2017 will require us to be Fiercely Fearless

https://www.facebook.com/RichardCArmitage/posts/298316477236425

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, I woke up to happy tears for yet another very moving and heartfelt Christmas message from Richard Armitage (@RCArmitage) about his wish for 2017 for him, and his invitation to us, to be fearless, to live without fear. Barely a few hours later, the pillar which sustained the very core of his lofty communique was shaken just as powerfully, as symbolically as the earth and everything that is in it is currently being shaken: physically, ethically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, on each and every level. One wonders how some doubt the existence of a God, when there is such perfect design and harmony even in the shaking taking place right now in all dimensions of all that lives. Maybe we should begin to pay attention again to Scripture. Whether one believes that it is a load of nonsense or not, I find it to be an endless oasis of wisdom and guidance in a world where as of late, the blind are leading the blind. Is it a coincidence that the word of God has so much to say about fear? And aren’t the fear demons we all fight in frantic silence every day, as does the world at large, not the reason why humanity is on a downward spiral to self-destruction? At times like this, I cling on for dear life to this particular verse:

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind

A sound mind: the hardest thing to maintain in a world where no one cares for integrity and truth any more.

Last night my new courage-filled, fired up heart stumbled upon a bucket of icy water on hearing the news of yet another brutal killing in the streets of Berlin. The very notion of fearlessness, of loving our neighbour, of extending ourselves toward our fellowmen, so beautifully expressed by Richard, was put on the stand for trial once again as news travelled fast about the killer allegedly being an individual who had been in a refugee shelter. Like moth to a flame hundreds of crazed individuals who thrive and fester on pumping out hatred from every pore of their being, used this dreadful news to cast blame on all those who have shown a basic humanity for the millions of displaced people whose lives have been robbed of basic rights and any kind of dignity; whose existence is regarded by so many as far less worthy of any consideration than that of a stray dog.

Don’t get me wrong. I do understand where some are coming from. In Spanish we say “El miedo es libre”. In other words, who are we to judge another if they feel fear and because of it close themselves up to any kind of risk or possibility of coming into harm or danger? I myself am scared, of course I am. But what am I scared of? Am I scared of what may happen to me or my loved ones? Am I scared of getting hurt, of losing it all, of becoming an outcast in society, of being treated by others like an animal? Deep down, the majority of us would rather close our doors and our heart to refugees, to any kind of immigrant, because opening them would mean being put out of our own comfort zones, both physical and emotional; it would mean letting others partake of all the material things, resources, and possibilities open to us; it would mean giving up our misconceived utopia; it would mean loving on someone who is a complete stranger to us; it would mean giving up our obsessive self-centeredness in order to consider the needs of another. Simply put, it would mean: being human.  Last time I checked that’s what we call ourselves, and yet, in turning the needy away, are we not as soulless as those whom we despise for perpetrating such terror on others? The irony of it all is that all these people already are where we fear we might be, if we let them in. They are in Hell on earth.

But for every hell, there will, there should always be a heaven. Only, at present, we, the rest of the world, their only hope, have shunned that responsibility and so our inability to empathise with the human beings in such a hell, makes us no different to those who put these people in such abominable circumstances in the first place. We live in an era where there is no heaven for every hell, only more hell. A world where evil meets with more evil, and fear is met with terror rather than courage. Humankind, like the bull in the ring whose masculinity has been tampered with in order to rid him of his ability to fight in fair and equal measure to his opponent, has lost the very essence that gave birth to its name. Yes, in this age of sexual freedom, ironically we are all being turned into eunuchs by fear. Our most basic human instincts to love and care for the least of these, to fight for justice and against barbarism and oppression, our ability to sacrifice ourselves for what is right, has been neutered.

A scene from the film Schindler’s List always comes to mind when I think about fear. When Schindler realises he could have saved so many more lives if he hadn’t coveted so much for himself and his. We waste so much time, so much money and energy, so much life because of fear. Sometimes the very thing that we fear is the very thing that we become, as we turn a blind eye to desperate need, to injustice, to atrocity, to inhumanity. In essence, when we choose our own safety and comfort when faced with the utmost desperate need in others, we become dehumanized. We might think we are safe and free but we lose the greatest of gifts, the one that sets us apart from all else that lives: our morality, our very soul. Will turning these people away stop terrorism from happening, even reduce it? One has to be pretty naïve and pretty brainless to think that. Evil always finds a way, a vessel to have its way. It has been like this since the beginning of times and it will be like this to the end.

