I was going to write the first chapter of an ongoing story that I wanted to write (monthly) for this blog, but I decided that I would write this first. You can read last month’s story here.
I was having a conversation the other day, and like always, things started to get a little weird (on my end) and I offhandedly stated something that I had been thinking of. I said how I think fear is important, and how it is good. Most people don’t quite understand this when I first say it, and I don’t blame them, because even I don’t often know what I mean by it (sounds like 90% of what I say).
I do think that there is truth in this, though. There is something truly good about fear. I think fear, at its core – like everything in the world – is good. I understand that intrinsic good/intrinsic evil is a widely debated concept (Locke vs. Hobbes). I obviously fall in with Locke, simply because I think that God did not create anything that was “bad.” If he did, then there are serious issues with the Christian faith that are irreconcilable.
I also hold to the belief that nothing was created apart from God and Satan has no more ability to create anything than we do. This means that fear and many other perceived negatives were, indeed created by God. I would posit that Adam and Eve in the garden still possessed fear. I think they lived with a good fear – the kind of fear that stops a child from touching a hot oven.
Because of this, I operate under the idea that fear is not wholly bad, but in a regard, is intrinsically good. How?
Without fear, there can be no courage – I would also argue that without fear there is no motivation.
Humans exceed because we fear to fail. This applies especially to self motivated people. Self motivation is a fear of letting yourself down. In some ways, this can be extremely beneficial, but it can also be detrimental. Fear is like anything else – it can only be allowed in moderation. Fear can make people better, by inspiring courage and can destroy people by causing some sort of inward destruction.
In this sense, fear is the gateway by which people enter into all things good. Fear drives people away from what is wrong and towards what is right. How better can we define fear than a desire to run away – to escape. What else does fear inspire, but a desire to flee and I think that fear causes us to move higher and to a better place?
Because of our fear of being animals, we are civilized. We see people acting like an animal and there is a deep visceral reaction. We fear it and we despise it. We fear being one of those creatures, because our fear inspires us to be more. We fear failure, so we succeed. Life is a system of fears and those fears can either cause us to crumble under them or we can be courageous and exceed.
As we see here, fear is good, because from fear comes courage. In many senses, we can’t have love without fear, because we can’t have love without rejection. There is something about the exclusivity of love that makes it worth it. If everyone loved everyone equally there would be no love, it would just be a flat line. This applies even more broadly to concepts like good and evil.
Good cannot exist without evil. What makes good, good is the comparison of good to evil. Evil makes good that much more good, and the more evil there is the better good gets. In short, the two require each other to exist, and in a sense evil is good because it allows for good, because without it there would be no good. When this is reconciled with the good of God, it is easy to explain why evil exists.
In the same way, all things need a negative counterpart to be considered good, however, the negative is generally the same thing as the positive, even though it goes by a different name.
Fear, when used well, is courage:
Fear + Good reaction = courage
Fear + Bad reaction = cowardice
In this case, we see that fear, with the right component added, can be something good, and, with the bad component added, is bad. It is courageous to do the right thing, which stems from the fear of doing the wrong thing. It is also out of fear that people act arrogance. Arrogance is a puffing up and animals do this when they’re afraid. People who are arrogant typically have fear of being perceived as weaker. Humility is the courageous interaction with that fear – the trust of putting yourself out there, increasing your vulnerability. Both of these things stem from fear, but they are so different in our moral perceptions.
Often times, our real fears are deep-seated in our souls. There is something to be said about fears that hide themselves. We fear rejection and failure, but we fail to recognize them. Arrogance is the best example of this. Arrogant people pretend to be fearless, however they fear letting themselves down, letting others down, and being perceived as weak. These are the fears that the bible talks about when it says true love casts out all fear – bad fear.
Fear can be good, and I think it is necessary. God even tells us to fear him, and that speaks volumes. There is something to be said about someone who fears God, because they know the vastness of God, however, God doesn’t imply a bad fear, but a good fear, a fear that inspires us to exceedrather than to cower. So, God made fear good, just like he made everything else good, and because of that we need to know how to interact with fear and use wisdom and discernment to know the path to take when we are faced with fear.
I bet you’re too afraid to follow me on twitter.
You can also read part 2 here.