Facing the Fear

Earlier today, Wednesday, September 23, 2009, St. Paul College in St. Paul, Minnesota was put into a lockdown mode due to a report by a witness who thought that she had seen a man with a gun inside of the building. (Story: WCCO) I heard of the news today because one of my friends who happens to go to St. Paul College texted me while I was at work telling me that their school had gone into lockdown. Most definitely a scary thought, especially when you learn that your friend is still inside the school because they’ve locked themselves in. In the end, it’s still unclear as to if there was actually a person with a gun in the building, if the person left without doing anything or any other number of scenarios involved. But during that hour where no one knew if there really was a armed intruder, the suspense and thought that there could be someone around the hallway corner carrying a firearm is a scary thought indeed.

fear -noun 1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. (source)

Everyone in life is afraid of something, as no one is perfect. This is where the whole idea of “phobias” comes into the picture, although some of them can be quite ridiculous and over the top. None the less, there are some very real, very understandable fears in the world. A few of the more popular would be a fear of spiders, a fear of heights, and probably one of the more common ones: the fear of death. I will openly admit that I have a slight fear of death. It may also sound a bit crazy of me, but the idea of dying has me intrigued, and I’ve always said to myself that if it were to happen, that I would welcome it. The idea of finding out what’s on the “other side” as they say is interesting. I am a non-religious person; that is not to say that I do not believe in a higher power, but rather, I do not believe that it is one specific person that is popularized in religious texts. When we die, are we reborn into another life? Are we sent to heaven or hell based on life’s moral decisions? Or is it just the end?

St. Paul College at 12:45 PM (Credit: Becky - St. Paul College student)

Obviously, those are very morbid thoughts, but dying would certainly sadden friends and family as it usually does when someone leaves this world. I have been plagued by death in the family as well, and lost all four of my grandparents within the course of four years. Being very close to them made it very painful to see them go, but as always, it’s the idea that they’ve moved on to a bigger and better place that has kept my mind from staying in the continuous sad cycle that we go into during the time of a death. But when one dies, should we mourn their passing in a rite of sadness, or should we celebrate the life that they have had? I’ve always been one to want to try and think positive about death, obviously knowing that it is a sad event. But for my grandparents, they died of natural causes and lived a long life, so for them, it was a very successful and happy life, and should deserve being celebrated for the wonderful people that they were.

But the lingering fear which always makes me apprehensive is the law of probability. A random event occurring is an improbable event, but the law of probability states that a random factor can appear at any time to change the current situation. Case in point, I use the example of September 11, 2001. On September 11, 2001, two commercial airliners were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center buildings in New York City. The chances of the people who happened to be in that building on the day, at that time, on that floor, and having a plane fly into them are close to none. Using that point, I bring up the examples of school shootings. While in many cases the people who commit these shootings have a reason, a motive, and a target, more often than not there is collateral damage involved where innocent bystanders will be caught in the event. The fear of being killed by a random event such as this is one that scares me.

Really, it’s possible that at any time, anyone can pull out a gun, and if you happen to be in the area when he starts shooting, you will just become an unfortunate victim. Using that same logic though, one could die of any random unfortunate event at any time due to an unfortunate circumstance. Earlier this year, I was involved in a car crash which sent me into a head on collision with a utility pole, then skidded down into a ravine which left my vehicle on an almost sideways slope. During this crash, the airbag did not deploy. I was lucky; the only “injury” that I had sustained was whiplash, which goes away after time. But there was the haunting possibility that if I had hit harder, or if my vehicle had really fell onto it’s side, that I could have been much more injured than I really was.

The thought and fear that today could be my last day, or any of our last days, is a morbid idea to consider, but with the way that the world works, is a logical possibility. Unfortunately, people are not given the chance to live like today was their last day, and the world thinks in an optimistic sense that we will live to be the golden age of 100. People live to think ahead in life, to plan for comfortable living for when they get old. And with the way that our world works, especially for those of us working in part time, we live two weeks in the future at all times. None the less, I will stand by the fact that everyone should live their lives as happily as possible, without regrets, and never forget the ones you love in the their times of need.

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