No matter how hard we try to make this issue about something else, it all boils down to one very simple reality, a trait in the human soul as old as the earth itself: pride. The pride to think that we are better than them or more deserving of a better life. What a ridiculous notion: men playing at being Gods who choose who deserves to live and who doesn’t; who deserves our mercy or by contrast our indifference.  Yes, Richard once again hits the nail on the head for me when he says “It hasn’t been a great year in terms of honour and grace, it has been a year of hubris and loss”.  For it is only by grace, how else, that some of us are born into comfort, freedom, abundance, peace. And just as it has all been given to us through no accomplishment of our own, it can all be taken away. It often is. I don’t know what the point of life is. I sure ponder on that often but have not quite come with any resolute answers yet. But what I do know is that to everything that lives there is a cause and an effect, there is a purpose, there is a cosmic justice, there is a right and there is a wrong. And as sure as we are witnessing a hell on earth at present, I know with every fibre of my being that one of the reasons why the rest of us have been spared from such a hell by grace, has to be so that we counteract it by being the antidote to all the hurt, pain, misery, tragedy, evil and yes, sin.

Thank you Richard for your words but most of all for not giving up hope and in doing so, encouraging the rest of us who are struggling. I was out walking with my dog today and I prayed for you. I prayed that God would arm you and me with the courage we need to start being fiercely fearless in everything we need to be. I prayed that he would give me the words to write this in answer to your Facebook message, and this is the result.

God bless your heart and soul Richard.

Mercedes

I leave you with another scripture which keeps me sane when I think I can’t stomach any more of this horror:

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

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9 thoughts on “2017 will require us to be Fiercely Fearless

  1. I write about this all the time now. It has been something I have had to put pen to paper on repeatedly for what feels like months now. And it is at the heart of why we “other” the very people we should be seeking to help. We are driven, I believe, by our sense of impotence.
    We remove ourselves from the great global crises because we cannot bear witness to horrors we cannot stop. Then we try to eradicate our guilt by deciding that the beleaguered are somehow deserving of that fate. It happens over and over and over again. It’s exhausting to witness, to fight, and to try to change. I look around and see a world that is as driven by hate, xenophobia, and fear as it was in 1933. It’s devastating to see us not learn from our past. And it’s hard not to despair.
    But I am doing what I can. When we see ourselves in other people, no matter how different, that’s when we are moved to action. And my goal for 2017 is to give voice to those who don’t have one, so people can begin to see who they are and how they can help. I’m marching, with my daughters, in marches for human rights. I’m writing to my congressmen. I’m helping journalists get stories told. And when they do get those stories published, I am helping to promote them.
    It’s not just about being fearless—although that’s where it starts. It’s about not being silent. The more voices we have raised together, the easier it is to be heard. So thank you for writing this.

    • Hi Carol,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You are someone with so much experience and compassion, so I really value them, but above all I value the fact that you walk the talk.
      It gives me hope to think that there are people in the world, but particularly in US, like yourself who will fight for what they believe in; people who will not settle for second best in order to lead a more comfortable life; people who will not neglect others in order to further themselves. It is my privilege to know you, even if it is only through social media.

      “Helping journalists to get stories told” Wow, how I would love to hear more from you about that. It sounds fascinating. Do let me know when some of those are published. I would love to read them and of course promote them too through twitter and/or maybe through my blog.

      • I work with a non-profit called Public Narrative that helps train journalists and activists from all walks of life, most of whom don’t have the benefit of a journalism degree. From there we help them find media outlets to publish their stories. I work on their leadership board, trying to find funds to keep them afloat, as well as getting the word out about both what they do and the stories they get written. They did some amazing work in the fall around race and policing and violence. We’re working to make 2017 a focal year on writing about the issues that have, at their core, xenophobia and bigotry. Because once we can break the hold that those biases have on people, real change can begin to happen. I’m happy to flag stories as we get them out there.

        I also am really glad to know you, however virtually it might be at the moment.

  2. I wish I too could get published. Only a handful of people read what I write. Those who do read it seem to like it or at least get something out of it, but I don’t have the time at present to think about how to make that happen or what to publish. I have often thought that a collection of some of my blog posts would be a good place to start. I know I don’t have as much to offer as someone who has been around and experienced some of these issues in the world first hand, but then I see some of the things and people who get published on book stores and I am astounded how these days anyone with a the slightest celebrity status or with connections can get all sorts of crap published and how there are people out there who want to read it.

    • I would love to read some of your writings and perhaps one way to overcome a personal fear is to just go for it. You have more to offer than you realize and when you write from your heart and soul, then truth surfaces. What have you got to loose!

      • Thank you Cathi. I was kind of hoping to focus on my writing this year as our daughter was heading to Uni and I would have had more time on my hands, but as life has a habit of doing, things didn’t go according to plan as you know, and I find myself busier than ever. I also need to rethink about where I should write. This blog does not attract many readers and I know it is not due to the content of the writing or to my writing style, because I used to have loads of visitors pop by, I guess I am not writing as often as I used to and people lose interest after a while, if you are not constant.

