If you are one of these guys that has a "I Fight What You Fear" t-shirt, this post is probably not for you. Nothing bad, but I have to laugh at those shirts because in more than a few occasions, those I see wearing them would be crapping their pants at some of the things I have done. When my kids ask what I am afraid of, I tell them that I am afraid of losing them, or seeing them hurt, but otherwise, I fear nothing. When a friend asks what I am afraid of, I usually just glare at them over the top of my glasses. But don't think that fear doesn't pop up when it needs to.
Fear is there for a reason. Since God didn't put a gauge on our bodies anywhere with a red line on it, I think He gave us fear to warn us that we are moving into uncharted territory or to remind us of the last time we tried to go there. Some of us, however, have short memories when it comes to fear. Something as subtle as like what happened to me yesterday should have triggered a fear reaction. It didn't. Today, I pay. (Really bad sunburn). Maybe next time I will respect the fact that I am of European descent and we don't fare well in the sun without a little help from Coppertone.
Fear must be considered in context. For us, it is normal to be kneeling in a hall with heavy fire rolling out of the door ahead of us. It is also normal to have a little fear when we open the nozzle and nothing comes out. For us, it is normal to be walking into a hot zone loaded with methyl ethyl death. It is also normal to have a little fear when we experience a suit breach while in that atmosphere.
It isn't fear we should fear, but what we do with it when we get it. Taking fear and understanding it for what it is, we should convert it into knowledge. "I was here before and something bad happened. Do I want to repeat that or not?" We shouldn't ignore it, but relate to it and find ourselves quickly analyzing if our judgment is impaired, or if we need more information, or if we see an opportunity to change the outcomes from the last time we had this scenario. In other words, ignoring fear is not intelligent. Understanding fear is.
Things don't have to go wrong for us personally to appreciate fear. I look at some of the monumental emergency scene screw-ups made by chief officers in the history of time and I fear making those same mistakes. Thus, I take precautions not to repeat those mistakes and subsequently, I change the outcome. I am not paralyzed by fear. Fear does not cause me to panic. Fear sends off a warning bell; not even that, really, more like a subtle chime in my head, that we are about to tread on dangerous ground. Other than that, I have not conditioned myself to ignore fear, I have learned to regard it as a last minute gut check that what I am about to do is the right thing.
The thing I fear, really, is people who have no fear. For whatever reason: stupidity, machismo, lack of experience, failure to observe worst case scenarios, etc., those with absolutely no fear are often the ones whose aftermath I have to clean up. They are the ones I have to rescue out of that confined space because they charged in without thinking of the consequences. They are the ones I have to activate a RIT for because they put themselves into an untenable situation. They are the ones who shoot off their mouth with no consideration of the consequences and now I have to un-fuck their fuck-up. People with no fear keep me busy.
Between our own people and the civilian population, it is my observation that in that ever-turning wheel of Karma, those who have no fear end up being the ones huddled in the entangled mess of a car, begging for you to get them out. Then they really know what fear is all about. If you aren't afraid of anything, you need to take extra precautions the next time you engage in something considered dangerous by the general public. Sometimes fear is cloaked by the lack of common sense.
Take fear for what it is and use it to improve your situation. You may consider fear to be your friend, but it is present for all of us, and it should translate into respect for the situation and an understanding of the consequences, not just for you, but for those of us who have to clean up your mess when you are finished.