Readers — Here’s a comment that came in the other day in response to a woman who is very wary of stranger danger. I liked its logic:
Dear Amy (the woman who was consumed with predator fear): I can sort of see where you’re coming from, but take a logical approach. There’s a chance for something bad to happen in cars and buses, which people use on a daily basis. And there’s also something dangerous that could happen with almost everything you do in life. Some we just don’t think about. Others, people are VERY aware of. Like kidnappings.
I’m gonna be honest here. I HATE HATE HATE it when there’s a child who gets kidnapped and murdered. It’s just an awful, awful thing. When most people hear about a murdered child, they are emotionally affected by it and then start to see the world as a dark, dangerous place. That is what fear is: It’s when you think about something constantly, to the point where it rules your brain and you start to see the world differently.
Trust me, I’ve been there. But you know what? You just can’t think like that. If you look at everything in life the way people look at the possibility of encountering sex offenders, then basically everything would be dangerous. When you turn on the stove or microwave, do you ever think about it exploding? Not really. But it can happen. So what would you do then, live on sandwiches? Do you let your kids play video games? Are you aware of the fact that there is a chance they can get seizures or blackouts?
All I’m trying to say is: when you let fear control your life, everything suddenly seems dangerous. How many people do you know who got rid of their cars or microwaves out of fear of an accident? Probably not many. But how many people do you know who keep their kids inside 24/7 for fear that they might get abducted?
A lot, right? Accidents happen. But people can obtain the knowledge to know how to deal with or avoid them. That’s why there’s warnings on things, and that’s why kids learn about fire safety at a young age. You don’t see very many people telling you not to buy electrical appliances because you never know when they’ll catch on fire, do you? But everyone’s going crazy about sex offenders, and parents are being told never to let a kid outdoors alone because you never know when a sex offender is around. Most parents are more afraid of pedophiles than car accidents. But there’s a MUCH higher chance of being killed in a car.
Hi! Lenore again, here. This topic is something I keep studying: How does one fear become a societal obsession, while others don’t? I’m reading a book now, “False Alarm,” by Dr. Marc Siegel, that I hope will give me the answer. So far, the book is explaining that once a particular fear “infects” us, it remains there like a low-grade fever. It’s very hard to get rid of, even when treated with thoughtful comments and blogs trying to help restore some perspective. — L