October 15, 2010
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I read this quote on Twitter a couple of days ago and my spontaneous reaction was that Ralph must be right. We need to learn how to live with our fears and we also need that extra spice in our lives that facing a fear means. Then I began to consider my own life and how I live up to this standard. Do I face any of my fears on a daily basis? The answer felt lika a big NO. I wake up every morning and take my kids to kindergarten, go to work, sit at the office … Not a lot of dragon slaying there is it?
But then I began to think about what my fears really are. What is it that really really really scares me? What phenomenon puts a big lump of un-comfortableness in my stomach when it enters my mind?
The answer I came up with was that it must be the well-being of my kids. The worst thing that could ever happen to me would be if my children were hurt in any way or if their well-being was threatened. Having kids means that I have to face this fear every single day, but since we live a very protected life in a Swedish middle class suburb I don’t see too many immediate threats to their safety and my fear-facing-activities mostly become a “be careful walking down those stairs” or a “don’t jump in the bathtub”.
I presume though that this fear of mine is a common attribute to all parents wherever they live. We all want our children to have the best possible life. However, so many parents don’t have the possibility to provide their kids with even the basic necessities of life. There are millions and millions of parents not able to provide their children with a safe environment, with shelter, with food and with clean drinking water. These parents have to conquer my biggest fear every day in a very real way. Does this mean that they’ve learned the secret of life according to Emerson? I don’t think so. This is not adding that extra spice to their lives. This is not the adrenalin rush you get from climbing a ladder or petting a snake. This is just being scared in the worst possible way, every day. Being scared for the well-being of your kids.
There are so many issues that need to be addressed in order to get to a world where these people can be bothered with those luxury fears that I have to face. Not having a roof over your head probably means there are no stairs to fall down. Not having water to drink most certainly means there’s no bathtub for the kids to jump in. These people will probably have to keep facing their worst fears for a long time to come but since this day is dedicated to water, I thought I’d at least try to help some parent face one less fear by giving something to WaterAid.
Conquering our own fears is a good thing but I don’t think it is the secret of life. Helping someone else from having to face their worst fears on a daily basis might not be the answer either but I do think it’s closer to the truth. So if you have the possibility, I’d like to ask you to help someone else with their fears as well. And since we have the theme of water today, why not make it water related. Please share with a comment if you come up with a cool way to do this. If you have a blog you can always sign up for Blog Action Day.