Fear is the mind-killer

Morgan White
Opinion Editor

The only color is gray. Nothing is as good or bad as the headlines claim. It’s a play on the old phrase: What the media enlightens us of takes away our bliss. To a degree it evaporates our ignorance. We fear what will kill us; it’s part of our engineering that when something threatens our lives, our brain and organ functions change and we fall into our flight-or-fight response.

Illustration by Dan Nacu.
Illustration by Dan Nacu.

This year has given us a plethora of things to run from: Ebola, ISIS, homegrown terrorism, these things are worth mentioning. The world moves in cycles though; we see the same happenings each year only under different circumstances. It’s unlikely that you’ll catch Ebola but the four Americans in the limelight cause us to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer wherever we go. It’s unlikely that ISIS will have an immediate impact on the world but I don’t want to go to New York until the threat has dwindled.

We’re fearing the wrong things. According to RVA News, 37 people were murdered in Richmond during 2013. Richmond Police Department statistics show that since Sept. 22 alone, there have been 50 robberies, 56 vehicles were stolen, 2 people were murdered and 246 people were assaulted.

I’m not shedding light on these things to turn you into a recluse or to induce agoraphobia. That spotlight shows exactly what the rest of the topics in the media have shown as of late: Fear thy neighbor. I can’t argue with that, the amount of trust I place in a person is earned, not given away freely. The most you can do is roll with the punches, live life cautiously but not to the extent where it hinders your ability to enjoy. Don’t let it tap into your passion and poison everything you see in the world. Sure, we live in shades of gray. No one person is fully good or inherently evil. Our imperfection is what completes us, we all have flaws.

The solution to this culture of fear? Fear, and when the world’s overwhelming density becomes manageable, use it as a catalyst to perpetuate yourself further ahead. Fear the right things. Fear yourself. Fear that you’re nowhere close to being the person you’d like to be. Fear that your health is on the backburner and that it’s not that you’re afraid of how much more weight you’ll gain but instead fear the possibility of dying when you’re only in your 50s. Fear your heart, because one in four deaths in America each year are from heart disease alone. Fear your addictions, fear your genetics.

Am I pessimistic today? No. I’m confident. I understand what befalls me, what I must change and how to change it.

Don’t lie down. Don’t accept what your life is. Accept that you are your own worst enemy and that four out of five times you’re wrong. Accept that you can’t change whether or not a robbery occurs on the street you live on, but you can change whether or not you take the right precautions in order to not become a victim. Accept that you can’t change whether ISIS is inspiring homegrown terrorists, or whether the person next to you who has explained they have a fever may have Ebola or not. You can change whether your own actions will shorten your life, whether you sustain your life on fast food far too much for your own good. There is no clear-cut black and white. We live in a gray world. Go out and extract color.

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