“Do not fear for I am with you; be not discouraged for I am your God: I encouraged you, I also helped you, I also supported you with My righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Fear and scare tactics are no strangers to the world of politics. In the middle of another political season, and before a presidential election, we should not be surprised that these tactics are used in full force. At one point or another in history, all sides of the political spectrum have used it. Fear is powerful. Fear has the potential to persuade. It affects one’s perception of reality and slowly takes over, becoming one’s lens for interpretation. When it seems everything or one person or kind of person in the world is out to get you, threaten your comfort and all you have known, fear becomes a pretty powerful tool for someone to use towards you.

Fear presents a challenge, however, because it is not all bad. It is a natural response that alerts us to danger. It says, something is not right here and you better do something quickly! Many lives have been saved by this innate response. But when it takes over and clouds our thinking, we would be wise to probe a bit further. What about a situation/thought/thing/person makes me afraid? What part of my fear is a reaction to a real threat? What part originates from within me – my pride, insecurity, or lack of knowledge? Fear, therefore, alerts us to a need for action, be it evading a physical or emotional threat to our body or seeking the truth about the situation and taking an informed response.

I was reminded of this when reading a Facebook post reflecting on the current events in Portland by Cathy Myers Wirt, Co-Regional Minister of the Oregon & Southwest Idaho Region:
“…I sit [in my office] in Portland Oregon, a town our news vendors would tell you is falling apart.  It is not.  Some people expressing a desire for justice and a small number of people using this moment for vandalism are surrounded by federal agents with tear gas and clubs and by mothers linking arms wearing bike helmets and by fathers with leaf blowers.

This is happening in a few block square area in a made for TV video event.  Be careful how you watch this event.  Be careful because what is the same is that free speech can be seen as dangerous and used by people for their own agendas.  Be careful because the moms and dads trying to protect those demonstrating can be misunderstood, too.

Be careful as you watch my city.  We were de-escalating before the agents arrived.  Things were calming down with local folks talking with each other.  Now, we are national news.

As I have asked groups for thirty years…. when viewing and hearing a story…. ask yourself who benefits by you believing a particular version of a story.  When there are two, three, four versions, ask again, who benefits from each version….

That is all…..”