By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fear Itself

FDR said it in the midst of the Great Depression: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The phrase has long been iconic: but do we really apply it?

Look first where we show no fear at all: we fearlessly waste our time and energies and thus our lives on the mediocre and the frivolous, whether the mediocrities are our pursuits of mindless distractions or intimate association with mediocre people.

Our vanity and insecurity attract us to the mediocre. We do not have to fear challenge. We do not have to fear failure or rejection. If we stick with mediocre pursuits and mediocre intimates, we are safe--we know that losers, whether the losers are certain unchallenging activities or actual individuals, do not endanger us.

We thus fear precisely what is best for us. We fear the job or career for which we were created. We fear the significant other who really loves us or whom we can really love. We run away. And, in the meantime, the energies that could be poured into the excellent calling or the excellent relationship are dissipated on trivial activities and trivial people.

What is the solution? Logic can help. If you really can't do X or really can't have a relationship with X, you will soon find out anyway. If, on the other hand, X is really doable, it is logical to try it. You have nothing to lose. If more of us would exercise simple logic--often a very simple decision tree in our minds, we would live up to more of our potential.

I am reminded how in one of the Narnia books the professor remonstrates with the children that no one uses simple logic anymore. Simple logic is considering all possible alternatives one by one. Most often, the result of applying such logic is to label any fear irrational. The exercise of logic often takes less time than texting that next frivolity you are about to text to someone.

(Image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons)