Fear, hope and Easter

Reader looks at fear tactics and campaigning and ways of reacting.

Dear Editor,

Fear and hope are odd bed fellows and opposing or even mutually exclusive experiences. We have seen that in our last federal election and we are witnessing it now in the US primaries. At different times, politicians engage the electorate by appealing to one or other of those experiences.

To use fear as a motivator is to direct others to a perceived threat. At its most primitive level, reacting to fear is purely a reptilian response to either fight or take flight. Typically, there is not much thought involved; in fact, to move beyond that purely physical response involves a recognition of one’s fearful state and to be aware that its primary basis is physiological. The ability to calm oneself and not get into a panic state at a perceived threat is a learnt response that involves some discipline and practice.

Hope on the other hand involves looking beyond the difficulties of our present circumstances, knowing that there might be struggle and work ahead, but feeling confident that the future is not preordained.

A Cree translation of “hope” I was once told, is to move “into the mystery”, to move into a future that is still unformed, in which we might be surprised at the unexpected and the new.

Spring and Easter contrasts those very different states related to fear and hope. In the Christian tradition, the week before Easter is a fearful, anxiety driven state, involving betrayal, pain and death. Easter brings a surprising, unexpected hope where the future is unanticipated perhaps beyond anything we have imagined.

We have a choice in our responses, of course, either feeling threatened or recognizing we can transcend the fearful state. We do not have to feel alienated or see ourselves as victims, but instead feel at home where we are and also joyful about who we are.

George Jason