Jewish World Review Nov. 2, 2001 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Bill O'Reilly

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The fear factor


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- LET'S talk about fear for a moment. With the terror attack on Sept. 11 and the subsequent anthrax atrocities, millions of Americans are spooked, and some are even seeking psychiatric help. Fear is in the air, and the question is: How should we deal with it?

People in places like Israel and Northern Ireland will tell you that terrorism is basically random violence on a consistent basis. Some societies can handle that, and some cannot. Osama bin Laden and his gang of psychopaths are betting America cannot.

There is no question that Americans had become used to feeling secure and protected. Two months ago, our lives revolved around going places, buying things and pursuing happiness -- without the specter of fanatical killers. The thought of a deadly chemical lodged inside an envelope was incomprehensible. Now, of course, it has become a daily occurrence.

Some Americans simply will not accept the loss of normalcy and well-being. They view it as a birthright. But, of course, it is not. And the sooner we accept the fact that all our lives have changed for the worse, the quicker we can deal with the fear factor.

Some shrinks have told me that many of their patients feel guilty for being afraid. Nobody likes to think of him or herself as cowardly. The analysts are urging that the public embrace those who are afraid. I'm not so sure that's the answer.

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I do agree that fear in the face of murderous terrorism is natural and normal, and there is no shame in having fearful thoughts. But letting fear influence your behavior, well, that's when the problems begin.

Talking about your fear to a health professional is a positive. But altering your life because you think anthrax will get you is foolish and cowardly. The terrorists are banking on demoralizing America by a series of vicious, high-profile assaults. Because we are all in this fight together, we must not allow ourselves to become demoralized, thereby giving the terrorists a victory.

Courage is something that is acquired -- nobody is born with it. But you must have the will to be courageous. You must force yourself to conquer fear. In the end, no government or person can protect you against a random attack or a fatal disease. There is an order to the universe -- when it is your time to die, you will die. And there's nothing you can do about it.

That doesn't mean that you take foolish chances or volunteer to sort mail on Capitol Hill. You protect yourself as best you can without altering the basic rhythm of your life.

I hate to say this, but I do believe many psychiatric professionals encourage people to get in touch with their fear because it's good for business. Call me cynical, but those shrinks want to get at the "root causes" of your anxiety for $100 an hour.

Well, this column is free, and I'll tell you this: It is more than a million to one chance that you'll come down with anthrax poisoning or have the plane you're flying on hijacked. The huge odds are that you and your family will be fine. Right now, the flu is a greater threat to Americans than any terrorist.

And think about your children. If you are visibly frightened, what must they be feeling? Deal with your fear methodically and quietly for their sake.

If you can't shake the dread, OK, give the shrink a call. Maybe he or she can help you, although it doesn't seem to be doing Tony Soprano much good.

But, in the end, the shrink is just a hired hand. What it always comes down to is you, alone, against nature. Ol' Mother Nature gives you a certain amount of time on this earth, and then the bill comes due. There's nothing you can do to stop it. So don't waste the precious moments you are given being afraid of what you can't control.

Live well and with dignity. That trumps fear every time.



JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.

Up


10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate