The Opposite of Fear is Love


[Entering Trollfjorden on a rainy, misty day]

How does living with constant fear affect us? Change Us? Scientists tell us that climate change has irrevocably changed our planet. What about our species, our hard-wiring, our DNA? How has living with the fear of climate change irrevocably changed human beings? That seems to be the question my next book will address. (This could definitely change. Stay tuned.) A related question: How does the trauma experienced by a people—slavery, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide—get passed down from generation to generation? There’s good data, good research to support that such trauma is, indeed, experienced by later generations. What does this inchoate fear feel like?

In the face of All That, is this poem waaay too facile?

“West Wind #2

You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life
toward it.”
― Mary OliverWest Wind


Join the Conversation


  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my For Always so, so very dearly special and dearly precious friendsister who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!! My white sisterfriend Christian, I so, so very much love and like this very on point, right on, and very relevant blog post article of yours which has very much stimulated my thinking and so inspired and blessed me, sister! My friend, I thank-you also as well for this very beautiful, scenic, and picturesque picture of the grandly great entrance of Trollfjorden. Just so very beautiful, lovely, and magnificent, my friend!

    I so love the wonderful poem you have featured by our astoundingly brilliant Mary Oliver. I thank-you so as well for the marvelous links which you have so, so very graciously and generously provided with this so cool article. It was fun learning that our Mary Oliver was born on the East Side of suburban Cleveland, Ohio in Maple Heights, Ohio! I was so excited to see this and to read this with me being from Cleveland Heights, Ohio which is also on the East Side of Cleveland in suburban Cleveland. I had the great blessing, honor, and pleasure of listening to our greatly remarkable Mary Oliver being interviewed on our NPR’s wonderful show, On Being, the other day! What a great person our Mary Oliver is and what a fantastic interview, Patricia! The poem you featured by our Mary Oliver perfectly complements and adds to your spectacular article to the very heights of perfection, sisterfriend!

    Sister, you are so right in proclaiming as wisely as you do here that the harsh effects of trauma can be passed down through the generations. What a splendid link to this very pertinent and informative article which you have so, so very graciously and generously provided, sister. I think of our so very dearest and darling, so very precious, special, and blessed Jewish sisters and brothers, and how they were so very severely maltreated like with the Holocaust, and on how they are impacted by antisemitism in the historical past and still at present. I know for sure that even generations after the so very dear Jewish people were so abused and mistreated in the Holocaust that the future generations have been so deeply affected, and those who are still alive who braved their way through this vast and evil antisemitic atrocity still can feel these so very deeply ingrained effects from the vile abuse which they received. The ongoing trauma is very much indeed passed down through the generations-this makes perfect sense, sister, like you so wisely shared, Patricia. Our wonderful Jewish people deserve the absolute greatest and the very best, and deserve all of the justice and the reparations that they must very much indeed receive.

    Sister, I think of myself as the black/African-American woman who I am and how many blacks, and like for myself with my family, have experienced and endured the ongoing effects of the very sad and horrid effects of slavery. Also, I have some Native American ancestry and heritage because my paternal Great-Grandfather was a Native American from the Blackfeet tribe, sister. I know that with many other blacks/African-Americans, and with my family that there are for certain ongoing effects of the harsh impact of slavery. Speaking of my family in particular, I can see the effects like having grown up severely abused in every way imaginable with both parents being practicing alcoholics and addicts, and alcoholism and addictions running rampant on both sides of my family. However, I think with all of my very heart, and my very heart, soul, and spirit that my family did have options and that they had a choice, and that our Good God gave them a way out of that legacy of slavery and the racist oppression which they received, and I think that our Good God had a way out for my family in which they could have made the right and better choice in order to not be abusive and and to not be alcoholics and addicts, Even with the harsh legacy of slavery and the effects of racism, oppression, discrimination, and other maltreatment my family received as nonwhite people, I truly believe that our Good God gave them a way out and options in which they could have overcome that legacy and could have been more appropriate and positive people in how they acted instead of being so abusive, alcoholic, and addicted. I think of myself as a cycle breaker because I have been receiving help from having come from that type of family background with my decades of ongoing and current therapy, and being clean and sober for over 25 years in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. In fact, I am in very many, many other 12-Step Programs also. I know that very many people and families across all backgrounds, classes, socioeconomic statuses, and races can have problems, abuse, and dysfunction in their families, and that this trauma can be passed down through the generations. There is hope, though, as people feel and experience the opposite of fear which is love, and in that deep and so very dear and enduring love feel and experience in the very heart of hearts trust and a deeply abiding faith and hope that love is very real and that love can be found for sure, sister.

    Also, I think of the trauma passed down through the generations for many other blacks/African-Americans. I have the same kind of thoughts and concerns here as I did for my own family. It is very much indeed true that there is a horrible legacy and effect from slavery and that this trauma is passed down through the generations and that can have a lasting effect. I know that it can be excruciatingly difficult to overcome this traumatic legacy. Yet I can’t help to think of how many other black persons in the same way that I think of my own family do have a way out and options from our Good God Spirit to at least with some black persons to make more positive and loving choices. Sometimes I think like with my feelings towards and thoughts on my own family, sister, that some black persons run away with the ball and add to their own discomfort on top of the racism in which they would experience and endure, my friend! I so, so love, like, and cherish this great title of your very fine and excellent article, sister!!!!!! The opposite of fear is very much indeed love and with love anything, absolutely anything and in fact everything can be overcome, or at the very least a way out and a way out of no way and a very comforting and soothing way from our Spirit God to cope with whatever comes our way, sister!!!!!! Our Sweet, Loving, and Powerful God Spirit is For Always Faithful and we can For Always have the very Faith in the Faith Who is For Always, For Always without fail there for each and every one of us, Patricia!!!!!!!!

    Wow, sister, I am so, so very inspired and uplifted from this very blessed blog post article of yours, my friend! You sure made me think of so very many points and ideas, Patricia! Please have a wondrously wonderful Wednesday and the rest of your week, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed, my so, so very dear friend! Thank-you for being the wonderful you who you are and for your very sharp and keen writings-I so, so very much love, like, and enjoy joyfully reading your super writings and responding joyously to them with my very heartfelt comments!!!!!! I thank-you so For Always, Patricia!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so very dearest white sisterfriend Christian, Patricia, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my friend, with Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always, sister,

    Your Christian lesbian black friendsister For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

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