The Steven Spielberg film ‘Jaws’ was released in U.S. theaters during the summer of 1975. It forever changed our collective social psyche toward a fear of swimming in any ocean. It also shaped both our perceptions and misperceptions of sharks in general, and great white sharks in particular.

The book ‘Through the Brazilian Wilderness’ was written by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and was first published in 1914. It recounts his 1913 expedition through the Amazon Rainforest. While on the bank of the river, he witnessed a cow – pushed into the water by local fishermen – skeletonized by a school of starving piranha. The mental image of his words reshaped the image people have of fishing along any river.

The difference between one shark bite, and a single piranha nibble, can be the difference between life and death. However, several piranha – over time – can nibble enough away to skeletonize almost anything or anyone. The cumulative damage of all the nibbles is just as debilitating as the one shark bite.

When it comes to spiritual resiliency, the cumulative damage of bad habits can lead to an addiction. The tolerance of venial sins can silence our conscience to tolerate a mortal sin. A few misdemeanors can lower the standard of conduct to enact a crime. After all, it’s just a nibble here and there – it’s not a lethal bite!

There is a healthy fear of things that can harm us in spirit, mind, and/or body. The ‘fight or flight’ reaction to danger is natural to our survival. Therefore, may I encourage us all to fight the good fight of faith, and to flee every temptation.

Fly, Fight, and Win!

Ch O

Chaplin (Maj.) O’Brien

115th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps

Truax Field, Madison, WI

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