This is the fourth and final follow-up article on the many facets of fear including a four-part Interview/Special Report with Rabbi Moshe Scheiner of Palm Beach Synagogue. This specifically refers to my journal entry entitled Freedom From Fear.
Fear mongering in the media and by politicians are ramping up again as the 2020 election season descends upon us. We will be barraged with mythological statistics about increasing crime rates, danger from immigrants, and on and on. Then there is that ugly face of fear which shows up as a 19-year-old California State University San Marcos student opened fire at a San Diego-area synagogue, Congregation Chabad in Poway, on the last day of Passover. An 18-year-old girl terrorizes the Littleton community twenty years after the horrific Columbine school shooting. Area-wide schools closed in anticipation of what might happen. At the same time, openly gay candidate for President, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was verbally attacked at a rally by people screaming about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Fear is ever-present for those who have experienced extreme trauma. In such cases, terror can show up with the sound of a loud noise, an unanticipated touch, in a smell, a sight or holiday gathering. Vivid memories are triggered of combat, tragic loss, and physical, emotional or sexual abuse, What happened in the past crashes into the here-and-now.
We must understand and accept that fear will always be with us. It walks hand in hand with what we have lost or might lose. It lurks in dark corners of the unknown. It is used by the powerful to manipulate the powerless. There won't come a time when it is gone forever.
"We choose joy in all its constant delighting" ~ Gregory Boyle
How do we live life to the fullest knowing that the tentacles of fear might reach out and sting us at any time? Here are five ways to do just that:
- Stand up. Reject media exploitation. Combat fear-mongering by writing the networks and protesting their actions. Turn off the TV. Limit the amount of time you will spend watching the news. You won't miss much. Read a good book.
- Take 10. Devote ten minutes daily for a meditation routine to connect with that Power greater than yourself (and greater than fear). Understand that you are infinitely loved. Every spiritual discipline or religion tells us to 'be not afraid'. Finding your quiet center and focusing on intentional deep breathing will build a calm inner awareness and provide much-needed perspective.
- Work it out. Twenty minutes a day of some sort of exercise is essential for good physical and mental health. You don't have to go to a gym. A walk outside is just the medicine.
- Take down the walls. So many locks, alarm systems, and cameras have been installed to protect us and our 'stuff'. I wonder how effective they are in the long run. They certainly tell us that there is some stranger out there who wants to inflict loss. In order to eliminate this fear, find a way to connect with the people who frighten you. Volunteer at a shelter or outreach center for troubled teens. You will find that there is not so much that separates us.
- Use Grandpa's Motto. Roy Jones told how to reduce or eliminate fear by using the motto he practiced every day of his 97 years. "Don't Worry. Don't Hurry. Don't Hate." The spirit of wisdom and optimism that flows from these words when used as a kind of mantra provide a directive for living life fully. Try it on for size and spread the words around like peanut butter (even if you ARE allergic to peanuts).