Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No fear

Someone told me again today. I should teach my son to fear. Revere? I asked. Respect? No, they said. Fear. A little fear is healthy.

The context doesn't matter. I've heard it many times. Fear strangers. Fear injury. Fear failure. Fear the other.

Fear God. Fear authority.

Fear me. His father.

Sometimes people actually say "fear" -- I am shocked, every time -- but sometimes, they only imply it. Better to fear injury than to be injured. Fearing parents means you obey them. Fearing the stove keeps you from being burned. Fearing gods saves your soul. You have to teach him to be afraid of something, don't you? You're not going to just teach him to go up to the whole world and ask it what's up, now, are you? What if THINGS HAPPEN?

Really, I can think of no more soul-crushing experience than fear. So yes; that's exactly what I'm doing. He'll know fear in his life, and I'm sad just knowing that. It's a natural, visceral reaction to evil or tragedy, I think, and it's understandable. But it should never be a strategy. It should never be a decision. I will never teach him to fear. For as long as possible, I'm going to keep him from really knowing fear. If I screw up everything else; I'm really, really proud of doing this one thing. It's not about being brave. It's about being alive.

Go on; change my mind. I'm completely serious. Tell me one single instance in which fear -- not caution, not prudence, not revulsion, but fear -- is the way to go. I'll make an exception.

You can't, can you?

What's up, world?


jo(e) said... Best Blogger Tips

I so agree with you.

(And those are gorgeous photos!)

mike3k said... Best Blogger Tips

That scorpion frightens me.

Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

Whomever told you that is stupid. Nothing robs a soul of opportunity like fear.

Thérèse said... Best Blogger Tips

Such a good post!

luanne said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautifully expressed, in your words and your photos. So much damage in our world is caused by fear, and all the negative behaviors that stem from it. A great piece!

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, everyone. I figured the scorpion photo would kind of freak people out, but it was safe, trust me.

Leslie, sadly it's more than one person. Fittingly, as I hit publish on this, a few door knockers came by. They wanted to tell me how loving it was to instill fear in my son. I wanted so badly to just refer them here.

Barbara said... Best Blogger Tips

Wonderful post. When my kids were small we had a pool in the backyard. We taught them to 'respect' the pool - we didn't want them to fear it. Big difference!

Brother Numpsie said... Best Blogger Tips

Being afraid of panicking may actually be a good thing. (Yes, it's certainly possible. The human mind is a weird thing.)

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Barbara, exactly. "Respect" is a popular word around here too.

He was afraid of traffic exactly once, and tried to rush across the road. I had his hand, of course, but he saw right then that slowing down and not being afraid works much better.

So yes, Josh, I agree -- but I'd still not call it fear. I do think there's more of a difference than semantic nitpicking. (Though you know I am a fan of semantic nitpicking as well.)