Present day Americans are full of fear. We fear other people who are not “like” us. We fear other religions. We fear poverty and street people (homeless). We fear terrorists attacks. We fear our government. We fear Republicans or Democrats (whichever we’re not). We fear unemployment. We who are older fear retirement and running out of money before we die. If we are black, we fear policemen . If we are policemen, we fear blacks. We fear flying due to terrorist attacks. We fear mass shootings in shopping malls and we fear for our children with mass shootings at schools. So what do we do?—-we buy guns to protect ourselves from other people who are not like us. We install expensive security systems in our homes our schools and our municipal building and our airports. In my home state of Kansas, you can openly carry guns on the streets and in most public buildings, and you can conceal carry also without a permit. With all these guns, has the homicide rate gone down, have mass shootings subsided any? Are we safer with all our guns and security systems? Or do we now need to fear guns even more because everyone has one and few know how and when to safely use them? So the circle of fear goes on and on, around and around, in an unending cycle of violence and fear and violence and fear and people continue to die because of our fears. OUR FEARS ARE KILLING US!!
Isn’t there another way to live our lives? A better way? Jesus pointed to it a couple thousand years ago? Paul explained it in I Corinthians 13:1-13. But it seems that we Christians have missed the point that both were making—-The way of love is the key to end fear, not more weapons. Jesus said it when he explained that the greatest commandment is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Paul summed it up in his “love chapter” in I Corinthians 13: 1-13 as “the better way he will show them: “Faith, hope and love remain, but the greatest of these is love.”
After years of fear, and of killing other individuals out of fear in our own country and killing others around the world because of our fear of them, isn’t it time to try another way—a better way—-the way of love instead of instead of the way of hatred and fear and the resulting violence?
Take the Iraq War, for example: We have spent, as a nation, according to a study by Brown University in 2013, $1.7 trillion. Add to this the benefits paid to veterans over their lifetime and the cost goes to over $6 trillion dollars. This war started out of fear—a fear that turned out to be unfounded—-that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was preparing to use them on the U.S. The weapons were never found, but the U.S. made a preemptive first strike and then it was too late. So, fear ran its course and thousands upon thousands of human lives were extinguished on both sides because of that fear. And 2 + trillion dollars were spent because of that fear. We chose to act out of fear and have reaped what benefits? More fear and more hatred from those whose families we have killed. More suffering and fear by our soldiers who were maimed and whose lives were ended or changed forever by their time in Iraq. And now we see the rise of ISIS that operating by generating fear and hatred of all but their own brand of Islamic extremists—- and the fear of ISIS is threatening to start the cycle all over again. And the circle of fear goes on and on, and on, and on, and on…..
Love is the only way to break the circle of violence we are caught in.. Consider this thought: if we had taken the 2 trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war and spent it for humanitarian purposes in the Middle East and in poverty stricken nations, including our own nation’s poor and homeless. If we had used the money to lift people up, helping them to find ways for them to produce food to feed themselves, providing hospitals and adequate medical care, helping them improve technologically so that they might be able to earn a decent living. If we had spent money for humanitarian things like decent water wells, the Heifer Project, the Peace Corps, If we had used the money to house our homeless, to provide jobs for the unemployed in our country-— In other words if we had used that 2 trillion dollars to show love and care for human beings created in God’s image—- instead of shooting them down in fear and hatred in other countries, and hiding the poor behind barriers in our own country, have we any idea what difference that might have made? Will we ever know? Not until we have tried it.
The gun creates fear and hatred. Love creates trust and compassion. That is true on the individual level and it is true on the national and international level. Perhaps it is time to end the politics of fear and try the politics of love at all levels—but the best place to begin is in our own lives, in our own cities and towns in our country. Who knows, it might spread to our states, our country and the world from those simple beginnings?! The change begins with you!!