Framing fear

  It has been a while since I have written on the blog. Much has been happening in my own world — community meetings, travel, conferences, being a bit under the weather, and then another series of meetings.

There also has been so much going on in the world, much of it with far reaching consequences we cannot see.

And yet, much of the rhetoric, perhaps most of the rhetoric depending on who and what you listen to, is framing the situation quite narrowly and thus has blinders to the consequences.

When we frame our worldview, our response, our understanding of any situation from fear, we risk losing that which makes us most human. The best human responses, if you look at history or even your own life, come not from fear but from love, compassiom, wisdom, and a focus on the common good. We are most secure and have the best chance at creating a peaceful tomorrow when we draw upon what we share in common, rather than focus on what makes us different or divides us.

Fear blinds us to our best selves and our potential. No wonder Jesus told his followers, again and again, be not afraid. He was building a community of beloved disciples. He understood the temptation of fear and its power, but God is love and God calls us to love not fear.

For the non religious among you, other wise figures have understood this. FDR famously said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, whereas his wife Eleanor asked what I think is a key question: “When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” When indeed?

As Frank Herbert wrote in the sci-fi novel Dune: “Fear is the mind killer.” Fear also seems to act as a heart killer too. When our response to families fleeing terror and seeking safety turns into our own irrational fear of the ones who are literally and rightfully afraid for their lives, then we have turned a scary corner.

And whoever wrote these words attributed to Yoda in Star Wars was, I think, on to something: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

We human beinge have let fear win out before, and it has led to things like the Internment of Americans of Japanese descent by their own government, the use of torture in interrogation, and genocide after genocide.

We humans are better than that, and I think it all starts with how we frame our experience, our viewpoint, our shared reality: from a narrow closed off space of fear? Or from an expansive space of love, compassion, and human creativity in service of the common good.

The choice is ours … and our choices have consequences indeed.


1 thought on “Framing fear

  1. A wonderful commentary I read on the gospel of Mark once posited that the whole gospel is written in such a way in its oral narrative structure to suggest that there are two basic responses to being a disciple:fear of love. As a whole the story asks this is how these people reacted to Jesus, how will you? Even the stunning ending, where the women run away from the empty tomb in silence, asks what will you do?

    I have to say I have been incredibly heartened by the robust level of dialogue and awareness. This sounds terrible–but yes Isalmaphobia and violence against Muslims has increased this week, but not without an outcry of awareness. I have been particularly stunned by the French people’s response. We will not live in fear. We will not change our lives. And yes, we will accept 30,000 Syrian refugees in the next 2 years.

    A whole lot to pray for.

    Liked by 1 person

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