Finding Freedom From The Terrible Price of Fear

by: Chris Blask

Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:48:29 AM EST

The price we pay for our fears is greater than the price we would suffer if our fears were realized. The tragedy is that our fears are usually groundless, so we choose to pay endless terrible costs in our minds and with our bodies to protect ourselves from nothing at all. We choose to put aside riches in our lives and instead don shackles that burn our skin and our souls.

We have it in ourselves to be free of these shackles. The cost is infinitely less than nothing, the reward is more than we could ever hope for.

In the wake of the terrible price we just paid for our fears we have, perhaps, an opportunity to choose to stop paying the fees for maintaining our fears. We could, perhaps, find it easily within our grasp to begin addressing the misconceptions which lead to the need to continue paying so dearly.

I posted the following on Facebook yesterday. A number of friends and family joined in the conversation that followed. It was, I think, a very healthy discussion.

The conversation helped me work through my emotions on the broader topic, though in all honesty I have still not managed to think much about the specific tragedy that triggered it. Each of the instances of violence this conversation is about are horrific in the true sense of the word, but what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary is so painful to think about - it inspires such stark horror to imagine - that I am not sure I will ever be capable of encompassing the event itself in my own mind.

If we can find it in ourselves to begin the process of becoming free of the cause of this tragedy, though, the tragedy itself may in time be honored with actions worthy of such an unthinkable cost.

I ask you to begin a similar conversation with yourself. To honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our chance at freedom by having this conversation with those around you. To take the small risk of testing your fears by exposing them to those you love, and perhaps help them save themselves from paying more than they have already.

Having finally read some about the Sandy Hook tragedy there is something I would like to say. This is not about this incident alone, it is not about just the shootings we see too frequently, it is about how we all together come to be living in a world where these things happen far too often.

We need more than better access to mental health care, though I believe we need that. We need more than fewer guns, though I believe we would be better off without them. What we need most is to stop feeding our fears, stop withdrawing, stop thinking the worst of ourselves and others.

The world is not getting worse, it is getting better in almost every way. The people we see around us are not intrinsically evil, they are intrinsically good.

This is the truth. This is what I see around myself. The human race is worthy and wonderful. The future of our species is more full of joy than sorrow. You can trust both those you know and those you do not.

If you are conservative, do not believe that liberals are evil, they are not. If you are liberal do not believe that conservatives are evil, they are not. Do not believe that mankind is a cancer on the earth, it is not. Do not believe that mankind is doomed, we are not. Do not believe that we cannot solve every single challenge we face, we can. Do not believe you have to fear the world, you do not have to.

These beliefs we hold and repeat - across and within political boundaries - are lies. They are untrue. They lead to despair, they lead to violence, and they are false.

Chris Blask :: Finding Freedom From The Terrible Price of Fear
Prior to the discussion yesterday the event and its surrounding causes had for me been focused on guns and mental health. There were too many guns in the hands of a troubled young man, there had been one too few at the school that could have stopped him. There was too little care provided to the young man to help him resolve his fears, there was too little care provided in our nation to help so many who cannot find a way out of their troubles without resorting to violence. But in beginning to talk about it here and continuing to talk with people of good will on Facebook it has crystallized for me as an issue that is broader and more a root cause.

Our feeling the need for defenses - whether weapons like guns or dogs or simply our withdrawal from each other - is a symptom of this root cause. Our need for care for so many who are so troubled is a symptom brought on by this cause. Addressing these symptoms is terribly costly and complex, in many ways unlikely and unobtainable.

But addressing the issue that leads to these symptoms is something we can each do for ourselves. Something we can each do in our small ways with little effort which can directly and demonstrably help those around us. It is something that our leaders can do without the need for debate, without budgets and consensus and compromise.

We need to cast aside our unfounded fears of others.

There are not enough guns, gates, dogs and locks in the world to protect us from each other if our fear that the world and our neighbors are evil forces out to take away our innocence. Our fears will continue to breed a reality which supports itself.

There are not enough caregivers in the world to heal the septic wounds we will continue to create in ourselves if we simply return home to pick at them obsessively, alone, in the dark. We will only re-inflict our wounds on ourselves and share our afflictions with those around us.

There is no other solution which will help us. There is no law or service we can seek which will remove our need for more laws, more services, more defenses.

No one can help us, here. No one can arm us or defend us from ourselves.

We can only help ourselves.

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Joe Scarborough has these thoughts. (2.00 / 2)

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John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

I'm sure the connection between freedom and fear is profound (2.00 / 4)
But I don't quite see how that correlates to the Newtown tragedy in any specific way. Just the same could be said of 9/11, but there the reaction wasn't "oh it's complicated" or "nothing can be done". The US was stirred into action - some of it a dangerous over-reaction I'll concede - but focused on finding a solution to a problem.

I've been researching the mental health aspects of this for Daily Beast. There is no correlation between violence and the autistic spectrum (a learning disability rather than a form of mental illness).

When it comes to mental illness, the incidence of multiple homicide is no greater than the general population, though those who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are much more likely to be the victims of crime, or commit suicide

I'm not sure the US is much more unhappy than say, Greece, or more fearful than Bosnia, but yet its fatality rates with gun crime are 100 times the UK  and homicide levels in general five times higher.

