What do we fear and why do we fear it?

With everything going off in the world lately, and especially the last few days, it is hard not to see the fear around us. Leftists fear guns. Right wingers fear being unarmed. Gay people and Muslims fear media attack and untargeted crime. Parents fear for their children’s wellbeing. Westerners fear terrorism. Animal rights activists fear for gorillas. Feminists fear rape. MRAs fear false rape accusations. Everyone is afraid.

And, naturally, when we are faced with these images and asked “Do you not fear this?”, it is hard to say we don’t. Who doesn’t fear being shot, or losing their means of self-defense? Who doesn’t fear being targeted for random violence? Who doesn’t fear for their children, their friends, their families, their pets? Who doesn’t feel scared when they worry that these things may happen to them?

But the thing is, we fear these things because we are letting them into our homes. When we turn on the news, we invite fear. When we blog about our fears, we invite fear. When we have people round who constantly argue and bring up fear, we invite fear. When we seek out negative imagery and harsh realities, we invite fear. These things are fine in moderation. But when we build our lives around watching the news, guarding against people, setting up arguments with friends and relatives and becoming a cynic, we have no time for anything but fear.

At the end of the day, your chances of being shot, having your weapons taken from you or being raped are pretty low. Most of us are fortunate to live in a world that is generous, abundant and kind. However these big, rare fears overtake us and make us put aside the smaller fears, the things which will actually change our lives. How deeply do you fear defaulting on a loan? How many times a day do you worry that you are letting your mind, body or soul waste? How much do you argue about and plan against unexpected bills, car repairs or vet costs? These are things that strike us every year, sometimes more often. Yet we give them very little thought.

Recently I have had to get a washing machine fixed, then replaced. I have had to work hard with my diet to care for the life inside me. I have had to keep the dog from poisoning itself in the garden. I have had to keep my pea plants alive through torrential rain. I have had to fight for access to my tax records. These may not be big fears for you. But they are far more likely events than dying in a mass shooting, being raped or losing your child to a gorilla. And you need to be ready for them.

Of course, it’s important to stay abreast of the news. After all, if we look away for too long these distant threats may become reality. However we also need to calculate what we fear and how much of it we let in. We ought to know what happened in Pulse night club. We ought to know what the current stance on gun ownership is. We ought to know why Harambe was killed. We ought to know whether the UK is leaning in or out of Europe. But we cannot make this information or this fear our lives. Because they aren’t.

Our lives are filled with far more wonder, far more mundane fears, far more hard graft and petty annoyances than they are with extreme violence or crime or freak accidents. So once the news is off or the article is read or the conversation is had or the petition is signed, we should be able to cast aside these concerns and get on with our days. It’s all there really is to do.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!


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Everything Dies Beautifully

As humans, we have a healthy appreciation for creation, birth, everything that is new and interesting. Which makes sense. Newborn babies, fresh fruit and innovative designs all hold promise and need to be loved and nurtured to grow and be useful to us. It gives us a sense of purpose to care for that what is new and young.

But as animals we also develop a violent aversion to it’s opposite. Destruction, death and everything that is old and samey worries us. We dislike the idea of growing old or of being hurt. But we also dislike seeing things growing old and becoming damaged. It’s as though our world is an extension of us, and we see ourselves reflected in that shirt we won’t throw away or that pet cat that died. We want everything to last forever.

The contradiction there, being of course that nothing can last forever without either becoming old or losing some interest. And nothing can be new if nothing is old. And nothing can be created without first destroying something else. Destruction, change, death and transformation are part of the process of creating new things.

A newborn life is built on thousands upon thousands of deaths, thousands of decaying, degrading bodies that break down and are reassembled into a new body. To create fire we must destroy coal and to create coal we must burn wood and to burn wood we must kill trees.

All sorts of devastating events aren’t really endings. They’re closer to recycling. Nothing can last forever in the same state because to create new things, life must first find some raw materials. Everything needs to change to keep on going, or to end and give rise to something new.

So, whilst it may shock and horrify us as animals and as humans, it’s wise to view disaster, pain, suffering, death and the slow processes that lead to them with more a sense of nostalgia than fear or sadness. After all, it’s always happening, all around us, and as life gives way to death, so does death give way to life.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.