“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda, The Phantom Menace
I spent the first 18 years of my life growing up in Canada.
I would come home after school from walking in the icy snow, quickly grab a mug of hot chocolate, and the first thing I would do is turn on the TV to watch American television. As I flipped through the channels while curled up on my couch, I would long to be an American, while I watched shows like Bevery Hills 90210 and Oprah.
I longed to be part of a community that had so much spirit, so much spunk and so much passion.
While I stared at the TV screen listening to the actors pronounce words like owt instead of out and mom instead of mum, I vowed that I would one day move to America—the land of the free, the home of the brave.
When I graduated from high school, I made that dream become a reality and I met an American man. I felt like my destiny was being fulfilled when I moved to California and was finally so close to all those dreams I had thought about as a young child.
Unfortunately, my “American Dream” was halted almost immediately after we got married. I had developed a bladder infection that was getting worse and worse. I wanted to go to the doctor, but I didn’t have medical insurance. I prayed it would go away. It didn’t. I remember waking up one morning in a small town at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains where I was living and I had such severe pain running up my back, that I was worried I would have to be hospitalized, which I couldn’t afford. I had never felt this kind of fear for my life ever growing up in Canada. If I felt sick, my parents wouldn’t hesitate to take me to the hospital.
I felt so desperate.
I wanted to be rescued.
I finally went to the doctor and paid $200 cash to be seen at Urgent Care. It was money I didn’t have to spend. Luckily, antibiotics saved me from getting even sicker, but the whole experience made me feel so uneasy as I tried to settle into my new American existence. I felt like the rug could be pulled out from under me at any time. The saddest part was knowing that it wasn’t all in my head. I was now living in a country that didn’t take care of it’s people.
Three years ago I moved back home to Canada and I have noticed my anxiety level decrease significantly. There is less crime here. My daughter and I have full medical insurance, and there is support from government programs when you need them. I’m safe now. I have more mental peace than all of the years I lived in the U.S., where crime is more prevalent and life is harder.
I know I am not the only person who has lived in the U.S. who has felt this fear and this longing to be saved. When people want to be rescued, they do things they may not normally do.
The great historian Ian Kershaw wrote a book called, Hitler.
He said that:
“Without the changed conditions, the product of a lost war, a revolution and a pervasive sense of national humiliation, Hitler would have remained a nobody. His main ability by far, as he came to realise during the course of 1919, was that in the prevailing circumstances he could inspire an audience which shared his basic political feelings, by the way he spoke, by the force of his rhetoric, by the very power of his prejudice, by the conviction he conveyed that there was a way out of Germany’s plight.”
The real reason Trump got elected is because people are scared. He has offered solutions to people that are tired of being afraid…tired of suffering.
And I don’t blame them.
But the tough thing is…fear doesn’t solve fear. Here are three ways that we can transform the culture of fear:
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu
The darkest time of the day is always right before the sun rises. We can still chose to see and look for the coming light, even when it feels dark. Hope is a powerful force of nature. It is essential to find wholeness and happiness. Let’s decide to choose hope and choose to see the light, even though to many the election results have brought a feeling of darkness.
In one of my favourite sacred texts there is a verse that says,
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ I John 4:18
Fear can not triumph where there is love. Love trumps fear. When we make a decision to live a life of love even when fear surrounds us, the love will drive out the fear.
- Encourage Critical Thinking by Helping to meet one Another’s Needs
Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who noticed that people are motivated by getting their needs met. He created a Hierarchy of Needs and noted that it is near impossible to jump to the next level until the first level is met.
Here are the five levels of needs:
- Biological and Physiological needs—air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
- Safety needs—protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
- Love and belongingness needs—friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
- Esteem needs—achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
- Self-Actualization needs—realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
If we consider that the the majority of Americans today are nowhere near having their Level 1 or Level 2 needs met, it’s no small wonder that critical thinking has been near impossible and fear dominates people’s motivations. In order to have a critically thinking culture that is free of fear, all people’s basic needs must be met so they can move up towards Level 3, 4 and 5.
You have a long road ahead of you America, but I believe with everything in me you can transform your culture of fear, into a culture of love.
I will be praying for you from across the border. You have been good to me and in many ways, made me the strong woman I am today. I have faith in you. I believe with hope, love and a commitment to helping each other’s needs get met, you will be the country I once dreamed of all those years ago when I watched you on TV after got home from school in chilly Canada.
Author: Wendy Haley
Editor: Caitlin Oriel