Fear NOT

One fine day a few months from now, you will have the opportunity to alter the course of the future. And no, I’m not talking about the upcoming election.

On Oct. 22, the TEDx Jacksonville Conference will be held at The Florida Theatre where, throughout the day, a diverse lineup of speakers will drop knowledge on what has been a sold-out crowd every year since the conference debuted in 2012.

The daylong conference, themed “Fear Less,” will feature 12 live speakers, eight of whom are women, as well as musical performances, interactive activities, and an Afterglow Party. The laudable list of orators includes philanthropist and Florida Board of Education member Gary Chartrand, African-American entrepreneur and multimillionaire Dane Grey, former WNBA president Donna Orender, 17-year-old astrodynamics researcher Amber Yang whose work has earned her recognition by MIT and NASA, and more. Hope McMath, director of The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, will reprise her role as cohost with an assist from Madeline Scales-Taylor, trustee of the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida.

The theme is intended to embrace the reality that fear is humankind’s oldest and strongest motivator. In its best incarnation, fear stops us from engaging in dangerous activities likely to bring us serious harm; in its worst, fear inspires some of the most atrocious human actions. For many, fear is a blanket that we hide beneath rather than pursue our passions, be truthful, or try something new.

Living in 21st-century America, it’s easy to neglect personal growth that doesn’t involve Pokemons, social media connections and mastering the perfect selfie, but people who pursue knowledge and betterment of self throughout their lives tend to be happier, more prosperous and more fulfilled. Highly successful people like Warren Buffet, who plays the ukulele in his spare time — really!, are notorious seekers of knowledge and experiences. Though many are graced with gifts of intellect, judgment and ability, one of the most common differences between truly successful and truly mediocre people is the curiosity and drive to learn and improve, the commitment to the betterment of self.

TEDx will afford attendants the opportunity to continue — or reinvigorate — a lifelong quest to overcome fear, and to learn, grow and evolve into their best selves. Changing your world is often a first step to changing the world.


On another fear-related topic, many believe that this year’s election cycle has already been dirtier and more divisive than any in our nation’s history. Some people are terrified by the prospect of the government being headed by either the Republican or Democratic candidate for president.

That’s ridiculous. There’s only one candidate whose presidency we should fear: Donald J. Trump. And here’s why.

Trump has thus far proven that he is a dishonest, self-indulgent egomaniac with poor judgment and an at-best rudimentary understanding of how government functions, at worst utterly inaccurate ideas about the roles of the president, Congress and the Supreme Court. As to international law, his understanding of the Geneva Convention couldn’t fill a thimble. For proof, see his comments concerning torture of terrorists and their families.

And yet he persists, kind of like those Desperate Vapid-Shallow-Privileged-Famewhore shows for which he would probably be better suited than being president. (Can’t you just see the “yuge” ratings now?)

By now, liberals have all had a good laugh at the Republican Party’s expense. Admittedly, it has been rather amusing to watch reasonable Republicans cling to the mast as long as they could before fleeing the Trump crazy ship like so many rats.

But now shit is getting real, really real. Donald Trump is one of two people who will in all likelihood become president. The season for laughter is past.

Just like Pete Seeger, The Byrds and the Hebrew Bible tell us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.” We have entered the season of regret, perhaps, but it should also be the season of recommitting to our system of government. We must persevere now so that later we can rebuild.

The way things are going, after this election, the Republican Party could cease to exist. Certainly they’ve done this to themselves with so much demagoguery and hate/fear mongering, but no liberal should rejoice at the prospect of a single-party system.

Realistically, the best option is for the Republican Party to be overhauled from within. There are some very intelligent, tolerant and reasonable people within the Republican Party — this is the party of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, after all — so let their voices carry the day instead of whoever just fell out of the whacko tree.

(The Democratic Party could use some changes, too — for one, how would it be possible to give everyone a free college education without raising the holy hell out of taxes or cutting the holy hell out of military, infrastructure and other spending? — but at least we can feel certain their presidential nominee wouldn’t urge Russia to hack the Secretary of State.)

Whether the Republican Party is blown to smithereens, split in two, or rebuilt on more reasonable, tolerant and measured ideas, the next time we vote for a president, it would nice — not to mention better for the nation — if there were two real choices, not one.


For information and tickets to TEDx Jacksonville, visit: floridatheatre.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=59.