Grammy® winner Maren Morris, whose blend of country, pop, R&B, and rock music has taken her to the top of the music charts more than once in the last few years, was profiled on the April 3 edition of CBS Sunday Morning. In her interview she said, “I feel like I’m becoming fearless again…I don’t know what there is to be afraid of after the last couple of years. I’ve done things that have scared the living hell out of me and I made it through…knowing that I wasn’t in control and I probably never was.”
We’ve all had things to fear in the last few years, not the least of which was COVID-19. According to Our World in Data, worldwide we’ve seen 491 million reported cases and 6.15 million reported deaths as of April 3, 2022. In the United States alone there have been 80.1 million reported cases and 980 thousand reported deaths. Some estimates say there were over 11 million people who lost their jobs or couldn’t work because their place of employment shut down.
The Pew Research Center found that 33 million adults used money from savings/retirement to pay bills (I was one of them), 25 million had trouble paying bills, 17 million had to get food from food banks and similar places, and 16 million had trouble paying their rent or mortgage. Such financial hardship can lead to homelessness, depression, a loss of hope, various health problems, and suicide. [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, while the overall suicide rates in the US declined during the pandemic, suicide rates for young adult males and people of color increased. Can you say “poverty”? “Lack of opportunity?” “Discrimination”? “George Floyd”? Armaud Arbery?”]
Other things that have struck fear in the hearts of many include a very contentious Presidential election, the January 6 assault on the Capitol, legislation to limit the rights of members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I could go on.
Fear can weaken our immune system and can cause gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular damage, and decreased fertility. Fear can stunt our ability to take action. It can cause us to do things we would not normally do, and it can be contagious. While fear can make us avoid danger, it can also embolden us to face threats to our welfare with fire in our bellies.
Perhaps Maren Morris’ most important words were “I wasn’t in control and I probably never was.” Discovering we’re not as in control as we might think can be a very scary thing. At the same time, it can spur us to action and bring out hidden strength and power in the midst of tragedy, and it can free us from worry.
Regarding worry, The Dalai Lama said, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
In Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, Mary McDonnell portrays a white woman who had been captured and raised by the Sioux. She was called “Stands with a Fist” because she stood up to an abusive Sioux woman. After that no one every bothered her again. In her case, fear was turned into anger, anger into fearlessness, and fearlessness into action that helped liberate Stands with a Fist from oppression.
At the very least, when fear comes our way we can choose how to respond to it. We can take it head-on, or we can turn away from it. Dorothy Bernard, and American actress who appeared in nearly 90 films between 1908 and 1956, said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
What fears can you face fervently, fiercely, and fearlessly? We all have the power to choose. Say your prayers, get up, and get going.
F-E-A-R has two meanings:
‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’
The choice is yours.
…and that’s the view from The Balcony.
Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. He is afraid of lions and tigers and bears—oh, my! Randy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.