Awareness, Fear and [Over] Reaction


I believe awareness is often good.  If a person is about to be hit by a bus on their current trajectory, then it is generally good for them to know this and adjust themselves accordingly.

On September 11, 2001, as hijacked commercial airliners heavy with fuel became missiles, the American public became acutely aware of a threat and looked for a solution to the exposed vulnerability. 

The threat had existed prior to our awareness, but now became real with images of burning buildings and stories of thousands of lives snuffed out.  The attack worked as intended, it hit Americans squarely in their emotional centers and produced fear.  People wanted a strong response and got it. 

It was used as justification to expand government power, as excuse to settle unfinished business and as reason to move earth and heaven to get those responsible.  The cost of trillion(s) of dollars and many thousands of lives, in retrospect, seems unjustifiable.

“You are going to die…”

How we react to that statement in the quotes above probably depends on who is saying it.  I believe our reaction to that would be quite a bit different depending on the circumstances.  If it was said with a gun in your face it would likely be interpreted differently than if it was said by a friend and finished with “someday.”

Awareness of a problem, when we have the luxury of time, needs to come with appropriate deliberation and proper restraint of fear.  Overreaction and panic can create bigger problems than the circumstances that triggered them in the first place.

Awareness of an issue, if not contextualized or if over-applied, can build stereotypes, feed prejudices and skew us away from better judgment.  Jumping to avoid a bus and directly into the path of a freight train is unwise and especially if the bus is still a mile away.  Awareness of a problem is not a solution.

My social media news feeds are too often jam packed with messages from well-intended friends.  I am warned of ‘knock out game’ violence, told of police brutality, Ebola coverup, conspiracy, wars on women, gun rights being stolen, Sharia law, beheadings, and a myriad of other fearful things that apparently should be demanding my immediate paranoid attention.

In many cases those with the bullhorn in hand don’t know the whole story, hyperbolize what is actually known and assume what isn’t known.  The dramatic headlines, the terrible anecdotes, wild speculation and strong rhetoric too often blow things out of proportion and eventually many simply tune out.

So, regarding threats real or perceived, how can we be aware without being paranoid, being reactionary and disproportional in response?


3 thoughts on “Awareness, Fear and [Over] Reaction

  1. Lucinda J

    Or you could always try not aware. That’s easier. In the plethora of voices, I always find it difficult to know who to believe.

    The easy answer? Shut them all out and roll with my default (the way I’ve always done it, the things I’ve always been told.)

    The better answer? Measure everything in light of God’s Word. What does He call important and what does not matter to Him? He gives us amazing and limitless promises. A child of God has absolutely no reason to fear. Anything.


    • I see that as the better option over needless worry about things beyond our control. I try to stay current on events, but I had a friend who would send me one email after another (usually with titles in a CAPS) about all the terrible things in the world and finally I had my fill. I do generally tune out the constant complaining posts about this, that or the other pet issue.

      I guess I want to be aware, but not drown in fear, paranoia, and mistrust. I’m already cynical and skeptical enough without needing to be aware of every nasty detail. The world needs more tellers of good news, more solutions and fewer Chicken Littles.


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