“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
But Mary didn’t react with joy to the celestial message. In fact, Luke says, “Mary was greatly troubled by his words…”
Doesn’t that seem to describe the state of America today?
We have become a people driven by fear. I was reading a discussion thread on foreign policy the other day, and despite all of the rational reasons one person gave to avoid war with Iran if at all possible, the other party to the discussion continued to advocate for an aggressive intervention.
“I’m afraid Iran will nuke us.”
Signs of fear surround us. Just listen to supporters of the Patriot Act. Go through security at the airport. Read through the thousands of laws on the books meant to protect us from ourselves.
Politicians love fear. In fear, they find power. A scared population will forsake all kinds of liberty in the name of security. And when citizens cede their liberty, the politicians gain power. Government stands ready to assuage our fears. But first, it must stoke them, and it seems they’ve discovered the perfect bellows.
For we have entered the era of perpetual war. We battle an entire religion. How can we ever “win” this war? Islam will never just go away. Despite rendering al Qaeda functionally impotent, despite killing 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, despite 10 bloody years blowing up Taliban in Afghanistan, the war rages on.
Will someone please define victory? Will someone please tell me when it ends?
I don’t believe it ever will. Because those in power recognize endless war as a source of endless power. Alexander Hamilton warned of this in Federalist No. 8.
Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.
I only have to buy an airline ticket to experience a vivid reminder of just how much freedom they’ve stolen from me.
And the sad truth – it’s all a lie. I’m no more secure. Even if we completely subdue Afghanistan and turn Iran into a pile of rubble, how does this stop one nut-job from blowing up a building with a truck full of fertilizer? As long as the human heart harbors evil, we will face dangers. Do I throw caution to the wind? Certainly not. But I refuse to allow fear to serve as my primary motivator in life. When security becomes my overriding concern, I am left with nothing. For as President Dwight D. Eisenhower pointed out, “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom”
I’ll take my freedom.
I find it interesting the Angel Gabriel, whose very nature personifies power, gave no indication he cared anything about flaunting it. In fact, his response to Mary seems terribly appropriate for us today.
“Do not be afraid…”