Whether you are a soldier or politician, businessperson or doctor, or anything else – regardless of whatever path you’ve chosen in life, the one sure way to bring an early end to your dreams and stunt the impact of your life is to fear death above all else (check out Part I for context).
Now, of course, I certainly can’t blame anyone for having a healthy fear of death. After all, everyone’s had their fears about the how, when, and why of the phenomenon we’re all sure to experience. But I’m here to encourage you to choose life and courage rather than the fear of death, which itself may be just as much a fear of psychological, emotional, or professional death, as it is of a physical one. And that’s the truly difficult part.
Though we may ward away thoughts of physical death by focusing on our current vitality, successes, or other signs of life, many of us have a much harder time facing down our fear of professional death. Or emotional death. It may be odd to say out loud, but most likely we’ve all met someone who has given into one of these fears, ourselves first and foremost.
What this fear does is take root in our minds, starve our hearts of courage, and permeate our actions until we find ourselves impotent and unable live in the full joy and accomplishment of our feared state. Too shortsightedly, we often make the mistake of choosing the fear of death as a means to preserve life. But in reality, we usually find out too late that the opposite becomes true. That the very fear of a single death – psycological, emotional, or physical – spawns the burden of a daily death for the rest of our lives.
To support my point I’ll call on none other than our favorite Scottish Highlander, William Wallace, as he so famously proclaimed in the movie Braveheart:
Fight and you may die. Run and you will live; at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”
The crucial point here is that the army was willing to give in to fear in order to avoid immediate death. But as Wallace so eloquently pointed out – the price of running from death today is a daily death from this day until the final death bed when the men would long to have one more chance to live fully and face down death for the sake of freedom. After all, that’s really what we fight for when we fight against fear: Freedom.
We fight for the chance to live our lives fully, striving for joy and a worthwhile purpose. But when we give into fear, when we fear one death more than a lifetime of deaths, we forfeit that freedom and submit ourselves to a lifetime of bondage. It’s ironic really, that living in fear of death, no matter what form (physical, psychological, or professional) is the only surefire way to guarantee we will feel the pain and consequence of a true and complete death. That’s because living in fear is a constant burden that suppresses our potential and robs us of our life and our ability to impact the world.
So don’t give into the fear that plagues you today. Whether it be fear of your daily tasks or lifelong ambitions, fear of relationships or a difficult conversation, or even fear of some physical manner of death, I implore you: DO NOT GIVE IN! The moment you decide to let fear of death rule your life is the moment you begin dying each day for the rest of your life.
Wouldn’t you rather take the chance of living a full and courageous life than shoulder the burden of fear for the rest of your days?