In my last post, I attributed many of the problems we’re currently facing in America to fear:
I used to think that racism, disdain for the “other,” and disregard for each other’s lives were causes of the type of societal turmoil we’re currently seeing in America. Recently, though, I’ve realized that those things are effects, not causes. They are the effects of fear. It is the fear of those who are different, a paranoia caused by unknown races, faces, cultures, and lifestyles, that is leading to the words and actions that threaten to tear us apart.
Instead of fearing those who are different from us, I suggested we embrace the very things that make us different:
These problems will only be solved when we, a wonderfully diverse and beautifully complicated people, learn to not fear others, but instead, to find the good and the great in those who are not like us.
So if what we need is less fear, the question becomes, “How do we fear less?” Well, there is no shortcut. Several religions and philosophies wisely teach that love pushes aside all forms of fear. Love is the only thing that allows us to embrace, rather than be afraid of, our differences. Racism, fear of the “other,” and acceptance of violence are effects of a lack of love. Simply put, to get rid of fear, we need to love each other.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the type of love we feel when we see that very special someone, the one who brings knots to our stomach and dizziness to our head. No, that’s an easy kind of love. The kind of love that allows us to hold in high regard those we don’t know and aren’t familiar with is a tough kind of love, one that takes a whole lot of effort.
This love takes forcing ourselves to realize, and then focus on, the fact that beneath that skin, behind that veil, and beyond that wall is a valuable human being, one who deserves as much love and respect as we want for ourselves and our loved ones.
Again, seeing as we are taught from a young age to fear those who are different from us, thinking this way, and then acting on it, will not be easy. But it must be done if we are to become peacemakers and champions of what is just, kind, and right.
John Lennon was by no means a saint, but he should be credited with offering an extremely simple – if not easy – solution to the difficult problems we now face as Americans. In his 1973 hit song “Mind Games,” Lennon summed up what it takes to defeat the fear that currently divides us and threatens to eventually tear us apart:
Love is the answer.