Have you felt a change in the air? I don't mean the actual climate but a feeling of "something wicked this way comes." It is a clawing pervasiveness like the Dementors from the Harry Potter books. It is an atmosphere that sucks the life out everyone it touches. It is the cold touch of fear.
It seems lately that everyone I meet is succumbing to fear. It is one the underlying characteristics beneath our country's policies and political race. It pervades the local politics and news. It is in the comments of neighbors, friends and family. It is paralyzing our common sense and decency.
Just recently there was a local county jurisdiction that decreed its school children would not be allowed to have any classroom trips to Baltimore due to the riots from last April. They are worried about the safety of the children and decided it would be best to avoid that potential by staying in their low crime homes. To me that is unbelievable that seemingly rational adults can be so afraid of some very remote danger that they are denying the children access to historical and cultural events.
The tragic irony is that this same county enclave just had an awful reality check: deranged and dangerous people are all around us, even in our idyllic settings. Two days ago, there was a fatal shooting of two officers from the sheriff's department. The officers were responding to a call about a suspicious gentleman sitting in a local eatery. According to witnesses, the officer asked the gentleman how his day was going and the gentleman responded with a shot to the officer's head. Absolutely horrible. Prior to this incident, this county sheriff's department had lost in the line of duty only five deputies, the first in 1899. Three of those five happened in the last six years.
Even though I do not agree with this county's isolation-protects-us-from-harm policy, I would never wish something like this to happen. Life is rough and tough. Humans can treat others terribly. Yet I still believe that we, humans, can do better. That we can turn the tide to this fearful climate.
Fear creates isolation. Isolation creates lies and untruths. Lies and untruths create hate. Hate creates all types of deranged behavior.
"Perfect love casts out all fear." Can that ever be achieved? What does that look like? I think for a start it is loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is in knowing our neighbors and not isolating ourselves from community.
I think we need to take a reality check about our own lives. To humbly realize that there by the grace of God go I. It is only a thin thread that separates us from those who do that which we find abhorrent. I think when we are open to our own potential then we are open to compassion and empathy towards others.
I think as a community and as a nation we need to guard ourselves from this atmosphere of fear. When we hear our neighbors, friends and family speak in fear to ask, what is their specific fear? To help them identify it and to ask if that is likely to happen? When we hear derogative or hateful comments to ask, is it true?
Sadly, some tragedies will happen. My heart aches for those families. Yet I would hope that if I were the one who suffered tragedy that I would, at some point, not let fear and hatred take over my life. That I would not succumb to the Dementor's kiss. For when we let fear take over we no longer are living life.
What about you? Have you noticed a change in the climate? What, if anything, are you doing about it?