THE WALKING DREAD

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” ~ Helen Keller

When out for a walk this morning I passed a young woman, 15 or 16-years of age and her curiosity made her glance at me when she thought I wasn’t looking but as I returned her gaze she turned her face quickly in the opposite direction, ignoring me as if I wasn’t there. I thought, “Where does this behavior come from?” Ah, it must come from her parents. This total distrust of others was likely drilled into her as a child, “Never, never ever speak to strangers.”

I know there are lunatics out there but the fact is the majority, 98.9% (perhaps higher) of the people walking the planet are decent folk, not serial killers. Serials make up .79%, a .79% too much, agreed. I and many, many others are not going to kidnap, torture and murder you or your loved ones so why do the rest of us have to suffer indifference because the 1.1% of crazies causing  this frenzied trepidation?

What we fear, we draw near. It’s a universal law that whatever we direct our attention toward will flourish and grow. The well-known “law of attraction” can be applied to both the wanted, as well as the unwanted experiences in our lives.

All the fretting, dread and dismay churns into confusion and stress passes on to children which they then carry into adulthood. This moderated hysteria can do more to increase your odds of disaster than simply being mindful. Yes it’s important to protect your children and yes, it’s your responsibility to do all you can to help them be aware so they are able to protect themselves. Turning them into unsociable humans with a closed heart shouldn’t be your end result. Where do you draw the line? At your own personal comfort of paranoid protectiveness? Do you shadow them everywhere they go? Do you give them a cell phone at the age of 8? Do you tell them the dangers, the seriousness in graphic detail of what could happen to them should they not follow your rules? My reaction now is one of stress. Can you imagine how the 6, 7, 12-year old child internalize your fears?

I was raised in one of the world’s largest cities and yes, we had demonic personalities but in lesser numbers, or so it seemed. We, the regular, normal, everyday happy folks outnumbered them by far. Are more deranged and demented psychos out there now or are the numbers less per capita than in my youth? Is it simply a numbers game?

I don’t know the best answer except perhaps balance and careful, casual sharing of safety information. Still, I can’t help but feel we are making a world of citizens afraid of each other. We already spend most of our time looking at screens to communicate with one another. Is the future a place where we talk via text messages as our earplugs surround us in our own little worlds?

We can’t control much of anything, not really. By telling a child all they need to fear and what they need to do to protect themselves does nothing but cultivate angst. I can’t prevent a tsunami, halt a car accident or prevent  any catastrophic incident. All the smoke alarms in the world do not prevent fires. Life jackets do not prevent drowning.

At some point we need to let go and allow life to happen. Yes, be mindful of the dangers but not live in fear. It may be the stranger you were taught to ignore is the one person who could save your life.

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. ~ Marcus Aurelius

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