Today I’m going to talk about fear, because when you joke about fear, it takes the edge off. Things don’t seem so scary anymore. My inspiration to find humor in fear comes from our dear neighbors to the north.
You see, North Korea has threatened war. But China’s warned them against it. China told them flat out, “Do not fire any missiles at the United States, at least not until we get our money. The Americans owe us 1.3 trillion dollars.” So I’m not too worried. [Source: Jay Leno]
Still, the North Koreans are serious. You know they’re serious because they’ve released 10 more photos of Kim Jong-un looking through binoculars. [Source: Jay Leno]
Kim Jong-un. What an unlikely looking totalitarian dictator he is. Pudgy. I mean, he looks like something you’d put on the end of a child’s pencil… Still, everybody in North Korea loves him. The military must, because they made him the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army. The decision was praised by all, from First Secretary of the Workers’ Party Kim Jong-un, to Opposition leader Kim Jong-un. [Source: Conan O'Brien]
Yes, everybody loves Kim Jong-un. Well, OK, not quite everybody. You know which North Koreans don’t like him? People who own all-you-can-eat restaurants. I mean, they see him coming, and there go the profits!... Hmmm, there is another group that doesn’t like him: people who live in North Korea’s concentration camps. They call the son of Kim Jong-il: “Kim Mental-ly Ill.” [Source: David Letterman]
I’m not saying North Korea is a controlled society, but there were three guys walking down the street. One was from Saudi Arabia, one from Zimbabwe, and one from North Korea. A reporter runs up to them and asks: “Excuse me, what is your opinion about the meat shortage?”
The Saudi Arabian says, “What’s a shortage?”
The person from Zimbabwe says, “What’s meat?”
The North Korean says, “What’s an opinion?” [Source: jokebuddha.com]
Another two guys were walking down the street, a Canadian and a North Korean. The Canadian asks the North Korean, “How's life in North Korea?" The North Korean replies, "Well, I can't complain." [Source: www.sickipedia.org]
And when Kim Jong-un threatens, CNN lets us know it. They report every breaking story about North Korea as if it’s the end of the world. South Koreans are calm. You’re used to this psychological warfare. Tourism from China to South Korea has actually increased, because the Chinese don’t have freedom of the press. The Chinese get here and ask, “North Korea has a nuclear WHAT?”
But if you’re from the west, you get these phone calls from your friends and relatives, who’ve been watching T.V. and are worried about you. My mother asked me, “Dear, are you radioactive yet?… Because if you register above 100 clicks per minute on a Geiger counter, you are not coming into the house at Christmas!... I’m sorry, but I’ve got the grandchildren to think about…Remember your cousin from Japan after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown? He had to sleep out with the chickens.”
TV news shows LOVE to ratchet up FEAR. Do you remember Y2K, when they thought computers worldwide were going to crash on January 1, 2000? All the news stories about that? What a letdown when nothing happened! My, there’s so much to be afraid of: swine flu, killer bees, global warming, bad breath.
Politicians love fear, because the more you fear, the more you’ll let them do whatever they want!
And companies love fear, because the more you fear, the more you’ll buy. There’s a store named “Armaggedon Supplies” in Janesville, Wisconsin. I’m not making this up. Come on in and stock up on rifles, ammunition, camping equipment and, if you think you’re headed toward the final Rapture, your ascension robes. "Sweet Jesus, I’m coming!"
As Toastmasters, there’s a particular fear we face: the fear of public speaking. As Mark Twain said: "There are two types of public speakers: those who are nervous, and those who are liars."
Why, they say people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of snakes…But that doesn't make sense. I mean, you don't see someone walking through the desert, suddenly shouting, "Watch out! A podium!" [Source: Unknown]
“In fact, according to one study, public speaking is people's number one fear. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means that for the average person, if he goes to a funeral, he’d rather be lying in the casket than at the front of the church, making a speech about the dead person.” [Source: Jerry Seinfeld]
Another fear many people have is fear of heights. But not me. I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling from heights. [Source: Unknown]
I can sympathize with Gary and his friend Geon Hyeong, two guys living in an insane asylum. They decide to escape, and go up on the rooftop. There, just across a narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moonlight... stretching away to freedom. Now, Gary jumps right across with no problem. But Geon Hyeong doesn’t dare make the leap. He’s afraid of falling. So Gary has an idea... He says, "Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I'll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!" But Geon Hyeong just shakes his head. He says, "What do you think I am? Crazy? You'd turn it off when I was half way across!" [Source: Alan Moore]
Fear. I think President Franklin Roosevelt had it right when he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
And I love what Marianne Williamson has to say about our deepest fear:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” [Source: Williamson, A Return to Love]
So deal with your fears, whether you’re afraid of North Korea, or public speaking, or something else. You are much bigger than fear. Let your light shine, and as your light shines, turn on the light in others.