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From "Night on Bald Mountain" from Disney's "Fantasia"Fear, the Tyrant of Mankind, is a cruel and oppressive demon. A slayer of men, women, and children, who hides in plain sight, seeking to corrupt every aspect of life. Dressed in sickly hues, creeping about like a poisonous fog, infecting the hearts and minds of the masses. It whispers things. . . terrible things, untrue things. If we let it, it can drive us from our path, and keep us small and impotent in our lives. It can steal the beauty of the world from us, crush hope, and devour joy. It can drive people to make horrific choices as it squeezes the light from their souls.

There is a lot of fear in the world at this point in the arc of human history. The volume, manner, and intensity of it is like no other time in our past. Hot wars, Cold Wars, World Wars, Wars on Terror, War on Drugs, Cyber War and so on, each new war getting polished and branded by the media and politicians for its marketability and endless consumption by the masses.

There is a natural, instinctual kind of fear, for example, that arises when we might encounter dangerous or hungry wild creatures. Then there is the other kind of fear that is employed by humans as a means to an end. This latter kind permeates our daily culture from boardrooms to bedrooms, from national politics to local school yards. Terrorism is an extreme form of bullying, whose dark heart seeks apocalyptic euphoria for its own sake.

Fear is the dark nectar that terrorists – and too often the media – feed upon. Like throwing dry grass on a bed of smoldering embers, media outlets refuse any responsibility for incessantly stoking it to keep their ratings up, and they fill every minute of the day and night with this poison.

I know people who are naturally fearless. Sadly, I am not one of them. Awareness is a double-edged sword, and the more I study the world, dig into news headlines, track the growing threats that might affect me and my loved ones and the earth I love, the more I worry. While action can counter some amount of worry and fear, somethings are just hard to shake off. I ventured into this research consciously as a means of scouting ahead to be better able to protect those I love from harm by raising their awareness. And so out of my love for my people and the earth, I took the path that entered what I have called the dark forest, carrying as much light as I could muster. After years of scouting this trail I became deeply weary of the horror and the madness erupting in nearly every pocket of the world. My hyper-vigilance eventually seemed to have worked against me and at last I grew fatigued on all levels of being. I became stuck in a thicket of fear and despair, ensnared by the very beast I was tracking, and only too late did I notice my predicament. In that moment of realization I thought I heard a faint unpleasant laughter in the gloom that surrounded me. That pissed me off, but at last I understood.

For a long time I was tortured by this place and my predicament. I had little strength left to break free of the vines and thorny brambles that held me fast to the ground. Overcome by all manner of distractions, darkness, and despair, I struggled to find my way out of this wasteland.  I was caught in a shadow world where memories of what was and dreams of what could have been, offered me nothing more than the bitter taste of sweet nostalgia and the terrible solace of Morpheus dreams. It is a poisonous place to dwell – where the bones of other travelers lay cracked and gnawed upon by hopelessness and despair. I began to wonder if this would be my fate as well.

In time there came a moment, an awareness that something had shifted. It was quite subtle, but the gloom of the forest lifted just a little, permitting me to see that all was not lost on this journey, and that there was some purpose in coming under such a spell. 

I am a little wiser now that this terrible enchantment is revealed, and though I am not altogether free of this place, hope is re-kindled. I know I shall emerge victorious, and with a renewed purpose, and with new wisdom for the journey ahead.

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