Living in fear

“Living in fear.” We heard that phrase being thrown in contempt before, but now I hear it almost every day as we’re collectively trying to survive through a pandemic.

Some people think that I live fearlessly. A decade ago, I would have proudly agreed with them. But today, I know that they only think so because I seldom let anyone see my fear. “Fearless” is more of a disguise than a state of mind.

It’s hard to quantify an emotion, but I would say that at the phase in my life that I had the most contempt for people “living in fear,” I was the most scared, as evident by having constructed my life around avoiding facing any of my demons. After all, all judgement has to come from somewhere, and usually it comes from a place of fear.

Beware of those who are trying to shame you for “living in fear,” because what those people are doing is punishing you for reminding them of their own feelings that they are trying to escape.

How can we be fearless right now? There is a pandemic unfolding in front of our eyes that we clearly do not understand, and yet it seems to understand us well since it’s propagating so efficiently and claiming our health in the process.

How can we be fearless right now, seeing the rise of fascist leadership across several continents even after we’ve spent almost a whole century recovering from the previous wave of fascist movements?

How can we be fearless when we look at how are the most marginalized groups of our society treated and how the government responds when those groups ask to not be imprisoned or killed anymore?

How can we be fearless when the predictions of climate change put into question whether the planet will even be able to sustain human life in a few decades’ time?

If you are truly fearless even with all this happening at the same time—well, I am impressed. You might have achieved some Buddha-level of zen mastery right there. But you know what a zen master wouldn’t do? They would NOT go around on social media and seed propaganda about how our governments are trying to control us by fear and get us to buy into their oppressive regimes by requiring us to wear a piece of fabric over our mouths.

There are so many ways in which powerful regimes try to control us and push us to the breaking point, usually by exploitation of labor and turning us against each other, but I haven’t seen any of you supposed “fearless” folks protesting any of these injustices. You only came out once someone has kindly asked you to wear a piece of cloth to potentially save a life.

Fear is an emotion, like anger, like sadness, like grief. You may call them “negative” emotions, but I just call them “emotions” since they have a place alongside all my feelings to make me who I am. Each of these emotions teaches me something if I am open to learning from them.

Of course I don’t want just these emotions to dominate my entire existence. I promise you: nobody enjoys that. But I don’t want to go completely the other way and push them all out of my life, either, since that would be denying a part of myself.

Yes, I live with fear sometimes and that’s not shameful to admit, just as any vulnerability is never shameful to admit. If my fear, or our collective fear, leads me to precaution that saves even one life, then it was worth a thousand times more than some narrow-minded cult of positivity.

The world needs “higher-vibration”, compassionate people right now to step up, show up as a support system for the rest of us who aren’t spiritually “there“ yet. But to take this moment in times of crisis to shame us for our own feelings or for taking steps to protect others— that’s not being “conscious” nor compassionate. That does not make you any more awoken than the rest. That’s just nasty.