Monday, April 04, 2016

how to make room for fear

"Terrorism strikes again" by Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem
Someone wrote "je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") on a piece of cardboard and triggered a huge respons after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. What did everyone mean? Was it an expression of hurt and sorrow, an effort to be united, or to silence fears that arose from this attack? Did it mean "Charlie, I'd take a bullet for you!"?

Then came Paris and more plaques were made. Now slowly some of us are discovering that terrorism is all over the place. In the cartoon by Dilem, the new guy is saying: "Can you make some room for me?"
It shows how many fellow sufferers are excluded by the sign-makers.

It is awesome when people make an effort to speak out in unity against evil, but the danger of speaking out like that amidst strong emotions is that we get the opposite effect. If I paint my facebook profile in the colors of the Belgian flag after the attacks in Brussels, what am I communicating about my feelings towards Turkey, Ivory Coast, Iraq or Somalia when they are struck (yes, also this same year) and I don't even now what their flag looks like?

We only seem to see what hits close to home and I think it demonstrates fear more than anything else. The question that has been put to authorities often is: "How will you guarantee our safety?"
Well, they will not. No one will be able to guarantee your safety 100%. There will always be a risk for the living, which is that they may get hurt at some point.

This leaves one solution to fear and that is bravery. Fear is not the problem and there's no need to be so frantic about ISIS realizing that they scare us. Brave people know fear. Even Jesus was sweating it out in the garden of Gethsemane before being arrested. Brave people move ahead anyway.

When brave people move ahead it is with courage, in spite of fear, and with the conviction that they are standing up for something of great importance. Often it is a certain form of freedom. This may be freedom of speech, but for that to be so important, you must have something to say. What are you willing to speak out for? Is your speech edifying? Does it bring war or peace into the hearts of those who hear it?

Remember the courage of Gandhi? He fought for freedom, but he did it in a peace loving way, refusing to use violence in his fight. He did it thinking about what was necessary in the long run, not in the spur of the moment or led by the emotions of the day. His safety was never guaranteed and he did pay a dear price, but we do remember him to this day.

What values of yours are challenged today? Are you willing to defend them and willing to think about how to best do that? Are you willing to ponder the future effects of your actions? If this time and age appears frightening to you, are you willing to keep moving ahead to find your courage?

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