On Fear and Fantasy

How fear spoils a life. I tend not to get too hung up on what would happen IF and prepare for contingencies not likely to happen. But what if I lived in a place where harm WAS more likely and precautions did need to be taken? As with most accidents, two things need to happen at once. As in Nadine Gordimer’s story, “Once Upon a Time,” and sure illustrates Churchill’s famous, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Gordimer’s story begins with two people living happily ever after, living life as ideally as it can be lived in white South African suburbia. This entails protecting the house, done with various security systems, some of which entail barbed wire. Normally, a child might have perceived this as dangerous and stayed away, but having just been given a fairy tale to read where the prince hacks his way through the forest to rescue the princess, he went out to play prince and got entangled in a particular type of insidious barbed wire from which he couldn’t be extricated and died a bloody mess.

Why do we feel the need to lie to children? Tell girls that a man will rescue and look after us and both genders that there’s a Santa Claus and a fairy godmother? We spend so much time getting over the messages of these destructive myths. Hats off to Gordimer for illustrating the harm fairy stories and fear can do.

Play real games. Be careful. Discover who people really are, and be prepared to do things yourself.


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