The Creative Power of Fear
(A positive view on the phenomenon of fear)
Doc. PhDr. Václav Prokopius, CSc.
Mgr. Petr Šulista
The authors of the book, The Creative Power of Fear, assume that fear is a congenital defense mechanism which is typical of all living creatures including human beings; that it has had a beneficial impact to the development of intellectual skills, as it is fear which provokes thought towards eliminating worries and fear itself. The above-mentioned fact leads to the conclusion that fear has always had a priority status over work which is understood as a typical human goal-directed activity.
The authors do not identify themselves with the dominant opinions of history, which consider fear to be only negative and linked to phenomena such as slavery, aggression, and terror. Fear appears seemingly as a negative factor. If we admit its negative consequences it is necessary to admit also its positive side. Fear in social context civilizes, protects, makes social mechanisms defensive and has many other positive aspects.
Even though fear is with us throughout our lives, it does not mean we are constantly aware of it. As it is always present it can appear in our consciousness triggered by an experience. There is a tendency to avoid it, to defend ourselves against it and we have developed various techniques and methods to force it out, deaden it and deny it. However, as death remains an inevitability even though we may not think about it, there is still fear. Fear exists independently within culture, the development of civilization or level of individual development. Fear stays the same but the objects triggering fear change. It goes hand in hand with the change of defense techniques used to fight fear. Today, we are not afraid of thunder or lightning; solar eclipses are interesting natural phenomena and not an anxious experience as we know it does not mean either a disappearance of the sun nor the total end of the world. On the other hand, we fear things previous cultures did not even know - for example bacteria, traffic accidents, etc.
The aim of the authors is to demonstrate with concrete stories and literary works how fear managed to help people with difficulties, when their life was in danger, in crucial decision-making, and also in everyday life activities.
A clear conclusion can emerge from the particular examples that beneath various heroic and exemplary deeds, there is fear. It could have been concern for close relatives and friends which helped people to keep their dignity in concentration camps and not to betray the others. It is fear which warns us before a danger, before acting hastily . It is fear which helps us to overcome problems, obstacles and difficulties.
The authors point out the danger of the absence of fear in the lives of individuals as well as in the life of the whole society. The discovery of the huge and at once destructive power of the atomic bomb more than 60 years ago, which was a result of many years of ongoing research conducted by many scientists and which should have become a permanent pledge of peace, was welcomed with uncritical enthusiasm. No one thought that nuclear energy would ever become the biggest threat to all of humankind. Let us recall the words of Albert Einstein, whose equation showed the way towards the construction of the atomic bomb. In January 1931, when visiting in Pasadena, he thus addressed students at the Institute of Technology:
"Why does this applied science, which saves our work and makes our lives easier, bring so little happiness? The simple answer is that we have not yet learned how to use it reasonably. If you want your work to bring more blessing, it is simply not enough to understand the applied science. The care a manhas for himself and his fate must always be the first and main interest of technical research and development. Do not forget this appeal among your equations and diagrams!"
The authors try to produce evidence in their study that fear cannot be considered to be only negative, but also as a driving power not only for one person, but for all of humankind; a power which can help people survive in difficult situations and conditions, and also help us all reach a better quality of life. This work does not cover all fields of human activities where we can encounter fear. The aim of the work is to declare the positive power of fear in history, as well as in the present and future of humankind.
Mgr. Petr Šulista brief biography
A graduate of the Faculty of Education in České Budějovice in music education and the Czech language and literature, and of the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague in special pedagogy. He started as an editor of regional newspapers, continued as a teacher in a reform school, and for more than 28 years has been working as an educator in institutes for mentally handicapped people.
As a student he started to write poetry and lyrics. Some of his works have been published and set to music. He is a member of the Writers ' Community of South Bohemia. In his publication "Integration of the Mentally Handicapped into the Society," he summarizes his more than ten years of experience with an integrated dance group of mentally handicapped men from an institute for the mentally handicapped and girls from a lower secondary school. He is a co-founder of Salve Caritas Festival - the international festival of mentally handicapped musicians taking place in Strakonice. He is also the author of Funeral Orations - a collection of his 30 years of experience as a funeral orator, and The Creative Power of Fear, about the positive aspects of fear in the society.