The night I spent in the Orlando airport I felt vulnerable and small yet unafraid — despite the every fifteen minute reminder that the US terrorist threat alert is a Code Orange. While I don’t want to die a fiery death any more than the next fellow, I also don’t want to live in the constant worry about how my end will come. I don’t want to focus on the awful capacity humans have to inflict harm on others. I don’t want to be afraid.
As parents of an avid reader, we let ourselves get swept away in the Harry Potter phenomenon. (Okay, so it was my decision to go ahead and see what all the hype was about after the second book came out. Been hooked every since then.) So, when I think of fear, I think of the grip Voldemort had over the wizarding community. Hold on. See me through on this one; you may have heard it before.
The Potter books captured something in people’s imaginations, in their lives. Otherwise, it would not have been able to sell the millions/billions of copies it has. Fear is a universal emotion, and it is one that fuels the opposition to the “good guys” in the series. Think about it. Voldemort’s supporters either adore him or fear him; perhaps it’s best a mixture of them both. The majority of the community fears him so much that they dare not speak his name lest they summon his presence. The “good guys” or The Order do not so much fear Voldemort as the evil that he perpetuates. Harry and Dumbledore go so far as not even to fear Voldemort because they understand a truth. Voldemort at his core is just a man, a man devoid of a soul, devoid of the capacity to love, which is why he is so willing and able to feed and thrive on fear.
What do we fear so much that we whisper its name. What do you whisper to your closest companions as your greatest fear? What sends a chill up your back? Why do you fear it so?
I do not proclaim to be immune to fear. There are things that make my skin crawl, my heart race. But I catch myself asking why I let myself get so worked up. Maybe there are ghosts. Spiders can inflict harm (we have the harmful kind around here). Maybe I shouldn’t watch the movies that activate my imagination.
If I value my quality of life, I have a choice to make. I can name my fears and face them bravely (as JK has suggested we do), or I can avoid them, let them rule my life.
Whether it be the spiders in my yard or countries over seas, I acknowledge the fact that I cannot determine the actions of others. I send out the energy of love, faith and hope. When it comes down to it, if I have a clear and open heart, then I have lived well, lived a life full of love rather than fear. After all, isn’t our capacity to love what can save us in the end?