(My Eastern New Mexico News column from September 6, 2017- posted in its entirety now that the paper's exclusivity has expired)
In the aftermath of the library shootings, the community seemed plagued by fear for days. Fortunately, it seems to have mostly passed. Yes, a very bad thing happened, but do you want fear to limit your life? It's your choice.
Every bad thing that happens, happens to good people. If it happened only to bad people, it wouldn't be a bad thing.
Bad things will happen to you. It's guaranteed. Your worst day will start off feeling just like every other day. You will never see that day coming.
Knowing this, isn't it reasonable to be afraid?
Maybe. I don't know. But, I'm not afraid. Unfocused fear is a waste.
What I suggest is to accept reality. Yes, bad things can happen, and will. You can still take steps to protect yourself. You can commit yourself to helping and defending others. You can listen to your gut, and when it says to avoid someone, follow its advice. Be ready to handle bad things when they arrive and can't be prevented. Nothing will guarantee your safety. It's still better than doing nothing.
Don't hurt people or take their stuff. It's kindergarten level philosophy, but it's still right for every person of every age, and often forgotten by adults.
Move beyond regrets. If there's something from the past you regret, deal with it if you can and let it go if you can't. Don't do new things you'll regret. If there's something you may regret, which you don't believe you can completely avoid doing, put it off until tomorrow. Then tomorrow you can put it off again. See, procrastination can be good for something.
Fear is a reaction to the unknown, especially unknowns that could hurt. Everything is unknown to some degree. It's a fairy tale to believe you really know what your day holds in store, no matter how carefully you have planned. Yet, your daily routine and plans probably help you keep fear at bay. So plan. Hope for the best while being prepared for the worst. In this way you have a chance to make the worst not quite as bad.
Wouldn't it be better to refuse to be afraid?
There are bad people out there who want you to be afraid. Your fear rewards them. Don't pay the fear tax they crave. If you are afraid, they win. If you restrict your life because you fear their presence, they win. I don't want the bad guys to win. Do you?