It’s hard to believe it’s been almost six years since I first published Refuse to be Afraid, a small collection of essays about fighting the fear that strangles us in everyday life. I put out an ebook version a couple of years later. Combined with the subtitle – Free yourself. Dream. – the words were intended as a mantra: Refuse to be Afraid of the perceived dangers of walking out the door into the world each morning. Refuse to be Afraid of the things you think are holding you back from a successful life. Free Yourself of those fears and worries so you can follow your Dream.
Every so often I hear the local TV news in the other room while I go through my morning writing routine, and I listen to the underlying theme, which inevitably is Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Someone died violently 1,000 or 3,000 miles away; maybe it was a killing, maybe it was a horrific natural disaster. People lost millions in a stock market setback. Burglaries and robberies are on the rise. Bitter cold left a half-dozen people dead across the region. Political figures rage at one another and inspire rage in us. Conflict, discord, death, destruction. A daily dose of murder and mayhem.
As a career journalist, this is my calling, then – to find the worst-case scenario and call out, “The sky is falling! The end is near! We’re all gonna die!” To be the one who wakes up the world with reasons to fear, to be angry, to hurt, to hate, to suspect, to expect the worst.
I wonder what kind of newscast would wake up the world with reasons to hope, to love, to heal, to expect the best of people? What kind of stories would it tell? Neighbors helping neighbors. People overcoming adversity. Rescues. Triumphs. Champions. Givers. Purveyors of love and honesty and common decency to one another. A beacon of hope to start your day encouraged.
What would everyday life be like if my colleagues and I started the day telling you the sky is not falling, the human adventure is continuing, and yes we are all going to die but probably not today, not here and now?
I would love to work on that newscast; that is why I chose to work in a small community news operation, where evidence of worst cases is harder to come by.
It needs a better cover and maybe a revision or two, but I remain happy to have published this book and more convinced than ever that its theme is relevant:
Refuse to be afraid. Free yourself. Act on your dreams.