Fear stinks in the air like rotted fish on an old pier, and unlike that fish smell this week the smell will be celebrated. Billions will flow from consumers into all manner of costumes, parties, and media, and Americans throughout the country will feel all manner of social pressure to give into the fear. It is, of course, to be expected as Wednesday marks another Halloween celebration.
However, if the stink of fear seems a little to thick and a little to heavy this year, that is because there is another source of fear treading water and floating along the surface of our grand society. That fear seeks to coalesce in the week to follow. My television and social media bubble over with the call to fear, and celebrate that fear on Nov. 4th. You feel it. If Romney wins, the poor and middle classes will be eviscerated in an orgy of greed. Wall Street barons will put down their algorithms, take up their 4th amendment protected assault rifles and rid the country of the pesky takers in the 47 and / or 99 percent. If Obama wins, all that is good and holy will explode as Jihadis and Lesbians will unite to purge the country of anyone who likes bacon, the bible, or Chick-fil-a. If you love Jesus Nov. 4th will truly be a day that shall live in infamy (if anyone with the ability to remember remains).
Yet one must ask yourself: ” What actually will happen on Nov. 5th?” The answer (and call me a 99 percenter cause that ‘s how sure I am) is that Americans will wake up, drink their coffees, and go to work. They will then come home and watch Survivor or Modern Family or whatever Wednesday night programming you support. Some things might change: you might pay more taxes (or less). You might buy less guns (or more). You might see more regulations in the workplace (or less). But life as you know it will go on. America will continue to exist, and the spin doctors from both parties will continue to tell you how much better (or worse) your life now.
And those same men will continue to stoke the fear: fear of the other. For Democrats MSNBC will continue to urge fear of fundamentalists who would purge the country of gays, Hispanics, and women. For Republicans Fox will continue to urge fear of socialists and liberals who will brainwash our children and take their lunch money.
Yet there is another holiday to be celebrated this week. Those of us that celebrate worship in the liturgical world know this week gives us All Saints Day. This is the day that the catholic and apostolic church celebrates the God who is making all things new, the God who promises that will day proclaim:
“See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples,and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”
Together we shall celebrate the end of pain, and the end of death. No one understood the importance of this proclamation better than the 4th century Basil the Great, the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca. It is said that he was called before a superior and asked to commit to a course of action that wile favorable to the Prefecture but was not favorable to his people or the Gospel. Basil looked the strong man in the eyes and said ‘no’. The great man then warned Basil to accede or face the consequences. Basil was said to have replied:
“A man who has nothing, is beyond the reach of confiscation; unless you demand my tattered rags, and the few books, which are my only possessions. Banishment is impossible for me, who am confined by no limit of place, counting my own neither the land where I may now dwell, nor all of into which I may be hurled; or rather, counting it all God’s, whose guest and dependent I am. As for tortures, what hold can they have upon one whose body has ceased to be? …. Death is my benefactor, for it will send me the sooner to God, for Whom I live, and exist.”
The Bishop is said to have looked away “asking what kind of Bishop is this?” What can one say to a man who refuses to fear for his possessions, his lands, or even his life? When we say no to those who seek to manipulate us with fear of loss or shame, we are truly to free to live, to freely serve, and to freely die. That is the freedom the Church celebrates this week. So I urge you dear reader to take this week to stand up to fear. Say no to fear. Refuse to celebrate our national obsession with fear of the other.
This week I ask that we boldly stand at the election station door, and paste the following thesis:
I will not fear Democrats.
I will not fear Republicans.
I will not fear the Gay, Lesbian, or the Transgendered.
I will not fear Westboro Baptist and those who spew hatred likeso much hot air.
I will not fear Fundamentalists, Evangelicals or anyone who speaks well of Jesus.
I will not fear radical Islamic Clerics, or anyone who speaks well of Mohammed.
I will not fear undocumented immigrants, the poor, or anyone needed a handout .
I will not fear Socialists, Feminists, or anyone who questions American rightness.
I will consider others feelings and beliefs before speaking.
I will not call those who differ from me names designed to shame or denigrate.
I will seek reporting and informational sources that treasure complexity and present others faithfully.
I will not post hateful, simplistic, or misleading quotes or memes on social media.
I will seek dialogue and seek to talk ‘to’ and ‘with’ others.
I will not scream, yell, or talk ‘at’ or ‘over’ others.
I will try to be the best possible example of my kind, and I will seek to encourage and support anyone trying to be the best of their kind. I will give grace when others speak poorly. I will forgive when others speak wrongly. I will give the benefit of the doubt when unsure of meaning. Above all I will love as I would want to be love, and accept others even as I desire to be accepted. I will befriend the friendless. I will listen to the marginalized. I will give power to the powerless. I will forget wrongs. I will remember successes. I will bless. I will not curse. I will love. I will not hate. I will live. I will not fear.