I have written about this particular habit of mine and its effect on Simeon before, but it was brought home for me again this past Sunday afternoon. We were watching the KU and North Carolina basketball game the other day and I confess I get a little ramped up with my “couch coaching” duties during the games.
Usually Simeon just leaves the room when we turn on a game because he has become conditioned to the sound of the crowd and the commentators and knows things are going to get a little exciting. I suppose when I get caught up in the game coaching from afar Simeon thinks my frustration is directed at him and he usually just leaves the room as soon as we turn on a game.
This last Sunday he chose to stay in the living room with us as we watched the game. The first time I got a little excited rather than leaving the room he rather timidly crawled up into TruDees lap, becoming our sixty-five pound lap dog. He really did look rather sadly pathetic curled up in TruDee’s lap with his soulful eyes and ears laid flat on his head, at least when I could see them, mostly he sat on her lap looking in the opposite direction, giving me the cold shoulder I suppose.
It is interesting how fear can condition us to particular responses. That is what I see in Simeon’s posture when he does this. Whether the source of his response is directed at him or not, he does not care for it and choses either to remove himself from the situation or find shelter and comfort in the arms of someone other than me. I suppose I should be glad he does not respond violently toward me when I get caught up in the game. Fear can elicit all kinds of responses including violence of word and deed.
It is fear I believe I see so often in our own society and culture. It has become really difficult for me to watch, read, or listen to the news, it is fraught with fear. Fear of difference, change, fear of relinquishing control, fear of the other; economy, loss, fear of others based on color of skin, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, economic class, terrorism, and the list could go on and on.
This fear ignites and fuels violence of word in response to such issues. I hear it in our politics, our church conversations, family struggles, personal beliefs, and that seemingly insatiable need to be right and that need to be right at the other’s expense. I see it in violence against others whether verbal or physical, doing damage and harm not only to the body but the soul.
I also see the fear that limits and silences voices that would and should speak out for justice, voices that should empower others to speak, but rather than speak, fear keeps our words on the wrong side of our lips. I am ever reminded of the words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I share this frustration not as one who always speaks out, but out of my own struggle of heart that knows too many times I have been silent on issues and topics that matter deeply to my journey of life and faith and to the health and wellbeing of my community of faith, my community at large, and the world around me.
I struggle within myself to not to let fear win, and with the help of the Spirit and my community of faith I pray it will not. As a person of faith fear should never be my guiding principle but rather love. Fear has a powerful history and hold on humankind and there is only one force to overcome it; and that, I believe, is Love.
In our current society and culture I will not fear to speak for the right of a woman to make her own health care choices including but not limited to contraceptives and abortion with the support of medical, family, and faith communities. I will not fear to speak for the right of my gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered brothers and sisters for full access with regards to civil rights, including but not limited to legal decisions, same gender marriage, and full inclusion in the life of the church. I will not fear to speak for compassion and inclusion regarding the needs and rights of immigrants in our midst whether they are here legally or not. I will not fear to name racism in our community and in our nation for it is still a powerful undercurrent that is far from resolved. I will not fear to speak for the rights of my brothers and sisters of other faith traditions, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and all those who practice a faith of compassion and grace to be and practice in our community and country. I will not fear to support a separation of church and state regarding our local, state, and national governmental systems. I will not fear.
I believe it is time for all of us to refuse the conditioning of fear upon our lives and faith. I believe it is time to be conditioned in a posture and response of love for all; until that day Love is the Rule and not the exception. It is time to unclench our fists of fear and open our hands in love and grace. I pray I will be a better practitioner of that for which I long and pray we all might consider such grace and openness of compassion, understanding, and love.