The Washington Times - June 3, 2008, 06:52AM

For many of us, fear governs most of what we do in our lives. Where we choose to live, our professions, whom we date and marry, and how we vote are in many cases the result of fear-based thinking. Fear-based thinking leads to fear-based decisions. So for today’s discussion I would like to offer my perspective on fear and how it impacts our community.

The major impact that fear has on a community is division and mistrust. Many of us only see differences in others and use those differences to develop judgments about them. We make judgments about their morals, work ethic, intellect, neighborhoods, etc. These judgments become real and we cannot see beyond them. Our personal fears extend way beyond our inner being. We pass them on to our children and they reflect in our interactions.


Fearing differences fosters mistrust that limits the entire potential of a community. It circumscribes our mobility and contact with those that we consider different. This prevents us from experiencing the richness and diversity of other traditions, cultures and unique individuals. Our fear-based mistrust and judgments can also potentially diminish the self-esteem of others.

For example, you should see how some people react when I tell them that I live in the Northeast Section of DC. I usually get this look that that I can only interpret as “You poor soul-how could you live in such a place?” Yet when they visit my neighborhood, which is called Brookland, and see our nice and well kept houses with beautiful lawns and diverse population, they are shocked. They usually say, “Hey this is a great neighborhood, I can’t believe this is in Northeast. I could provide many examples of how fear-based mistrust and judgments have impacted me personally and my community. I am sure people from all ethnic groups and communities have similar stories to tell.

Fearing differences is a big part of our socialization, where we are given narrow filters that we use to judge all others. This is how we validate and manage our fear of the unknown or people and things that are different. It removes the responsibility of having to question our beliefs and come out from under our warm blankets of familiarity.

When we are forced to come out from under these blankets, we arm ourselves with judgmental filters, labeling everything different as bad or wrong - and therefore something that should be feared as being harmful to our way of life or survival. We fight hard to stay under our warm blankets of familiarity. It’s so warm and cozy there because by hiding under or behind warm familiar blankets-walls-lines or anything that prevents us from being exposed to something different from what we know, our fear-based beliefs, judgments and mistrust will never be challenged.

So what are you thoughts on the impact fear has in your community and what are some of your experiences relating to this topic? Let me hear from you.


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