Living in fear

January 11, 2015

living-in-fear“Don’t let the terrorists win.”

How often have we heard that in the past 15 years?  A lot.

We’re told not to succumb to fear because if we do, “the terrorists will win.”

And yet, here’s what’s also true:

We live in a world of fear.How can we not?

Grim, gruesome, ghastly things are happening all over the world. We can’t avoid them, because they’re random. One aid worker is captured while others continue their work. One magazine is targeted, others are not. Someone is shopping for Shabbat in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Without a pattern we can avoid to stay safe, we can’t help but live against a backdrop of worry.  It may not be conscious, but it’s there.

So, the admonition don’t let the terrorists win is a little late for most of us. They’ve already won because they understand that fear is a mighty weapon and they’re diabolically skilled in its use.  And they’re escalating it.

caution“Be vigilant!” we’re told. Seriously? How exactly does that work? Do we look over our shoulders every five minutes?  Call the police if we see a swarthy figure in a crowd? What does that mean, exactly?

It means nothing. Not in a practical way. It’s useless advice.

The events in France were meant to be fear-generating, and they were successful.  We can’t help but be afraid. Afraid to speak out, afraid to speak up, afraid to be at big public places and in the worst cases, afraid to leave home.

So don’t tell me not to let terrorists win, because they’ve already won. We’re just trying to defend ourselves.  And we’re not prepared to because they’ve outsmarted us.

And while we all understand–theoretically–that murders by religious zealots pervert their faith–that no one’s God supports killing in its name–it’s only natural to view the entire faith as evil and to want to do something to keep its members from harming us.



Russell’s observation about herd instinct is right on the money.  It seems obvious we’ll see some fear-based political and organizational responses to these terrible events.  I can’t fault that, not really.

But one thing is crystal-clear. When fear is both a tool and a response, nothing good can result.

So light the candles and start the prayers.  A mighty battle has begun– and there’s not a thing we can do about it but walk it out.

13 comments on “Living in fear
  1. I am not so sure that there is not a damn thing we can do, Carol. But we do have to understand that what we do may miss the mark or feed energy into the system and behavior we want to change or extinguish. What we have to do is be aware of small shifts, glimmers, in the fabric of culture beyond our individual lives, and amplify, as best we can, the light. Blessings and do not despair.

  2. Laura Kennedy says:

    GREAT post. Do your best, and leave the rest in the hands of God, Fate, Whatever, but do not make your life all about fear.

  3. Carol: Provocative post. I do think the fear is already there, but I think the only way it wins is if we accept it. When our spirits accept it as something that can’t be changed, then we have lost. There have been points in history (WWII, for example) where it seemed there was no way that we would ever “live” again. We did. And from WWII came remarkable people like Corrie Ten Boom and Louie Zamperini.

    Fear is instigated by cowards, and often enjoys temporary victories. It never gets to win, because we come from love. And love lasts.

  4. Toni McCloe says:

    I read in a book somewhere that there are really only two emotions – love and fear. So I’ve tried to always act and react with love even though I’m not sure how that works when it comes to acts of terror.

    When I heard about the shootings in Paris, I cried. I’m not sure if that fell under love or fear – maybe a little of both, but I keep trying for the first.

  5. Carolann says:

    Exactly correct. We do live in fear. Of course, those living in or close to larger cities for sure. Be vigilant? Well, while it seems unattainable, we can be. When I was working in the city, I’d be in the Port Authority and always keep my eyes opened and alert for deserted backpacks, folks that seem sketchy, etc. We are living in a state of fear that’s for sure. We are over-concerned with PC and not with defending our country, it’s allies, or coming up with a plan to stop these insane zealots! I believe by today’s demonstrations in France, that people all over the world have had it! Good for them. Once the people finally stand up, the government had better pay attention!

  6. Diane says:

    I so agree. The fear is already here. The sheer randomness of the acts.

  7. Haralee says:

    Instilling fear into a person is all about power. Accepting fear makes you powerless.

  8. I have thought about fear a lot, ever since I was young. I grew up in a neighborhood in New York City where many Holocaust survivors lived. As I matured, I wondered how they had coped with all they lived through (it was never talked about – ever) and if I could have endured as they did. Years later, miles from NYC, I watched the events of 9/11 unfold on TV but I knew people in the City who were eye witnesses to the fall of the Towers. As the months passed, they still had to ride the subway daily past the closed stops damaged when the towers fell. They had to smell the smell daily that lingered for many months. And I wondered how they got through the day. They did because they had to. The fear was there but they had to live with it. Now, each of us fights an enemy that feeds on our fear. So, now what? How do we fight back? How we decide will shape the world our children and grandchildren live in, as they go to schools that now resemble armed fortresses (for different reasons). Excellent post, Carol.

  9. The world is a scary place and there’s plenty to fear but we have to live our lives and do the best we can. I’m not sure what else we can do right now.

  10. Michelle says:

    I don’t want to live my life in a place of fear. That being said, there is a lot to be afraid of…but there always is..there always was…there always will be. Thank you for this.

  11. It’s so true and it’s only going to get worse.

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