Diminishing terror by defeating fear
A Christian Science perspective.
Terrorism seems like an abstract issue for lots of people. It’s not in most of our lives directly (except via the news), and it would seem there is little we can do individually to solve the problem.
Bullying, on the other hand – day-to-day aggressiveness, intimidation, discrimination, domination, harassment – tends to come much closer to home. We’ve all faced pushy drivers, difficult co-workers or family members, a prejudiced coach, classmates who say hurtful things, or a friend who dominates. Or there may be times when we exhibit these tendencies ourselves.
It’s been said that terrorism is bullying on a large scale. It is fearmongering with guns and bombs, on a national or international stage. But the core is the same: acting from fear and acting to generate fear. Without fear motivating a bully – without terror – there would be no terrorism.
So we can actually contribute to the downsizing of terrorism in the world by defeating fear and bullying (whether we seem to be on the sending or receiving end) in our individual experience.
This is possible because our thoughts and actions are continually weighing in for good or ill, not only in our own experience but in the lives of our families, communities, nations, and beyond. Like water in a pond, every drop – every thought – counts. And we can challenge fear at every level through its opposite, love.
Such love is not a human emotion, but the love that comes from God, that is God. The first letter of John simply states, “God is love” (4:8). It continues, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.” The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”
This alerts us to two things: that our first priority is to cultivate the pure love for our neighbor that Jesus lived, and that the apparent perpetrator of fear or terror – the so-called bully – is more a victim of fear than anyone else. And thus more needful of the love that refuses to see another as inherently evil but instead as the child of Love itself.