Friday, December 05, 2014

Unreasonable Fear

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.  ~Nelson Mandela

It would be easy to give in to despair. Over just the last few days, I've written about a school's misuse of constraints on young children, local street people, and, of course, Ferguson, Missouri

The common element is unreasonable fear.

In the first case, it's about an unreasonable fear of the "other," children with special needs. 

The second is about an unreasonable fear of a different kind of "other," a mentally ill street person, a local character I've gotten to know (a little). 

And the third is about . . . well, if it's not about unreasonable fear, what is it about?

We must always push back against fear. And the way to do that is with boldness. It's time for the good people to step up. We are everywhere. There are more of us than there are of them: there are more good citizens, more good cops, more good neighbors, more good teachers, more good bankers, and even more good politicians. 

How do you sort the good from the bad? The bad guys are telling you to be afraid.

We can't be passive before fear. We cannot give in to it. Good people might disagree on how to get there, but we all know things must change. It's unreasonable fear that defends the status quo, that divides us, that causes us to lash out at one another from behind our prejudices. It is unreasonable fear that is the root of everything that is ugly in humans. It's unreasonable fear that makes progress impossible and fetid stagnation feeds wicked ends. 

The only way forward in the face of fear is boldness. Be bold, be courageous, and fear cannot stand before us. And know: there are more of us than there are of them.

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