Tom Petty is sometimes a wordsmith, sometimes just darned repetitive. “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.” Sounds fearlessly bold.
Most of us, however, are more easily swayed. Sometimes it takes little more than some rhetoric about a 55-foot wall (or is it 30-foot or 40-foot?) or a vague promise of keeping out immigrants.
The “Vote Leave” campaign, winners of the BREXIT mess in Great Britain, have provided us with a good litmus test for what the results of fear-mongering can bring. So far it’s brought a whole bunch of racism, and a lot of “I didn’t say that."
In general, fear begets more fear:
- A mom worrying for her late teenager stays up and watches the news or checks cnn.com. This fear-based distraction effort response surfaces even greater worry.
- A husband, insecure about his wife’s business trip, texts her to assure himself of her safety and fidelity. When the immediate response isn’t returned, the fears kick into overdrive, and he begins searching Facebook or other records for signs of betrayal.
- A middle-class homeowner, whose normally safe town experiences a rash of robberies or an incidence of gun violence, begins to profile seedy individuals in the neighborhood.
This is how the devil works, and it’s also how the political machine works. The solution is to be aware of the sources of fear in our lives (fear of losing security, fear of losing power, fear of losing control, fear of losing comfort, fear of losing love, and others), and to strive to see how ulterior forces act in purposeful ways to get us to succumb to fear and do their bidding.
The answer? Easy to say, a little harder to do: Surrender the fear patiently, and trust a Greater Plan is afoot. Believe that your feelings of discomfort are a Divine way of showing you something, or growing you somehow. And remembering that in some mystic way, "perfect love casts out fear." Compassion trumps suspicion. Every time.
Swallowing the bait of propagandist rhetoric, or running to surface distractions — those are both the easy way out. But “hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out."