And I don’t mean if you were terminally ill, Heaven forbid
Half a century ago, I used to ask people what they would do if they only had half an hour left because of atomic war. And after they answered me, I’d ask what they would do if, after an hour, it turned out false alarm.
Lately, I have told many I would go to an Israeli bus stop I know. Why?
There, 30 minutes often last 40 or more. Sometimes, no bus comes at all.
These threats are not just so terrifying that most people put their heads in the sand. They can also be used to help people heal their fear of death.
Actually, the fear of death is not what it sounds like. People close to death typically have little if any fear of dying or being dead. This is because our chronic fears tell us much about our past and little about our future.
Just like anger, jealousy, horniness, hatred, and many other intense feelings, fear of death often just covers up altogether other feelings.
Fear of death has been advocated as a proper barrier for keeping us away from danger, but it does that very poorly. In fact, it so confuses us that this old fear might actually put our lives in danger. Marsman, a Dutch poet, always was terrified of drowning. In the end, pardon the pun, he drowned.
Also, fear wears off. For defense, it’s as effective as an ice fortress in Kenia.
Autocrats abused the fear of death to keep oppressed men cowardly. It proved very effective. Only some Muslim men seemed immune.
The true face of ‘fear of death’ is old terror we did not heal yet. But it’s never too late (as long as we live). How to erase old fear? It’s simple.
I’ll first tell you what doesn’t work. Being heavy and intimidated may let you cry. And that’s nice too. But it doesn’t clean up the stored fright.
One can get rid of heavy fear by joking about it. Yes, you read that well.
The lighter the joke, the more we’ll blush, laugh, perspire, and tremble away the fear we often carried for decades. To improve on it, use the momentum and add more silliness to the mix. Good standup comedians don’t let their public calm down before unleashing their next side-splitter.
Unfortunately, Iran’s latest threat doesn’t seem an April Fools’ Prank. But staying cool, calm, and collected will help us do our share. Panic won’t.