I’ve wondered about the kids who were born around 2001, the ones who have now graduated from high school and whose impression of Sept. 11, 2001, is like mine of the Korean War, which entered a permanent truce around the time I was born: A relic of history of which they have no direct memory.
They have never lived in a world where you could enter an airport or a large public building without being screened and searched, their personal property and selves treated as if they may be planning a crime, guilty until proved innocent. They have never lived in a world not cluttered with cameras and other surveillance devices. They don’t know what it’s like to walk free wherever you go.
Now I wonder about the kids who are born this year. Will they grow up without knowing what it’s like to hug a friend, the comfort of physical contact? Will they have no memory of a time when businesses operated freely and out in the open, people dined in intimate little restaurants with tables 3-4 feet apart, danced and socialized in crowded rooms elbow to elbow, without fear that someone in authority would send everyone home and bankrupt the business? Will they grow up taught to emulate once-amusing Adrian Monk, who made us laugh as he grimaced while shaking hands and reached for the sanitizer as soon as he let go?
We moved from relative freedom from fear into fear of terrorists among us and now fear of germs and viruses – that is to say, fear of each other. And these unfortunate young people may have no memory of a time when authorities did not stop innocents in their tracks and search them for contraband or weapons or viruses.
As fear spread across the land two decades ago, I began to write about refusing to be overcome by the fear, stepping forward into life and living as free as you can.
In 2010 I collected some of those thoughts into a little book called Refuse to be Afraid, and those who read the book thanked me for the encouragement. In 2016, when the two major U.S. political parties presented us with a Hobson’s choice of two equally frightening futures, I added a few more reflections and released an expanded version.
Now, as I wake up each morning to a cacophony of fear emanating from the TV and the radio and social media everywhere – millions of people afraid of each other, especially people who look or think differently from themselves – I read my little book and am struck by the feeling that it’s more relevant than ever.
And so, with a new introduction and afterward and a lovely preface by my friend Wally Conger, I present the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Refuse to be Afraid. I pray for a world where such encouragement is unnecessary, but I, well, fear that this book may be relevant for a very long time.
These first five days, the ebook is available for a mere 99 cents from Kobo and Amazon, and it will rise to $3.99 on June 16. Or if you like to read traditional paper books, a print-on-demand version is available from discerning retailers.
I am not the most courageous fellow on Earth, so I examined my own fears and wrote a book that has helped me think and manage why I am afraid, to free myself from that fear, and pursue my dreams. I believe you’ll find Refuse to be Afraid helpful, as well.