8/19/2005

Unlearning Fear

In Dick Straub's book Christian Wisdom of the Jedi, the author speaks of the need to unlearn fear. I remember Yoda saying something like "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." Straub argues that by unlearning fear, which to my mind goes beyond simply releasing fear, the spiral to the Dark Side is effectively avoided.

Now this seems to be correct on the surface, and I'd even go so far as to say that it would be a good thing for me to unlearn my fear patterns, to decouple myself from fear narratives. But from what little I know of Gavin De Becker's book The Gift of Fear , I also know that a healthy respect for fear can be protective.

Basically as both a woman and a person of color, I've learned that to be afraid is to understand that all things are not equal in the society in which I live. The rules are not the same for me as they are for members of the dominant paradigm. My fears are founded on both experience with sexism and racism as well as being witness to the sufferings of Others. These aren't fears that can/should be dismissed, but rather examined very carefully, not only to validate them as grounded in reality, but to also protect against those strange moments that can blind side me. Those weird times when I'm followed around in a store by a clerk who I realize is making sure I don't steal anything. Those strange times when the leer of a man may change to an aggressive move to possess me physically, mentally or emotionally. Those cold moments when I realize that I am target, object, exotic, Other.

Fear can paralyze and lead to unbalance, but the Jedi I have seen both in the movies and in real life, are aware of the messages fear bring and use that knowledge to protect, enlighten, and heal. I think even Yoda would agree that this is a type of Listening to the Force.

*chuckle* although I have to admit, I'm not ready to face a laser dart ball with only a lightsaber and a helmet with the blast shield on. At least, not yet.

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