We Have Nothing to Fear But a Lack of Fear

President Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Those words have persevered throughout the decades and been closely aligned to the difficulties he spoke of facing this great nation when he took office. Yet, is the lack of fear a good thing and is a fear of fear merely another fear we embrace? Then if we fear fearing isn’t that actually experiencing fear of fear? I’m confused, and what else is new? Sure, Yoda said fear leads to the dark side, but can’t a total lack of it sometimes lead to disaster? I bring up this quandary at this moment in time because of the fact we are living in incredibly scary times. There is so much craziness in our existence it would be practically impossible to be a Pollyanna. COVID19, global warming, rising crime rates, racism, Antisemitism, Congress (Ooh, that one really makes my blood run cold!) and all sorts of scary things that go bump in the night and threaten our sleep. So I pose a simple question, when is it okay to be fearful?

Recently I experienced a strange moment while dining at a restaurant with a friend and sitting outdoors waiting for a table. Usually I’m double masked just to ensure some slippery little COVID bug doesn’t slip through that cotton protective gear that has now become part of my face, but I felt a bit bold and obviously too comfortable in my environment on such a beautiful day. The sky was blue, the temperature perfection and the fresh air enticing so I removed the mask and presented naked faced to the world around me.Was this bold or stupid? I’m still pondering that decision because of what happened next. A couple sitting nearby told us they had driven an hour and a half and always enjoyed this particular restaurant when in the area. We began speaking and the husband said he was a chiropractor and bragged he had never caught COVID although his choice was to forego a mask or receive the vaccine. Has this man never heard of the Jewish fear of bragging about something, what Jewish people call a Kenahora or instant bad luck? Such foolish arrogance may lead to disaster if the devil happens to be listening to your conversation at that moment and sees an opportunity for a bit of fun at your expense by deciding to make a liar out of you?

Of course my hand immediately went toward my face to give coverage, but since I didn’t want to appear overly paranoid I didn’t re-don my mask. In retrospect I probably should have sprinted out of there like Jesse Owens being chased by Hitler. When they got up to go to their table she walked up to me, stood above my chair and leaned in closer to wish me a good day. It was so fast I couldn’t react and when they left My friend turned to me and said, “Sure, have a good day if you’re still alive.”

Okay, we laughed but in my mind I was writing my will. Of course I’m vaccinated but due to receive a booster this week. To say I’m feeling more vulnerable would be an understatement.

Let me be clear here that I am not an advocate of telling others how to live their lives.If someone chooses not to receive the vaccine it is entirely their own decision to make and none of my business.  I made a choice to have it, but others are certainly entitled to make their own. Having said that I must also add that although one is free to forego the vaccine or mask, that doesn’t free them from something called human decency and responsibility toward others by acting as a good citizen. Behaving in a reckless manner to endanger other’s health is quite another kettle of fish and a stinky one to boot. Since no one can be certain about that tricky little virus called COVID and now so many who are even vaccinated are coming down with breakthrough cases, to be aloof would to me seem inconsiderate and thoughtless toward others. To be unmindful of personal space and the fact others may actually want to go on living and not have you be the one to choose their time of death is inexcusable.

I totally respect someone’s decision to be unvaccinated and unmasked, but Bitch keep your germs outta my face!

So I now return to my original question, is fear really the boogieman some make it out to be? Or is a little fear a necessary and smart thing to possess as a barrier to chaos? I have a friend who lives with so much fear that on her tombstone it must be added. “She Worried.”

 I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “you can’t live your life in fear.” So I don’t, but who’s the crazy one here?

Shouldn’t I have been more fearful around strangers and continued wearing my mask although outside that restaurant?Was letting my guard down a good idea in this instance? Is fear getting a bad rap? Do we too often equate fear with common sense and self-preservation? So where is the line between fearful and paranoid? And can we be certain in these times that line still exists? I truly believe we can only do so many stupid things in our life before one catches up with us. Still, we all know people who have done more than their share of stupid and are thriving pretty well.

So what’s the answer to how much fear is okay to fear? Or something like that. In a word or three, I don’t know. What I do know is in today’s world perhaps it’s okay to examine how keeping some fear on the menu isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s a matter of semantics really. Some will fudge the issue by saying, “No Norma you shouldn’t be fearful, simply exercise a bit of caution.” To that I answer “Bullpucky?” Caution is just the acceptable form of fear that is politically correct and easily justified. Being a cautious person evokes intelligence and responsibility, traits to be applauded. Being fearful evokes “she’s a paranoid nutcase and needs to get a grip.”

And yet they are the same thing after all. For what is caution but fear put into action? If I had worn my mask would I be acting out of fear or caution? Put that one in your Meerschaum pipe and smoke it.

I guess I’m tired of being seen as a nut because I’m scared. Does this sense of foreboding stop me from living my life, laughing hysterically at Larry David or choosing to eat salmon once in a blue moon instead of an entire Hershey bar with almonds? No way. I feel very confident that I can multitask and be scared while still enjoying my life. Perhaps even a bit more knowing I’m making  “cautious” decisions.

So if I survive that thoughtless woman’s germs, you’ll hear from me again soon. Stay safe, not so much from COVID, but from the crazies out there. Caution is good choice when dealing with the masses nowadays.            

Norma Zager, The Hollywood Grammy, COVID19, Yoda, Fear itself, Franklin Roosevelt, Larry David, Congress, masks, vaccine, bitch

2 thoughts on “We Have Nothing to Fear But a Lack of Fear

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