“Fear is a weight we can ill afford to bear.” — Catherine Meeks, The Night is Long but Light Comes in the Morning
Fear is a driven force in much of our culture. It weaves into the fabric of our lives. Even when we look for solutions and think we’re “being tough,” all we’re doing is motivating our lives out of fear.
When gun violence interrupts our lives there are calls for more armed people.
When we get nervous about those among us who look different or sound different there are calls for tougher immigration policies.
It’s not being tough. It’s being fearful.
We too often think the solution to poverty is money. People will work hard their whole lives, get a lot of positive attention, find some sense of security in their hard work and drive for more money and actually think what they’re doing is all positive. What is may be is living in fear of being broke.
Fear is a great motivator.
It’s just the wrong motivator.
More guns to fix a problem? More ways to keep immigrants away from us? More money? Ultimately, these are tools that cause us to separate from others. Walls to build. Less people around us.
No gun, no amount of money, no immigration policy is ever enough to drive out fear. They are never enough to adequately protect.
These are points of self-examination. When we don’t want more self-examination, we put more bricks in our walls. More guns. More resentment toward people not like us. More money. And our world gets smaller.
I can’t get fear completely out of my life. But I try. I honestly try. Somehow I discovered in my own life that I am so much healthier when I stretch myself to understand even if I don’t ever “get it” or agree. When I stretch myself to understand something I meet more people. I learn from more people. I come to love more people. I understand more people.
When I had the opportunity to hate Muslims after 9/11 I found the Lord had been preparing me for years to love them more. When 9/11 happened, I stretched myself to find more Muslim friends.
Other issues in our culture that can drive us crazy, I found the Lord opened doors by having people drop into my lives that became my friends. I learned from them. They learned from me.
Sure, if I want to “understand” something, I can go get a book. I can watch a video. I can listen to a podcast. But what am I likely to do in those activities? I am likely to find the books, shows, podcasts, etc., that simply reinforce my biases and beliefs. I CAN read widely, but I’m not going to lie. The majority of my reading will be in my wheelhouse where I’m comfortable. If I engage in something different, it’s because a friend recommended it and I’m willing to take up the challenge because of them.
I can also read widely, listen to a podcast that’s different, etc., and STILL hold my bias because I don’t have to dialogue with a book or podcast. I can listen and go on. With a friend, I need to deal with my issues in a different way.
These are choices. We don’t have to make those choices… so we often don’t. But then… we are left in our fears.
Somehow, the Lord helped me walk away from a lot of fears over time. I STILL have fears I deal with… but I try to step up and deal with them. This is the HARD WORK. We don’t have to do the hard work. But if we will, we become better. The world becomes better.
Do the hard work.
Be not afraid.