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Avoiding Our Fears Makes Freedom and Prosperity Impossible
When I was a young boy, I had a bad fall out of a hay maw. I was bruised and battered but somehow not seriously hurt. Little boys are nearly indestructible. The only lasting effect was a serious fear of heights. Which is a problem on a farm, obviously. Lots of manual labor in high places.
I worked through it by sitting in trees. At first, I would just stand on a lower limb for a few seconds, maybe a few feet off the ground. Then I’d work higher and higher, sitting for longer and longer times. A few years later, a group of us boys were jumping out of a tree that leaned over a pond – probably a 15-foot drop. I was petrified, but I had to do it, because I didn’t want them to think I was a chicken. If you’ve ever been a little boy, you understand the pressure in such situations. But I worked through my fears over time. I still don’t like heights, but I can work up high if I need to now.
I also have an irrational hatred of a song. This sounds ridiculous, but I truly hate Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” It was on the radio a lot around the time we lost our hog farm. It was the worst time of my life. That song sounded like it was about me and my family. We’d worked so hard, and now we were biting the dust. Losing everything. And it hurt. And for some reason, when I hear that song now, 40 years later, I still get immediately angry. It’s not rational, and I know that. I love Queen’s music. I have several of their albums. But man, I hate that song.
How do I handle that? If that song comes on the radio, I change the channel. Simple.
My problem with heights was more serious. I had to work through that. But a song? That’s easy. I don’t like it, so I don’t listen to it.
Chowderhead’s post about Smith College banning the word “field” because it supposedly upset people who have never worked in fields – that really is remarkable.
First of all, I’d like to know how many complaints the administration got about the word “field” before they banned it. I presume that number is zero.
But let’s just suppose it was one. Or more than one.
Imagine being a college administrator – tasked with preparing young adults for the real world. And one of your charges comes to you and says they don’t like the word “field.” Ok.
I presume that the administrator’s first action, after he stopped laughing, would have been to help that student work through his phobia. After all, it’s likely that that student will encounter this word from time to time, and it might be wise to develop a plan of how to handle this.
Perhaps get the student to write the word “pasture” 10 times a day for week, working up to “meadow” 20 times a day, and then finally trying “field” in pencil, just once. Or something like that. That may sound like a ridiculous solution, but this is a ridiculous problem.
Perhaps a resourceful administrator, accustomed to working with modern adolescents, might be creative enough to come up with a more practical solution. Hard to say.
But in my view, he’s doing that student no favors by simply banning the word from their school.
I can just change channels on my radio. But that kid is likely to encounter “field” at some point, just as I was likely to encounter heights in farm work. He needs to work through this.
The left has changed a great deal over the past 10-15 years. The most striking change, to me, is their violent intolerance of anyone they don’t completely agree with.
This is not an accident. These kids are not being sheltered. They are being trained. Trained by the very institutions which once taught students to be open-minded, and interested in viewpoints beyond their own. They’re being trained that those who have views different from theirs are not worth listening to. This is where “cancel culture” starts.
It’s ok if I don’t like a certain song. If I choose not to listen to it, no one gets hurt.
Until I tell others that they may not listen to it, either. Then we have a problem. A problem that can quickly lead to division, resentment, and eventually violence. It’s just a song. Until somebody makes it a weapon.
The story about Smith College banning the word “field” is funny. But really, it’s not funny at all. It’s terrifying.
This is getting worse quickly. Young people are becoming less tolerant of others. They’re being trained to do so. At this point, they’re required to do so.
If we don’t stop this trend soon, all innovation will stop, because no one will be allowed to debate different perspectives, and we’ll lose the creative energy of people working together.
It’s no wonder that colleges don’t teach Western Civilization anymore. Colleges have become fearful of, and now hostile to, the principles which make Western Civilization great.
The left destroys everything it touches.Published in General
It’s not possible to reply. Destruction is the goal.
What principles are those?
Christianity, or the individualist Leftism of the so-called Enlightenment?
There are many, but the ones I discussed in this post were tolerance, cooperation, and open-mindedness.
