Fear: A Deer in the Headlights

by Trish Overby

I think you would agree that fear is prevalent in American society today. Regardless of politics, some of us fear a virus, an immigrant population (legal or illegal) and of course people of different color or religion. Not to be too insincere, but it reminds me of driving late at night or early morning and you see a deer in the middle of the road -- staring at your headlights. You slow down because you are not sure if it will suddenly dart in front of you, or if there is a herd of them lurking in the dark. The deer is temporarily stunned and doesn’t know what to do. And doesn’t our fear about life sometimes have the same effect on us?

The “deer in the headlights” fear we face is a deep uncertainty and panic which tends to keep us in one place or without thinking what the next step or solution is. Believe it or not, we are not alone in this fear and right now it seems we are seeking groups who agree with us on who created this fear and panic. It helps us to be with like-minded people who have the same fears as us – at least for a time – but it doesn’t seem to soothe completely the niggles in the back of our minds and hearts that there has to be a better way to live.

Most of us grew up in neighborhoods where we knew everyone on the ‘street’. As children we used to play outside most summer days with one another and our parents never had to worry about who we were with or our safety. Occasionally some kids would get into some sort of trouble and thankfully it wasn’t always too serious. We all lived a life of working together at school, church and family life because that is what communities do.

This may sound idyllic, don’t you think? Can we make it happen again as we get older? A change of heart and mind in regard to fear can give a new perspective and be very uplifting. Just like the deer stunned in the headlights, if we don’t look away from the blindness of fear, we may never discover a solution to our fears. Fear can take control of our thoughts and actions.


Fear Takes Control

New York Times journalist, David Brooks put it this way, “We get to the point where the fear itself begins to take control. Fear generates fear. Everybody feels besieged — power is somehow elsewhere, with the malevolent forces who are somewhere out there, who will stop at nothing…. Fear puts a dark filter over everything.” New York Times, August 29, 2019 Opinion Column  I personally take this as a call for action to not let fear control my life.

We could say fear begets fear. What appears to happen is we get angry about every little disagreement with another person. “Anger is the child of fear,” the philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes in her book, The Monarchy of Fear. “The fearful person turns asocial, rejects any compassionate response to social problems and instead lashes out. Fear, indeed, is intensely narcissistic,” she continues. “It drives out all thoughts of others.” The isolation fear creates is what makes our fears and anxiety seem even worse and larger than they are.


What Life is Meant to be

Wouldn’t you agree this is not what life should be like? We were meant to live a life of happiness because we were made by a Loving Father who watches over us and knows our shaking hearts and trembling knees. His complete and perfect love can give us an assurance that we are not alone and that he will be with us to face our fears and keep us in peace. He knows our future, our present, and our past -- and he still loves us. It’s possible for the loneliness we feel to be dispelled if we are willing to accept this eternal love.

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