We each possess fears that hold us back, hide us from the world, and alienate us from the essence of our true selves. And more often than not, we act out due to blinding fear rather than benevolent emotions that allow us the courage to show our true desires, whatever they may be. If fear were a person, he or she would be very satisfied for perniciously and successfully conquering and dominating people’s hearts in today’s world.
Each one of us has her or his own story of fear. Some fear stems from material success: will I get a job, will I make it, will I be able to have a home and build a family? Other fears stem from the need for safety and security: will I be safe enough, or will I be attacked, raped, or killed? Other forms of dread come from the fear of loss: will I lose what I have, or will I lose my loved ones? But, in my opinion, all fears come from our deepest desire to be loved and accepted at the core for who we are. In care and acceptance we are safe and we can be comfortable with who we are without ever worrying. And yet we unconsciously build the walls of fear to surround us lest we expose the vulnerability of who we are and our simplest need: love.
I once imagined fear as a big, giant scary dark structure that horrified everyone outside of it by how it looked. It was the only way I could think of it—as having an entrance to explore its meaning from the inside. I imagined entering this dark scary compound with much trepidation. It was like being in an underground tunnel with multiple rats coming at you, but you’re cornered by dark walls and cannot see what lies ahead. But I kept on going until I reached a point where there was a small room with warm light inside. When I peeked in, I realized that inside that structure of fear was actually a very base desire to be accepted. Perhaps we each build that horrific edifice around us as a way to protect ourselves from people’s judgment and all that comes with it. From the outside, it looks very scary to all who only see the exterior. But from the inside it is both vulnerable and isolating, as we attempt to protect ourselves from the other.
It’s as if we feel more comfortable with building fear around us instead of taking a leap of faith to exhibit our true desire of love and acceptance. What if our own individual fear creates fear in others and the consequential fears of others lead to more horror inside of our own hearts. What if we are each responsible for that creation of fear and its maintenance in our lives? What if the same applies to different cultures and nations as we deal with each other in today’s complex world?
The way I see it there is only one way to dismantle this fear. It takes trust and an act of affection from all parties. Imagine for a moment that you have dismantled the walls of fear that you have built around you. It is a very difficult act indeed for it requires one to put down the shield of protection and in that instinct there is utter vulnerability. Will they love me? Will they accept me for simply being who I am?
This is a story of collective responsibility—not only individual. For as the individual puts down their armor of fear, outsiders must also see beyond that fear and see the individual for who they really are rather than the projection that one has put on them. In other words, to dismantle the power of fear in our lives takes all parties to show faith in the other and requires all involved to show actual love in that crucial moment of vulnerability.
I share this because I feel we are living in times of fear. We started 2015 with a horrible attack in Paris, and reports of more ISIS executions, more refugees, and more unemployment. In a way, there is more violence everywhere we turn. Fear is spreading its own wings these days without hesitation. Our news is covered with stories of fear: Christians fearing Muslims, Muslims fearing Christians and Jews, Jews fearing Muslims, Hindus fearing Muslims, Muslims fearing Hindus, atheists fearing all religions, Muslims fearing other Muslims, and this xenophobia is relentless. It is easier to remain anxious and to spend hours trying to understand it. It is much harder to ask people to reflect on and deconstruct their angst and show love, compassion, and acceptance towards others’ vulnerabilities.
It is like a big tsunami that is heading our way and taking everything—every value, every love, every sense of unity in humanity—with it. And yet the only way to rid ourselves of that fear is to surmount the wave of anger, resentment, and judgment. We should see the “other”—whoever that “other” may be: a friend, a lover, a colleague, a different religion, or a different country—for the essence of their hope to be loved and accepted. As with all emotions, it starts with the reciprocal act of hearing and telling stories. So the question is: can you take that leap of faith, dismantle your armors, and show that desire to people close to you? Can you also show love for someone who is vulnerable and see the essence of his or her soul and desire? Can you do that in your life? Can you do that beyond your life and extend it to the larger story of today’s reality? I believe we can. If I could, so can everyone—whoever you may be—as it takes more than just the individual to conquer fear.