Sorry I was unclear.
Imma let you finish but is it not, in fact, “hay mow“?
That’s what we allus fell outta, anyway.
I’m done listening to him anyway.
I guess Crosby, Stills, and Nash were right about him.
That’s how I thought it was spelled, too.
I was surprised when spell-check corrected me.
You learn something every day.
Dr B, are you able to watch Men In Black III?
I’ve seen the first one – hilarious movie.
I don’t think I’ve seen the others.
Why? Is “Another One Bites the Dust” in it?
I’ve heard it pronounced both ways. I never fell out of one. Jumped out once, when a bale broke and an Eastern diamondback issued forth. A very annoyed diamondback.
I went to my recliner this morning at 3:15 and watched The Twilight Zone. It was the good pool episode with Jonathan Winters and Jack Klugman. Wandering on my phone I came across that article on Masslive.com and was furious. Being about 20 miles away I thought I should do a little research. Then I came across the segregation. Well, no more sleeping for me.
I’m surrounded by colleges and breweries. It’s a little embarrassing being around people getting stupid.
I’m entirely with you on that one.
I always like trying to climb to the highest spot and enjoy the view. That said, if there is a cliff or sharp drop off, I am exceedingly cautious about not getting close to the edge. When I lived in Washington, we used to hike around Deception Pass quite a bit. It was beautiful, but when crossing the bridge I noticed that the railing was only about up to my hip (below my center of gravity). Pretty sure I grabbing onto something the whole way across (but pretending to act cool for my wife’s sake). So, I wouldn’t say I am afraid of heights, in and of themself, but I am afraid of falling. Probably more so than I should be, but falling can be really bad.
Hearing the word “field” on the other hand, is not going to hurt anyone and it probably takes professors a long time to explain to a student why they should be offended. If some one needs to tell you to be offended, then you weren’t offended.
Hope this isn’t off-topic but I think this is the real answer to BDB’s post Where My Mental Health Peeps At?
The woman who chanted a crazy slogan in the state legislature was just following her life-long training of intolerance to others’ views.
Heh. If you find me in my recliner at 3:15 AM, it’s because that’s where I fell asleep after whatever I was watching ended.
I am surprised that it didn’t auto correct “field.”
I am more afraid of the landing than I am of the fall.
“Falling doesn’t kill you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.” – Father’s Wisdom.
To what? Felt?
When an article of yours documents through personal stories, or articulates in a clear and elegant way, what we all know, we appreciate it. These are your specialties. It’s what we expect of a highly experienced practitioner (a person with many stories to tell) and a specialist in written diagnoses.
When it reveals a new insight, like this one, we appreciate it even more.
[DISCLAIMER: The publisher and his professional partner just this afternoon completed a delightful 24-hour, two-child babysitting engagement for a young professional couple on holiday on a Bourbon Trail tour in Frankfurt, KY. Said publisher received an honorarium of a bottle of just the sort of thing that one would expect, and has subjected it to routine inspection. Therefore, the publisher reserves the right to withdraw this and all such Comments in the clear light of day, tomorrow].
On those rare occasions when someone describes my writing as “clear”, I presume they’re not thinking clearly…
Au contraire, Pierre. I distinctly remember multiple past occasions when I was thinking clearly, and on a number of those, I was reading one of your articles at the same time.
Clarity of thinking and clarity of expression have fallen into disrepute, and I do not wish to argue the point right now. But no one can doubt that they are distinctive markers of the stuff you deliver to us.
Life in Massachusetts. :) :)
As an escapee from Connecticut, I endorse this opinion.
There is a line in Frank Herbert’s Dune, Fear is the mind killer. I won’t put quotes around it since I am not sure it that is exactly the line. It has been about 40 years since I read the book. However, the essence of the line is definitely there.
