"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
--- Frank Herbert, Dune - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
Fear is an ingrained response in all animals, including humans. But the biggest difference between humans and all other animals (other than the opposable thumb) is that we can make choices in the face of our emotions. Furthermore those choices can be based on those emotions or in spite of them.
One of the best definitions of courage I have ever seen is: “Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it."
---- Lt. John B. Putnam Jr. (1921-1944)
So where am I leading up to with all this? Simple, fear is evil. No not the emotion itself – that is a natural response to danger, physical, mental, or emotional; but letting fear take over one’s life and dictate one’s decisions – that is evil. And letting fear decide how we treat others is definitely reprehensible.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here – people that take an action affecting themselves have that right. But a person that takes an action that affects others, that is wrong – especially when the others involved are children or other people that have no say in the situation.
Here are a few definitions for evil and how they correspond to fear:
1. Morally reprehensible – fear of standing up for what one truly believes in for possible ridicule
2. Causing discomfort or repulsion - fear of going against the status quo because one might be ostracized
3. Causing harm – fear of leaving a bad or abusive situation because one does not know what the future holds
What I believe all evil boils down to is selfishness, and fear is one of the most powerful tools that lead to selfishness. People hardly ever even recognize it for such, because fear clouds.
If you find yourself making decisions based on fear, or think you are – then sit down with yourself and a trusted friend or counselor and start making a list. Make it a written list, because it is harder to ignore something that is tangible and on paper.
Make 4 columns. Write down the bad decisions you have been making. Write why you think you have been making this decision. Then write down what it is you fear will happen if you make a different decision. Then finally write what you believe will happen if you continue on the path you are taking.
Admitting and facing your fear is hard. It takes true courage. But if you do this, you will find yourself freer and a hero to yourself and possibly to others in your life.
Perhaps the most famous fear quote of all time:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
---- FDR - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933