Present day Americans are full of fear. We fear other people who are not “like us”. We fear other religions. We fear poverty and we fear street people (homeless). We fear people of other races and nationalities. We fear unemployment. We 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, our airports and municipal buildings. So—now we are in fear of the guns being carried by everyone because we know that few really know how or when to use them!! And 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? Yes! Jesus pointed to it a couple of thousand years ago, The Apostle Paul explained it in I Corinthians 13:1-13. But it seems that we Christians have missed the point that both were making for most of the time the last two thousand years.
The point they were making is: The way of love is the way 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 explained it in his “love chapter” of First Corinthians as a “better way” he would show them, concluding with the words: “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 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, about 2 trillion dollars on this war. Add the benefits to veterans over a lifetime and the amount goes up more trillions of dollars. This was a war started out of fear—a fear that turned out to be unfounded, that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and preparing to use them on the United States and the world. The weapons were never found after extensive searching, 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+ trillions of dollars were spent because of that fear. We chose to act out of fear and have reaped what benefits? We have reaped more fear and more hatred from those whose families we have killed and destroyed. We have reaped more suffering and death of our soldiers who were killed or maimed and whose lives and the lives of their families were changed forever by their time in Iraq. And now we see the rise of ISIS that operates 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 cycle of fear goes on and on, and on, and on, and on….
Love is the only way to break the cycle 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 humanitarians purposes in the Middle East in poverty stricken nations, in our own nation in helping the poor and homeless and providing jobs that paid well—-if we had used the money to lift up people rather than killing them, to help them find ways to produce food for their families, to provide hospitals and adequate medical care for themselves and their children, to help them improve technologically, what would the difference be? If we had spent the money for humanitarian things like decent water wells, the Heifer Project, the Peace Corps and had used it to buy houses for our homeless and provide jobs for the unemployed in this country and other countries—-what difference would it have made? In other words—-if we had uused 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 or ignoring the poor in our own country–have we any idea what difference that might have made in the present state of the world? 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 own country. Who knows? It might spread to our states, our country and the world from those simple beginnings?!! The change begins with you and me!