Monday, January 4, 2016

Why are you afraid?

It seems so many people today are afraid - afraid of everything.

I remember living with fear. As a child I was constantly afraid although I was not conscious of it at the time. I hated to go to school because I was afraid I would make a mistake and embarrass myself in front of my class. I was afraid to speak to the kids I really liked because I thought they would turn away feeling I was not worthy to be in their space.

I was afraid of water and had dreams about drowning. For most of my life crossing a bridge gave me a hollow feeling in my middle. I un-hooked my seat belt because I feared I would be trapped in the car and unable to get out when the car was swallowed up by the river. 

As a teen, I was afraid I would succumb to a boy's advances and bring shame on my family. All my life until now, I was afraid of the dark. 

But the one thing I feared most of my life was the death of my mother. We had the good fortune to have no losses in our immediate family, but I saw grief in others. I saw my mother grieve and weep when her brothers and sisters died. I could not relate to that pain since I had not faced anything like it.

I thought that if my mother died, I absolutely could not go on. Those were the fears I had growing up. I did not have the fear of being bombed and hiding under my desk in school. That must have come after I left elementary school. 

I also had faith in my family. I believed that few things could happen to me that my family couldn't take care of. We had nine people and I never knew of any problem that could not be handily managed by some or all of us.

After marriage, I learned to fear other things. When my husband lost his job only a couple of years after we married, I was devastated. The fear of losing what little we had loomed large and threatening over me. And over the years we had ups and downs when I was afraid for our future, but I have never had the fear that my friends talk about today. This Doomsday attitude is new. 
I had faith that my family, including my four brothers, above, could handle things I could not. Playing the guitar is my husband, Barry, who always had my back.  

What is the world coming to?
People I know talk about the horrible situation the world is in today. They are afraid of a terrorist attack. Some think that our country is in danger from the Muslims who live here. Most of them don't know anything about the Muslims who live here. After all, they are different from us, so they must be bad.

Others say they can't sleep at night wondering if our country is going to be destroyed. People seem to live in such fear that I wonder how they go on with their daily lives. Speakers in the churches often play into this fear by telling the members that the world is going to end soon, and all who are not saved or born again Christians will burn in Hell. I heard a TV evangelist scaring his viewing audience recently before I turned away to another channel.

This is my sister, Gay, in a six-way hood I gave her for Christmas. It is not a Burka. I hope she isn't yelled at, mistaken for a Muslim woman.

The use of fear to manipulate people has become a major method to extort money, to persuade people to join questionable groups, to incite citizens to carry guns for protection, and to keep our entire country in a state of unrest. The only fear I have is that this building fear in the United States will cause us to elect unworthy leaders who will lead good people to do bad things.

This reminds me of the fear instilled in my uncle when he was a child. He said that in bed at night he could hear the older people in the family talking on the porch. This was in the late 1800s after the Civil war. He heard terrible tales of people being murdered by former slaves. My uncle was a little boy, but he tried to stay awake all night so he could protect his mother if the black people came to kill her. 

How sad that fear was embedded into this child's mind, an unnecessary fear, that he carried with him for a long time. It also led to his prejudice against black people as an adult. Fear leads to prejudice and hate. Hate leads to war. 

This fear that has arisen in our country, especially in the rural areas of the south, feeds on itself, and there is no reasoning with anyone who is convinced that every person of the Muslim faith is evil and is a terrorist just waiting to kill. 

The Macho man running for office spouting random statements about what he will do when elected is all mouth with no wisdom in the ways of government. Anyone can proclaim what they will do, truth or lie, but anyone who knows about how governments run, can attest to the fact that the wheels of government move slowly and must run carefully or our country can be thrown into a situation in which we cannot win and we cannot retreat. Important agreements with other countries can take months and even years to negotiate. 

I am happy to say that when I go to bed tonight I will not have any fear keeping me awake. This country has seen tough times, WWII, the great depression, Vietnam and the wars in the Middle East, and still most of us have a roof over our heads, food on our table, children who go to college, work of some kind, medical care when we need it, and Social Security in our old age. We have the freedom to speak, act and live wherever we want. That freedom is what many come to this country to gain. Nothing else. They just want freedom.

Women in this country are allowed to have all the children they want -- even when they can't afford to care for them. Women also have the legal right not to have children. They can drive cars, wear as much or as little clothes as they want, and work in any field where they qualify. In some countries women do not have any rights, any freedom at all. People all over the world want to share our freedom. 

Perhaps I am not afraid because I don't look for those negatives others seem to dwell on. I research anything that I question and learn all I can. What I find out usually tells me that the fears of others are unfounded because they only know half-truths or rumors. 

Perhaps I feel about our government the way I felt about my family. I trust that there are enough intelligent people in charge that when or if an emergency happens, everyone will work together to take care of it. I just hope that is not the only thing that brings folks in Washington D.C together in the coming year.

