An old anonymous story goes like this. A farmer was sitting on the steps of his ramshackle place when a stranger approached, asking for a drink of water. Seeking to make conversation, the stranger asked, “How’s your wheat coming along?” 

“Didn’t plant none,” answered the farmer.

“Really? I thought this was good wheat country.”

“Afraid it wouldn’t rain.” 

“Oh. Well, how’s your corn crop? “

“Ain’t got none,” answered the farmer.

“Didn’t you plant any corn, either?”

“Nope, afraid of corn blight.” 

“For heaven’s sake,” said the stranger. “What did you plant?”

“Nothing,” said the farmer. “I just played it safe.”

Too many times in life, a person who does nothing thinks he is “playing it safe.” However, he is not. He is instead paralyzed by fear. That paralysis, in turn, can lead to a greater disaster than if he had attempted something constructive and failed. 

The problem with fear is that the worry it generates can be so precise as to appear vivid in our imagination. The writer and humorist Leo Rosten captured it well when he wrote, “Hope is ambiguous, but fear is precise.”

 Watch out for doing nothing.

Watch out for paralysis by fear.