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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Not No Fear

Fear, like almost anything, can be good or bad. Like grief, which can drag a person to inimitable emotional depths, or which can be, like Charlie Brown exclaims, good grief.

Good fear is that which warns us away from potential harmful, even mortal, danger. Fear that keeps us a respectable distance away from rattlesnakes, or that urges evacuation in the face of an advancing hurricane. Good fear is a protective reaction which, if acted upon, can preserve life and limb.

Bad fear is irrational fright. Irrationality is something not logical or reasonable, and one can be horribly frightened, even to the point of immobility, over unwarranted fear of something. Example, sharks . . . death by sharks. Many people would not swim in any ocean for love or money. Why? Because sharks live in oceans.

Sharks kill an average of 10 people a year globally. In 2021 there was 1 U.S. shark fatality and 9 worldwide. Compare the following.

Toasters kill many more times as many people each year as all sharks combined. Globally, toasters kill some 700 people annually. The U.S. alone has an average of 300 toaster-related deaths every year.

An average of 150 people die each year from being hit on the head by a coconut. That’s 140 more people than die by sharks.

Some 200 Americans die each year due to a vehicle collision with a deer, and over 100 people are killed by dogs.

Yet people keep making toast, walking under palm trees, drive on country roads at night, and owning dogs of all varieties.

To repeat, sharks kill an average of 10 people a year globally. The chance of being attacked and/or killed by a shark when swimming in the ocean is about a zillion to one. Yet the fear of a shark attack is so prominent with some people that they wouldn’t go in the water for a zillion bucks.

The point of all this is that critical thinking needs to be applied to our fears to determine if any specific fear is reasonable. Not only can that relieve one of undesirable (sometimes crippling) emotional trauma, it might also allow one to enjoy things heretofore avoided. Like splashing in moderate surf on a beautiful white sand beach; or taking a 5-hour flight from Seattle to Miami instead of a 5-day, 3,300 mile grueling drive.

No fear? That’s not good. But discerning good from bad fear is part of a healthy mindset.

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