is fear turning us topsy turvy?
I received this email announcement yesterday:
BECAUSE OF GROWING THREAT OF THE H1N1 VIRUS IN OUR COMMUNITY
WE WILL BE CANCELING THE POTLUCK PORTION OF THE MEETING.
Color me confused. The potluck itself is no big deal to me –I’m happy to skip preparing a dish– but I cannot find any logical explanation besides irrational fear. There is no huge outbreak of H1N1 in our area, but “a growing threat”. I’m sure there are some cases, I’m sure there will be more, and we’re all taking precautions like washing hands often and staying home if we’re sick. Yes, sharing food is also discouraged, but I don’t expect this crowd to be swapping saliva like kids in the cafeteria.
I feel like fear is turning our world upside down and topsy turvy:
- Potluck? Scary. Same group sending kids overseas? Great idea.
- Using the bully pulpit to encourage kids? Scary. Pulling kids out of school to avoid it? Great idea.
- Health care reform? Scary. Keeping millions of people uninsured? Great idea.
I don’t mean to belittle the complexity or legitimate concerns surrounding these issues, and I admit, mentioning those hot button topics scares me a bit. Most challenges can’t be boiled down to polar right/wrong sides but require discussion, debate, and negotiation. I just feel like we’ve gotten a bit off kilter with hysteria. It seems like fear is taking the lead on everything, and I don’t think that’s healthy.
Fear makes us hunker down and avoid contact. It halts productive conversation, exchange of information, trust and enlightenment. We make assumptions based on limited or skewed information and exaggerate differences. We pass judgment. The chasm grows. It makes problem solving very difficult.
As a parent, I want to model for my children both confidence and compassion. If fear drives all of my decisions, I fail on both fronts. Sure, I have my fears, and I worry at times. I need to make sure my kids are safe. But I need to keep the beast of fear from getting out of control, for my kids’ sake. I want to get better at walking right in, facing the challenges, and seeking understanding before I react with fear.
How do you keep fear in check? We’ll talk more about this soon.
A couple of related writings you might appreciate:
- Jon from Stuff Christians Like on the bravery of a six year old.
- Allie Pleiter’s book Facing Every Mom’s Fears: A Survival Guide to Balancing Fear with Courage