The Good Side Of Fear
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
Most people think of emotions as either good or bad. We typically don’t always look at both sides of things like happiness, love, anxiety or fear. With the so-called good emotions, we want more of them. We all want more and more happiness in life, but sometimes we get so carried away with happiness, we tend to cling.
I remember when my father was ill toward the end of his life. We would have dinner together, but it would be difficult to enjoy the night because I would worry about how many more dinners we would get to share. Sometimes I would worry about it so much, I would give away the joy from the evening, trying never to let that moment end.
This is not to say we shouldn’t try to be happy as much as we can, because we should. I simply mean that we don’t always consider the truth to the old adage there are always two sides to every coin. The same is true for the emotions we tend not to enjoy, such as fear.
It’s important to not live by fear, let it paralyze us, or prevent us from reaching our goals. It’s equally important to confront and overcome many of our fears. But, we don’t always recognize or appreciate that there is a good side of fear. Fear is beneficial to us as individuals and as a country.
Fear keeps most of us from, say, investigating the bear sounds coming from the woods, or from being outside during a major storm. In those instances, fear keeps us safe. There are millions of examples, most in the form of viral videos, of a select few doing things that should have caused fear but didn’t. In most of these cases, people end up hurt.
As a country, how many more times do you think we would have been attacked or even invaded in recent history if others weren’t scared of what our response would be? In that regard, fear has kept us safe as a country as well.
The same goes for law enforcement. It’s important for there to be a little fear of the police. The trend today is that most Americans seem to resent, resist and have zero tolerance for fear, especially in regards to cops.
Many say, “You can’t tell me what to do. I’m not afraid of you.” It’s the same group who insist that we shouldn’t have to be afraid in our own country. To those people I would say that fear is just a part of life, and I would argue even further that it keeps us safer than if there were no fear.
If there’s a healthy fear, when officers come to your apartment complex and tell you to go back inside because they know there’s a man loose in the area with a gun, people don’t say, “I demand to know what’s happening. I don’t have to go back inside! This is a free country!” Instead, they would obey commands to prevent endangering themselves.
Police executives are also following this trend of trying very hard to eliminate fear and intimidation from their police forces. And while it’s important to not rule by or promote fear, it’s also necessary to accept it and not spend our efforts trying to eradicate it.
Think about a hot, warm, sweet, delicious chocolate chip cookie. We don’t think of a cookie as salty, but yet almost every cookie has salt in it. It’s a necessary ingredient to make the cookie turn out the way it does. This is how I think of fear. It’s not the main ingredient, and it shouldn’t be our focus or the main attraction, but a little bit is necessary for everything to work together the way it was meant to.