Sometimes it is simpler than we think. People get angry, depressed, destructive, self destructive. Society will never be able to solve that entirely - it's the human condition. But society has improved by reducing risk in the social arena by combating dangerous driving practices, toxins, infectious diseases.  I don't see why assault weapons should be excluded from those risks

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

Lots of thoughts. (2.00 / 5)
  Chris does a good job of describing a country where we are bombarded with messages designed by proffesionals to scare us in to acting or buying somthing based on fear. And while I think that explains a lot of our schizophrenia as a nation, I'm not sure that we are so different from other people and countrys in that respect.
 In a very real way, the connection between more guns and more death is undeniable. The arguments from those who support gun rights are quite simply self serving, in some cases delusional. Some fool Texans elected to the House said he wished the Principal had been armed. That citezens needed to be armed in order to hold government in check. A friend of mine who is ex military and a gun owner has decided that because you could not hope to take all the guns its not worth taking any.
 I personally have no use what so ever for guns. If they all disapeared tomorrow the world would be a better place. I have no illusions about that happening, but not a least attempting to reduce the number is irresponsible.
 The only countrys that have as many gun deaths as we do are either at war or in the mist of violent revolution.  

1.4 million US gun deaths since 1970 (2.00 / 3)
More than all the wars of the 20th Century combined  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Peter, the media is framing this as three tierd, (2.00 / 4)
Guns, Mental Health, Culture of Violence.

Their is a need to condem Hollywood and video games for promoting violence. Am I wrong in thinking that english teens have access and are watching and playing the same movies and games that american teens are?

 The fear of the NRA seems to be so great that we cant even agree that guns are not only the common denominater in the massacres but pretty much the prime mover of our gruesome statistics.  

[ Parent ]
the prisoner's dilemma (2.00 / 6)
seems to be the central problem of American life.  Faith in something larger than ourselves is required... each other, gov't's ability to enact and enforce laws (which is each other in a very real sense).  The fear you write about strikes me as a dark mirror to faith in each other and our shared society.

Walmart's continued success is its appeal to those on a tight budget.  For people to give up Walmart en masse would require faith that others would do the same...true shared sacrifice, not the shared sacrifice of Lloyd Blankfein or Mitch McConnell.  Willingness to act on a trust of fellow members of society is the only way forward.

Well, that's what comes to mind here in bubba-land.  Be well, everyone.  

Nicely put. (2.00 / 4)
Willingness to act on a trust of fellow members of society is the only way forward.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
omfg - this is not the world i want my children to live in (2.00 / 3)
A Utah sixth grader who told classmates he was encouraged by his parents to bring a gun to school after the Connecticut school shooting, was apprehended by teachers after he was found with an unloaded .22-caliber handgun, reported.

The unidentified student, described in the report as an 11-year-old boy, reportedly pulled the gun from his backpack during recess Monday at West Kearns Elementary School, which is a Southwest suburb of Salt Lake City.

Isabel Rios, a fellow sixth grader, said the boy pointed the gun at her head and said he was going to kill her, the report said.

Read more:

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

The fear is what we need to address. (2.00 / 5)
I am glad to see there is now a national conversation about gun control. I am glad to see that there is now a national conversation about mental health care. I am slightly heartened to see signs of a national conversation about fear.

Mostly, I wish the order was reversed.

There may be answers found in the first two. I am not without hope, but it does not strike me as anything approaching a real solution worthy of the problem. Progress will be made, lives could be saved, but as long as we do not begin to address the fear in the heads of - as only an example - these parents, to a large extent we are only squeezing water in the balloon.

On 9/11 I was captured by a similar fear. I was in Canada, my family was in Utah. I called Donna and asked her to go take Damien out of school, go up into the mountains for the day.

I feel just a little foolish saying that.

At the time, however, I felt deeply unanchored. I had no hold to grasp from which I could assess the risks my family faced. I knew that the statistical odds of harm coming to my wife and son were small even then, but my mind could not find enough facts to evaluate what "small" was and it defaulted to a value of "unacceptable". An uncontrollable fear for their safety seized control of me.

Far too many of us are effectively living in that state all of the time. With no way to judge what is reasonable and prudent to fear we are left to take unreasonable steps.

This is hard to address due to the complicating factors. There are so many guns that gun violence is common. We have so much fear that we in fact see frightened people are all around us.

This is, in some ways, no different than deconflicting a war zone. Where people have had very real reasons to fear for a very long time, how have we ever managed to create peace? The entire face of the earth has been in that state at one time or another, how have we ever in the past achieved peace?

We need fewer guns. We need more mental health care. But what we need most are the skills best known to those experienced in bring peace to war torn regions.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
fear (2.00 / 5)
my hometown.  today:

An online comment has forced the closure of schools in the Modoc Joint Unified School District on Thursday and Friday.

Mike Martin, the superintendent of the district did not provide any specific details of the threat, but said he received information this afternoon that an unspecified "ongoing threat" could be viable.

He would not say if the threat was related to the placement of an Modoc High School student in a Sacramento mental health facility earlier this week.

That student has not been back on campus since allegedly making a threat on Sunday, according to Alturas Police Department Chief Ken Barns.

According to Martin, the student said "something bad is going to happen."

Investigators are currently going through the student's computer.


Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

interesting discussion (2.00 / 4)
It dawned on me some months back that the US is a nation driven by fear -- fear of The Other, of the bad guys, of someone who will hurt us or take things away. Or that we will loose our job, house, health care, social life.

Once you see it, you cannot unsee it.

But a friend several years ago pointed out that FEAR stands for False Expectations Appear Real. And that shines a big light of disclosure on the issue. And subsequently causes freedom from the fear.

Now if we could get that message out inside the Beltway.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

I think it is a human thing, (2.00 / 3)
even more an animal thing. We are formed to fear as much as possible because in our natural state we cannot control anything. Communications media and an unnaturally safe environment amplify the perception bias.

I like your acronym. Consider it stolen. :~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
you're welcome to it (2.00 / 2)
I stole it from whoever gave it to me, who stole it from whoever . . . back to the dawn of time probably.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

[ Parent ]

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