Coming across this line in Doctor Who, its sheer brilliance struck me dumb for a while. Rest assured, the irony hasn’t escaped my notice, both in the quote and in the reaction it caused. Fear has always been synonymous to weakness for us, and we humans flock like bees to confident and seemingly brave people, the proverbial hives. However, this unique take on fear makes a lot of sense once you think about it.
By fear, I don’t mean the kind of fear that leads to cowardice. The fear that makes you too afraid to stand up for what is right is in no way condoned as something great, it is something that you have to work on overcoming. This fear is the fear of new things, the fear of the unknown, the fear of small things (like dogs, perhaps), the fear of moving to a new place, the fear of trusting a new person, the fear that is always mixed with a dash of excitement and nervousness and leads to you scaling new heights.
Physiologically, it is fear rather than bravery that triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response which normally aids survival. Fear makes blood and oxygen pump to your brain like rocket fuel. It is fear that gives people the strength to do extraordinary things at times, it is fear that makes you run faster, fight harder and jump higher. It makes you so alert that time slows down. ‘Listen’ to your fear, for it will save you. I don’t seem to recall bravery having such a biological effect.
Psychologically, fear may be weakness, but it also a form of vulnerability. In this world where we build walls, or even forts around our true selves to avoid getting hurt, showing vulnerability or fear takes a different amount of bravery altogether. Allowing yourself to be exposed to the possibility of getting hurt by doing this is no less than a superpower in my opinion.
Easier said than done, as everything good always is, dropping the facade of bravery and courage to don fear out in public takes more courage than true courage does at times, and it is this ability that, perhaps when cultivated, will help us retain our humanity – something that we are in the process of losing at an alarming rate.
Everyone wants to be strong and untouchable, and in becoming so, they become so guarded that they forget how to let people in. They forget how to be vulnerable and consequently lose this superpower that they were granted. For a species that is so obsessed with the supernatural, we sure have a vehement disregard for most such ‘superpowers’ that we have been given. But, like I always say, humans are a pretty stupid race. Here’s to hoping that you will not ignore or try to suppress this superpower of yours the next time it makes an appearance and that you will use it wisely, because it is fear that keeps you alive.