Tag Archives: guns

Fear Can Kill Us

 

 

 

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!

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Active Fear or Active Love?

Which do we want?   “Active fear” that dominates our lives or “active love” that enriches our lives and the lives of those around us?   It sounds like a “no-brainer”, but why then do we mostly choose “active fear”?

We are afraid—very afraid—of our neighbors and what harm they might do to us.   And so we “gate” our communities.  We arm ourselves in our homes and businesses and apply for concealed carry of weapons permits.  We install expensive and extensive security in our homes and public buildings.  We are afraid—very afraid!   And we have reason to be…

And so we build more prisons, we hire more law enforcement officers and prison guards, we buy more guns, we build bigger and more lethal weapons to maintain peace in our communities and our world.  But instead of peace we find what we have done creates more violence and that leads to more fear, which leads to more violence—-and the fear/violence cycle continues to spiral out of control!

Our inability to “love our neighbor as ourself” has led to a nation dominated by fear.   We have oppressed the poor, we have put our neighbors (and every child of God is our neighbor) at the very bottom of our list to take care of, we have tried to shut out the “stranger” immigrants, we have troddened on the downtrodden of our communities rather than lifted them up.   We have turned away from the face of the poor and of the hungry child.   And now we fear all of the above because they seem to threaten us in many ways.   There are more and more of them all the time.   Lists of robberies, theft, murders, arson, terrorism, and violence proliferate in our newspapers and newscasts.  We fear those around us.

We are afraid of other nations and groups–very afraid!!  And so we build fences on our borders.  We spend billions on military armaments, planes, ships, high technology weapons and on training people to kill the enemies that we sense are all around us.   We sense that if we are not armed to the utmost militarily and maintain maximum security we will be attacked.   We are afraid—-very afraid!!

We are prisoners of our fear!    Fear dominates our lives.

Jesus pointed to another way—-the way of love.   Love of God and love of our neighbor.   He describes how it might work in the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 5 and 6 and in the Gospel of Luke, Ch. 6.      Let me quote a few verses that tell the way life can be when it is dominated by love of God and love of neighbor:

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.   If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.   Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? for even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:27-36)

What if we spent as much of our money on meeting the needs of the people that we feel are  threatening to  us as we do on trying to protect ourselves from them?   Would we still need the same level of protection?

What if we loved those who hate us and tried to do good for them?   Would they still hate us?

What if we worked to correct the problems in our economic and political and social system that cause poverty and homelessness and illness and hunger?  Would we still need to be afraid?

What if we were to “do unto others as we would have them do to us?”

What if we really worked on this revolutionary idea of loving our neighbor as ourselves?

Recently we saw the results of living in fear in the Zimmerman/Martin case.   Both feared the other.  Martin, no doubt, saw a man with a gun and was terribly afraid.   Zimmerman saw a “hoodie” and not the face of an innocent teenager and was afraid.   Now one is dead and the other’s life is permanently changed as he lives in fear of retaliation.    Both saw the other and reacted because of fear.  What if they had been guided by love for each other as children of God?  Would the story be different?

Radical idea to try active love?   Yes.   Naive?  No.    The one who recommended it is still in our world many centuries after he lived a life of active love on earth!

He is known as Jesus, the Christ.