WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” US President Franklin Roosevelt told the American people after he became president in the midst of the US worst economic crisis, the recession of the late 1920s that spilled over the to 30s.
Fear is one of the most powerful impulses of man. It is fear that led to wars and the production of more and more lethal instruments of conflict and the invention of the worst of torture.
It is fear of the unknown that led man to seek for his God and to insure that when he leaves his mortal remains here on earth, he would be assured of a heavenly bliss that knows no fear.
In the Bible, several times has the phrase, “Fear not” had been uttered by Christ to reassure His faithful that with Him there is nothing to fear. It was when Peter lost his faith in Christ that he became afraid and began to sink into the waters.
It is fear that prods us to do good and avoid evil; contrariwise, it is the lack of fear that makes people corrupt and abusive – the absence of fear of retribution or a false belief that when the time for them to make an accounting for their evil deeds, they would have time to repent hoping that indeed God is merciful.
Fear can be developed or inculcated. The fear of the aswang and the goblins and the monsters of the underworld have been engendered by centuries of literature and grotesque structures that reinforce our dread that we also hand down to the next generation.
The fear of climate change that would disrupt the way we live have galvanized public thought that mobilized people to demand for the reduction of gas emissions, utilization of alternative and renewable sources of energy and austerity in the use of the earth’s limited resources and attempts to reverse rising temperature of the earth.
The fear of nuclear energy has also mobilized people to oppose it although this kind of energy has already been proven safe and cheap. That there had been accidents cannot be set aside but our fear of a repeat accident has prevented us from using this source.
I was watching a woman claim that there is danger in just living beside a nuclear reactor but this is unfounded fear because people live in nuclear submarines for a year under the sea and in aircraft carriers thousands of personnel live over nuclear bombs and nuclear warheads while the carrier sails on nuclear power.
Unless triggered to explode, atomic power is as safe as your car or air conditioner. The family of my niece lives a few hundred meters from a nuclear power plant in France and they make good use of the heated water that flows from the plant to set up a tropical greenhouse beside their house that attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Our fear of burning waste to generate electricity is another unfounded apprehension because burning emits pollutants but modern technology had made burning of waste for power generation safer from pollution than the neighbors burning his trash in an open pit.
I have visited such an electric plant in the US and it stands right beside a mall and restaurants with houses around it.
The Ceneco office in Gonzaga-Mabini has a less crowded neighborhood than this plant that receives over 700 tons of mix trash every day.
We can be paralyzed by fear as is happening now with our rejection of sources of energy that is giving other advanced countries cheaper and sustained electric power.
Lack of adequate information leads to fear. Fear is the product of our inability to comprehend the unknown. Many of our superstitious beliefs are products of fear because we cannot understand the phenomenon. Thus education is considered the liberation from fear.
Fear can also make us decide hastily because we anticipate the worst rather than see the “bright side” of things. This process is oftentimes dangerous because we can argue within ourselves.
The recent killings in the US have been traced to the killers’ sense of rejection that arises from fear that they are unwanted or inadequate.
They were strangers in America and probably, like many Filipinos who believed that the US is the land of milk and honey, they also realized that America is a land of the rat race.
You fight your way and get left behind and join the thousands of the poor who lived in basements of abandoned buildings and even rail cars and lean-tos.
As long as we nurture fears, we will never move forward and face the problems besetting us with confidence. Failure has its roots in fear.*
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