Monday, March 29, 2010

A Nation Afraid

Ray was a wise man.  He used to tell me, "We fear things we don't know.  Think about how you feel when you get into an elevator with one stranger who looks very different.  Or pass a homeless person sleeping on a sidewalk.  Once you get to know a person, you won't feel quite so threatened."

I have just finished a 2008 novel by mystery writer Kathy Reichs.  I didn't get as wrapped into the story as I have in some of her earlier novels, but pg. 302 resonates.  Reichs' heroine says,
     "Americans have become a nation afraid.... A shooter on a rampage in a school cafeteria.  A hijacked plane toppling a high-rise building.  A bomb in a train or rental van.  A postal delivery carrying anthrax.  The power to kill is out there for anyone willing to use it.... We fear terrorists, snipers, hurricanes, epidemics.  And the worst part is we've lost faith in the government's ability to protect us.  We feel powerless and that causes constant anxiety, makes us fear things we don't understand.... [things] exotic, unknown.  We lump and stereotype them and bar the door in trepidation.... People have lost confidence in the system on other grounds....  There's a growing belief that, too often, the guilty go free... [Then someone] stirs the public into a froth and some citizen vigilante appoints himself judge and jury...."

On the way to write this post, I stopped at my brother's blog.  I was surprised to find that today we are on the same page, responding to similar observations by very disparate writers.

If knowledge is power, hold on to your own power by withholding knowledge from others.  Secrecy. Intrigue.  Helplessness. Distrust. Fear.  

Last evening my mother and I watched a new film on TV.  Based on the book, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcends Tragedy, it speaks of the community response to the murder of 5 Amish children in a tiny school in rural Pennsylvania in 2006.  There it is again, the theme of grief, helplessness, fear.  And in this instance, healing.  Healing through forgiveness.  "I cannot hold anger and hatred in my heart," says one character.  "If I do, it will control my life."

I had just listened to one of my favorite podcasts, the BBC Radio Wales program All Things Considered.  Theme for this segment?  "Can the Church Survive?"  Once again, survival seems to hang on reaching out, finding commonalities, building understanding, demonstrating love.

James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy, maintains that there are no coincidences.

There is a message here.  It has to do with communication, understanding, love, empowerment.

It is Holy Week.  Passover begins at sundown tonight.

"Open my ears, Lord, help me to listen ... open my eyes, Lord ... "
Give thanks.  Don't forget to pray.

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