Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, seems as appropriate today as it did in 1933. Then the critical issue was the Great Depression and the threat of American banking dissolving. The fears and anxieties were legitimate. The new President faced a difficult challenge. He needed a change in attitude from the public so that together they could forge new solutions.
Eighty-nine years later we are a nation awash in fear. We fear COVID and any possibility that a variant will set us back to early 2020. Our children do Active Shooting Exercises to learn some skills that might protect them when someone enters their school with an assault rifle.
There are gun rights activists who fear “the government” or “they” will break into their homes and confiscate all their weapons. Because mass shootings have not been limited to schools, there are those who think twice about ordinary activities – attending a concert, going to the grocery store, a movie theater, a shopping mall, being in a hospital.
The debate about guns is wrapped in fear. That fear is financed by corporate sponsors, the weapon manufacturers who make vast sums of money off selling weapons of war for non-military purposes. The debate about guns is wrapped in the fear felt by parents as they drop their children off for classes. The debate about guns is wrapped in the fear and anxiety of our children who face the potential of death daily. The debate about guns is wrapped in fear when people think about public activities.
We cannot sustain life in this climate of fear where there are more weapons in this country than there are people. We cannot solve our problems with a trigger and an assault weapon.
As people of faith, we have the responsibility to speak the words of our faith – and to live them! In Psalm 34:4 we read “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Step One: Trust in your faith and hand your fears over to God. Step Two: Now that the weight of your own fear is not crushing you, begin the long process of speaking in such a way that others are not demonized as the enemy. Show by the way you live that there is an alternative to hate leading to fear. Step Three: Because you are no longer bound by fear, work with others to find constructive solutions to the problems facing our society. Step Four: Keep the words of Jesus before you in this ministry of love. In Luke 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (Luke 14:27)
We must begin the work of healing by confronting fear, our own and others. . It is part of the holy work people of faith are called to do.