Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reversing our Spiral of Fear and Destruction

This country is caught up in a downward spiral of fear. Fear of itself, fear of other nations, fear of the unknown, fear of "the other," and increasingly, fear of humanity itself.

The more consumed we are with fear, the more we do to “protect” ourselves. And the more we do to protect ourselves, the more we have to fear.

The most recent, and by no means the only, examples are the NRA and the gun lobby (manufacturers and, curiously, the video game industry). They are feeding fear by causing it. The result is that we are in arms race amongst ourselves. Citizens are buying automatic weapons so that they have fire power equal to that of our own government.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The fearful are afraid they will lose their freedom (their “free state”). Among those threatened freedoms is the right to arm themselves like a Militia. The government, sensing the danger, might rightly better arm itself against insurrection. And so we spiral downward.

Some have even suggested that an armed militia might acquire tactical nuclear weapons. That obviously raises the ante of fear.

Whole swaths of the media feed on fear. Everything from the “if it bleeds it leads” prominence given to crime news to  blood-drenched films and video games.

We live in a culture of fear that is spiraling to its own destruction as more and more frightened citizens, inured to violence, arm themselves, mistakenly assuming that their arms will protect them from real or fabricated dangers.

And the more arms there are, the greater the likelihood they will be used.

America is also feared by others. We spend nearly as much on “defense” as all the other nations of the world. Those truly concerned about balancing our budget need to look no farther than our “defense” spending.

Ironically, many of those arming themselves consider themselves Christians.

It seems obvious to ask whether a belief in the teachings of Jesus might pull us out of our spiral. What if we nurtured the very heart of Jesus’ message? Ask the question “What weapon would Jesus choose?”

The answer is clear: Love.

The problem for the media and much of our economy is that it’s hard to make money from the kind of love Jesus taught. Jesus clearly wasn’t in it for the money. He dwelt among, comforted and preached among the poor. He chastised the rich.

But Love of your neighbor (to say nothing of your enemy) is tough to market and, as they say, "monetize."

Nor are we able to “sell” love of our planet and the environment because manifesting that love would mean radically changing our own lives and values during our own lifetimes. The devastated communities along the New Jersey shore are too busy cleaning up and struggling to “return to normal” to consider addressing global warming, the cause of their demise.

But at some point we will all be affected by the destruction that our way of life (way of death?) is causing.

The spiral upward may only begin once we have hit absolute bottom. And by then, it may be too late.

William Penn said it well to his fellow Quakers 320 years ago. “Let us then try what love will do.”

Today, we have nothing to lose but everything.

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