Another reason I don't tremble in fear is that I have endured death of my loved ones and I survived. My mother, father, brothers and a sister, but especially my husband, who was also my long time friend, have all gone and I lived through it. I can handle much more than I ever thought I could. It wasn't easy. It was very hard and seemed the end of me, but I made it, and actually thrived over the past few years. So, I appreciate every day and all I have left in life. 

Maybe that is also a gift of age. My generation lives with less stress, I read. We have learned by now what is worth our worry and what is not. I am no longer afraid of bridges, afraid of what others think of me, afraid I'll fall short or not be worthy. Time is too important to waste it being afraid.

I'll send you to a very good post I read tonight about a courageous young woman.
I was once the writer, Kelly Davio

Do you think that age helps with fears experienced when we were younger?


DJan said...

I am convinced that age is a great help in learning to cope with the vicissitudes of aging and loss. Atul Gawande in his book "Being Mortal" talks about how living is a sort of skill, and grace and maturity come with age. I've certainly found that to be true. I really enjoyed this well written piece. Thank you. :-)

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Wow! This is a thought-provoking posting. I'm sorry for the people who live in fear. You've done a great job on this topic, Glenda. I'm glad you have mastered the art of not letting fear affect your resting of the night. I'm sure many people have problems sleeping.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenda--
When I talk to people over a "certain age" about walking the Camino, I can't get over how many things they fear. On the other hand, plenty of those same people head out and walk those hundreds of miles--and quite successfully. So maybe it's just the wisdom of knowing to research something plenty before jumping in that prompts all their questions.

Also, I don't watch traditional TV anymore. When I happen to catch some of it (at my parent's house, or in a waiting room) I realize how much of what's on TV is creating fear that wouldn't be there otherwise. "Three signs you might be at higher risk for cancer," the news will say. People that think the world is going downhill and such? I often ask what they watch on TV. Then I recommend shutting it off. :)

Glenda C. Beall said...

Rebecca, I completely agree with you. Too much TV, especially all day news stations. The same bad news is repeated over and over. They are brainwashing the people who watch all day long, but I am afraid that many retired people, or others who are home all day, do nothing but sit in front of the TV and listen to that.
If they found another outlet or volunteered to help someone or do Meals on Wheels, they would be much less afraid and much more thankful, I think.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I just ordered Being Mortal, DJan. This is a book I really want to read. I do believe maturity brings out the best in most of us. It is a shame that it takes us so long to learn all that we do, isn't it?

Glenda C. Beall said...

Hi Brenda Kay,
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. Hope your mom is doing well.

Maren O. Mitchell said...

Bravo, Glenda! Your writing is getting better and better! Sure hope you are thinking of sending out some of this excellent work. Your fan, Maren

Glenda Council Beall said...

Maren, thank you! I love blogging because it forces me to write almost every single day. I strive for two posts on each of my personal blogs each week. I also like that I reach people all over the worlld. One of my blogs had over 6,000 page views this past month and they came from about ten countries including the United States and Russia. Some of those are Spam of course, but it makes me happy to know that many people read my words and come back again and again. I have blogger friends in Australia and far distant states in the US. I read their posts and they read mine. I learn so much from reading blogs by good writers.
thanks for being a fan, Maren. I am a fan or yours as well.

Maren O. Mitchell said...

I understand, Glenda. Or, rather I should say, I can imagine. I do love having a poem published online - so different from print with its limited readership. I'm glad you have so many readers - you deserve them!

Vagabonde said...

What a lovely post. I agree with you that the media plays on people’s fears in this country. I just read that thousands of Parisians went out today to show that even after the terrible attacks there, they were not afraid to assemble in the center of town.
As you say you have gone through hardships and pain and you are OK. I tried to remember what scared me growing up and I think that, as a wee tot, it was hearing the sirens at night telling us that German planes were coming over to Paris and we had to go in the underground shelters during World War II – I hated those sirens and was scared that a bomb would fall on our building. I do believe that I do not worry now as I am older – I am happy to be still alive in my 70s.

Glenda Beall said...

I can't imagine the fear of those sirens, Vagabonde. That would be hard to live with. Our country has never known that kind of fear or at least I've never known that kind of fear.
Perhaps during the early times of our country, the Indian wars, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War people lived with those kinds of fear.
I had a friend who was a child during WWII and she was sent away from home in London to live with families out in the country where it was thought she would be safe. She spent the entire time of the war with strangers, working in their homes and on their farms.
We are so fortunate in the United States today. My hope is that we will not elect a war monger for president who believes that bombing is the best way to peace. I hate to think my young great nephew would end up fighting a war in the middle east that has no end. I believe in words not war to find peace.