Last week Terry Jones, a man running a church with 50 members, sparked an international outcry. World leaders and business people felt compelled to respond to stop fear from escalating.
When the public discovered a New York City mosque was to be built two blocks from the World Trade Center memorial site, people were upset. They staged protests and rallies decrying this move. Others voiced equally passionate responses, stating that freedom of religion is one reason America is so wonderful, and stopping the mosque from being built would put this freedom at risk.
Out of nowhere Terry Jones, who runs the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, announces he will burn the Quran, the religious text of Islam, in protest to this mosque.
Of course those of Islamic faith are upset. Of course they shout for response and reaction.
Surprising, however, is the speed this information traveled around the world, not because it was lightening fast, but because this information was derived from such a small part of the world.
Why did this man’s threat cause such an uproar? Set aside the obvious reason that the Quran is a sacred book and symbol for Islam. Were people upset because no one could actually stop it? He was breaking no law, after all. Was it because it hit us at a point in our memory where two towers fell and thousands died? More likely these were trigger points to something deeper. Yes, his actions were an affront to Islam. But his actions dug deep at the root of fear.

Photo: Veer Images

Fear brings two reactions: Flight or fight. We couldn’t move away from this crazy fodder for worldwide media. Therefore we had to fight, or at least react towards this pending symbol of anger.

But if this is just a symbol, to what would we really be reacting? Our response is to fight against the perception that something might happen if we chose to do nothing. Kind of a circular argument, don’t you think? Yet this may be how fear continues.
Worldwide, Jones’ statement splashed across the internet, on TV screens. The furor spread fear through followers of the Quran, among those that wish for peace, and to world leaders. People were fearful of what may have occurred if one person burned this religious symbol. State and religious leaders feared that their followers might question their strength.

Fear is the base of all trouble and turmoil. Fear of loss of control, fear of survival, fear of terror, fear of societal regression. The action of Terry Jones hit the heart of some very human fears. Jones’ fear. Americans’ fear. The world’s fear. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. And did it ever appear real for a brief moment in time.

But what would have happened if each person did not allow fear to take hold? What if each person felt empathy, love and understanding?
What if the media turned off their cameras early on and walked away, letting Jones do what he may. What if people saw his actions as one silly stunt and ignored it. And instead let love, understanding and compassion travel the world?
What if fear gave way to love, the only other emotion with which we are born?
Love makes the world go round. Fear one day may stop it.
Let’s keep the world turning.

Leigh Harris discovers the juxtaposition of metaphysics and concrete solutions in life and in her writing.

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  • Anonymous Posted September 29, 2010 9:14 am

    Like most people, I agree with you and don't want to see any of us succumb to fear. Additionally, the emotion of fear has value as an indication of "what's going on" inside us. I am a man, and, like most men, I tend to react to fear with extroversion and anger. But once I see that reaction, I can dismantle my fear and see where it comes from (if I remember, and hopefully before I say or do something stupid). Finding out what I'm scared of is a great hobby that has occupied me over the last decade or so 🙂 About Jones and his book burning tirade: I had a different kind of fear–a fear that I also sensed in a lot of others from their varied reactions to his attempted stunt: The fear of "Is *this* what we've become?" Though there's nothing positive in Jones' attempt, I felt that the self-questioning and the reflection that arose from it was both positive and refreshing. Of course, there were the usual knee-jerk reactions on "both sides of the fence"; however, there was also some genuine questioning of who we are as a culture. And the Q'uran did not get burnt. Some of us turned our fears into something positive, after all …

  • Leigh Harris Posted September 29, 2010 10:18 am

    You have such an enlightened perspective on this, and one that I believe is growing in the world. Yes, that fear (what are we becoming?) was loud in the world for a few short days. Perhaps it was enough to wake us up even more. And I believe we will continue down this positive path, with appropriate bumps along the way.
    Namaste to you.

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