In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night… On Green Lantern and being scared

I’ve just got back from Green Lantern. My verdict? I enjoyed it; they used the word ‘Poozer’ and although they focused on the stuff from the comics I’m less interested in, Ryan Reynolds still made me like Hal Jordan. I never like Hal Jordan!

If you don’t know the story, Hal is a reckless, irresponsible test pilot who gets recruited into an intergalactic police force, the Green Lantern Corp. Armed with a power ring, that creates anything he can imagine through energy conscructs and force of will, Hal must learn to overcome his fears, embrace his new role, meet 3,600 aliens and save the universe. I don’t know if the Top Gun meets Star Wars comparison has been made, but it seems pretty fair to me.

This isn’t, however, a review. Green Lantern actually had something to say to me, personally.

(Wait, that sounds like I’m hearing voices. I’m not. Honest.)

One of the themes of the film is the need to overcome great fear. I guess that resonates with me because I’ll confess, I’m someone who carries around fear. I don’t mean I have a phobia of snakes or monkeys or exploding toilets; I just have low level anxiety (in a general, not medical sense).

For instance, I’m a pessimist. I don’t want to be; I believe that hope and grace are powerful things, things worth pursuing and grabbing and holding onto with both hands. However, that’s an effort of will – I have to overcome the idea that things won’t go as well as they could. For instance, the thing that makes me most angry about the tabloid phone hacking scandal isn’t so much that it’s happened (even though some of the revelations have been nothing short of abhorrent) but the idea that the perpetrators will get away with it and just end up doing the same thing again in a year’s time. That’s looking increasingly unlikely, but the fear and the cynicism remain.

I’m also a bit of a hypochondriac, a very small-scale male hypochondriac. Every so often I’ll start thinking I’ve got something horrible, but I won’t get it checked out because, well, I’m scared of being told I’ve got something horrible. So I ignore it and up til now it’s gone away. So that’s good.

And then there’s the idea that, even though you’re a grown adult, in your head you’re still about 19 and scared that everyone else is smarter, quicker and more competent than you. I mean, I can never remember if you spell ‘competent’ with an A or an E…

Fear isn’t a good thing, is it? Heck, in Green Lantern it destroys civilisations and threatens the universe. The stakes aren’t that high for us, but maybe the roots of a lot of prejudice and violence lie in the fear of the Other. It’s not just phobias, it’s that stress and worry that eat away at us, and if we’re not careful they can become more constant companions than we’d like.

There’s a line in Psalm 91 that goes “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,” but that’s easier said than done; sometimes our fears are comfortable, a convenient excuse to hold us back, to stop us becoming leaders or warriors or heroes, or even just something we never thought we could be.

There’s another line from the Bible: “Don’t be afraid, you’re worth more than many sparrows.” And I think that’s key, the ability to recognise our own worth, our values and our talents, both as human beings and as individuals. And yes, like in the movie that requires an act of will, but more than that, a reboot of our spirits and a corresponding sense of humility, that everyone else is significant too. Willpower might help us overcome fear, but only love can truly defeat it.

And that’s what’ll keep the poozers away.

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