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February 25, 2017

I’m Putting Fear in the Backseat.

I looked at the neighbor’s cat outside my window and asked it a question.

“Are you afraid little cat?”

“Afraid of what?” the little cat asked back.

“Afraid of Trump?”

“I’m only afraid when I’m under attack,” the little cat said. “Is Trump attacking you?”

“No. But he might. In the future.”

“What does ‘future’ mean?” the little cat asked.

~

Cats have the right idea. It’s probably why they can sleep in the sun for hours on end.

They don’t think about fear—they just feel it in the moment if a predator is near.

I remember my meditation teacher talking about fear and the mind—and how 99 percent of the time, fear comes from our thoughts of what might happen or what could happen in the future.

“Fear is a banquet for the ego,” she said. “It keeps you in a state of disequilibrium and discomfort with the ego wanting—as it usually does—more, more, more.”

So often these days, I see posts on my Facebook page about how people are “afraid.”

One person says they are afraid of Trump and of what he “might” do, while another says they are afraid of Trump and what he “could” do. Another is afraid for their children and their grandchildren, and still others—two, or three, or 10 others—say yes! They’re afraid too.

It’s almost like I’m watching people bond through their fear.

I don’t feel that kind of fear. It’s not that I think our current president is a sane, reasonable, reliable or informed person, but I have no more (or less) fear of the “Big Bomb” with him in office than I did with Obama in office—or than I would have had with Clinton.

I look at him, and I think, “I have no control over what he does or does not do.” But then, neither did I have control over any other president ever, so it’s pretty clear to me that being afraid or feeling fear is not productive.

I was on the phone once, with a friend, just before I had to leave to go run an errand.

“Be careful out there,” she said.”It’s a dangerous world. You never know what could happen.”

What? I was literally just going four blocks to the grocery store.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but why did you say that?” I asked her.

“Because I care about you, and I want you to be safe.”

That didn’t make sense to me.

Calling the world a frightening place and telling me bad things can happen to me at any moment is not the not the way I want people to show that they care about me.

“Well, how else would I do it?” she asked.

How about something like, “Have fun at the grocery store.” Or, “Don’t buy too many tomatoes.” Or, “I’m looking forward to talking to you tomorrow.”

Or how about people on Facebook saying, “We can make the changes we need to make in order to preserve our Democracy.” Or, “History has shown that we have overcome other presidents who were just as incompetent—and even as dangerous—as this one.”

How about bonding through hope, instead of through fear?

I know a man who, when he learned his young son had been stricken with a terminal illness, became afraid.

“Are you afraid, Dad?” The boy asked his father. “Because if you’re afraid, I’m afraid.”

Let’s not make each other afraid.

“I decided then that there would be hope—there had to be hope. I needed hope to displace the fear. I knew I couldn’t replace fear—it would always be there—but it had to be in the backseat and not in the driver seat.”~ C. Hallsey

Let’s do what my friend did. Instead of being afraid, let’s be concerned.

Let’s be determined to respond sensibly, to look at matters rationally and to find ways to intercede—and perhaps, even to disempower Trump.

Let’s share our hope with each other and put fear in the backseat.

 

~

Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: Unsplash/Asique Alam

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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