A couple nights ago I saw the movie, After Earth. The movie, starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden, was not only about a father-son relationship, but about how we face fear. “Fear is a choice”, remarked Will Smith’s character. It is the apprehension about a future event that may not occur. To address fear, we should root ourselves in the here and now.
I found the character’s view interesting because prior to viewing the film I had a conversation with a journalist friend where I shared with him my opinion of the concept of “future”; that futures were not real. They were boxes of constraints that may not even happen so why waste time and emotion thinking about something that doesn’t exist much less may not even occur.
Danger, on the other hand, is real. I believe you can reconcile non-existent futures with the reality of danger by treating danger as a constant. Dangers are always present; they are a given. All you can do is learn to recognize them when they occur and consider different contingencies when they pop up.
Fear, unfortunately, produces our need for third-party intervention; for entities that can order and coordinate events such that the negatives of the unknown are offset, mitigated. Fear of the unknown gave us social security, private insurance, affirmative action, and “God”. Politicians play on this fear by creating and expanding affirmative action, health care, and retirement programs. Some people want to know that someone will pick up the tab should they get sick or injured or retire and don’t have the capital to pay for their health or retirement.
What would our behavior be if these programs didn’t exist? What actions would we take knowing we had to depend on ourselves by staying rooted in the moment and facing the realities of retirement and health care, the realities of the dangers surrounding us?