In this cruel summer, why fearlessness still matters

imgresSo I haven’t blogged in about a month. I could blame vacation brain; the complex algorithm involved in figuring out how one gets the kids to camp and oneself to work on the same day; my sudden and quixotic need to master French on Duolingo; and the absurd effort it takes to mold the summer into a peach-picking/beachcombing/barbecuing/firefly-capturing romp in order to a) create precious childhood memories and b) pass muster on Instagram.

But those aren’t really the reasons. These are the reasons.

Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Jillian Johnson, Mayci Breaux, Sandra Bland, Brionna Boddy, Zachary McGee, Valerie Jackson, Alison Parker, Adam Ward.

In this summer of devastating shootings and Black Lives Matters, it has been hard to feel fearless.

Besides which, in a world in which people can be killed while watching a movie, praying at church, or reporting what Charles Pierce calls a “happy-face morning feature,” it feels frightening enough sometimes just to live. Who needs to go to the trouble of skydiving, or bat-cave spelunking when ho-hum American life is apparently riddled with danger? And I am a white woman of some privilege. Whatever I fear, real or imagined, is truly nothing compared to the genuine peril that people of color, in particular, face every day.

I was dumbstruck, speechless.

But here is the thing: Fear breeds inertia. Inertia breeds hopelessness. And lo and behold, nothing changes. They say hope is a muscle. So is fear. And the more you exercise that muscle and find that you can survive what comes, maybe, just maybe, the easier it gets.

So here I am again. Because, I have decided, a little less fear in the world—whatever type of fear, whatever shape it takes—is only a good thing.

The kick-ass Bessie Stringfield, first African-American woman to ride a motorcycle across the US solo
Fearless goddess Bessie Stringfield was the first African-American woman to ride a motorcycle across the US solo. She got hit by cars—who targeted her on purpose—and kept on trucking.

Facing down a bat cave might not be as daunting as facing down the NRA, but hell, you’ve got to start somewhere.