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The Choice: Fear Or Love

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Message Charles Rayner Kelly

  Humans are motivated by two dominant emotions: fear and love. Love is stronger than fear, as evidenced by a mother charging into a burning home to save her child. She instinctively fears the flames, but her love for the child makes the fear as nothing.

   Our society, especially since the 9/11 tragedy, has become very fearful, belying our national anthem's 'home of the brave'. Politicians and the media promote this fear in varied and subtle ways, knowing how fear hooks into our subconscious, often triggering irrational behavior.

   When people are fearful to an obsessive degree, a police state mentality sets in. Now everyone is afraid, including the police. Inevitably, some shallowly charismatic leader comes along to soothe our fears, promising us safety and security at the cost of liberty. And lo, we are back to fascist Germany in the 1930s!

   Of course, the dominant rich greatly want safety and security, having many possessions to safeguard and secure. However, people feeling tight financial pressures don't feel safe or secure in a fearful society. Rather, the system feels oppressive where nothing serves to bind people together as community, and where everyone is on their own and a stranger to everyone else. Alas, our society has been undermined by our second strongest emotion!

   One need not have any particular beliefs to appreciate that all the books of ancient wisdom - the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, Tao Te Ching - also the peace pipe tradition of the Native Americans, all say fundamentally the same thing. Love can conquer fear.

   How are we to protect ourselves and our beloved children and grandchildren from the crises we face today, crises which are due to human folly?

   The world's climate is warming, making the earth less habitable than for millions of years. Thousands of nuclear weapons are poised and ready to go, at this very moment. Food and water shortages threaten millions of people worldwide. Lack of sanitation gives rise to pandemic diseases. The list of challenges we all face today is long.

   Meanwhile, a small segment of our population, the 1% who own 40% of our nation's wealth, demand cuts in social services, education, fire, health and human resources, in order to safeguard their riches, most of which are ill-begotten gains.

   Our political representatives on the state and national levels respond only to this small segment, because they alone can give the vast sums of money it takes to run for high elected office. The same is true for judgeships. Money rules! Laws and regulations are plentiful for ordinary people, but are easily skirted by big businesses with a plethora of lawyers.

   More is spent on mis-educating our youth through advertising than is spent educating them. And the education we offer is strictly of the head, and not of the heart. How do we expect youth to become full human beings, when we exaggerate the mind and denigrate the feelings?

   Economically, we are plagued by what economists are calling 'bubbles', another term for illusions, but in fact they only mimic the larger bubble we've created and are living in, soaped and inflated by fear. The pabulum we're fed are all illusions from Hollywood and Madison Avenue, and bubbles from Wall Street, all pretending to be what they're not, all motivated by raking in vast sums of money. "In such times", wrote Einstein, "one realizes to what a sad species of animal one belongs to."

  What is to be done? Do we fight the fires of fear with more fear? Or do we douse them with the living waters of love and compassion?

   What the world needs now is a 'spirited revolution'. The word 'spiritual' has a passive connotation inappropriate for this day and age, which calls for action and not passivity. 'Spirited' leaves all passivity out, and bypasses the gross religiosity that today pretends to be spirituality.

   We need to realize that most fears are illusions, things that never happen. We need to see that a society based upon fear is founded upon illusion, and that this is the world we are bestowing upon our kids and grandkids, unless we do something about it. We need to acknowledge how our society today is woefully deficient in both love and compassion, far more than the societies of our ancestors, or even of our grandparents.

   What accounts for this? What did they have that we don't have today? What was in them that we have since lost? We admit today that consumerism and gross materialism are leading the world to ruin. What's the alternative?

    The alternative is seeing the world as our ancestors did, as originating from a common Source, a Transcendent Being to whom we are all responsible. The alternative is to see ourselves as children of the same Creator, each one an essential part of a greater Whole. We can't fully grasp this with our minds, but we can with our hearts.

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Charles Rayner Kelly is a retired educator, a philospher and a novelist. Among his works are LITTLE POOR MAN: The Story of St. Francis of Assisi, KEEPER OF THE SACRED PIPE, FLIGHT OF THE GODDESS, and BLACK ROBE.
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