Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Final Solution: Fear

Fear is a Janus-faced emotion. It naturally provides a survivalist function. Without it there would be no warning of danger. There are people who suffer from a condition (congenital analgesia) in which they're unable to feel pain. However, what seems like a possible benefit can naturally have pernicious results. Bone breaks can be the result of not being able to monitor blunt force trauma. A person lacking in fear may evince an enviable impregnability and ability to proceed but the inability to feel often leads to a kind of obduracy and at the least insensitivity to others. Remember Spock on Star Trek, a force of good who was robot-like behavior gave him a consoling stability? Still he was lacking in certain intuitive abilities and in particular empathy. It’s nice to be imperturbable if you’re piloting a plane, but extreme equanimity can be oppressive once you’re on your way home from the airport. Wearing a mask and maintaining a distance should are common sense behaviors that even a cool dude like Dirty Harry would abide by. Fear on the other hand can take on a life of its own, manufacturing its own logic, rules and behaviors that have no relationship to a sober perception of reality. There are many things to be afraid of, particularly amidst a pandemic, but the perception of danger can be so great and ubiquitous that one may literally step into quicksand while trying to avoid a pothole. Free-floating anxiety which seeks an object to attach itself too, is an ailment unto itself which can leave a legacy of self-fulfilling prophecies.

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