“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”
I wrote this piece a few days after the attacks, but decided to not publish it at that time. Today, however, I read Ngobesing Romanus’ post “What people fear the most” and I thought I’d publish this in response.
It is valid for all types of fear – not just fear of terrorists.
Let’s talk about fear – about terror.
Whenever an unusual disaster occurs, people start expressing fear. The terror attacks in Paris recently was a telling example of this. My government raised the perceived threat level, various US states stopped accepting refugees from certain areas (or entirely), people interviewed in various media say they feel threatened and more alert – staying away from certain areas, viewing people who appear to be middle eastern with suspicion, avoiding public transportation, etc, etc.
Are you afraid, Dear Reader?
If you are, why? Of what? The odds of getting injured or killed by an accident in our own bathroom far surpasses the risk of being the victim of a terror attack, yet I doubt people are afraid to go into their bathrooms. Few of us fear crossing the street or driving a car; few are afraid of preparing food; more of us fear going on a plane but they are still few in comparison.
At any moment, any number of accidents or assaults could occur – most of which are far more likely than a terrorist attack. So why do so many of us succumb to fear now?
It’s no different than a child’s fear of the dark.
We fear what we don’t understand, what we can’t see, and what we feel we have no control over. We feel powerless and uncertain, which makes us angry and hateful and afraid. And that is exactly what terrorism is all about – making us afraid to live our lives. Creating chaos. Inspiring terror. Making us unfree.
If we succumb to fear we give the object of our fear power over us.
That is exactly what terrorists want. That is exactly what bullies want. That is exactly what sexual predators want. Power and control over our lives.
Instead, “keep calm and carry on”.
That was the advice to the British people during the air raids of WWII. They lived under a very constant, very real threat of getting bombed, every day, yet they were told to go about their lives as best they could.
Be aware, not in fear.
Do not let the terrorists and bullies and criminals of this world control and limit your life. Be aware of the threats that are out there and take reasonable personal measures to protect yourself as needed. By all means, lock your doors and have security measures in place. By all means, avoid taking unnecessary risks in your life. By all means, if you encounter a threat to your person move away from it if at all possible. Be prepared – physically and mentally – for the dangers of life. Be aware of what is going on around you. Know that bad things can happen, but do not let them bother you until they do. You can’t predict where or when or how disaster will strike, so don’t dwell on it.
Do not let oppressors take your life from you while you still breathe – you are worth more.