Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fear is the Mind-Killer

Today, while interfaith talks are growing, people can't even stand the sight of someone being of a different faith. If I feel bad for anyone it's for Muslims and Hindus because some of them literally wear their faith on their sleeve. Christians, at least Protestant Christians, don't have a particular dress that identifies them as Christians. They may wear a crucifix but outside of that there are no external identifiers. But Muslims and Hindus wear traditional religious headgear which, to those that are violently opposed to these groups, are like walking targets.

It is difficult for some religious people on all sides to even sit down and talk to each other let alone become friendly; if anything, one side might try to convert the other. But what is wrong with this picture? Two human beings, brothers, can't even sit down together and talk peacefully. There are HUGE walls of xenophobia that separates the citizens of these United States. We fear those that are unlike us, but why? What is driving this fear? Is it ignorance or something worse?

In the Dune series by Frank Herbert, there is a Litany Against Fear that several characters recite at their most fearful moments.
"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
I have yet to memorize it but it has always stuck with me. I have learned to overcome my fear of strangers and their strange beliefs. I do not consider them strangers but brothers. Even Atheists are my brothers. If we show each other kindness and respect then we can begin to build strong unbreakable bonds. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by listening to what you have to say on any topic INCLUDING religion. Religion should be a topic that bring people closer together, but the sad reality is that Religion is tribal. "My tribe and my tribe only!" This is the ideology of millions of people. I must point out that not all people think this way. There are a lot of religious organization that are talking to one another. There is nothing wrong in learning, speaking, and associating with those different than you. Nothing. Fear is what drives people apart and they have every right to be fearful. There are a lot of fundamentalist groups in not just Islam but in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism that mean to force their views on others with threats of violence. This is the world we live in but this does not mean you have to live on in fear.

Those of us living in the West don't have to face the horrors that are going on in the middle east. And for those that are experiencing pain, suffering, anger, and loss my prayers go out to ALL of you. In the U.S. we have no fear of persecution because of our personal beliefs. We are truly blessed but we still need to cure ourselves of ignorance. Go to the library and really dig into the beliefs of others. I believe removing ignorance will calm down millions (if not billions) of peoples fears. Deep down inside I believe all religions want and yearn for peace, love, and justice. It is those who use the name of God to spread terror that give ALL religions a bad wrap.

Read. Learn. Grow. Talk. Love. Let us together remove the blindfolds of ignorance.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Saw "Fear is the Mind-Killer" in your post cloud and knew I had to read about Dune!

It's funny, over the last five years my pendulum has swung back the other way: I have a much harder time being around outspoken Evangelicals (my tribe of origin) than those of other faiths: Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, fans of Babylon 5...

The truth is (and I'm not particularly proud of it) I "can't stand the site of" people who look like me. Because I have so far to go. And where I've been isn't good enough. I find "the other" refreshing and somehow NEUTRAL.

Thanks for your insightful posts,

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