What are you afraid of? Usually, this is not such an easy question for an adult to answer. Just for fun, because I do have a strange understanding of fun, I've tried to answer that question for myself today. What I've realised is that I fear very few things nowadays, but what I do fear now is much different than the fears of my childhood.
When I was a small child, I feared many things not unlike most of the other children. Monsters scared me, although mine weren't in the closet, but under the bed...so, the same as most children, just with different furniture. I was afraid of the dark ever since my father let me watch a horror movie once following my incessant begging. He told my mother he'll simply explain to 5-year-old me the monsters on the screen are just people wearing masks. It didn't work. I was afraid of spiders as well. They would freak me out. However, I never found other animals to be very scary.
We used to tell scary ghost stories when we were a bit older, so I was afraid of ghosts for a while. My grandmother used to say one shouldn't be afraid of the dead people, but the living – which ironically, made her sound like a stereotypical crazy lady in a horror movie. Through my teenage years I was scared of social interactions and feared becoming a failure later in life.
Throughout my life, I've cast away most of my fears. I fear no ghosts or monsters, although I still have an obsession with the horror genre. I'm pretty sure I will never get rid of all of my social anxiety, but I have it under control. I fear no failure, because starting new things is my favourite thing in the world, and you tend to fail plenty when starting something new. I fear no war, because I've lived through one. I fear no death, because it is inevitable and natural.
I guess what I now fear the most is people. Not on an individual level or through social interactions. I fear what one of my favourite masters of the spoken word would call “stupid people in large groups.” People can do all sorts of horrible things when they gather around a dumb idea. In fact, most of history’s worst moments were created on purpose by people. Not by raging lunatics either, but by regular, everyday people. Aside from perhaps the plague or the AIDS pandemic, there have been very few non-human caused disasters that can rival what we do to each other from time to time.
On the surface, we usually do these horrible things in the name of something holy or because of some ideal we feel strongly about. However, if you take apart the process by which human society gets into such situations, it's easy to see people are driven to do horrible things mostly out of fear of the unknown. As someone in love with constant change and discovering new things, I can tell you my experience so far was that the unknown is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, fearing the unknown is not much different than being afraid of the dark. Under a vale of darkness everything tends to look threatening, but if you muster up the courage to look closely at the dark corner of your room, you'll probably find there is no monster there waiting to catch you off guard. It's usually just an old chair casting a weird shadow. Some people learn this at the age of 6 or 7 and some, it seems, never do.
This is my one remaining true fear. That of an irrational, uneducated society of people driven by fear. I guess Roosevelt was right by saying: “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself”. My grandmother was also right: dead people are no threat to us, the living are. So, there you go, when making your way through life try not to be driven by fear, but rather curiosity, and when in doubt listen to Franklin D. Roosevelt or my late grandmother.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.