The Globe and Mail Pittsburgh
photo above: The Supreme Court in its final day before summer recess, has made so many fear what is ahead, in its enabling of conservatives to get their way: to revert to authorizing societal values that are profoundly illiberal. Lord, in your mercy . . .
WN: It is arguable to aver that Jesus came to save us as much from our fears, as from our sins. The essay highlighted below is exceptional in its portrayal of the United States as a
. . . country [that] no longer conforms to the boast in its national anthem that it is the home of the brave. It is instead the home of the fearful.
But that kind of faith is a journey . . .
It cannot be conjured up. It cannot be forced. It is a learned behaviour . . .
David Shribman is the former executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of U.S. politics.
[pullquote]You can tell you’ve created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do.–Jesuit Father Tom Weston[/pullquote]The fear of violence. The fear of immigrants. Of economic dislocation. Of minorities. Of attacks in schoolyards and workplaces. Of books. Of disquieting discussions in university classrooms. Of gay and trans people. Of climate change. Of conservatives. Of socialists. Of political violence. Of Donald Trump.
As the United States prepares to mark Tuesday’s 247th anniversary of its Declaration of Independence, the country no longer conforms to the boast in its national anthem that it is the home of the brave. It is instead the home of the fearful.
There is the fear of a 16-year-old who went to the wrong house in Kansas City, Mo., and of a 20-year-old woman who went up the wrong driveway in upstate New York; both were shot. There is the fear that democratic values are in grave danger; the siege of the Capitol remains a vivid element of the American memory. There is the fear that is stirred in political advertisements; consultants say fear is a great motivator for votes.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. —I John 4:18Seldom – perhaps only in the Civil War, when the country was literally riven apart, or during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the fallout shelters that were installed in public buildings and in Americans’ homes suddenly seemed to have utility – has the United States been gripped so tightly by fear, and by so many separate tendons of fear.
And yet today its sanctuaries of worship and its civic squares are places of fear, its libraries stocked with materials deemed worthy of fear, its great scholars at the lecture podium accused of stoking the fear of undergraduates.
Ordinary events and life-cycle landmarks that once were unremarkable now are fulcrums of fear.
“This fear comes from a sense that things are out of control and that things are changing in ways we don’t understand,” said Christine Whelan of the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Fear is normal, but the level of fear that people are experiencing now is not normal.”
[pullquote]Fear casts out love. And not only love. Fear also casts out intelligence, casts out goodness, casts out all thought of beauty and truth.—Aldous Huxley[/pullquote]Narrowly escaping shipwreck near a Carolina headland in 1585, the English privateer and explorer Sir Richard Grenville named the promontory Cape Fear. Today all America is Cape Fear.As recently as 2016, about half of Republicans considered Democrats immoral; by last year about three-quarters of Republicans felt that way, according to a Pew Research Center study. About a third of Democrats in 2016 felt Republicans were immoral; it has since climbed to nearly two-thirds.“It seems as if there are fears lurking just around every corner in America today,” said Antoine Yoshinaka, a political scientist at the University at Buffalo. “We seem to need to make sure that the right kind of people move into our neighbourhoods, that the borders are closed, and that our children are safe from dangerous ideas. Life in the United States has become a non-stop loop of fear-inducing images, sounds and commentary.”