So, I was having a conversation with a friend about how much I wanted to join a hiking group, but was feeling apprehensive about meeting new people. I love to hike, but I think it’s too dangerous to do alone, yet, as an introvert, I really have a difficult time meeting new people. My friend told me she related to my dilemma. She said she really wants to travel, but she’s deathly afraid to fly in an airplane. Another friend, who has been a stay at home mom for 2 years, divulged that she really wanted to go back to work, but the fear of interviewing for potential jobs and being rejected had been stopping her from even trying. This conversation made me wonder where these irrational fears come from? What’s stopping us from pursuing these life-rewarding experiences? Have you ever felt this way? Maybe it’s fear of starting a new business, fear of being in a committed relationship, the fear of competing in a sport you enjoy. Whatever, the fear may be, it’s holding us back from experiencing our truest best selves. Why haven’t we put our trust in God, who wants us to experience what it means to be our best-selves? After all, he’s the one who bestowed our gifts and talents. Of course, he wants us to use these talents to uplift ourselves and others. God gave us fear, to protect us from danger, not to inhibit our freedom. How did we get such fearful spirits?
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV
After thinking about this question, I realized that fear is all around us daily. Our lives are permeated with it. It’s in what we hear and see every day. That’s because, today, fear is pushed as propaganda. It’s used so much and is so widely spread, that often we can’t tell the difference between fear and freedom. Let’s look at some ways that fear, rather than freedom is pushed on us daily:
- The Media: In 1915, The Birth of a Nation was released. The entire aim of the movie was to portray black males as rapists who prey on young white women; ignorant barbarians; animalistic; not to be trusted with responsibility. It confirmed the story that most whites wanted to believe at the time; that blacks would remain lower-class sub-citizens. This movie really set the stage for how black men are still viewed today, as criminals. Which we now see play out every night on the evening news.
When Richard Nixon was president he started “the war on drugs campaign,” he created a systematic plan to get black men off the streets and into jail cells. He incited the fear into the hearts of Americans with the notion that crime and drugs were out of control, and that black men were the cause. It was later discovered that none of this was true. But it didn’t stop the media from reporting biased journalism. Fast forward to today, and it’s become almost legal for white men, especially police officers to kill black men and women on site without justification. The fact that black men have been villainized in the public eye, seen as something to fear, somehow justifies these heinous acts by police officers. They have done so well at keeping the lie alive, that now, even black people fear other black people. While others have decided to conform to the racial stereotypes, rather than fight against them.
I very rarely watch the news but when I do, I only see crimes committed by black people. Very few stories of white crimes ever hit the news. It’s not because they don’t happen, they just choose not to show us those stories. It’s like how white America now view Muslims as terrorists, when most terrorists’ acts are committed by white men. And how Donald Trump created a platform based on building a wall to keep out Mexicans, who he claims are thieves and rapists. Where is the proof to back up the claims that any of these people are more prone to commit crimes than our white counterparts? We’re asking for proof, not “alternative facts.” Now we have entire races of human beings being racially discriminated against because of fear that has been systematically imbued in us. But here’s the agenda, unlike the early 1900’s, they no longer need men of color as field hands, they make much more money from them being incarcerated, the slavery of the 21st century.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
- The Politicians: Election season in the USA has now become a time of lying and fear mongering, with political ads being negative at best. Instead of voting for the best candidate, we’ve been reduced to voting for the lesser of two evils. The main goal of a political ad is no longer to show what the candidate can do for the country, but instead shows voters what will happen if you don’t vote for a candidate. The first time we saw fear mongering in a political ad was in 1964 during the election of Lyndon Johnson. The ad depicted a small child nicknamed “Daisy” out in a field, picking flowers, right before a bomb hit and killed her. The message was clear, vote for me or the country will be destroyed by war. Johnson won the election that year and these types of ads continued throughout the years.
Pat Buchanan put out an add during his 2000 election, that incited fear of immigrants taking over the country. In it, a man is choking and tries to call 911, but is prompted to choose a language. Several different languages are named, except English. The point of the commercial was that immigrants would eventually outnumber American-born citizens, and English would cease being the predominate language.
Here’s the 1988 campaign that George Bush Sr. advertised while running against Michael Dukakis. This ad’s main purpose was to scare voters into believing that criminals would roam free under the leadership of Dukakis.
When we fall prey to this type of commercialism, we lose our true freedom of choice, and instead base our decisions on information that has been fed to us by untrustworthy politicians. When you think about it, it makes sense to place all your trust in God, and Him alone. When taxes increase and financial supplements are subjected to budget cuts; when the poor gets poorer and the rich get richer, what’s left for you to believe in? Do you still look toward your presidential candidate now that you see the truth?
“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” Proverbs 29:25 NLT
- The Corporations: There is no love in corporate America, except the love of money. And that’s really the only thing that matters in the corporate world. They lie to consumers to sell their products. They hire other people to lie to consumers to sell their products. They even pay politicians to lie to us to sell their products. The food industry tells us if we don’t eat dairy we’ll develop a calcium deficiency, if we don’t eat meat, we’ll develop a protein deficiency. All of which has been proven to be false. Ads for insurance companies, scare you into believing that if you don’t have insurance, then you’re at risk. The very business of insurance is based on the fear of something bad happening. Commercials for products ranging from body spray to automobiles attempt to convince you that without their product, you will be less desirable, less happy, less important. Even commercials for children’s ads depict kids sitting at home bored, until suddenly, this amazing talking teddy bear instantly appears bringing joy back into their dreary little lives. This type of advertising sends a clear message to our children, that without “things” we will be unhappy. We don’t outgrow these beliefs as we get older, which is why we live in such a materialistic society. Always searching for the next new car, big house, nice outfit to make us happy. We end up with a house full of crap we don’t need, and still wanting more. The fear of not having these things drives us. We end up chasing happiness by chasing money to buy things that will make us happy. It’s a never-ending cycle. But in the end, the only real winners are the corporations who will use your money to make more money for themselves, while you get deeper and deeper into debt. But we’ll save that for another blog. We live in a capitalistic society, but at what point did these ads go from branding to brainwashing.
“The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalms 118:6 NIV
- Society: Sometimes, the company we keep can also keep us in a state of fear. Have you ever shared your hopes and dreams with someone, only to have them give you a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t follow your heart? There are some people who feel so stuck in life, that they project their fears and insecurities on to you. They tell you that your dreams are unrealistic, that you’re too old to start a new career, that you’re not smart enough or special enough to make big things happen. People with slave-like mentalities will keep you in bondage with them, until you make the choice to chase freedom, and place your life in God’s hands.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:16 NIV
Fear can be natural state that protects us from danger, in this regard fear is good. But when we allow fear to paralyze our actions and affect our decisions so much that we cease to live the life God has for us, then we are no longer living. Fear has been ingrained in us, that’s why we buy insurance, it’s why we clutch our pearls when we see “suspicious characters”, it’s what racists are made of, it’s why people voted for Trump, and why others didn’t vote for Trump. It’s why mothers hold their children’s hands as they cross the street, why some people will never leave their hometown to see the world, never write that book, never tell their story, and never quit their 9 to 5. But God empowers his believers to be as “bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1 NIV). God did not make us to be fearful timid creatures. He made us to soar like eagles, to be as mighty as the oceans, and as lovely as earth untouched by man. How can we make him proud if we choose fear over freedom? Turn the TV off, ignore the propaganda, live your best life. God has already instilled this inside you. Make decisions based on your conversations with God. Who else can give you a better outcome than The Alpha and The Omega?
Until next time, stay prayed up!