Obstacle to Progress: FEAR

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Fear is what is wrong with America.  We are all scared of everyone else.  We see it in the stereotypes that smack us in the face every day.  We lock our doors, buy security systems, guard dogs, guns.   We clutch our purses or fell our back pocket when we are around people who frighten us.  We preach hate towards and dehumanize people who we fear.  Why are we so afraid of our neighbor?

People say fear is a motivator, something that moves us forward.  When was the last time that fear moved you to help someone, or help yourself?  Fear actually might be the reason you didn’t go to the homeless shelter to volunteer.  When was the last time positive progress occurred because of fear?  If anything, fear of change is the most prominent fear people possess.

Fear didn’t land the Mars rover Curiosity on Mars.  Fear didn’t motivate Dr. Martin Luther King junior and fellow civil rights advocates to fight for equal rights.  Fear was not the fuel that pushed Gandhi to free a nation.  Hope and courage are what makes progress happen.

Fear leads to hatred and dehumanization.  Fear has led to war, genocide, shooting sprees, and imprisonment.  The worst tragedies in human history are the result of fear.

It is time we as a human race change.  We need to end this fear mongering, this us vs. them mentality.  Charlie Chaplin says it best in perhaps the best 4 minutes of film.  In his final speech he says, “We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.  The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

We need to come together, as Chaplin says, as a united people.  My catholic school teachings taught me one important thing.  As we were reviewing the gifts of the holy spirit we stopped at the one that says “Fear of the Lord”.  At the time I thought nothing of the wording.  My teacher however taught me something that day.  He told all of us to change that one, to “respect of the Lord”.  This change of one word goes a long way I believe.  Respect of people, ideas, customs, faith, clothes, language, skin color, hair, abilities. This is how we come together, as the people.

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