I don’t want to be scared. I don’t like being scared.
Other people enjoy fear. That primal feeling that courses in their veins prompts them to go bungee jumping, to visit Haunted Houses and to sit through horror films where people are torn apart.
Good for those people. I’m glad that they have found something that brings them joy — even if I will never, ever understand it.
The type of fear doesn’t matter.
There’s little difference between an evil clown grabbing you and taking you screaming beneath the bed or the kind of cold, existential fear that comes when you think about Earth, burning to a cinder after the sun expands.
One is, thankfully, an unlikely occurrence.
The second, according to the physical laws of the universe as we understand them, a certainty.
There’s another fear that we all have to tackle as we grow older — some better than others.
It’s the fear of change. The fear that the world we know will become alien and unfamiliar all around us. That we would be a part of it, while still apart from it.
That sense of disconnect is a powerful one, a frightening one that leaves you with the feeling that while the world speeds ahead you’re left behind.
In those moments it can be hard to put one foot in front of the other, to move forward.
And, in fact, many won’t. There’s a part of each generation that will hold on, under the guise that we’re somehow losing something important in the move.
Uncertainty, particularly economic uncertainty, makes that feeling more pronounced and can lead to a more profound sense of ugliness born of bigotry.
After all, it’s not coincidence that the Nazis first rose to power in the ashes of economic collapse, and that they and their ilk have been reborn anew in the shadow of 2008’s Great Recession.
Hate is unifying. Hate is easy. Hate plants deep roots in the fertile soil of fear of the other, in the fear of change, in the fear that your world is being taken from you.
I have a teenage son. He is growing up in a different world than the one I was raised in.
While my generation’s culture used the consent of women as a punchline to a raunchy joke — and if you don’t believe that, go watch “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Sixteen Candles” or “Porky’s” — his is growing up with a different understanding of how the world should work, how we should treat one another.
While growing up, mine was the first generation that shed some of the toxic playground equipment coated in lead paint.
His is the generation shedding the some of the toxic cultural touchstones that have shaped how we view others for decades.
It’s a change, and a good one, but for many there is fear.
There’s more change to come. I hope that I have the strength and wisdom to see it for what it is.
I don’t want to be scared.