Article Written to the UOP Pacifican Fear Causes and Consequences On April 9, 1987
by Carlton Pruitt
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As part of my journalism assignment in college I was required to write a review or article or letter to the editor so here is one article I wrote about fear that was published in the University of the Pacific's student paper called "The Pacifican" dated April 9, 1987,
Much can be said about fear. Everyone from presidents to poets
have made indelible statements revolving around this theme. Consider the following quotable quotes: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," said President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 4, 1933 in his First Inagural Address. The Romantic poets Edgar Allan Poe in his poem "The Raven" said, "Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." Another Romantic poet John Keats wrote in "When I Have Fears," "When I have fears that I may cease to be before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain..." Look through American and English literature and you'll find a myriad of statements about fear.
It should come as no surprise that fear affects each of us differently. I'll never forget the vivid experience I had as a young boy of six or seven. I grew up watching horror movies on TV and at the local theater. Movies about vampires, ghosts, and witches were a consuming passion with me. This predilection for the macabre stayed with me until my teenage years when I began writing mystery and horror stories. When I became a Christian at fourteen I stopped this nonsense and foolishness but until then I ate horror stories for dinner every night. One night after climbing into bed I peered through the dark bedroom thinking I saw a boogieman coming to get me. I sprang out of my bed in a heartbeat and dashed into my great grandmother's bedroom for protection screaming with fright. My great grandmother woke up, turned on the lights and showed me that the figure I thought I saw was nothing more than an old coat hanging on my door rack. So much for the "boogieman." Fear had played with my imagination.
This brings us to some pertinent questions. Have you ever stopped for a moment to consider the various fears we experience? What are you specifically afraid of? How do you handle your fears? A humorist once said that, "Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." Fears can be that way too, can't they? Yes, we can easily drift through life talking about our fears but we never honestly confront them and deal with them in a rational way.
Psychologists call fears phobias. A phobia is defined as a fear of some object or situation which, in itself, poses no actual danger to the individual. The following ar some of the most common phobias which can trouble people: acrophobia (fear of high places) claustrophobia (fear of closed places) hematophobia (fear of blood), hydrophobia (fear of water), necrophobia (fear of dead bodies), nyctophobia (fear of darkness or the night), ochlophobia (fear of crowds), pyrophobia (fear of fire), and thanatophobia (fear of death).
What causes these various fears? The etiologies of these and other fears can be traced to several sources. Traumatic experiences in childhood can trigger fear reactions later in life. Suppose, for example, as a little girl you were thrown off a horse after kicking it in the flanks. As a result of this incident you may not be able to come near a horse without reacting with deep anxiety or fear.
Certain fears may come to us through the influence of our
parents. A mother or father who has an extreme fear of lightning
may pass this idea on to their children by hiding every time there is an electrical storm.
I once heard a radio broadcaster comment on the fear of consequences. He said that people will often lie because they fear that the consequences of telling the truth will work against them. Perhaps this has been the case with you.
There is another fear that you seldom hear about today except in
theological circles. Puritan New England was certainly acquainted with it. It's called the fear of God. Speaking of the Ten Commandments, theologian R. J. Rushdoony says, "The reason for the giving of these commandments is to awaken the fear of God, and that fear might prompt obedience. Because God is God, the absolute Lord and law-giver, fear of God is the esssence of sanity and common sense. To depart from a fear of God is to lack any sense of reality." The Biblical Proverbs say that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, is strong confidence and is long life. My friend have you ever faced this fear before? If you haven't then you haven't really faced ultimate reality. The fear of God has reference to an awesome respect growing out of God's greatness and power. Jay Adams, another noted theologian has said that this fear originally "meant being afraid of what He can do to you as One who has the power to judge and to punish." Adams also points out that fear itself began in the Garden of Eden when Ada, and Eve ate the forbidden fruit(Genesis 3;10). After sinning they tried to hide from God out
of fear. This fear was a sinful fear resulting from a sinful action.
There is a solution to all our fears. this is not to say that all fear is wrong, but many times it is. A fear of God is healthy and as pointed out it is "the essence of sanity." Sinful fear stems from a lack of love. This kind of fear holds us in bondage and prevents us from doing what we should. It may be helpful to recognize that the enemy of fear is love. The enemy of Satan is God. the Bible says "Perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:17-18). The more a person loves the less fear he or she will have. The more fear, the less love. Fear moves away from the object (problem or person) by hiding and covering up in self-protection like Adam and Eve did. Contrast this with love which moves toward its object (problem or person) by openness and giving of oneself. It is interesting to note as Adams does that in the Bible, Jesus is never said to be afraid. Why? Because as a perfect God-man He had a perfect love. You can diminish your fears today by learning to love God and your neighbor. Begin to cast out fear with perfect love. you'll feel better about yourself and others will feel better about you.
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