Fear Creates Enemies, Courage Creates FriendsBusiness
Rafe and Paul walked out to the playground while Paul’s image continued to abuse his calculator. The fi rst recess had started, and kids were attacking the jungle gym in imagined heroics.
Rafe leaned against a tetherball pole not currently in use. “Why are you afraid of Phyllis Nesserbaum?”
“I told you, Rafe, I’m not afraid of her. I compete with her. There are only so many people who donate to schools like this, and Phyllis has the inside track on the high-society rollers. I’m not part of that scene.”
“The high-society scene,” Rafe asked, absentmindedly tossing the tetherball around the pole, “that’s where the money is?”
Rafe and Paul noticed several kids looking wideeyed in their direction, and realized that from their perspective the tetherball was spontaneously looping itself around the pole. “Come on,” said Rafe, “let’s go walk around a bit. I have to catch myself before I do things like this when there are people around.”
FEAR EXCLUDES AND CREATES ENEMIES.
COURAGE INCLUDES AND CREATES FRIENDS.
“If your problem is money, then why are you afraid to go where the money is?”
Paul dug his hands into his pockets. “I’m not afraid. They’re just not my kind of people.”
Rafe’s eyebrows went up again. “Oh, what kind of people are they?”
“Arrogant. They look down their long noses at me and my cheap tweed jacket. Life’s just too short to be kissing up to . . .” The words trailed off as Paul looked back toward the children, his children, running around the playground.
“To the enemy?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, some of them are. They’ve tried to shut down my school for ten years, and now it looks like they’re going to do it.”
A basketball came rolling toward them through the grass, and Rafe kicked it back, greatly alarming the little boy who was chasing it. “I’ve got to stop doing that,” Rafe reminded himself. “Maybe they just don’t understand what you’re trying to do.”
“You don’t understand, Rafe: They don’t want to understand.”
“Yes,” Rafe replied, “fear does that to people.”
“Fear? They’re not afraid of me.”
“Are you sure?” Rafe stopped and looked at Paul. “If you took a bunch of your kids to their front doors one evening singing Christmas carols, would they come out to see you?”
Rafe stopped under the big oak tree and pulled a handful of peanuts out of his pocket. He stopped to feed a pair of gray squirrels, and for a moment seemed to be aware of nothing else in the world. As the squirrels ran Never Fear, Never Quit 37
off with their cheeks bulging, Rafe said, “That’s another way fear destroys you.”
“Excuse me?” Paul’s attention was still with the squirrels scampering up the tree.
“Remember how I said that your reaction to fear can cause you to lose all your possessions, even to lose your life? Well, another way fear can destroy you is by creating enemies.
“Fear wants to keep out anyone who’s different, who makes you feel the least bit uncomfortable, anyone who challenges your established opinions and assumptions. At the same time that your fear is excluding them, their fear is excluding you. Pretty soon, they’re not just different, they’re worse. And of course, you’re not just different to them, you’re worse, too. And it’s not a very big step from being worse to being wrong. And from being wrong it’s not a very big step to being an enemy.
“Fear excludes and creates enemies. It takes great courage to bring down the walls of exclusion and reach out to people who are different from you.”
“Yeah, that sounds nice, Rafe, but in the real world there’s a lot of risk in trying to reach out and touch everyone. Trusting an enemy is the best way in the world to lose everything you have.”
“Everything?” Rafe replied. “Not everything, Paul, it’s not everything at all once you see the big picture.”