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I thought I’d hate this book! The title, The Gift of Fear, hit me the wrong way. Was Gavin de Becker going to promote fear as an approach to life, tout the benefits of self-protectiveness and toughness, teach readers to look out for #1?? Boy was I surprised!
Instead of finding out where he was wrong-headed, I discovered how right he was. Well, he at least agrees with me about a lot of things! His thesis, that a guarded, defensive posture toward life actually prevents our fear mechanisms from making us aware of real danger, resonated with me – a page right out of my ‘poetic personhood’ talks.
The gift we are given – of wholeness, to take in all the factors of reality and respond well (to danger or to much else that fills our environment – is compromised by loss of sensory awareness, lack of capacity to get out of narrow focus (see Open Focus Brain), and shallow processing of non-verbal information.
I’ve discussed all this with many friends at my kitchen table, because I want them to develop the kind of whole, poetic, deeply affected personhood that deBecker demonstrates is their greatest asset in a scary world. Fear, given by God as a clue to real danger, is a genuine gift for those who can give up fearfulness to receive it.