Some years back I remember seeing a young man wearing a T-shirt with the words "NO FEAR" printed on it.
My reaction was if that were really true, his chances of survival were really slim.
Fear is an interesting attribute that we share with much of creation. In wildlife, fear is a survival mechanism. In humans, it is much more complex.
You have probably heard the expression "flight or fight." There is a third component and that is just being paralyzed.
A good illustration of these three responses was the sinking of a ferry that left the dock with its cargo loading doors still open. It sank rapidly and the passengers responded in those three fear reactions. A large number drowned frozen in their seats. A few totally freaked out in panic and a few passengers were charging around trying to help save others.
The interesting thing is that you never know how you will respond until it happens.
Fear in areas of life can paralyze you into inaction. For example if you fear cancer because it's been in your family, denial can be a negative result.
A persistent, suppressed fear may also have negative physical or emotional results. The saying, "That which I feared has come upon me," turns out to be self-actuating.
Fear is generally thought of in a very negative sense. Young men in particular, spend a lot of time taking stupid risks to demonstrate how they can conquer fear. There are whole television programs dedicated to these self-destructive demonstrations. Oh well, it helps fund the medical establishment.
Irrational fear can lead to criminal behavior and sometimes even suicide.
Fear is also a great tool of those who rule or command. Arab leaders promote the fear of the "great Satan" (that's us). They offer protection and/or deliverance from this fantastic threat for those who follow them.
In a republic government such as ours, fear of penalties, fines and increased taxes helps keep us in line.
Fear is also a great factor in all religions. On the negative side, punishment can be the removal of your head or whatever.
On the positive side, fear should motivate you to diligently search for truth. What if there really is eternity? Can you afford to get it wrong?
That sort of swings us around to the positive effects of fear. One of the greatest motivators in our life is fear.
We see what happened in Japan and we can drop into denial (it will never happen here) or we can make some changes in our lifestyle that better ensure our survival.
Being a husband, father and grandfather introduced fear as a motivating factor into my life.
I love them all and fear for their safety, comfort and success. I counsel them, provide for them and try to be their guard and protector, and also the opportunity provider.
Our country's drift into great debt and intrusive government regulation causes me to feel fear in the pit of my stomach, but not as much for me as for my grandchildren.
My love for them introduces a fear factor in my life that exerts great pressure to get it right politically, morally and especially spiritually.
What if they wind up dead, sick, in terrible relationships or maybe even Hell because I led them wrong?
Fear is that great motivator to get it right by example and advice because I care.
It's your choice, paralysis, panic or motivation.
Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.