Fear is a great motivator. It motivates because it pushes us to take care of number 1 at all costs. Now from an evolutionary perspective there is a place for fear -- but from the perspective of faith there isn't.
With elections just days away in which there possibly be important national and international consequences, the politics of fear are in full swing. Fear is used to either motivate one to vote for/against a candidate or simply not vote. If both candidates are a threat to our lives, perhaps it's better to stay home. Now, on Monday I'll post a piece on the importance of voting, but that's for a different day. Then there is the hysteria out there concerning Ebola. Ebola is certainly a threat in West Africa, but it isn't a threat here in the States. This business about quarantines is all politics and not science, which is why I throw my support behind nurse Kaci Hickox. I think in the end she will be vindicated by the facts, and the officialdom who wish to keep her under house arrest will be humiliated. We have much bigger threats at hand from the flu to gun violence. But then again this is the fear issue of the moment. Besides, if we allow fear to govern our response to ebola, we will likely exacerbate the problem and deter willing volunteers to go to Africa to deal with the things at the source.
Franklin Roosevelt famously declared that "there is nothing to fear but fear itself." The author of 1 John declared: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love"
As I was thinking about the call to fear that is loud and strong out there -- largely for political gain, but also religious gain, I came across this quote from Richard Rohr, which I think puts things in perspective.
You do not transform people by threatening them with hellfire, because then the whole thing is grounded in fear and not love, and heaven is not fear. Remember, how you get there determines where you finally arrive. You cannot prepare for love by practicing fear. Means determines the end: Fear creates hell; love creates heaven. No one will be in heaven who does not want to be there. No one will be in hell who does not want to be there.[Rohr, Richard (2010-12-30). Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality,(p. 174). St. Anthony Messenger Press. Kindle Edition.]
Fear gets peoples' attention, but it doesn't transform. Fear creates hell, which we either choose to inhabit or not. When confronted with messages of fear, no matter where they come from, we have a choice -- will we walk in the fear or will we walk in love. Yes, there is need for wisdom and discernment. Not every door is a door to be entered. But wisdom is not the same as fear. So, as for me -- I think I will choose love over fear. In this, there is transformation and the opportunity for true community.