I do not always get everything right. Sometimes “tweaking” is called for.
In the article posted just a few days ago, 2021:New Year. Lose the Fear! , I wrote this sentence which needs to be corrected somewhat.
“As 2021 begins, let us make the decision to live fearlessly in the middle of our own personal storm.”
Fearlessly! At first glance, this sounds good. In order to live a life in which we do not give in to our fear, we have to live fearlessly. Right? It would seem so, but ever since I wrote that and published it, something has been gnawing at me that this is off kilter just a little.
I found the answer in a book which I purchased recently: Live Not By Lies, A Manual for Christian Dissidents, by Rod Dreher. He discusses the difference between “hard” totalitarianism of the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites and the “soft” totalitarianism we are beginning to experience in the West. In the “hard” system, everyone was forced to conform to the ideological line and punished severely, often brutally and violently, sometimes killed or imprisoned for long periods of time. In the “soft” system, we are seeing the rise of a society which is demanding conformity to the ideological line and punishment is visited on those who refuse to do so or who may have inadvertently broken the “rules”. The practices of cancel culture, career terminations, digital censorship, mandatory training courses in diversity and tolerance, etc., are becoming just as totalitarian as what we remember the Soviet Bloc to be. Dreher also gives some advice on how to withstand and resist the approaching juggernaut, but I’m not going to give it to you. Buy the book and read it for yourself.
One paragraph stuck out at me, though, and gave me what I needed to answer the question above. Toward the end of the book is a quote by one of Dreher’s contacts, a Slovak who was part of the underground resistance toward the Czechoslovakian State.
Dreher writes that,
“Simulcik tells me that he and his cell of several other young Catholic men were all afraid. You would have been crazy not to have fear.”
then goes on to quote him directly.
“The question is, which is going to win: fear, or courage?…In the beginning, it was mostly a matter of fear. But once you started experiencing freedom–and you felt freedom through the things you did–your courage grew. We experienced all this together. We helped one another to gradually build up the courage to do bigger things, like join the Candle Demonstration. With this courage also developed our sense of duty, and our need to be of service to other people…We could see the products of our work.”
Courage, as any John Wayne fan knows, is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. Saddle up enough times and you will lose the fear. When that happens, freedom comes–the freedom to get on a horse and ride fearlessly–because you know that you have conquered what held you back before.
None of us are able to live without fear all the time. There are times when we would be crazy not to be afraid, but that should not stop us from living courageously. We can face the storm around us with courage, going through our daily lives understanding that we do run the risk of potential harm, especially when we start doing something we are not accustomed to. Saddle up, anyway, and ride!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” –2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV