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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Surely, Man is the most paradoxical of creatures, given both to sublime love and kindness but also to the basest hatred and cruelty.  And devious, too, so that even his religion may be pressed into service to justify his sins.  But his conscience ever troubles him ; and, for that, we must thank God.

It may take centuries to tame his nature even a little ; but the taming is real, even if fragile.  Fragile especially in the presence of fear.  

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When people are threatened by a drastic change in their way of living it is natural that they should feel nervous, for a way of living is what supports our whole feelings of security and well-being.  And that security (however fragile) and that well-being (however tenuous) are real ; and, in general, they are the best we can reasonably hope for in our given circumstances.  That nervousness we feel when our way of living is threatened is properly  called fear.  We fear a great loss.

Perhaps the greatest change in our way of living comes when we die, and the threat of death seems to provoke the greatest of our fears.  And that threat, and that fear, are always present throughout our lives from the moment we first learn the meaning of death.  But it is generally when we have a close encounter with death that the fear is greatest ; for most of the time we merely acknowledge the inevitability of our dying and then quickly move our thoughts on to something more comforting.

Closely following on from death in our scale of fears is the threat to our everyday way of life.  Throughout history are littered countless tales of tribes and nations whose ways of living have been disturbed by invaders, both warlike and peaceful, who threaten to change the traditional ways.  Consequently, there have always been undercurrents of nervousness that govern the relations between different peoples.

Given the immense damage that people have done to each other over long ages of time, perhaps one day we will learn to overcome our fears.  Indeed, that might be an essential step in the evolution of the human race.  I do not suppose this change will come any time soon ; we must think in terms of millennia, and not generations or even centuries.

Perhaps we might take a lesson from a fisherman.  For isn’t it true that we can never actually lose our way of living?  For example, at the moment of death, we can reflect that we have, in fact, already enjoyed our life ; it’s just that we will not be having any more of it.  We have lost nothing.  All those future days that we wish for are simply in our imaginations.  As Isaak Walton said, “Brother, ye never lost what ye never had.”

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