I don’t have much patience with people who panic, because panic is just uncontrolled fear; and fear can be controlled… once you understand it.
I can remember when we first saw action in Caprivi. We were young, not prepared to die and shit-scared. We thought we were cowards. Our platoon sergeant should have been a psychologist. He stated that dying for your country is bullshit; you have to make the enemy die for their country. That had the lot of us laughing and he instantly won our confidence.
He said that it’s normal to have fear and told us that he’s scared too but knowing and admitting to it, enables him to deal with it. He said that once we’ve “seen the elephant”, the cause for fear will become routine and we’d be able to deal with it. “But never deny that fear,” he added, “for that will get you killed very fast.”
And he was right. The first time under enemy fire it was terrifying but we got used to it eventually and it became routine. But it does not become routine by itself. You need plenty of exposure to it. And once you have conquered one fear, it becomes easier to conquer another.
I’m inclined to believe that any fear can me mastered with enough exposure to it.
The beauty of it all is that once you have learned how to handle your own fears, you recognize and respect – even admire – that ability in other people. Nothing can fascinate me more than seeing people performing well under hazardous conditions.
I dedicate this blog to all those people who work under dangerous conditions.