"It is your fear that makes you a slave - it is your fear. When you are fearless you are no longer a slave; in fact, it is your fear that forces you to make others slaves before they can try to make a slave out of you."
Perhaps the biggest fear that we have is the fear of death, although some say there are greater fears such as the death of a loved one, the loss of one's money or favorite possessions, etc. Of course, Roosevelt said that the greatest fear is fearing fear itself.
What is your greatest fear?
Perhaps the more interesting question is "How do you manage your fears?" Isn't that a lot of what a spiritual life is about? A lot of people cope with their fears with religion. I used religion that way for years, but I think I am moving past that now. I don't think I need religion to do that for me any more.
Many people use their patriotism to cope with their fear and they regress to the myth of militarism. We can see in the case of Viet Nam and Iraq that this doesn't work. A military strategy to fight a war on terror is ludicrous. These are very unenlightened people who push such a strategy and it is doomed to failure because it does not speak to the human soul, the human spirit. Killing others does not lessen our fear and terror, it heightens it.
We have two dry drunks, Bush and Cheney, formulating our current policies in dealing with the world. They both are filled with fears and terror which apparently have never been dealt with at a psychological and/or spiritual level and so they resort to militarism to quell their fears. It doesn't work for them and will not work for our nation.
The true meaning of freedom and independence is freedom from fear. This year, 2006, we are more afraid, more filled with terror than ever as a nation. We are constantly reminded of 9/11 to manipulate us into slavery by giving up our civil rights with the Patriot Act, the NSA surveillance, the increasing demonization of the immigrant, a growing intolerance for people with whom we would disagree.
What we need as a country is the courage to be uncertain, the flexibility to deal in a loving and just way with all peoples, especially people who are different from us. The antidote for fear is love and understanding, not militarism and increasing rigidity.
Our fears have made us slaves of governmental oppression and subjugation. Our fears have made us killers and oppressors in Iraq, Viet Nam, El Savador, and other countries around the world. Our fears have made us behave like liars and bullies rather than the honest, just, and compassionate people that we would like to think of ourselves as being.
It is time for new leadership, a new vision, new values, new policies, new behavior. We must manage our fears in constructive, tolerant, and respectful ways. That is the path on which true freedom and independence lies. True courage will enable us to open our hearts to others not close them off. It is in opening our hearts that we can be truly free and independent.