What’s the opposite of FEAR?

Safety, trust, assurance? Faith, joy, confidence? Calmness, ease, contentment?

Sure. But I’d say


Counter to intuition, opposites aren’t  contrary in every possible way, rather, they are the same in every way but one – they are on the opposite sides of a scale. Think about it. Rich and poor, for example, are both about money, one about abundance, the other about the lack of it. Beautiful and ugly, are on opposite ends on the scale of attractiveness. And so on.

Safety, trust, assurance, faith, joy, confidence, calmness, ease and contentment


Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with boy, 1933

  – I ‘d judge them all to be good opposites of FEAR. However, for me, they don’t convey the same ENORMITY of the emotion. GRATITUDE does.

Brené Brown talks about gratitude being the opposite of fear.        It made sense to me before, on that intellectual level that things make sense to us. Recently, however, I got to feel the truth of it in a very palpable way. I was in Berlin for a few days (yay, I ventured out of the nest… <smile>) and took the opportunity to visit the Käthe Kollwitz museum*. Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1945) was a German artist, a mother, a wife, and a social critic. No bad feat at any time, but even more admirable considering when she lived. At a time when women didn’t yet have very much freedom. At the time of two horrendous wars. Her husband being a physician and both being socially engaged, they chose to settle down and set up his practice in the poor working class area of Prenzlauer Berg. Although Käthe Kollwitz is described as a warm and cheerful person, her work is rather somber, mostly (but not only) depicting the hardship of the human condition.


Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with death child, 1903.

The human condition. Poverty, sickness, and death. And as I took in her work, strongly touched by a series of drawings of a mother losing her child to DEATH, I was feeling the magnitude of the mother’s PAIN. And then FEAR. I have three boys. Even just the thought of losing a child is paralyzing. Then reminding myself: All is well. Right now, all is well. I moved from drawing to drawing and for every picture on this theme, I went through the same emotional cycle: Pain – the human condition is no piece of cake. Fear – this could happen to me. Gratitude – right now, all is well.

I am in awe and appreciation of the artists who are having the skill to evoke such strong emotion in us. The ability to evoke awareness. Who, what medium, what message at what time – that might be different for all of us. This time, for me, it was Käthe Kollwitz on a holiday in Berlin. For me it was




Not Kollwitz, but Anita Löhndorf, my mother painted me and my youngest son when he was a newborn – GRATITUDE




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