A lot has happened in the past two weeks that I took off from writing. Philando Castile was shot, his girlfriend immediately pulls out her phone and takes a graphic video of him dying in the driver’s seat; the week before him Alton Sterling was shot and killed. Though I had no emotion in reading the news those days, what grabbed my attention and hurdled my emotions into deep empathy was watching Alton’s son start to sob uncontrollably as he tried to be strong standing next to his mother at a press conference. This followed by the horror of a sniper targeting police in Dallas and killing 5 officers and wounding 11 other people. This is just in the U.S. alone.
Just a few days ago, a man drives a refrigerated delivery truck into a crowd out to celebrate a national holiday in France, and kills 84, 11 of which were children. The Turkish army attempts a coup against a self creating dictator but fails, and over 300 have been killed in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. Colombia opened its border to Venezuelans, the first time in over a year, so that they may cross to purchase the basic of food stuffs as the crisis in their own country has left many wondering where their next meal will come from. There is ongoing fighting in Rio ahead of the Olympic games and Russia has laid down a law so harsh, you cannot even speak to your children about Jesus without first registering with the government.
And that has been the last two weeks.
The U.S. political race is trying to capitalize on these atrocities for their own gain in their career, giving little concern to the actual people who are caught up in the pain and collateral damage. And honestly, in my opinion, these politicians are no better than the terrorists who are claiming responsibility or the media trying to sway the public in one direction or the other. Why? Because they are all using a currency that is more powerful than the United States Dollar or the Euro or gold or diamonds. They are dealing in something much more valuable that can control and motivate people to do unimaginable things. What is this incredibly valuable commodity? Fear-it’s the most heavily traded commodity in the world today.
As I’ve written about before, fear is a powerful motivator. Though it can paralyze people to inaction, more often than not, it causes people to do whatever they can to escape it. To become safe. The craziness that has gone on in the past few weeks (or the past decade) seems to be increasing. It’s always been there, but it seems to be more on the incline in the Western world. But what do I mean by “traded commodity?”
Let’s look at the back and forth, raising the stakes game that seems to have occurred, especially as of late. Regardless of who was the first to pull the trigger, there has been a constant trading of fear the past several years. The 1% of the world (and if you’re reading this, you’re white and live in the West, you are almost without a doubt, in that 1%), has oppressed the other 99% in the world. Intentional, not intentional, having full knowledge or ignorantly, it has happened. ISIS and other extremists are afraid of the West constantly bringing it’s “liberal” ideas and oppressing them with their wealth. That fear is traded with us being afraid of the extremist and the terrorist acts towards innocent people. Cops have a rough job and are afraid of losing their lives when so many officers have been killed in the line of duty from people of all ethnicities.
This is traded with the fear Blacks have towards cops because so many have died from innocent shootings. This plays out in politics as politicians either saying “we’ll protect you” or “we’ll get them back.” This plays out in how we view neighbors, no matter the color of their skin or social class. It plays out when driving through the wrong side of town, people telling us that we need to lock our car doors. And it plays out in the advertisements from gun shop owners or gun manufacturers telling us we need to build up our own personal arsenals to protect ourselves or protect what we have. All of this back and forth, constant trading of this commodity called fear. And that fear drives us to spend more money and vote to do things we never thought we would. Why? Because this commodity is valuable, it gives power and it lords over us. It brings oppression.
And, in the looking at the world from the perspective of someone who has no other hope, this makes sense. But the thought, the constant that has been running through my mind as of late is “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1. This just “happened” to be the main verse that I hit upon everyday last week using a book for daily reflection. If what David writes is actually true, and we really believe it, then fear no longer becomes our motivator…God does. God’s love does. This changes our perspective on how we view other religions (even if their goal is a holy war and they are dead set on ridding the world of all other religions). God’s ultimate power becomes who/what we trust in and not on our bank account, arsenal, government or anything else that is substandard. Yes, if God is the standard, everything else is sub par. So why do we give fear so much control? Because we are human.
Can we be afraid, yes. But do we have to be? No. Is it wise to be wise? Yes, but can we foresee everything in the future like a refrigerated truck barrelling down the road intentionally trying to hurt people? No. So we can either lock ourselves in our fortified homes forever, or we can live. We live our lives, lives of freedom no mater what happens, knowing and trusting that God is in control…even if that means we lose our lives, we still have gained something greater-Christ. It is counter intuitive for us to to release control to anyone, let alone God. But that’s what God invites us to do. He invites us to live in freedom, a lighter yoke, a lighter burden, a thriving life in Him. My prayer and hope is that as we head into tomorrow, the day after, next month, that we live lives that are more trusting in Him and less fearful. That our lives are lived out of a love that compels us from deep within, a God placed love, that no fear can ever overcome. In that they will know we are different. In that they will know Who is Lord of all. Blessings.