By Juliet Rogers,
According to Reader’s Digest, “fear is the feeling you have when you are frightened of a possibility that something bad or unpleasant will happen.” A careful examination of this topic will further expand it to the feeling of being worried and afraid that something bad will happen or has already happened. Fear appears to denote negativity.
“Fear made me sick. In fact, I developed high blood pressure when I realized that the trials on corruption charges, coupled with human rights violations, levied against me were to come in two weeks,” a former President said to her friend. Is this fear really necessary? One may want to know.
In a separate development, students in schools and colleges most times express fear of failing examinations.
“Mum and Dad have vowed to withdraw their support if I fail and that will lead to me becoming a dropout,” a female student, Seray Thompson, living in the girls boarding department shared with a friend. This fear continues to hunt Seray in the university that if she fails the final examinations, she will not appear among her colleagues with whom they entered the same year.
Seray Thompson was the only child, born to parents who were a little below average income earners; they struggled to keep her in school. There was always a threat around Seray that if she ever fails, there’ll be no fund for her to repeat. “See how we’re struggling, something to eat is not there. The day you fail will be the end of your education,” Pa Thompson, the father of Seray Thompson had always said. Therefore, Seray had allowed fear to always set in when she recalled the statement of her father – this kept her head down in her books.
At Junior Secondary School, Seray copied notes from good textbooks of her friends just to make the notes standard, particularly for the four core subjects – Integrated Science, Mathematics, Language Arts and Social studies. In less than no time, Seray’s exercise books were like textbooks. That feeling of fear brought comfort for Seray because in every subject she had, she knew all the questions. In fact, in the examination hall, Seray was comfortable with every subject – her problem remained one of choice in selecting which question she could choose against the other. When results were published, she emerged as the best pupil, having the highest grades among all the provincial schools. The national scholarship board granted Seray scholarship that was to take her through high school, with a very strong string attached to it: If Seray fails to score 60% in any of her core science subjects, she will lose the scholarship scheme.
When Seray explained this to her father, Pa Thompson replied: “This is what I had told you in the past. Now, the new challenge you have is not to fail because I believe you’re above failure; but not to lose the scholarship. I’m an old man now – I cannot even get our daily bread, lest to pay for you should you lose that scholarship.” So, the threat that entertained the fear in her still remained with her. Seray employed all the strategies there would be to place herself on top of her companions in the science class – attended all her school sessions; did all her assignments, studied very hard; went to the library as though it was another class for her and took mere tests as if they were promotional examinations.
Seray’s life was ruled by fear – fear of not only dropping below the standard set by the national scholarship board, but also fear of allowing anyone beats her at the high school examinations. For her, it is a shame for someone else to defeat her in any examination. This fear propelled her into hard work. She was more than comfortable and confident during the course of the examination. When results were out, Seray passed with five As. She came first in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination, automatically making her the best pupil in the region and acquiring her another scholarship. She was admitted into the Law School upon graduation from the University of Sierra Leone.
Seray’s popularity and fame spread like wildfire in the harmarttan. That led her to enter into politics. Admired by all, she was made a presidential candidate and eventually gained victory in the elections. Seray, a brave woman, became proud and arrogant that she was above all else. She kicked out fear and believed that as President, she could do anything.
Her bilateral relationship with Switzerland was to meet her selfish needs. All development funds from United Nations, Commonwealth, United Kingdom, United States Aid etc. were diverted to banks in Switzerland. Life became hard for the ordinary man. The country became bankrupt and was considered a failed state. A vote of no confidence was passed in parliament with more than two-third majority. This forced her to step-down.
She was slated to stand for trials in two weeks. It was at this time that fear visited her again. But it was too late for her to make amends, things had gone beyond her control. In less than one week, her health deteriorated and later resulted to partial stroke, owing to nervous disorder. On the first day of appearing in court for trial on corruption charges, ranging from embezzlement of state funds, misappropriation of donor funds to human rights violations, former President, Barrister Seray Thompson, collapsed and died at the age of forty six.
The story of Seray illustrates that fear can be understood in two ways – positive and negative. At school, fear was treated in a positive light, since it took Seray Thompson on top of her classes, driving her from one laurel to another. This suggests to us that fear can be necessary, as it made Seray do the right things as a student. Fear of the unknown helps one to be perfect in one’s character – to go by the accepted norms and values of a given society. This also throws light to our relationship with God. When people have the fear of being condemned to hell by God, they do the right thing that will help them attain the Kingdom of God. Hence, ‘the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,’ as the Bible Philosopher said. This kind of fear will not only help mankind live righteous, guaranteeing mankind the attainment of the Kingdom of God, but will also make the world a better place for all to live.
However, fear can be negative when one uses it as a sword rather than a shield. We saw in the illustrated story how fear facilitated the death of Barrister Seray Thompson. That is the other end of fear, as sharp as a knife’s blade when one uses it to do the wrong thing. The fear of spending the rest of her life in jail for corruption charges and human rights violations resulted in Barrister Seray Thompson dying like a coward. This would have been prevented had she done the right thing by using fear as a shield.
Juliet Rogers is a Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.