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Fear.  There has been a lot of fear going around right now. Fears that the terrorists might attack at anytime. Fears that if we let in refugees into our country that we might make ourselves vulnerable. Fears that just because someone practises a certain religion then they are not to be trusted. The terrorists have used such fear to probably gain more power then they truly have.  Certain government officials have used such fear to gain votes. TV networks have used this fear to gain ratings.
Fear is taught to us from an early age. Growing up I was read a children's book, "Don't talk to strangers".  In the book a child meets several people. Some people the child already knew. So for instance when the child meets his grandmother, everything is great. When the child meets his teacher, the meeting goes fine. But also in the book are several strangers. And sometimes, not all the time mind you, but sometimes the stranger was a wolf or a lion wanting to eat the child. The book was essentially designed to keep people safe by telling us to stick with only those who are just like us.
The book is helpful in one way. Yes some people are friendly.  Some are down right scary.  The book showed that. But I think it missed in a couple of important points.  Most strangers are perfectly fine to meet. They aren't wolves or lions, but just a human being much like I am. And sometimes even those we know quite well are wolves disguised in sheep's clothing. That book taught me to fear the other absolutely and to love the familiar totally. The world though is not that simple. 
Fear. Fear exists and many utilise fear to get us to act a certain way. But fear does not have to be there.  Fear rapidly disappears when we get to know some people.  I use for example the story of a man named John.  Since he was a child he was taught to hate black people. He grew up in a family where he was taught to fear the other. And as he grew into a man, he continued to hate black people. Nothing seemed to change his mind, until his wife Beth developed leukaemia and needed a bone marrow transfusion. His wife had a rare blood type and the only donor was found to be a black man who lived in a near by town who painfully voluntarily donated his bone marrow. This shook John's world. Would he have done the same? Probably not. But this man, who John feared and hated, had saved his wife's life. John came to realise that he had been wrong about black people. They were not all bad.  Just like white people some were very good like his wife's marrow donor.  Some might be bad.  But most were in between- trying their best, making some mistakes, and just living their day to day lives. In short John realised that we are all the same.
In this age of extremist acts and government rhetoric, it is easy to live in fear. Its easy to watch our 60 minutes of news and be bombarded with bad news and think the world is coming to an end. Its easy to distrust the stranger when the media tells you that they are the source of all problems. Its easy to become insular and afraid. But if we get to know the other, then maybe we can understand more about who they are. A few strangers will be terrifying.  But most will be just every day folks enjoying life just like we do. Instead of closing ourselves off to those who are different, let us reach out to others. Blessings.
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