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Friday, 31 July 2009

Love & Fear

A story is told of a man who meets a sage on a hillside overlooking a town. Below them, the man sees a dark figure approaching the gates of the town, and the sage says, "That is Plague. He is going to carry off twenty people."
Some time later, the man hears a report that over five hundred people have died so he returns to the sage and says,
"Five hundred people died yet you said Plague would only kill twenty."
"He did," replied the sage. "Fear killed the rest."

Fear is surely one of the most malignant emotions. Tyrants rule by fear, and governments control by creating fear and promising to protect the people from whatever threat they themselves have created. Wars are caused and promoted through fear, and it is through fear that genocides and other such atrocities are allowed to happen. It is fear that leads to vicious competition between people; and fear that leads people to denigrate others. Many fears are concealed beneath masks of self-righteousness: "I fear that if I listen to you, my own faith will be shaken - therefore your religion is to be condemned" or, "I fear that if I accept how you live, my own certainties will not be so secure - therefore I condemn you lifestyle."

The opposite of fear is love. "Perfect love casteth out fear..." Fearless people do not interfere in the lives of others because there is no perceived threat from others. Fearless people have no need to condemn, to make wrong or to attack. Therefore it stands to reason that any system which condemns individuals or groups; any faith which proclaims itself to be the only faith; any individual who feels a need to criticise others (and I am not speaking of cases where it is necessary to stand up for freedom or to protect the vulnerable) is acting out of fear. Fear can only be disarmed by trust and love.

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