There is an email circulating in Australia which pretends to be a warning from the blood transfusion service (‘the blood bank’ it is called), warning people about needle-stick injuries, infected with AIDS.
Someone is said to have sat down in a train and been injuried by a needle, and so the email warns people to check before they sit down.
The email is another of those urban myth things: someone has made it up, complete with false phone numbers of the blood bank.
What does it say about us, about our society, that people spend their time writing and sending these emails?
And that other people believe them and pass them on?
It suggests that we have become a society sucked into fear. We fear so much that we know longer know what really to fear and what not to fear.
We have become a society which needs something to fear.
Think about things like bungy jumping – a sport which scares the life out of most people (so to speak).
Why is it so exciting, so popular?
I suggest it is just one expression of a situation where in general we are so comfortable we need to find things that, in a controlled way, frighten us.
The same is the case with horror movies.
Our lives are basically secure. Yet we need to be stimulated by fear, horror, the ‘in-your-face’ challenges of violence, danger, risk.
I wonder whether people need these stimuli, living in Palestine, or Rwanda, or Bangla Desh. I doubt it.
Yet in a very different way we have become a society gripped by deep-seated fears.
Our political leaders have made an art form of articulating things we should fear: the word ‘terrorism’ has become one of the most used in our political lexicon. Yet none of the leaders seems all that interested in asking why we are the subject of these acts. Why has this terror emerged? And how is it to be overcome – not defensively, I mean how are we to prevent it developing further?
In the ‘Andrew Olley Memorial Lecture’ last night, on ABC TV John Doyle observed that commercial television programs have played on so many fears – fear of banks, builders, neighbours, retailers, governments, lawyers, doctors: indeed, he said, the message seems to be, you should be afraid to live!
Don’t trust anyone. Don’t even trust yourself.
People have been sucked into the fear of even thinking for themselves.
In love with fear. What will free us from this fear? Only one thing: relationship. The Bible says that love, God’s perfect love, casts out fear, or overcomes fear.
This becomes real through humans turning to each other, in relationship—simple, everyday, unspectacular getting on with life, together. There is no other cure, no other fix.
In love with fear is in fact the pathway to a lonely destruction; it is death within.
In love with each other, in relationship: here there is real risk, and not so predictable, not so controlled, but it also offers life.