When we first saw this sign, we though ‘Yeah, for sure’. Then we started thinking more critically about fear and realized it is not always a bad thing. We searched “antidote to fear” and found bits and pieces about love antidoting fear, and especially, being present antidoting fear. Then we stumbled on a rough draft of a speech called “The Mastery of Fear or Antidotes for Fear” by Martin Luther King Jr. in an archive at Stanford. Here’s an essential piece:
Fear is a powerfully creative force. Every great invention and every intellectual advance has behind it as a part of its motivation the desire to escape some dreaded thing. The fear of darkness caused man to discover the secret of electicity. The fear of pain led to the marvelous discoveries of medical science. The fear of ignorance was one reason that man built great institutions of learning. The fear of war was one of the forces behind the birth of the United Natlons. Angelo Patri was night in saying,“Education consists in being afraid at the right time’. If we were to take a way man’s capacity to fear, we would take away his capacity to grow, invent and create. Some fear is normal, necessary, and creative.
…When we speak of getting rid of fear, we are refernng to this chronic abnormal, neurotic fear. Normal fear protects us, abnormal fear paralyzes us. Normal fear is a friend that motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear is an enemy that constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives. So our problem is not to get rid of fear, but to harness and master it.
How is undermining fear to be mastered? We’ve been trying out artist Holton Rower’s approach: ‘RUN TOWARDS YOUR FEAR’