One of my earliest memories is falling down a wooden staircase that led to my family home’s cellar-type basement. I remember the fear, not only my own, but that of my mother, who has since told me she was paralyzed with fear when she realized that I had fallen and that there was nothing she could do to stop it. I was about two years old at the time, and I remember falling and I remember being rocked by my mom in our orange La-Z-Boy following the fall — me screaming and her comforting me and praying. Since then, I have feared staircases — I am always afraid that no matter how careful I am or how tightly I hold on to the railing — I am going to fall and break my neck. I was so happy that when my sons were learning to walk, we lived in a home that had absolutely no stairs. No stairs, nowhere to fall. An irrational fear? Maybe. I’ve really only fallen down stairs about five times total in my life, but yet, that fear is always there. One bad experience when I was two years old set the stage for a lifetime of fear, and because I fear staircases, I also loathe them.
A good friend of mine has a lifelong fear of snakes. I have asked her where she thinks the fear stems from. She has never had a bad experience with a snake, but she fears the bad experience she would have if she were to get up close and personal with one. She fears the unknown threat that a snake would present to her, a fear she shares with her mother, who has always warned my friend of the dangers of snakes and to always be afraid of them. Again, because she fears snakes, she also loathes them.
Fear is a very personal thing. Take my above examples, for instance — I fear staircases, but not snakes; my friend fears snakes, but not staircases. Are both of these fears irrational? Are all fears? And is it instinct that makes us loathe whatever it is that we fear?
Right now in our country, there is a lot of fear and loathing that’s happening. I feel the level of dissonance on issues is similar, historically, to the Civil Rights era, World War II, and, to some degree, the Civil War. The middle ground is nonexistent and if you don’t agree, you are considered an enemy, someone to be feared and loathed. The issue, of course, is the threat of ISIS. This threat is causing fear, and I admit I, too, am afraid. However, the fear is more in line of the fear of the snake than the fear of the staircase — I am afraid of the unknown. What I am more afraid of than ISIS, however, is the fear of the hate that I see everywhere I go. Like the staircase I fell down when I was a baby, I feel I am helpless to the damage that this level of hate will do. I see examples of the hate every day. Hate of any religion save your own, hate of anyone who looks different than you, hate of those seeking a helping hand, hate of any thought that is not identical to your own. People are afraid, so very afraid. The fear makes them loathe, and the loathing takes on a life of its own.
Please, “For What It’s Worth”, everybody stop and look what’s going down. God Bless.