Oh great! News from Russia gives us something else to be afraid of: a meteorite explosion. The roofs of our houses could cave in, destroying our beds, our sofas, our computers and cell phones. We could be killed.
Americans already have plenty to worry about: car accidents, theater shootouts, heart attacks, cancer, homosexuals, and socialists. And a more recent one: a tyrannical U.S. government. You can buy a Hummer so you’re less likely to be killed in a car accident. You can avoid going to theaters, stay at home and rent Netflix instead. To ward off heart attacks people ingest a daily dose of aspirin, eat flaxseed, and take fish-oil supplements. To prevent cancer they eat whole grains, tomatoes, broccoli, and drink green tea. Those afraid of homosexuals picket churches and businesses who accept gays. Folks who watch Fox News can identify the socialists then write letters to the editor to warn everyone else.
Recently we’ve been hearing that to protect ourselves from intruders and a tyrannical government we should buy an arsenal of AK-47s and glocks. Where can we get hand grenades?
As I recall, my father had fears too. He feared that if Kennedy was elected, the Pope would run our country. He was scared of communists. He was positive they had infiltrated the highest levels of our government and that it would be better to be dead than Red. He worried that if I danced I’d get pregnant, and if I went to college, my professors would teach me about evolution and destroy my Christian faith. I guess he took his own life because he was afraid to live it. That’s where fear can lead.
Sure, there are appropriate times to be scared: when our lives or the lives of others are imminently threatened. We should be cautious: buckle our seatbelts, install smoke detectors, avoid dark alleys late at night. But we need to remember that demagogues gain their power by appealing to our anxieties. It is to somebody’s advantage (and not always clear whose) that we organize our lives around those fears.
What is the alternative to a life dominated by fear? One grounded in joy and trust. Joy in the life we’ve been given, trust in a higher power and in each other.
Or we can move into a bunker so that if a meteor comes, we’ll be safe. Maybe.
Another great piece, Nancy! I just visited with one of our state representatives regarding the same gender marriage bill that just passed the senate here in Illinois. God bless this person (gender may prevent anonymity). The rep will vote for it, because it is the right thing to do, but the rep may have to leave the church of this rep’s childhood due to the fear and ignorance of the pastors who have resorted to intimidation and bullying, to get a change of mind. The rep says that it is their fear that drives them. That they, though they be clergy, have not found the joy and trust that many of us have found, hence the fear and desire to remain safe and ignorant. Another comment was that these same people and their former colleagues were the same ones who would not participate in civil rights. What a sad, sad state of affairs.
On another note, let’s see if we can’t get congress to pass a law that all the AK-47s that are collected to end gun violence, be turned into saxophones and we can then have a National Jazz Sax Band! Thanks for this fabulous work.
Thanks for your comment, Carole. I admire the rep’s courage. I’m so sorry he/she must lose his/her church over this. Hurray for Illinois for passing the bill.
I like the idea of turning AK-47s into saxophones. My husband is a big fan of jazz.
Nancy – great summery about how to make healthy choices. Choosing fear leads to a life of shadows, negatives and assumptions that say “What did you expect …” Choosing joy is easier and feels so much better on all levels. Amen!
At the same time we must be aware of real dangers. (See Verna’s comment about concerns about climate change.) But such issues require that we work to educate ourselves and the public.
Nancy, this is so true!
Wouldn’t ti be great if we could turn all the energy spent worrying and being afraid into positive action!
On the other hand, there are things people seem utterly blase about that should be concerns — specifically climate change.
So true, Verna.