Fear gripping a country can be reversed

When a country is crippled by fear and violence, what can we do to help?

Each day in the newspaper we read of political and social upheavals throughout the world. In nation after nation people are demanding economic and political freedom and the rights of self-government and democracy. Confrontations between peoples and their governments may be violent and tragic, as last year's events in Beijing's Tiananmen Square sadly illustrate.

As a black South African, I am very familiar with these aspirations and with political upheaval. My country has seen terrible violence, and like my countrymen, I've felt keenly the tensions and rumors that can sweep a country. Fear, like a bush fire, spreads very fast. It spreads itself by means of the telephone, television, radio, and newspapers, affecting everybody. It can spread itself by word of mouth, especially if the media are gagged or restricted. What can individual citizens do to help bring peace and healing to an inflamed situation?

With moral courage, backed by spiritual understanding, we can do much to reverse the rumors and fears that would set neighbor against neighbor. For a start, we can bring a Christly spirit of hope and peace to our conversations, whether over the telephone or face to face. By refusing to be carriers of unfounded bad news, we help stop the spread of fear and rumors. But we can go even further. With a growing understanding of the allness of God, divine Love, and of the nothingness of anything unlike God, we can handle fear directly by challenging its authorship, authenticity, authority, and authorizer. Does it originate from God? Can we establish the truth about it or its genuineness? Who gives fear power or the right to enforce obedience? Who commissioned or sanctioned it?

January 8, 1990

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