  3. Richard Armitage’s Christmas message sure has sparked some thoughts from so many on becoming more fearless in 2017. I’m usually not one to voice my thoughts too often as I’m more of a private person and sometimes just don’t want to upset or bother anyone with what I feel are my own feelings and perspectives. But given how much the world has seen and gone through during 2016 and the uncertainty and fear that appears to be felt by so many for this coming year, perhaps it’s time for me to overcome some fear of my own and write down some of my own thoughts. I’ve so appreciated Mercedes in her courage and willingness to write what’s in her mind and heart and I’m so grateful that getting to know her as been one of my blessings during 2016. We have a common appreciation for Richard Armitage to thank for that!

    As to fear, well that’s been something that’s been here on this earth since the very beginning. Fear can be felt in so many ways and caused by so many events that it’s definitely something that can be called universal. We’ve read so much in the news lately about the horrific events taking place all over the world and the latest act of terrorism in Berlin has been so disheartening, especially at this season of the year. I so appreciate all those who are brave enough to march in protests, to continue to contact their elected representatives and to do their utmost to stop these acts of aggression and bring peace to all nations. However, that just doesn’t seem to be the kind of person that I am. For me, combating fear is something that is more personal and close to home.

    One trait that I’ve been blessed with is to know just who I am, where I came from, why I’m here on this earth and where I’m going. I do believe that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father and while that should be enough to cause each of us to live a good life with the hope of returning to His presence, that’s not a belief held by everyone. There has been and will always be those who choose terror, fear, aggression, anger and violence to make their point heard and to “prove” that their beliefs are the only ones to follow. But if we succumb to those fearful actions then we deny ourselves the blessings of living good lives filled with hope, justice, charity and mercy. I find that in order to let go of fear it must be dealt with within our own homes and spread outward towards everyone we come in contact with. It’s often the very simplest actions that give us the greatest growth and learning experiences. If we truly believe that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, then it becomes easier to show kindness to all that we meet even if that means just a simple “hello”. We also combat fear by serving each other, sharing moments of joy and sadness with one another, helping each other even if it’s not convenient but because the need is there and we want to help, and by realizing that we all are trying to cope within this world and have challenges that at times feel crushing and overwhelming. Faith and fear cannot exist as the same time and as we build lives that are based on faith then fear is pushed out. We can move forward with not only confidence in ourselves but in the knowledge that there are so many good, honest, hard-working people in this world no matter what their nationality, belief, economic circumstances, or whatever and we are blessed whenever we seek out and accept those who we truly have more in common with than differences.

    I just hope that, especially at this holiday season, that there truly can be some measure of peace on this earth and that looking forward this coming year will be one of more integrity, honor and dedication to truth than this past year has been. I may sound very much like a “Pollyanna” but I won’t allow anyone to stop me from living the best life I can live, to grow in ways I hope to and to experience all the best that this world has to offer.

    Thanks for listening!

    Cathi

  4. Hi again Cathi. I do agree with everything you say except with your statement that faith and fear cannot co-exist. This is a point I have raised previously here. I think it is fair to say that many of the Bible major individuals led a life of faith and fear simultaneously. Even Jesus himself struggled with fear:Luke 22:42

    42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    It is the fear and the dread of our own vulnerability and fickleness that pushes us to hold on to our faith even harder, isn’t it?

    Thank you for your thoughts. You have such a big heart! Your love for humanity exudes out of you with every word you utter.

    • Hi Mercedes! I also agree that faith and fear exist simultaneously and while I still feel that they can’t exist at the same time, I think it’s a little more complicated than that. Fear has a way of taking over sometimes and it’s not just fear alone that does this. It’s when fear takes on the persona of self-doubt, depression, discouragement, anger, and letting our self-worth be crushed by those around us that are often stupid, hateful and just not very nice. But when we allow our faith to step forward, especially when we do that with joy, love, happiness, confidence and charity that’s when we are able to literally push fear onto the back burner. What’s I’ve gathered from Richard’s words is that this coming year we need to challenge ourselves to not only be happy with fear being on the back burner but to literally push it right off the stove outright! When we as people can move forward in serving others, in thinking of how we can righteously uplift ourselves as well as others, of how we can be the best we can be on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, then we can begin to rise about the hatred and sorrow that is so widespread at this time. Ultimately our humanity will win out and then as nations we will be able to come together in peace and seek for and follow the course that will make this world a more honest and truthful place to live. It will start with each of us individually and definitely take some time but once we, as they say in American baseball, “knock fear out of the park”, then our faith will grow stronger and allow the best of everyone to surface and truly savor the lives we’ve been given and the opportunities we have to serve, help, love and cherish everyone around us no matter who they are, where they came from, what their individual beliefs are or what their goals in life are. 2017 will be truly one of the most challenging years any of us will face but as citizens of the world, we will get through these challenges and with hard work and some luck, be able to see that good will come out of such dark and often scary times. I’ll always believe that truth and goodness will ultimately surface and triumph!

      Cathi

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