The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Dan Carson
Prairie Ponderings 

What's Your Biggest Fear?

 

October 30, 2019



It's a chilly Halloween in western Nebraska and it may be hard to make out the true identities of masked ghouls and goblins, superheroes, cowboys and princesses knocking on our doors in necessary layers of warm clothing. Nonetheless, cold or mild, it's a night of fun and fellowship.

But in the distant past Halloween was darker and more serious. Hundreds of years ago, fall festivals were more about warding off evil spirits, evading curses and spells, and placating spirits of the dead than they were about treats and festive gatherings. The darker side of Halloween seems to be reemerging in Western culture today and though many people enjoy a good jump-scare in good fun now and then, I know of no one who enjoys living in constant fear.

What do you fear? That's an interesting question worth exploring. Answers are as varied as the number of people to whom the question is posed. I attended an event in Denver in 2018 at which aspiring authors such as myself were invited to sit in on panel discussions with various published authors. I was writing a sci-fi/horror novel at the time so I went to a panel made up of authors in the horror genre. At the end of the discussion I asked one of the authors what he thought scared people most. Initially he was quiet in thought so I prompted him. Was it violent death? Fear of abandonment, illness, disfigurement or dismemberment? He nodded at each question and finally revealed what he thought people feared above all else.

"An unfulfilled and purposeless life."

I was taken aback. The answer was more profound than anticipated and still causes me to reflect in times of introspection. I think he's correct.

There's a reason you and I are here today in this time and place. Every person has a purpose. Once we understand that, it transforms the way we think about ourselves and others. Imagine the value we'll assign to our lives and the lives of those around us when we grasp this revelation and devote ourselves to finding and fulfilling our own divine purpose, and to helping others find and accomplish theirs. Consider the deep regret awaiting us at life's end if we come to that point and realize we've wasted what we've been given. How much more so the terror if we arrive at the doorstep of eternity realizing how much life was wasted on anger, hate and tearing others down.

One of my biggest fears is the vitriol and lack of civility I see growing around us and what that ultimately means for our country and community. Our destiny is not to contribute to this trend, but to resist it by refusing to initiate division or pile on when tempted to do so. Let's voice our beliefs and convictions confidently on their own merits in an absence of malice. Because if we don't, the future is something we'll all soon be afraid of.

 

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