“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” – Yoda
Fear is one of the strongest emotions a human can experience. Fear is as primordial as life on Earth and ingrained in our biology. An element of fear underpins much of what we do and motivates us into action that ensures survival and well-being. Without Fear you would not be motivated to care for your health, seek out food and shelter or defend yourself against attack. You could not survive without the “Fight and Flight” response which fear elicits when it ignites the adrenal gland and fills the body and brain with adrenaline. Fear can be beneficial, but it can also be devastating.
Fear can make us do things that we would not normally do. Fears, imagined and real will convince us to accept treatments we would otherwise never consent to. It compels us to acquiesce to rules, mandates and restrictions no matter how severe or oppressive, without question. Fear is the the leverage others will use to deny us of our freedoms and liberties and do so with our full willingness. Until you have lived in Fear every day of your life you cannot begin to understand how powerful it is in shaping who you are. You cannot understand the power Fear has over your life.
“If you make decisions out of fear you are more likely to be wrong.” – Ahsoka Tano
Imagine being at the mercy of another human being. You live under constant fear of being punished and abused physically and mentally any time. Your loved ones are held in ransom and routinely abused in a similar way. You have no idea of what will happen and have no control over your life. Imagine being a slave living in Fear. It would be terrifying and soul destroying.
The child Anakin was a slave and grew up in an environment that was brutal and cruel. Anakin was not allowed to have a childhood and had to work to earn his keep and avoid punishment. Fortunately for the young Human he was intelligent beyond his years and already a skilled pilot before he was ten. Anakin’s owner, Watto, was able to profit from the boy which bought Anakin a measure of freedom that other slaves did not enjoy.
When Yoda met Anakin, he sensed the Fear and an emerging darkness in the boy. The Force was strong in Anakin but so was the fear he had grown up with. Fear can reside deep within for decades. With time it grows and shapes like a cancer. Life becomes haunted by fears both real and imagined. Fear manifests itself in poor choices, anger, resentments, aggression, ignorance, and hate. It did so with Anakin, as Yoda feared it would and Fear consumed him utterly.
“Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi.” – Yoda
Myths and legends remind humanity of the consequences of giving in to Fear. Most of the fears that are experienced are imagined. You fear an idea, an illusion, a nightmare, or a thing not yet realized rather than reality. People are terrified to leave their homes convinced that they may fall victim to crime or terrorism. The constant bombardment of the exaggerated dangers of a virus in the news and social media has led to a mass formation of social psychosis that has created a traumatised generation. People no longer consider the actual risks in their lives, they are willing to accept anything that may take the perceived danger away. They suffer in their minds more than in reality, in anticipation of something that will likely only ever occur in their imagination.
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda
The Hero overcomes her fear by confronting it. She will throw open the door on which fear beats and find nothing there. The Hero will stop running from fear and turn to face it. What was tangible, insurmountable and undefeatable turns out to be a harmless illusion that quickly fades away. The Hero realizes at the end that the greatest challenge is overcoming one’s own fears. True courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue on despite it. The Hero’s Journey is all about overcoming your fears.
Being alcoholic and a survivor of an abusive childhood I know what it is to live in Fear. I also know that Fear kept me back from doing so much in life. Every day lived in Fear is a day wasted. Living in Faith of a Higher Power has dulled that Fear by turning it over. I no longer have to be afraid of things that I do not control. My own Fear is a choice that I can control. I can take action and make decisions based on reason, not on Fear.
“I used to be afraid, all the time. Then I realized that a decision based on fear is usually the wrong one.” – Ahsoka Tano
Fear is a natural response to a threat. Sometimes that threat is real and sometimes it is exaggerated or imagined. Fear is sometimes the correct and appropriate response. More often it is an unnecessary mental burden which creates unnecessary barriers to progress. Fear will prevent you from taking risks worth taking, from making the changes needed to live a better life. Fear more than any other emotion will stop you being the person you were meant to be. The only choice you have is to “Do. Or do not”.
“Hmm. In the end, cowards are those who follow the dark side.” – Yoda
There is no shame in being afraid. Cowards are those who are unwilling or unable to face up to their fears. They choose to give in to fear and allow it to control them without concern for others. Anakin gave in to his fears by betraying everything dear to him for the illusion of security and control. To be Jedi is to acknowledge the presence of fear but train the mind to let go of everything you fear to lose. Never be a slave to fear. Be brave.
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Yoda
Taken from Week 48 of the Daily Jedi Journal