The two boys ran around the park, enjoying the beautiful weather. Today they were playing cowboys and Indians.
“The Indians are coming!” Hayim yelled to Yitzchak. “The only way to escape is to jump from this mountain into the river!” Seeing his friend hesitate, he called out again. “Come on, jump! I dare you!”
Although Yitzchak was afraid to leap, he took a deep breath and jumped — down onto the pavement. He fell to the ground and screamed in pain, holding his arm.
When he returned home from the emergency room, he was wearing a cast.
“Why did you jump onto the concrete from so high up?” his father asked.
“I was really afraid to, but I didn’t want Hayim to know how scared I was, so I jumped. Besides, he dared me!” Yitzchak confessed.
When we are young, we are afraid to admit that we are afraid. We assume it is a sign of weakness. As we mature, we realize that there are situations when fear is a proper response to a dangerous situation.
If one’s wellbeing is at risk, one feels a natural fear that prompts one to do what is necessary to avoid harm. Anxiety is a healthy warning signal. It is a sign of maturity when one is able to distinguish between well-founded fear and baseless anxiety. This could lead to cures for phobias that hamper a person’s enjoyment of life.
Most people fear letting others know that they are afraid. They feel it is a sign of weakness or imperfection. In fact, fear is not something that one should feel compelled to hide from others. Someone in the military would be foolish to declare that an impending battle did not evoke fear. Someone diagnosed with a serious illness should react with deep concern about the future.
“I dare you!” may work with a child; an adult must learn to take care, to face danger that is real, and not to allow the fear of being ridiculed to override common sense. Don’t let a dare make you do something foolish.