything. The kid who hit him will probably be scarred for life. Being fearless can be deadly. To yourself and to others.

The fearful story is an update on the doomsday clock. The doomsday clock was created in the 40’s by a group of, no doubt, erstwhile scientists, to inform the public about possible approaching global calamity and destruction. The idea behind the symbolic clock is to inform the public.

Midnight on the clock represents the apocalypse, game over. The scientists then assign a numeric value, some number of minutes, until we reach this witching hour of midnight. Less minutes until midnight represents less time to the point of no return. The clock can also move forward or backward based on a number of variables. Variables such as nuclear proliferation and global climate change. They really don’t provide a way to avert this disaster either. The closer to midnight, the more urgent. The closer to midnight, the more ominous the situation. Each year in January the clock is unveiled. We get to see photos of very dour scientists, noble laureates, no doubt, all replete with expressions of paternalistic disapproval. They look at us as if we have been naughty. This year they have informed us that we are at two minutes until midnight. Two minutes! Apparently, these guys have some sort of crystal ball. And as guardians of “the secret knowledge” regarding the future of mankind, they feel compelled to spread fear and issue warnings.

Granted nuclear proliferation and global climate change are nothing to sneeze at. But instilling fear into an overstimulated population does very little to generate hope or actionable change. What it does is create functional-fatalists (yes, I made up that term). Fear can motivate in the short-term (and/or it can be paralyzing and create paranoia) but like everything else, the motivation runs short after other more pressing issues clutter up our lives, like work and family and play.

So, what am I getting at?

Fearlessness and fearfulness are each a curse. They will leave you depleted and/or dead. Same difference. They both are unhealthy emotions and should be avoided like the plague. Or avoided like polyunsaturated vegetable oil at least!

But there is an upside to fear that should not be ignored. In fact, it should be cultivated and disciplined.

True fear is a gift. If you are being chased by a grizzly, run. This will be the most exhilarating 7 seconds of your about-to-end-life (thank you Bill Bryson). Fear can also cause you to fight when it is necessary. And sometimes fighting is necessary. The trick is knowing when to run, when to fight, and when not to do either. Discipline and cultivation of this emotion named fear, can and will be the difference between a happy, productive, healthy existence, and the other kind of life.

Don’t be fearless. Don’t be fearful either. Be smart. And healthy.



2 Join the Conversation

  1. JudyLynn says
    Feb 27, 2019 at 3:59 AM

    I like this!

    • says
      Feb 27, 2019 at 10:44 AM

      Thanks, JL!

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