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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Managing Fear


Almost two years ago, the normal television feeds of news, sitcoms and game shows was interrupted by Breaking News. A deadly virus was identified in China.

We can fill in our own story line based on the news sources each of us subscribes to, and we might be right, or we might be part of the flock. Since then we’ve seen restrictions, social guidelines, varying mask and vaccine requirements, variants and a generally higher level of fear.

The political cartoonists are not wrong to point out just as society begins to breathe easier we get a new issue. A conflict most of us do not have the ability to dissect has erupted in Europe: Russia appears to be reclaiming one of its wandering soviet children. What that means to the rest of the world has yet to be seen.

The perception, or immediate cry, is Russia is returning to the Cold War era, and reuniting the Soviet Union. If it is a return to days thought buried in history’s dust, who will fall next, or will the European Union unite?

Before we get that far, we need to look at what is happening around us. We were told to be afraid of the virus, then of the variants. It was implied our neighbor, even our household, could be a danger to us. Coincidence or not, Putin’s drive into the Ukraine occurred as people were rebelling against the sustained but continually debated vaccine mandates.

Fear continues. It is just changing shapes. Will the Russia-Ukraine conflict blow up into something of nightmares or fall away when the school yard bully can’t win the fight?

Then there’s President Biden’s State of the Union speech and call for more funding for police. A change of course or selling out his supporters? Maybe it is two sides of the coin holding the coin vertically.

I found it interesting that there has already been “peace talks.” One report is they were offered by Russia. Interesting timing.

It won’t be long before we hear the replay of “Give Peace a Chance.” Getting peace requires the right people at the table willing to reach a common goal. It also needs to be asked what defines peace? Is it an absence of war, or is it a global effort to work from the same story line?

If it is an absence of war, who defines it? Would there be a complete erasure of hate and bloodlust? It seems that is a near impossibility by itself. And if all of society is working from the same ideals or story line, who wrote it?

We can’t even decide how to enforce the laws we have, much less change society so we all have the same set of standards. Discussions like this frequently lead to the “Rule of Law.” I’m really curious how many people know the definition of the Rule of Law, who wrote it and what it really means. On that level, Natural Law is referred to in the same vein. Laws and social standards have changed constantly. Social standards of only a few years ago would now be looked at with shock and awe.

Fear has a way of controlling people. Death is a mystery. It is a one-way door. Once you see the other side, there’s no going back; not in this existence.

The quest for peace seems to overlook that every society has that person or personality bent on disrupting society. It’s not the environment. It’s not poverty by itself. It is a soul condition identified since the early days of mankind.

So what do we do about it? Fear can be a tool that pushes a person beyond his or her comfort zone. It can also be debilitating; the fight or flight.

We’re in times that a person can be overwhelmed with the what-ifs. Those who aren’t are sometimes seen as rebels, too roguish for civilized society. But maybe they’re OK with what lies beyond the door, and still won’t giving up enjoying the now.

I once heard a speaker talk about the basic information on a headstone. There is the birth date, and the date of his death. In the middle is a dash. This message urged people to value the dash. It is hard to value something if you are overwhelmed with fear.

Managing fear has two sides: how people do it, and how the political machine does it. The people who appear the most in control are less concerned about peripheral details and more focused on the goal in life.


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