Sunday, July 01, 2007

Of Fear!

Of the many people I have met, I have found very few - who could acknowledge the times when they felt fear. For some reason, people tend to believe that acknowledging fear makes them look weak. I tend to disagree.

First and foremost, 'Fear' is not always a bad thing. It serves a definite purpose. In the process of creating things and massaging our egos as the most intelligent species on the planet, humans often forget their biological origins. At the core - we are still animals, very smart - Yes! but still animals. So I give this example.

[Image reference:]

Imagine a deer in an African forest sipping water from a pond. It will do so in very short bursts ... always alert ... twisting its ears this way and that .... listening for the slightest sound ... Oh yes - its afraid of a predator. But this very fear-driven vigilance can make the difference between life and death in the savanna. Fear! protects you from danger... The reflex reaction to an attack is to flee. Its nothing to be ashamed of - its nature's way of protection, its encoded into our genes.

Yet more often than not ... running away is not the best way to deal with danger. Often times - it is to meet danger head on .... Imagine a stag .. being attacked by a leopard ... you may call it stupid ... but wouldn't it be a sight to watch - if the stag instead of running away .. turned around and charged at the leopard itself ??? I bet you anything, it would be the last thing the leopard expects.

Oxford defines courage - as the ability to control fear. Socrates defined Courage - as the ability to do what you feel is right despite the consequences. They are about the most sensible definitions I have encountered.

And in the definition lies the mystery - Why is 'Courage' so rare? The reasons are not so apparent.... But courage demands an action - that is quite opposite to natural instinct. And if anything it is extremely difficult to make the body or the mind do anything against ingrained instinct. Imagine trying to train the stag to confront the Leopard and not run - and you begin to get an idea of how difficult it is.

Yet as with all things, Courage - can be harnessed with practice and patience. It is the knowledge that you can face the Leopard and yet be alive - that liberates the fear. The problem being ... you would actually have to face the Leopard first. And most people can't get past this first stage at all.

And if after doing all that work you find out ... there is no prize other than a narcissistic self glory .... the motivation to cultivate 'Courage' - really gets a setback. Courage can not be harnessed by desire of rewards or honors at the end... it has to be rooted in your moral convictions. In other words you got to be prepared to do the right thing, go through enormous difficulties and consequences, without expecting a reward or recognition.

So why do it? Cos in the end a Man is what he believes in - and if you forfeit your beliefs when times get difficult, you forfeit your self respect. Cos in the end, you will know what you did .... theres no need for awards or medals and recognition. You will know - what you faced and how you reacted - you will be a hero in your own mind. And theres nothing more important than how you perceive yourself.


Bookmark and Share