Fears are rational and can save lives

SSSCARY SSSITE: Our fears can help us deal with scary situations.
SSSCARY SSSITE: Our fears can help us deal with scary situations. Bev Lacey

I CHANGE my mind fairly frequently. I mean, don't we all?

When was the last time you started a football match rooting for one team…only to change your mind, as soon as they fell behind?

When was the last time you had all the best intentions to go for a jog…only to change your mind when you remembered Home and Away was about to start?

And when was the last time you set out for Woolworths thinking all you needed was a frozen packet of vegetables and some washing powder…only to change your mind and come home with a family block of chocolate as well?

I know the McGovern family is all too guilty of the latter…

However, never have I done the unthinkable crime when it comes to changing minds: doing it publicly.

So publicly, in fact, I've changed my mind altogether on the subject of last week's column.

See, I was wrong: fears - yes, fears of spiders, toads and whatever other eight-legged, wart-covered or just generally horrifying creatures one might be afraid of - are more than rational.

Quite simply, they save our lives.

In another adventure out to mum's workplace this week, we faced even more adversity.

We had forgotten the toad.

We had forgotten the spider.

In fact, we had forgotten our fears in general, and were ready to show that place who was really boss, once and for all.

Then we saw the snake.

That's right. It got worse.

Mercifully, this snake wasn't curled up in a tarp that needed to be moved from point A to point B, but it was there, nonetheless.

And, dare I say it, without wanting to share yet another fearful tale of dangerous creatures, our inabilities to deal with them and subsequent tears, our fear of the little brown creature… may well have saved our lives.

Last week, my father made a good point: to be brave, you need to be frightened in the first place. After all, if you're not frightened, you're not really being brave.

A wrestler half the size of his opponent is not being brave if he charges worry-free into the ring.

That's suicide.

A soldier at war is not being brave if the bullets zipping past his helmet don't concern him.

That's suicide.

And for those of you who have seen The Hobbit, Bilbo's attempt to fight an orc 10 times his size - while brave, granted - was "hobbicide".

The point is, had mum and I not been scared of the evil that lay within that fateful black tarp with the toad, the spider and the overwhelming stench of fear, bravery was never a possibility. Instead, our fears inspired us to be brave for each other. We deserved a medal that day…if only a plastic one from Solly's.

But see, real bravery medals are not won by men risking their lives without concern for their own safety; they are won by men risking their lives with even more concern for the safety of others. That's bravery.

Sure, that spider on the tarp a few weeks back probably shouldn't earn me a Victoria Cross. And brave as I thought mum was, I don't think she deserves one either.

Topics:  blogs, jack mcgovern, opinion, the world according to jack



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