Fear is the Thief of Humanity’s Light
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
There are times when something so tragic happens that it stains our souls. People will talk for days to try and understand why it happened, and what can be done to prevent it from happening. They will dig up every nuance of the person who did the unspeakable to try and say, “this thing here is the reason”. It will create conversations, and arguments over what law could be passed that would prevent it from happening again. We do this because, we want to validate that we are not in danger of becoming a monster.
The experts will talk for days about what causes someone to become so radical that they will take a strangers life. Whether they walk into a movie theater and start shooting, or they drive a car into a crowd of people, or they bomb a concert – it is always what could cause a person to do this? The families and friends will wonder how could we miss that someone they know would have this sickness?
All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Fears can cause a person to become unbalanced, and turn into a monster. It is the ultimate destination of misplaced and out of control fear. This cage of fear smothers a persons humanity, until they strike out at others like a wild beast that has been cornered. It begins in small ways. You may walk by someone being bullied, and you hurry past looking away so they don’t see that you are witnessing it. You don’t want to become involved.
You may listen to family members that practice mental cruelty to another family member, with unmerciful teasing and taunting and belittling. You become warped in your beliefs that “this is just the way life is”. You soon find yourself being attracted to the hateful speech of others. You identify with being a victim of social injustice. Step by step you walk in this path, blaming others for your lack of success or misfortune. You allow your fears to make up stories in your head, and step by step your humanity is lost. Most people don’t walk off the edge of sanity. They start paying attention to the hate and lies being told by radical groups and slowly they become another damaged life. They become lost souls..
Fear can weasel into our lives in softer ways. It is our fears that hold us back from honest communications. At work, at home, at school, relationships are lost because we don’t communicate with each other. We are afraid to be hurt, to be misunderstood, to be unloved, and so we don’t open up our hearts and say what we feel inside. Instead we make up stories as to how the other person will react, and we close ourselves off. We fence ourselves off, and we lose. Despite our efforts to protect ourselves we end up with broken hearts. No relationship can survive if we don’t learn to have heartfelt open communication, as reflected by the high divorce rates and abandoned friendships.
In my early 30’s I was laid off from work and my particular industry in Southern California had been hit hard with layoffs. No one was hiring and my family ended up moving into my parents basement while I looked for work out of state. During this time my Aunt visited from Oregon, and the three of us went to lunch on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with her. During lunch we had a conversation around what was happening, and I expressed how hurt I was because of something my mom said. I don’t remember what she said, just that it triggered the feeling in my that I was never “good enough” for my mom. With my aunt acting as a referee, my mom heard me for the first time. This feeling came from a time when I was a child. I had swept the kitchen floor and after I was done, she took the broom from me and showed me all of the places I had missed. From that moment on, I always felt I could not please her. That she would always find fault. She had no idea I had ever felt that way. We were able to heal a wound that had festered inside of me for years.
Fear can only rule our minds when we let it. We have the ability to challenge these fears when they come up inside our heads. We can question where this belief is really coming from. We can ask it, “are you 100% sure that this is the truth?” We can master the fear with courage. It is only when we are living a life of courage, that we can truly be free.
Fear is not always a bad thing. We might be walking home one night. We might consider taking a short cut on a path through the trees. After the first few steps, the hair on the back of our head starts standing up and our mind is shouting, turn around, this isn’t safe. So we turn around and walk down the lighted street to go home. The next day we hear that someone was robbed taking that shortcut. The fear we felt saved us.
Most of the time however, fear is not our friend. It robs us of our freedom. It claims to keep us safe, but instead it locks us in a cage. It robs us of a fully lived life. We never attempt to live out our dreams, because we are afraid of failing. I read a story in the news about a woman who was robbed at a Walmart in Oregon. A man stole her bicycle and she was yelling for someone to help her. This cowboy had his horse in the horse trailer, so he backed the horse out, and took off after the thief. He actually caught up to him, used his rope to lasso him, and dragged him back to Walmart and the police. The cowboy was a champion bull rider and has now been named “The Lone Ranger” and “the John Wayne of Southern Oregon”. He says he was just trying to do the right thing. After turning the thief over, he put his horse back into the trailer and went home to take care of his cattle.
Humanity should be our race. Love should be our religion.
This is a man who has faced his fears. There are far more people in the world like him. People that help others. People who don’t turn away when they see injustice. People who believe in doing the right thing, and who demonstrate those beliefs with actions. There are even more of us that want to follow that example. If you light your candle, and stand in the darkness, you lend your courage to others to do the same. Each person can light their candle from the flame you are shining out into the darkness. If we each take a stand for living a more fearless life, the world will shift. This is what living our purpose and living our dreams is all about. We don’t hide our light under a basket, but rather we shine our light out into the world. I believe that living this kind of life, keeps that monster from being created in the first place.