Five unsettling days here in Boston, and somehow I didn’t feel as anxious as I could have. I’ve spent the weekend mulling this over in spare moments and I’ve come to the conclusion that, somewhere along the way, I decided I simply refuse to let fear rule me.
If there’s one thing terrorists, politicians, and the media have excelled in since 9/11 its been the increase in peddling fear for their own gain. It doesn’t matter to me if its an improvised bomb set off at public event or a pundit deliberately spewing slanted opinion or a politician trying to rationalize the sanctity of gun ownership in this country, these are all terrorists utilizing the language of fear for their own purposes.
And I’m done with all of it.
It sounds simple, to say you won’t be ruled by fear, and the amazing thing is that it is simple. I grew up in California and when I would tell people from other parts of the world where I grew up they would inevitably tell me that they couldn’t live under the constant threat that an earthquake could come without warning at any minute.
You know what? So could getting hit by a car crossing the street. Tripping and falling down a flight of stairs. A gas explosion. These things, and millions of others, could happen at any time. Maybe it sounds like a false sense of security to say that when you live under the constant threat of danger you become enured to it, but how could a person truly call it “living” to be in such a constant state of fear wondering when “the big one” is going to send your home state sliding into the sea?
Accidents happen. Tragedies occur. Horrific acts of violence are committed. Yes, there are ways to prevent and mitigate them, but should we fear them? Should we allow ourselves to live in fear? Of course not. And there’s medical evidence to suggest that it can be both physically and psychologically damaging to your well-being to constantly worrying and living in fear.
In short, fear itself can kill you. How’s that for something to be afraid of?
I know people who were down near the Marathon last week who were fortunate enough to not be harmed; hell, my younger daughter was planning to be within a few blocks from there before her plans fell through. And later in the week, on Thursday night, I walked past the location where the MIT security officer was shot less than two hours before it happened. There was actually a moment where I almost had to double-back to work while on my way home which would have put me in Cambridge right when the convenience store up the street was being robbed by the alleged bombers. These are the “close calls” with recent events that were on my mind on Friday while I watched (as did the rest of the world) while the metropolitan area I lived in was shut down for an unprecedented manhunt. I went through a range of complicated emotions as the events unspooled but in the end, as eerie as the entire week was, I didn’t find myself once afraid.
Fear is the currency of those looking to hold power over our emotional well-being, and I’m no longer interested.