Given that I am someone who has suffered from PTSD from small childhood, fear is a subject that is somewhat frequently on my mind. As a child I was terribly afraid of the dark, yet at the same time not able to sleep well with much light. Throughout my whole life I have been plagued with nightmares, a traumatic life finding its release through tortured sleep. I am someone who knows fear very well, its insidious power to take away our peace of mind, fray our nerves, stress us out, make us unable to sleep, and lead us to act in paranoid and inappropriate ways to others.
But it is still an unsettling thing to have people afraid of me. I know, personally, that I’m not someone to be afraid of. While I’m certainly not a wise person to cross, being rather extroverted about what I think about injustice and tyranny, I’m not someone anyone should really be afraid of. I’m not particularly spiteful or vengeful, despite provocation, and I know my intents of heart and motives and agendas are full of good will for others, even for those who have made themselves my enemies through their own wicked behavior.
It is very strange for me to see fear from the other side, to see people in fear of me. It is odd to see them plot for how to keep themselves safe from me when they are in no harm, when I do not even want to see them or have them around, and yet they call each other whispering what I have said to others, wondering how to protect themselves, asking if others feel safe around me, knowing that a wronged person is generally pretty angry and vengeful, and knowing somewhere within themselves that they have done a horrible wrong, and fearing the outcome of it, not knowing that I am a person of considerable mercy and forebearance, simply because they do not trust me.
I do not know how clever people think they are, but we are all (myself included) generally far less clever than we think. We think we are being secret or private about our plans and machinations, but that is generally not the case. Most of the time we are found out rather rapidly. As a person who is generally pretty open, even about the horribly dark struggles I have, I find it rather distressing that so many should be content with rationalizations and half-truths and blatant lies and malicious slander when an open admission of mistake and an honest effort and working on mistaken perception would lead to a much better situation. But it is what it is. We simply have to make the best of it. The truth sets us free from a lot of illusions, but sadly many of them are precious to us because they justify our own treachery and misbehavior toward others. Few are willing to face the truth about themselves, and act accordingly.
There are many things in this world that people are afraid of. Some people, sadly, are afraid of me. Visions of my politeness and gallantry fill their night terrors, as those who have committed grave wrongs fear a revenge that will not come from my hands, and plot in vain to protect themselves from someone who means and intends and will do them no harm. It is not a coincidence that my favorite animal is the skunk. Like the skunk, I have rather fierce defenses, but am a gentle and affectionate and curious sort of being who does not deserve to be treated like a leper and outcast. But whether for good or for ill, we are seldom treated as we deserve in this present evil world.
In the midst of the Great Depression and the fearful times of World War II, the American president (a man whose spirit I appreciate, even if his policies I generally disdain) Franklin Roosevelt said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is our fear that paralyzes us in the wrong frame of mind, unable to take action except in panic and anxiety. We exaggerate nonexistent threats in the absence of accurate understanding, and neglect genuine ones. Because it is easier to forgive those who have wronged than those whom we have wronged, oppressors, ironically enough, live in abject terror of those they oppress, because they know that others have the possible motive to rise up in anger and rage, all while turning a blind eye to those who commit grave wrongs because of their ideological or personal loyalty.
I know that I myself have lost many hours of sleep because of my own fears–fears of my actions and behavior being misconstrued (fears which turned out to be all too well-founded), fears of being arrested and thrown in some stinking prison because of my fierce defense of justice in a foreign land (fears which so far appear not to be founded, at least in the short time I have remaining here). I blame no one in particular for those fears, considering my fears to be my own responsibility. To the extent that I am afraid of others, it is not generally because they are so fearsome but because of my own experiences and faulty thought processes, and that is my responsibility alone. The same is true for others. If God is for us, who can be against us, and if we are truly acting rightly and have God on our side, either He will deliver us out of or through whatever trials we face. And so, if we are genuine people of faith, we need have no fear at all, just simply the determination to do what is right despite everything.