This scholarship essay question was put forth at www.zaadz.com. My entry, in 250 words or less, follows:
I wish I could say that I'd wake up and suddenly be a dashing, virile go-getter, an adventurous intellectual with the will to put my ideals into practice; a handsome, valiant knight fighting to improve the human condition. But that is not how mankind's hearts work.
Fear keeps us humble; fear of loss helps us assign value to the things we want to preserve. The development of a person's character, of the human soul, is learning how to prioritize and process your fears; how to sort them, figuring out where they come from, and what to do with them - ignore? Heed? Act on it now, or ponder it for a while longer?
Fear is at the core of my identity. In a big way, our fears mirror our relationship to the entire world. Overcoming fears represents an important maturity in an individual's spirit, and colors the individual's connections to the people around him or her. We hope that this is for the best, and hope is only possible on the basis of fear.
Without fear, perhaps I would feel no relationship to the world. I would be a criminal; and not the daring, jewel-thief-by-night kind. I mean the horrifically selfish, greedy, thug variety. Man's conscience being what it is - prone to depravity and selfishness - it is not hard to imagine that a world without fear would be no kind of world worth living in.