Tag Archives: Religion

Peace is the Absence of Fear as Much as Anger

UntitledAs someone who’s served in combat in the military in the Middle East I’m very familiar with fear and anger. A grandmother, in the street at 3AM along with her family – almost everyone in their apartment – waiting to have their IDs checked. Her fear of loss. Her anger at lack of control. Of the sullen, old men, deemed not “dangerous” enough to be hidden away, ashamed of losing honor in front of their families and neighbors. Of the fear in the soldiers and officers in having to be so close to so many unknown, unsearched people. Afraid of the buildings looming even one story above, and the snipers they might hide.

I was raised in a religious home, and had extensive contact with more religiously conservative – the so-called “ultra-Orthodox” community. I’ve talked with former girlfriends happy and secure in their place, shaved head covered by an expensive wig, focusing on children and household and not the secular world beyond that. And other friends, happily married or not, who love their religion but chafe at some gender-based restrictions. And men, “haredim,” (which means ‘those who fear’) wallowing in that state: afraid to give the idea of an offense to god, afraid of outside influences wending their way into their communities. Afraid that their carefully constructed social labyrinths might be deconstructed. That women and children might be exposed to more than just their point of view.

Living in Texas I see the same from some ultra-conservative Christian families, who live in fear of hell, of sin, of their children’s ruin by exposure to secular society, where ideas roam free for adoption, rejection, or modification.

The theme of fear of losing control, anger at not having control, and further anger at those they believe have caused said loss of control, keep people from even the semblance of peace. Religious leaders willing to send adherents to a martyr’s death rather than lose power and influence, the government afraid to let women drive lest they somehow be corrupted by the act of being far from male dominance. Governments afraid to loosen their death grips on their populace lest they be less seen as Dear Leaders.

Peace, I am only beginning to see, lies in understanding that there is the very small set of things one controls or influences. Everything else works its own machinations, impinging on one’s sphere of influence at its, and not our, whim.