Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fear, Hate, and Politics

I love to read – especially very well written novels. I love Barbara Kingsolver, John Lescroart, John LeCarre, PD James, Jonathan Kellerman, I have “found” a new writer from Norway. His name is Jo Nesbo and he writes mysteries, generally set in Oslo. His protagonist is a detective named Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-Ley). The stories are complicated, involved, very human, and superbly crafted. Many times in these messages I have quoted excerpts from some of these authors. Today is the no exception.
In the first Harry Hole novel, entitled “The Bat,” there is the following exchange between Harry and a recent love interest named Birgitta. The couple is in Sydney, Australia:
They walked on. Harry glanced up and down the street. They were almost the only mixed-sex couple in Oxford Street. Birgitta held his hand.
“’You should see the gay pride parade during Mardi Gras,’ Birgitta said. ‘It goes down Oxford Street here. Last year they said over half a million people came from all over Australia to watch and take part. It was crazy.’
“Gay street. Lesbian street. It was only now that he noticed the clothes exhibited in the shop windows. Latex. Leather. Tight tops and tiny silk panties. Zips and rivets. Exclusive, though stylish, not the sweaty, vulgar stuff that permeated the strip clubs in King’s Cross.
“There was a gay man who lived nearby when I was growing up,’ Harry recounted. ‘He must have been forty or so, lived alone, and everyone in the neighborhood knew he was gay. In the winter we threw snowballs at him, shouted ‘buttf***er’ then all ran like mad, convinced he would give us one up the backside if he caught us. But he never came after us, just pulled his hat further down over his ears and walked home. One day, suddenly, he moved. He never did anything to me, and I’ve always wondered why I hated him so much.’
“’People are afraid of what they don’t understand. And hate what they’re afraid of.’” [Jo Nesbo, The Bat, Vintage Books, 2013, p. 116]
Such a simple statement that explains so much of what is happening here in America as well as around the world. ’People are afraid of what they don’t understand. And hate what they’re afraid of.’ I might add, as well, people have become afraid of trying to comprehend what they don’t understand. Because of their fear they simply hunker down to relish their constant belief that they’re right – and you’re wrong.
What is sickening to me, however, is how populations (including ours) are being played – by whomever – by having our fears and subsequent hates stoked and nourished. Apparently, this approach to mass persuasion is very common and, thus, must be very effective. Beyond our own politics, we just have to look at how Israel needs to demonize Palestinians, Iranians, and Syrians. Or how Palestinians need to demonize Israel and its closest ally the USA. Or how Muslims need to demonize the western ‘civilized’ nations in order to galvanize their sectarian constituencies.
Fear can be addictive. Back in the 1990s I remember a popular bumper sticker: “If you’re not afraid and scared, you’re not paying attention.” I’m reminded, as well, by the lyrics to a song in the musical South Pacific: “You have to be taught to hate….”
Although both political parties use fear, the Republicans are the absolute masters of it. Democrats may imply that to vote Republican will be a vote to go back to the 1950s. Republicans, on the other hand, will tell you directly that to vote Democratic will bring an end to the world, minorities will overrun us, God will turn His back on us, and Muslims will eat our children alive while gays and lesbians cheer. They believe that to win an election they must scare their constituencies to death and demonize their opponents as being evil, un-American, unpatriotic, and unchristian.
It’s a shame that we apparently fall for that and reward that approach with election victories.
ACIM teaches me that all my thoughts can be distilled to being either of Fear or Love. No exceptions! It also proclaims that Fear is the opposite of Love. I must always steel myself to pause and think about where my fears are coming from. When I do this, I inevitably understand that my fear is always coming only from between my ears. I can learn to control that with the help of the Holy Spirit. All I have to do is earnestly ask for His help in seeing another way to look at situations or people.
That’s hard for me at times because I love hating haters. God smiles and shakes His head – I’m still a work in progress.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#5 Oct 2015
Copyright 2015

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