Fear is natural, instinctual. It “is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.”
I notice the Capital District Transportation Authority’s rotating messages on the buses. They often tout the energy efficiency of public transportation, or occasionally root for local college teams in the NCAA tournament, or wish us happy holidays. Right after the massacre in San Bernardino, CA, in which 14 people were killed, the buses read, “If you see something, say something.” Sad, but understandable, I suppose.
Less comprehensible was the call from one of the Presidential candidates to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Not only was it abhorrent, and of dubious Constitutional standing, it played right into the hands of DAESH. As Ted Koppel, former anchor of the ABC News program Nightline, noted: The “tough talk” made Donald Trump “in effect the recruiter in chief” for the terrorist organization.
In the introduction of the anthem We Shall Overcome, on the seminal 1963 album Live at Carnegie Hall, Pete Seeger says, “The next verse is ‘We are not afraid’… Like every human being in the world, We HAVE been afraid. But we still sing it. ‘We are not afraid.'”
One of my pastors explained Seeger’s exhortation in terms usually associated with scripture. It is the “prophetic present tense,” a future hope stated as if it has already come to pass. Think the Pledge of Allegiance’s “with liberty and justice for all,” more goal than achievement.
The Transitional Presbyter for Albany Presbytery, Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo wrote: “Our fears are the things that hold us back.” There may be fearless people out there, I suppose. But most of us have fear, afraid to do certain things; optimally, we find a way to do it, fear notwithstanding.