What is the feeling of fear?
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2020 - 12:00am

Things are uncertain. Everybody is scared. Nobody knows what the rules are. Business owners are scared, your family is worried, and you are scared. When we come across an article or a webinar speaker saying, “It’s okay to be afraid,” then we scare the more!

What does being scared feels like in this COVID-19 environment? I hear a lot of people saying, “We are all in the same boat.” “Yes, but not everyone has the same storms.” The storms faced by a wealthy businessman with a rich reserve of wealth may not have the same intensity as the daily wage earner who is now out of his or her job. And the out-of-job healthy worker does not have the same storm as the one struggling for his or her breadth through the ventilator fighting for life.

What is the feeling of being afraid? Steve Andreas tells us this story.[1] “During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, he separated from his men. A group of Russian Cossacks spotted him and began chasing him. Napoleon ran for his life and slipped into a little furrier’s shop on a side alley. Gasping for breath, he saw the furrier and cried piteously, “Save me, save me! Where can I hide?” The furrier said, “Quick, under this big pile of furs in the corner,” and he covered Napoleon up with many furs.

The Russian Cossacks burst in the door, shouting, “Where is he? We saw him come in.” They tore his shop apart, they poked into the pile of furs with their swords but didn’t find him. Soon, they gave up and left.

Later, Napoleon crept out from under the furs, unharmed, just as Napoleon’s guards came in the door. The furrier turned to Napoleon and said timidly, “Excuse me for asking this question of such a great man, but what was it like to be under those furs, knowing that the next moment would surely be your last?”

Napoleon drew himself up to his full height and said to the furrier indignantly, “How could you ask such a question of me, Emperor Napoleon! Guards, take this impudent man out, blindfold him, and execute him. I, myself, will personally give the command to fire!”

The guards grabbed the poor furrier, dragged him outside, stood him up against a wall, and blindfolded him. The furrier could see nothing, but he could hear the movements of the guards as they slowly shuffled into a line and prepared their rifles, and he could hear the soft ruffling sound of his clothing in the cold wind. He could feel the wind tugging gently at his clothes and chilling his cheeks, and the uncontrollable trembling in his legs. Then he heard Napoleon clear his throat and call out slowly, “Ready... aim...” At that moment, he entertained a feeling that he couldn’t describe welled up in him as tears poured down his cheeks.

After a long period of silence, the furrier heard footsteps approaching him, and the blindfold was removed from his eyes. Partially blinded by the sudden sunlight, he saw Napoleon’s eyes looking intently into his own - eyes that seemed to see into every dusty corner of his being. Then Napoleon said softly, “Now you know.””

This is way too dramatic to explain what fear is. But at least the furrier experienced it, and now he understands. Somehow, the principle is the same when it comes to understanding people. Whether it is fear of losing one’s life savings, fear of losing a loved one, we will never know what that feeling is until we go through it ourselves. I have trained myself never to say, “I know how you feel.” Because I honestly do not. A businessperson I admire and respect says, “Francis, for people in the elite, those who have the means; encourage them to do their part to jumpstart the economy. Front-load the spending whether it is for personal needs or wants, it does not matter. Business must pick up so that there will be jobs, taxes, etc. and this is their way to help our country and everyone.” This businessperson has his storms too, but he focuses not only on himself but on ways to help the situation, and that is admirable.

God allows us to go through hurts and pains in life so that we can learn from the experience and to use it to help and encourage others. And this we should do, especially during these times of great need.

(Connect with Francis Kong in www.facebook.com/franciskong2. Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)


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