Should We Be Afraid?

 

This week I boosted an ad on Facebook for my book. In the past I sent it out to the 25-45 age group. This time, I thought , “I’ll send it out to my age peers, 45-65.”  That choice unleashed a fury of responses that took my breath away. I was called names, quoted scriptures at, and somehow invited a level of hate that astonished me. It scared me. I have been aware of the growing anger and hatred in public discourse. I’ve experienced it as a woman. But I’ve never experienced a virtual mob of verbal pitchforks and torches.

Are some of them bots? Most of them? Are there really people out there who feel entitled and justified in threatening people who believe or live differently? It’s scary folks, made more real by nearly daily mass killings. The relatively small way I experienced the vitriol of the religious right shook me. I started worrying about public appearances – readings, speaking engagements, things I would naturally post to facebook and invite my friends to join me. So far I haven’t shared ‘upcoming events’. I am allowing my fear to silence me.

Women,  African-Americans, people of color, queer folk of every sort, know what it’s like to be afraid. To cower behind silence. It is how the oppressed are controlled.

Howard Thurman who, in Jesus and the Disinherited, taught  how fear silences and disenfranchises the oppressed:

“A man’s conviction that he is God’s child automatically tends to shift the basis of  his  relationship with all his fellows. He recognizes at once that to fear a man, whatever may be that man’s power over him, is a basic denial of the integrity of his very life.”  Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, pg 51

There are hundreds of times that scripture urges us to “be not afraid”. Most likely for the same reason. Here’s my point: in this time when domestic terrorists are empowered by the current president, we must choose not to be afraid. We cannot allow fear to strip us of our basic identity  as children of Godde.  We must choose to live as if we are free, as if our lives matter, We must not allow fear to silence us. Otherwise we are enslaved by hate and lies.

Look, I’m still afraid. But I don’t want let  fear control me. Are there very real things going on in our world today of which to be afraid? Absolutely. But I want to be brave enough to not let fear control me.  If the best I can do is to choose to act like I’m  not afraid then I want to make that choice.

We do not live in comfortable times. The danger of the hate  unleashed by current leadership is real. It’s reasonable to be afraid. But hate wins when we allow it to silence us.  Maybe the question isn’t, “Should we be afraid” but “Can we have the courage to live our truth out loud?”

I’m trying. I hope you will join me.

 

7 thoughts on “Should We Be Afraid?

  1. “If Godde be for me, who can be against me?” I think of this statement more accurately as, “If I be for Godde, what does it matter who is against me?” Those who live their lives as if “Godde Matters” will continue, whether others attempt to silence or even destroy them.

    Live to gain your life, and you will surely lose it. Lose your life for the sake of good and Godde, and your life is surely found.

    I keep thinking of the Hollywood-ized image of the flag-bearer in a battle (a role I wish did not occur in real-life). When the “enemy” shoots the flag-bearer, another soldier picks up the flag and carries it forward.

    While I prefer not to think of us as being in a battle, but rather in a spiritual evolution, I think of leaders like Rev Connie Tuttle as “flag-bearers.” Those who are fearful of, threatened by, and thus oppose “radical thought” are going to aim at her, try to silence her, try to take her down.

    But she marches on – carrying the flag high so that we might see our way forward. If she goes down, we must carry her to safety, and be committed to pick up the flag and carry it for ourselves and others. We, those of us who support and encourage her work, must have her back. How we actualize this theorized simile might be different for each one of us, but I hope those who follow and labor alongside Connie will let her know, in the least, we hear her, and we are here for her.

  2. Connie, tell me, what do you need? How can I help? Is there a document somewhere that says, “I stand with Connie?” I’ll sign it. Do you want me to actually stand beside you at your next talk? I have something Saturday morning I can’t miss, but after that, you just let me know and I’ll hop a plane, honey. Do you need money? Tell me how I can help.

  3. The first thing that comes to mind is that so many point back to Obama and relate that he made things change too much too fast. Anything not white, straight, or deemed “unpatriotic”, was still unacceptable in the “mainstream”.
    That “mainstream” is all about the less-than-fifty percent of voters who supported our divinely selected buffoon in the Oval Office.
    Unless the nation trends back to civility, we should all be afraid of our time on this earth.

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