Our son isn’t a thrill ride kind of guy–or should I say wasn’t. It’s a bit ironic because he has no qualms about riding his bike helmetless with no hands down a hill or spinning in rapid circles on his hoverboard around sharp edged furniture.
This past winter I glimpsed him out our window carrying shovels full of snow. On the phone with my sister at the time, I bragged how proud I was he was voluntarily shoveling the driveway. My sister’s older, wiser, and the mother of two grown sons. Thus, she rightfully predicted, “He’s not shoveling. He’s building a ramp.” Sure enough, a few minutes later our son was standing atop a giant snow mound on his snowboard preparing to jump off.
However, when it comes to rollercoasters and rides that swiftly accelerate in dark places, he’s leery. It wasn’t hard to see this during a recent vacation. Anytime, a 13-year-old boy willingly grabs his mother’s hand and holds onto her in public without the slightness hint of embarrassment, you know he’s scared.
After reading the warning signs at the beginning of the line, he’d protest he wasn’t up to riding whatever attraction we were waiting for. I’d point out that he wasn’t prone to seizures or an expectant mother, promising he’d be just fine. It took a lot of coaxing and reassurance, but in the end, he’d exit each ride declaring it his new favorite.
My husband and I congratulated our son throughout our trip as he faced his fears and prevented them from getting the best of him. At one point, I reminded him of a lesson he and his little sister had learned at Jedi Training earlier in our vacation. The words of Star Wars master Yoda had echoed around us, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
By conquering his fear, our son ensured no Savage suffered through vacation. Not that I’m advocating all life advice should come from Yoda, but his words hold a truth that transcends a child’s fear of the Rock-n-Roller Coaster.
A look at the hate filled crimes that are becoming all too common in our news has me asking the same question I asked our son on vacation, “What is it you’re afraid of?”
I believe fear, of people who are different than us, of circumstances we can’t control, or of changes to a way of life we’ve become accustomed to, can lead to anger.
One only needs to scroll through social media for a minute to see how that anger transforms into hateful words that many all too willingly share. Eventually, that hate grows. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen time and again suffering sometimes ensues.
Suffering born from hate. Hate born from anger. Anger born from fear.
Maybe, we all need to spend more time asking, “What is it I’m afraid of?” Then, maybe, if we each worked to conquer those fears we’d see less dark and more light.