I have spent my life constantly confronting my fears. Fear motivates me to do exactly what I most fear. A few days ago I spent an hour on the phone with a friend of mine, a retired doctor, who was hit by a car while out riding his bike. We are only a month apart age-wise, I was born in February of 1945, he was born in March of the same year. Quite naturally, given what he has been through and continues to experience, PTSD is in full force. He is a lot more cautious than I am, doing most of his riding on a bike trail that runs through our area. He was hit while on his way back from a ride. For him, accessing the trail requires some short stretches of public roads. He is now driving to the trail head and doing all of his riding on the trail. However, crossing a few roads that intersect with the trail was giving him some pretty severe reactions, and he noted that is describing his ride.
I do the majority my rides on open roads, riding the trail as minor part of routes which include it but are mostly on the roads. I will admit that his accident did give me some moment of pause. My response to those feelings is to plunge more deeply into road rides, increase their frequency and duration. I explained that to him, explained that the only way to deal with PTSD is to confront your fear not give in to it. I have ridden a few hundred miles since I heard about his accident, and it no longer troubles me, even though I am well aware that the possibility of severe injury of death is always there.
Lest this be misunderstood, let me make this quite clear. I was a mountain climber for more than 40 years. I guided and did a large number of solo climbs at pretty high standards. The reasons I managed to survive so many years where many good friends did not are pretty easy to explain. I am very careful, always mindful, and I am also very lucky.
There are two types of hazards, objective and subjective. Objective hazards are things like rock fall and sudden avalanches over which the climber has no control. Subjective hazards are judgment calls, choices you make which may or may not work out. A stupid driver paying more attention to his cell phone than to the road is an objective hazard to a cyclist. Wearing dark clothing and not having lights on your bike is purely subjective. There is some overlap
Differentiating between the two types of hazards is sometimes difficult. Climbing on a day when the avalanche hazard is high above 6000′ when you are traversing a valley which has peaks over that elevation surrounding it is probably bad judgment. I participated in the recovery of two little girls who were killed in an avalanche in a valley at 3000′ with 6000′ peaks around it. The avalanche that caught them dropped more than 2000 feet from it point of origin and came down like an out of control locomotive burying them under more than 50 feet of snow. The judgment of their fathers was that they would be safe since the hazard was so far above the place they were camping. That, unfortunately, proved to be bad judgment. The lesson learned by those of us involve in the rescue/recovery probably kept many of us alive in succeeding years.
I have read about a lot of bicycle accidents involving cars. I have tried to use what I learned from those events to keep myself safe while I continue to participate in a sport and activity that I love. I refuse to allow the objective dangers to keep me from riding while, at the same time, I make every effort to minimize the subjective misjudgments which can lead to disaster. I have ridden more than 200K miles in the last 40 year or so. I have never been hit by a car. I have had some close calls, but each has taught me a lesson. The most important lesson learned, though, is if you stop doing something simply because it is dangerous, you miss out on an incredible life experience.
“The secret of knowing the most fertile experiences and the greatest joys in life is to live dangerously.” Nietzsche
I owned and rode motorcycles for almost 50 years, until I felt unable to do it well. I almost never rode in cities or heavy traffic, but I rode a bike for many thousands of miles. I was never happier than when riding, but I knew the risks.
I never got hit and never hit anybody. My friend who taught me to ride (and generously allowed me to borrow his spare bike for the purpose) taught me well. I learned how to get into a state of high attention; every other vehicle on the road is a threat, and every intersection is a problem to be solved. The game is to be ready no matter how stupid the other vehicles (or ones you can’t see) could possibly be, so that you have a plan to avoid them. Often the simplest thing is to follow a suspect vehicle from far enough behind them that you can avoid any situation they might put you in.
As an aside: you will know a serious motorcycle rider by the fact that they are following the rule called ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). That means you have protective gear on from head to toe. Even to run to the convenience store or gas station.
Even when I’m driving my truck, I find myself thinking about a plan if the car in front of or approaching me does the dumbest thing they could possibly do. It’s a good mental exercise for any driver. Keeps your head in the game.
Everyone – but men in particular – need a threat. Something to push against.
If they don’t have a threat in real life (war, poverty, getting married when Young and broke, football, rugby, the armed forces) they’ll manufacture it with triggering or the vapors.