Monday, September 17, 2012


There's no doubt fear is an easy motivator. If we are afraid, it triggers our fight or flight response: we react. Everyone knows this. If people can be made to fear precisely the right thing, the reaction can be predicted.

We see it everywhere. We see it in the political race, "vote for my opponent and the world will crumble around you!" and it reared its ugly head again in a Newsweek article about the need for infrastructure improvements in the US.

That article is probably a better case study than a Presidential campaign - a little less controversial. It was titled, "America's Coming Infrastructure Disaster," and used historical failures of infrastructure to push the point that attention is needed.

It is a classic appeal to fear.

The articles actually does a half decent job of laying out a logical case for needed infrastructure improvements in the US. The lack of security and efficiency in our electrical grid. The postponed maintenance on roads and bridges. Even an economic argument about the impact that the $2 Trillion in needed works would make on the current recession.

Still, the headline, the pictures, and the overarching theme is fear. It's as if the author doesn't think anyone else will take it as seriously as he does.

I wonder if that drive to use fear to motivate others comes from an internal fear in ourselves? Even if a political group is using fear of one thing to get another (scaring people about a foreign invasion to get a candidate more likely to give them tax breaks) it still comes from a position of fear, right? I'm afraid I will be harmed or otherwise disadvantaged with a different outcome.

This sort of fear tactic can lead to outright lies. We tell people whatever will scare them enough to get them to do what we want. At some point a parent through it was ingenious to tell their child a monster lived under the bed to get them to stay in it.

This is another ends vs means issues.

We're so afraid the ends won't come about that we resort of rotten means - we do it out of fear. Those people we attempt to control are only secondary victims. We are the ones in the grip of fear.

As Christians go back and forth over which candidate should be President of the United States, you hear a lot of fear language. "Barack Obama wants our country to fail." "Mitt Romney wants to give everything to the rich and let the poor die." These are statements intended to make you afraid of the future.

If I can say anything to my brothers and sisters - both those who speak about such things and those who listen - it is simply "be not afraid." The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love. Jesus was constantly telling his followers to be not afraid. There is nothing to fear. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear."

If someone is trying to make you afraid, if something has already made you afraid - God is not in that. If the world seems like it would crumble under a certain eventuality - this is a lie in the vein of the serpent in the garden.

I know we can't actually control when our emotions rise up - when we feel terror or fear. It happens. I do believe we can discipline ourselves, that we can change how often or how easily those fears come upon us. The first step is taking rational control of those emotions. Be on the look out for fear tactics. Recognize them and ignore them.

So often our fear is tied to difficulty. I might have to work harder or suffer more if this comes to pass. That is still no reason to fear. Love wins. Death has been defeated.

Let's avoid the pain and the worry and fear this election season. There's plenty of real, actual things to discuss. And the world won't end if ____________ is elected. At the very least, the world ending won't be caused by his election.

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