Wishcasting Wednesday: Being Very Afraid

I haven’t done Wishcasting Wednesday since before Jamie Ridler moved it to her main blog.

Today, she asks: “What do you wish to tell the world?”

My answer: I wish to tell them that they don’t need to be afraid.

Fear is one of the most powerful forces within the human psyche. Danger surrounds. Adrenaline pumps. The rational mind shuts down. It’s fight or flight, extinction or survival. God created us with the fear instinct for our own self-preservation.

And what’s more, we prioritize fear over pleasure. That is, if both instincts are aroused simultaneously, fear wins out. This works out very well in the wild. Let’s say you kill a gazelle and are ready to dine, and a hungry lion discovers the food you have laid out before you. That food may be rightfully yours, but are you going to argue with the lion? Hell no! And your instincts help you do the right thing in this instance, because you know that the lion is bigger than you and stronger than you and maybe hungrier than you, and it would have no compunctions about tearing you to shreds in order to get first dibs on your dinner. So like a whimpering hyena, you step back and let the lion eat its fill, and only then do you pick off what’s left.

We instinctively are always watching for danger, always ready to respond. And today’s “dangers,” as it were, attack us constantly. Rush-hour traffic on the way to work. The boss’s withering stare. A bounced check. Politicians who expertly prey on our fears in order to get us to vote one way or another. News editors who terrify us with dramatic stories of crime and disaster. Even ad writers who evoke fear in order to sell products.

And this excess fear can make us paranoid and cause us to overreact, even when we are not truly in danger. No wonder that people guard their pre-teen children as though they were toddlers, refusing to let them grow in responsibility and independence, even though our society in the US is now safer than it’s ever been before. As Lenore Skenazy (the journalist and author who let her 9-year-old son ride on the New York subway by himself) pointed out in a recent blog post:

If you, for some strange reason, WANTED your child to be KIDNAPPED AND HELD OVERNIGHT BY A STRANGER, HOW LONG WOULD YOU HAVE TO LEAVE HIM OR HER OUTSIDE, ALONE AND UNSUPERVISED HERE IN AMERICA, FOR THIS TO BE STATISTICALLY LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

The answer, crunched for me by Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously is this: 750,000 years.

Recently, I went out for an extended walk. I stayed out long past nightfall. I later learned that my wife was afraid I might have been attacked by someone, a stranger. But if it’s that unlikely that a kid would be kidnapped, how much more unlikely an adult male?

And this level of fear is unhealthy. It causes stress and can produce hypertension, headache, fatigue, depression, and even psychosis.

Fear makes us do crazy things and think crazy things. George W. Bush’s approval rating went up faster than had any other president’s, in September 2001. And many Americans gladly supported going to war, and then enthusiastically continued to “support the troops,” simply because they needed to feel safe—even though warrior aggression almost always produces more enemies than it does friends, thus making us less safe. But that doesn’t matter, because we need to feel like there’s a protector for our fears, and we don’t have the faith to trust God to do it.

The good news is that we need not live in fear.

The apostle John wrote, “Perfect love drives out fear.” He of course was talking about fear of God and fear of each other. Sometimes I think we are afraid we’re about to be punished by God, maybe because we’ve enjoyed life too much. Or we’re afraid of all the people we don’t know, who may not have “perfect love.” But—I assure you—God will not punish you for enjoying life. On the contrary, He wants us to enjoy life! He gave us life in order that we might enjoy it. And practically all of those strangers are just normal people, just like you and me, maybe without perfect love, but with enough love that you don’t need to fear them.

We do not need to live in fear. The good news is that we actually can live in love, if we choose to.

-TimK

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Comments

Tim:
First, let me tell you how wonderful it is to have the male energy with us wishers! Congrats and thanks for joining in.

Next, let me tell you how much I adore what you wrote here and I’ve written about this exact some idea. It’s great to read another’s perspective on this important topic.

Fear kills the mind. Yet we don’t mind sacrificing it in small daily slivers by worrying and fretting and being fearful. Thank you for putting it in perspective.

As Tim wishes for himself and all of us, so I lovingly and with intention wish for him, also.

No FEAR!

Hi Tim,

Great post! It’s like we are afraid not to be afraid for fear of not having a fear. I wish that your fantastic wish come true for all of us … Thx

Giulietta the Muse

As Tim wishes for himself, I wish for him also.

Wonderful post!!! Yes, fear can just shut you down and close you off!! Namaste, Sarah

Wow, Tim, rock-on! Thank you for your amazing eloquence and follow-through with that thought…as Tim wishes fearlessly for himself in his message to the World, so to do I wish for Tim in his bold and spot-on declaration.

As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for her also. According to free will and harming no-one.

May we shed our fears, as we shed our tears!

Excellent excellent post.

As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for him as well.

Excellent post….though I think you have mis-characterized the fear of God. To say that ‘God will not punish you for enjoying life’ in a Judeo-Christian context is silly. Have you read the bible and the thing you CAN’T do?

Straight up, religion is a means to control people by the fear of what God will do to them if they are bad. Said best by George Carlin:
“…And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever ’til the end of time…but he loves you”

As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for him also.

YES! YES! YES!

I have written about this, spoken about it, more times than I care to count. Our fears create that which we fear.

Listening to a Bo Lozoff interview, he brings this up when he says that we are so determined to be comfortable that we are not living. LIFE is not MEANT to be only comfortable. Humans are meant to take risks, get out there, create heaven on earth! 🙂

Have I read the bible? You’re kidding, Jim, right? 🙂

Thanks so much for all your fine wishes (and those yet to come). I appreciate them.

-TimK

As Tim wishes for himself, I wish for him as well.

I have not had the pleasure of visiting you before today, but how happy I am to be here now. This is a wonderful post Tim. May we all live in love and not fear. Thank you.

As Tim wishes for himself, I wish for him also.

As Tim wishes for himself, I wish for him also.
Blessings!
As I

Very wise words. Thank you Tim.
The quota Nothing to fear but fear its self is one I hold dear.
As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for him as well.

As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for him also.

As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for him also.

Here’s to getting past fear!

As Tim wishes for himself (and the world), so I wish for him (and the world) also.

As Tim wishes for himself, so I wish for him also.

Great post!

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