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fEaR, August 4th, 1996 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: August 4th, 1996
"fEaR" [permalink]
    keywords: fear, society, life, role models, love, courage
    soapbox #: 44
    written: August 4th, 1996
    words: 851

"fEaR", an Essay

Our lives are ruled by fear. So much, in fact, that it could be argued rather successfully that all the qualities in a person we admire are merely examples of how much he lets fear get to him.

Of course, the most obvious example of fear affecting us is when it comes to death. Most of us aren't afraid of death at all -- what we are afraid of is how it will happen, when it will happen, and who it will happen to. If I died today, gosh, how would my parents get through it (after the months of Dionysian celebration, that is)? What if my future wife gets mangled in a web of sheet metal in a car accident? What will I do when I stay up long nights worrying about if I'm going to die in some gruesome fashion, like from listening to John Tesh's music?

Damn, I'm glad I'm not really afraid of death at this point in my life. After seeing what measures people will go to to escape death, the fear is definitely the worst part! And people compound the problem by worrying about seeing their rickety parents in an old folks' home! Erg.

Apparently I asked my dad some question that he said Socrates asked as well. Maybe Socrates isn't as smart as we thought if he thinks like me, but that's another week's soapbox, I guess. I asked, "How much of courage is the fear of the consequences of not doing the right thing, as opposed to being a truly honorable person?" I swear, at the time, it was said more eloquently. The point is, wouldn't you do a courageous deed just because you feared if you didn't pull the woman from the automobile, you'd have to deal with yourself for the rest of your life because of it? Is that still courage, if you pull her out for that reason?

What about love? Aren't people afraid to die alone? Sure, when you're young, you just flirt, but then you get old. Riiiiinnng goes the internal clock, and then all Hell breaks loose. You are partly hitting at those of the opposite sex to fall in love, and partly because you're scared out of your mind.

Celebrity role models. It's only fitting that our society elevates the sludge of Hollywood to the highest pedestal. Michael Irvin got caught with some topless dancers and some drugs. What were his loyal young fans supposed to think then? Wasn't Mickey Mantle an alcoholic? What a great inspiration. Why did they turn into heroes? Because they could catch a ball or hit one out of a park? That's not courage, honor, or any other redeemable quality we assign to people. Shouldn't our role models have these "qualities", even if the "qualities" are simply based on how much someone is afraid of not taking the initiative?

I've been having problems trying to figure out who does have these qualities. Basically, I've decided that the people who do their jobs and don't take advantage of them are the good folks. You know, the people who don't beat their children and are all-around average Joe's. It's not a lot to expect, I know, but in these times, it's rare to find in someone. These folks are usually people who are close to you. Cherish them and forget the glitzy world of plastic breasts and rock-hard hairstyles. Your parents, peers, and whatnot don't usually go away, either. They're much less likely to be found snorting some cocaine in a hotel room with Mountain Topps the call girl.

Don't trust evangelists, billionaire computer geeks with messed-up hair, or NBC when it says the Olympics are being shown live, either. It's a screwy world out there. Society's actually one of the few things I am truly scared of.

So anyway, getting back to the topic, we've let fear overrun our lives. People are too afraid of how they look to live. Others are afraid to write because they think one person out there will think they're stupid. Heck, even religion has turned into a sort of "if I don't go to church this Sunday, I'll go to Hell" fear-fest.

I say we should stop worrying so much and go have fun. We've lost the meaning of everything! We should truly enjoy what we do and not worry about external stress so much. So if you need help having fun, there are plenty of solutions. You could hang out with a fraternity, or you could read some of Horace's poetry. Anything's fine if it keeps you from being scared.

Such an epicurean line from Braveheart, this is: "Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives." Okay, it's kind of cheesy to end an article with a recent movie quote, I know...but look at it this way: how else will I identify my argument with a majority of people who admire the intelligence of the Must See TV/NBC show characters? Scary, isn't it all?



 
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