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Fear or Respect?

I’ve written two books about riding motorcycles (  and neither is a real technical manual.  I lean a bit more…I don’t know…emotional (?) in my writing.  One fellow put it nicely as saying they were “books for the rest of us” and not so much hardcore technical tours but more like having a chat in a bar.  Nice compliment.  Because they are about motorcycling and the more intuitive side of things I address Fear in both of them.  I put capital F in Fear because it is a strong and powerful subject and when we deal with it we’re not talking about uncertainty or worry we’re talking about something that is pervasive and can touch you just about anywhere, has the potential to overwhelm and then stop you from acting in the behalf of others or even yourself.  That’s part of why I like working with Firemen, they can subjugate their fears; drive them down and smother them with skill and altruism.  Don’t get me wrong!  You don’t want someone without Fear to dive into your house to save you.

You want someone who takes Fear and turns it to Respect.

The best example of how we misunderstand Fear is found in the Bible.  I’m not going to say that there aren’t occasions in the good book when the message is clearly “Look out.  God is gonna smite you if you keep that sh*t up.” but there is a shocking amount of times where the text says to “Fear God” and then immediately transfers in to love or respect.  Cruise Psalms sometime with an eye to “Fear God”.  You’re gonna be amazed, in that one book there’s like 35 verses that contain “Fear God” or a derivative.

But you’re not supposed to be scared of God are you?  He’s not the boogeyman.  He’s not overly whimsical in his actions and there is justice but it’s tempered by mercy.  With God you generally get what you deserve although there’s room for change and escape.  Save for Lot I can’t think of any innocent biblical character God ever used to make bets or acted in any way less than benignly toward.  Then again I’m not a Bible scholar.

I believe that most of the admonishments in the Bible to “Fear God” actually mean “Respect God”.  I don’t think God wants us to cower before him or walk around worrying he’s going to steal our car or happiness while we’re in the QuikieMart.  I don’ t think he wants us to take him lightly either…Kinda like horsepower on a motorcycle.  Wait.  Thinking about it a moment we often speak of motorcycles with the same Fear we use when we talk about God smiting us a good one.  What’s the difference between “You’re gonna regret that” when applied to buying a ridiculously powerful first bike or a simple vice like beer?  When we speak of such things there tends to be a puritan streak of “you’re gonna get yours” that almost reads like a wish rather than a warning.  We seem to want others to be taught a lesson by receiving a serious rap across the knuckles with a stainless steel ruler.   There’s almost a streak of green that seems to appear in us when someone is about to make a mistake. especially one that (deep in our psyche) we look at a little covetously–like we can’t stomach the idea of their getting away with it.

I hang out with seriously religious people and when we see another group of folks drinking alcohol or being gluttonous or just getting a tattoo or having a smoke or whatever I  hear things that in normal company would get the soda coming out of your nose.  Things like, “They are going to get killed driving home” or “They’ll regret that some day” or, and this is one I have had dealt to me as a child and still hear being dealt to kids and teens, “They just think they’re happy.”

I’m a bit of an idiot and I never bought that one for a second.

It’s like the idea that an overly gorgeous, spanking new, boy I wish I could get one, high performance  in the hands of a rookie rider will result in unavoidable, sudden, eviscerating death.  You know that fist shaking kinda hopeful “you’re gonna get yours” we slap down on that kid with the ICBM of a bike.  It’s the grumble of old men.  Jealous old men.  I really am starting to believe that is what’s going on–kinda like folks who’ve been following all the rules and how they ‘humpf” about people who flaunt them.   There’s a veneer of “it’s for their own good” or “tough love” that we try to slather on but in the end we just seem to look like angry old farts.

Maybe it’s because we actually do “Fear” those bikes.  I don’t bounce anymore.  If I fall the stitching will break and the sawdust will be all over.  It’s gonna take a while to rehab.  This that place were Fear and Respect cross paths.  When we are griping about someone else’s choices what is our motivation?  Do we actively Fear for them?  Are we Fearful of the activity?

Or do we respect it?  Do we understand the consequences and have the ability to pull someone aside and quietly say, “You know what you’ve got on your hands don’t you?”  Or do we go to that place of public pillory and pile on?  It’s a tough call to know if you’re angry and jealous or concerned and sympathetic; they seem to obscure each other or maybe they are close enough to just get jumbled together in our hearts.  Do I wish I could do it and am stymied and angry or am I genuinely concerned about another human.

Only hit I have to identify which is which is this:  If there’s a finger wag involved you may have a bit of a green eye.

Be Safe.

About Brent Crash Allen

I Forgot, now you forget

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