What is the fine line between bravery and stupidity? You run away: are you a coward or intelligent? If fear is the only thing we have to fear, what is the function of fear?
I think we can do a lot learning to distinguish types of fear, and from where the fear comes from: is it really our fear or something learnt, a prejudice? Fear, in animals, has proven to be useful, and is part of our evolutionary make-up. And yet there are moments where we are inhibited by fear and feel paralysed to do anything at all: we are hindered by phantasmic “what ifs?” that stop us before we even try – all those niggling doubts build up and paralyse us. We might cite types of animals that “freeze”, but, psychologically speaking, when we are paralysed by our fears it is not a survival tactic, and quite often has the opposite affect of hindering us.
And so we seek to build courage by overcoming out fear, “transcending our limitations”, which is fine up until we confuse our natural fear with our cultural fear. We confuse them by labelling them both “fear”, and also because we have been taught to ignore the natural and replace it with the cultural.
So, what is the difference between bravery and stupidity? Courage is overcoming our culturally conditioned fears, but it becomes stupidity when it ignores our inherent fear. On my doorstep is a forest, and the most dangerous thing to encounter there is human stupidity. The vipers and wild boar are dangerous only if you don’t respect them and “their territory” – I don’t and can’t march into it as if I owned the place, and the same in an urban area.
There’s a path to discover discriminating between the fear that stops us from living and the fear that favours life. It’s been good for me to pay attention to my fears, even so-called “unreasonable” fears, and give them due space (they’re there for a reason). Maybe you decide to bypass that fear or maybe to adhere to it, either way let it be a clear decision, and then watch the results. And start with the little things, like fear of learning a new skill, before going for those life-risking things, like swimming with sharks. 😉