This video has made the rounds on several sites I have encountered, most recently at internetmonk's. His post covered it pretty well.
During the past week, I have been struck by how frequently fear has undergirded some of the conversations and opinions I have come across. Whether it's the swine flu, questions about torture, or the economy, I think it's safe to say that the general atmosphere is a fearful one.
We become used to fear in our daily lives. The news relies on it almost exclusively to draw in viewers. If there isn't something spectacularly frightening happening, then they'll do a story on freak accidents, or one-in-a-million syndromes that you...yes, you...could be suffering from.
A little bit of fear can be a good thing. It keeps us from taking dangerous risks. It makes us think twice about our actions and the likely consequences. It reminds us to wear our seat belts and put smoke detectors in our house.
In one sense, a smidgen of fear is our friend.
Yet, have we moved past a smidgen? Are we swimming in a cultural ocean of fear?
From my perspective, it appears as if we are.
In some circles, the fear is palpable. Between Obama being elected, causing some conservatives to quake with fear, the threat of terrorism, and the general uncertainty of the very near future, people are worried. The video at the top of the post is a good example of the doomsday-ish feeling which can so easily seep in.
Even I had to mentally fight against the fear after watching it. Do I want my children to grow up in a radical, Muslim-populated future? No! I need to start popping out more children and making sure everyone else does too!
If we stop and take a breath for a minute and try to logically assess what the video communicates, we can start to pull out a few threads and see the argument begin to fray.
It is likely that growing Muslim populations in Western countries will begin to have lower fertility rates as they assimilate into their respective cultures. It is just as likely that Western Muslims will not be willing to relinquish the freedoms they have. People who become used to having human and legal rights are not usually prone to surrendering them.
That doesn't mean that some of the bad things we fear won't transpire.
Has bravery lost its place of honor among us?
There are all kinds of bravery. Heading into combat, knowing that you might not make it out is brave, and we respect those who do so...as we should. It's the definition which springs to mind when words like bravery and courage are mentioned.
Though we respect the virtues of courage and bravery in our soldiers, we seldom practice it in our individual lives or in our communities.
Instead, we frequently make choices as a reaction to fearful events or concepts. Sometimes those choices don't have any negative impact on us. They don't matter one way or another. At other times, it leads us down a path of confining choices and suffocating attitudes. We don't do the things we want to because we're afraid that we'll fail. We don't speak up for ourselves or others because we're afraid of the social implications at school or work.
For those of us who believe in Christ's message, it is to our shame that we let fear make our choices for us. We should feel secure, shouldn't we? Death has no permanent hold on us. God has declared peace with us. Everything else in life should be a cake walk.
However, we don't walk in that knowledge. Churches can unwittingly promote a culture of fear when they continuously hammer messages of the decaying culture of society, or the schemes of the devil in people's lives. After enough of those references, we can lose our sense of peace and begin worrying about all the terrible things waiting to ensnare us.
It's easy to slip into.
When it happens..when we feel the fear closing in around us and making us anxious of the future..we must resist it. We must counteract it. We must make choices fueled by hope and faith.
Someone will say,"You can't just stick your head in the sand! Bad things will happen. Be practical!"
Being practical is not the same as being brave. Practicality can eventually drain the value out of the things we cherish most.
Jesus was not practical. Think of all the people he could have ministered to if he had never faced the cross. It's not practical to be led into your enemy's den and offer yourself up willingly to those who want to kill you. Practicality would have sent him running the other way when he saw Judas approaching.
Yet...in the face of his fears...he made a most impractical, courageous choice.
May we do the same.