Fear is everywhere. Stoked by sensationalist media and greedy politicians, it is pervasive at schools, work and even in places of worship. Armed security guards and electronic scanning devices stand at too many doorways. Fear keeps showing up. The universal message of all the major religions and traditions tell us to “Be Not Afraid” as we struggle to overcome and transcend this new reality. Perhaps the only way to do so is by turning at this critical crossroad toward the spiritual path of love and acceptance.
“We can escape fear’s paralysis and enter a state of grace where encounters with otherness will not threaten us but will enrich our work and our lives.” ~ Parker Palmer
I recently wrote about the manifestation of fear as we reeled in grief from the killing of 49 people, and devastation of their families and communities in mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques. Fear ignites the anger and hatred which causes such horrific violence. Of course we witness this fear every day in smaller increments. It is found in anguished faces of victims, hardened eyes of gang members and calls for retaliatory vengeance from our leaders. Love is absent. And without love there is little hope. My belief is that we cannot begin to cast out fear and understand love until we accept, include, and embrace those who are different from ‘us’. We cannot love God until we love our neighbors.
Our fears are not our identity. They do not have to be the emotional director of how we react and respond to each other. We can choose to reject fear and to choose love instead. In times when fear floods in or darkens our self-narrative, it feels like there is little to do but fight or run away. But the wisdom of Pope John XXIII stands in opposition to this primal instinct. He told us to ‘consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams’. For when we find the strength to choose love we will find a new freedom and a new happiness which embolden our hopes and dreams. We will have lost the need to defend our fragile egos and discovered our true selves.
Three Ways to Choose Love Over Fear
Conscious Living Coach, Lindsay Robin Christianson writes about the good basic tools to be used when choosing to love in the face of fear. Her contribution will help in dealing with fear in everyday life.