Humans are wired for survival; we act out of fear in the face of danger. However, “Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out” (Karl Augustus Menninger), just because “Ignorance is the parent of fear,” (Herman Melville).
While fear is a normal attitude facing a real danger, “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears” (Rudyard Kipling fear). “Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death” (James F. Byrnes).
At the start of a new year, educating out of our life any deceiving fear, should be the way to pave a peaceful time and a clever way of living with others, for “Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom” (Bertrand Russell).
Moreover, fear has "being fanned as a political strategy," says Jim Wallis in an article. "Political leaders are weaponizing fear to maintain power, turn people against each other, inspire discrimination, and even incite violence." This fear can be pervasive in some communities, such as in some parts of the United States where, "Parents of children of color are afraid every time their children leave the house," and many in the Latin community "live in fear each day that ICE will tear their families apart."
For all the human kind, climate change is nowadays an existential threat and with it, the wildfires in California and in the Amazonian and Congolese Forests create specific fears. "Another issue - Wallis says -, is the way our media consumption has primed us to live in the spirit of fear and, in some ways, almost seek it out."
We all feel the upheaval caused by terrorism, inner-city violence, racial strife, and the plight of millions of refugees. What happened in London, what is going on in Chile and Venezuela, and in some other places, the poverty spreading even through the richest countries tell us that much insecurity is entering hearts and minds. Politicians can ride any fear and, therefore living "in the spirit of fear, can dehumanize us, make it easier for us to dehumanize others, and lead to hate and violence."
Wallis notices that responding to the "global political strategy to make people afraid of those who are different than them" is "a spiritual battle. We all have a lot of work to do to take the beams from our own eyes and make sure that we are not operating in the spirit of fear, or behaving in ways that make us more susceptible to it."
"What does it take to confront and overcome such omnipresent and often justifiable fears?" asks Wallis. While there may be many things that concern us, even about which we are fearful, let not fear extinguish in us hope. For those who believe, "Jesus says over and over again, Be not afraid." Quoting Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control." Fear can create a "spiritual amnesia" which lets us "forget who God is and forget God’s promise to always be with us," Wallis says and he is going on, "It’s allowing that fear to give us spiritual amnesia, and allowing ourselves to forget that God is always here for us, that does that."
However, for anyone hope is an essential component of life. “Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity” (Vaclav Havel). “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but do not ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own” (Michelle Obama).