Many adults will tell you, there's no reason to be afraid of the dark. It's a childish fear, it's an irrational fear because the dark can't hurt you. Only kids are afraid of the dark and only until they're taught by adults that the fear is wrong and they need to grow up and stop. But why then, do we all start out with a fear of it?

Fear of the dark is something we all start out with. When we first start to explore the world around us, and begin thinking and feeling, one of the first things that bothers us is the dark. Children often ask their parents for night lights, or even to leave the lights on. This fear didn't exist as much back when it was much too expensive to leave lights on. It was a waste of a candle or of oil to leave one burning in your room over night, so we were forced to cope and live with the darkness at night.

There's something that happened much more frequently in those days, however. Sometimes, people would simply go missing. Everyone settles in at night, warm in their beds, and they blow out their candles or lamps. They close their eyes as the darkness surrounds them. But when the sun rises, not all of them are there. Some are simply, gone.

It happens today still, considerably less often and the few times it does the various governments of the world hush it up. Can't go causing a panic because little Timmy vanished over night. In all of these cases, the parents had forced their child to go the night without any light in their room. Reassuring them it was safe, there's nothing to fear in the dark.

It's a pleasant enough lie, and most times it is true. If everyone in the world vanished simply because they slept in the dark we'd all be gone. But that is far from an absolute. The darkness can pose a threat, simply by being itself. Darkness is the total absence of visible light. Darkness is space that we humans cannot see into. We cannot discern what is or isn't in the darkness.

That is precisely why we are programmed to fear it. Our eyes are our primary sense, whenever one of our others inform us of something the first thing we do is turn our eyes to it. When we feel a touch that shouldn't be there, we look at the spot that was touched. When we hear a sound that shouldn't be there, we look in the direction it came from. Our eyes are our most vital sense. So what happens when they fail us?

What happens when something is or isn't there, but we cannot see it? There could very well be something lurking within the shadows of your house. Of your room. And you would never know, because you cannot see it. This is why we fear the dark. It shelters the unknown, things that hide in it. Things that fear us. Things that we, were we to find them, would be feared by us. Creatures that view us as prey.

So be careful the next time you tell your child to turn off their lights and go to bed. Take heed of their protests, their uneasiness at the fact they can't see anything around them. The fear is natural, and it protects them. But most of all, be careful yourself when laying in the dark. Don't ever stare directly into it. You never know when something might be staring back...

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