Be Not Afraid

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Dear Friends: When an angel, according to biblical records, encounters a living human being, the first thing the angel says is. “Fear not!” or “Be not afraid!” or words to that effect.

An angel would be terrifying up close and personal. But listen again. The angel doesn’t say, “Fear me not!” or “Be not afraid of me!” It is a general advice to abandon fear.

Fear has been defined as “that little dark room where negatives are developed.” It is well known that when decisions are to be made, fear is not the wisest advisor. Instinct is better. We instinctively defend life, and protect others even at our own risk. Fear holds us back. Fear makes us small.

There are those in society in every era who want us to be afraid.  They use fear as a marketing tool. Then they sell us age-defying wrinkle cream, home security systems, or more military involvement.

These are the people who would have us believe that every Central American is a drug dealer or a rapist, or that Muslims are terrorists. The fear peddlers want us to buy and equip vast armies and navies so we can go strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. Who needs enemies?

It’s easy to recognize blatant and obvious haters. They can also be subtle, cloaking themselves in traditional values and encouraging folks to stay in their comfort zones, insulated with possessions, locks on the doors.

We should, instead, be following the advice of angels. We should not be reckless, nor drive on the wrong side of the road, but act in confidence that goodness prevails; 80% to 90% of the time it does. Will someone think we are crazy? Yes. But it is the risk-takers who make change. We need to practice radical fearlessness.

It is time, Friends, for us to put on our angel wings; wings of transparency and trust, wings of inclusion and respect. We can rise up! We can live unbridled by fear. We can confront the bully who wants people to be afraid. Let him fear his lack of power over us, while we say to everyone, “BE NOT AFRAID!”

– Sandy Moon Farley, Palo Alto Friends Meeting (PYM)