The upshot of these studies really, is that we are not sure which comes first, the fear, or the conservatism. I remember when I became a Democrat, a buddy and I had taken off from Indiana, looking to build our lives in California, wrong timing, and a bunch of other factors brought us ultimately back to Indiana. But, in the aftermath of that adventure, my politics had changed. Now, when I look at the whole incident, the “adventure”, and it’s subsequent failure should have made me more fearful, i.e. more conservative.
But the major lesson this particular adventure had taught me, was to choose love first. Now, looking back, I cannot honestly say how that lesson came through, or even “stuck”, I just know that fear, which was the precursor to that adventure, did not work, and was not a path to travel. I guess I do know how that lesson “stuck”.
But, now comes the kicker, love and fear are opposites. You cannot choose to love and live in fear. It will not happen. Love, and by this I mean all manner of love, whether you are speaking of love of one person or love of all mankind cannot come out of fear, nor will it manifest as fear. To choose to Love, truly, in the sense of having compassion for oneself and all others will manifest itself in the positive; joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, humility, and self-control. To be sure, I am not perfect in this, not by a long shot. But, I continue to learn.
I am often at odds with Paul the Apostle, who is the original writer of the above litany of the manifestations of love, but, like Paul, I have many fears, and those fears sometimes take a great deal of prayer, self-examination, faith in the Master of the Universe, and time to conquer. It is both a very good thing that Paul’s letters were included in the New Testament, and a very bad thing that they are there. The good, of course, is that we can watch a very human individual, a murderer, no less, come to terms with his imperfections and find solace in the love of God. The very bad thing is that, if you do not read Paul’s letters as a journey toward love, you see them as a mandate on how humans are supposed to conduct themselves as believers. That will result in a horrible lack of growth, for his letters were not a manifest, but a record of a journey from human failing to learning to love at the highest level. In fact, the entire Bible is very much about such a journey, not for just one person, but for an entire nation.
That, indeed, is why, though the original laws written in the Torah were an excellent starting point, they were remiss in that they did not list a group of heinous crimes that we have, finally, grown enough to see as the wicked crimes they are, i.e. slavery, rape, and child harm. All three of those can be listed together as what one could call “power” crimes, in that their entire force is to hold power over others. It was not until the later prophets that one began to see that “compassion” was first, last, and always, the way to please God. Compassion will not manifest itself with slavery, rape, or harming children. It will, indeed, manifest itself in kindness toward all other humans. Truly, we are a long way from manifesting this as a people. Some humans have arrived, and speak to us about this, for instance we see the Dalai Lama, leader of the Buddhist faith, speak often about the fact that compassion is a human need, not necessarily a religious tenet. He is right.
We humans, if we are going to grow from childhood to adulthood, must grow in compassion, living our lives in fear gets us “stuck” in childhood. We will continue to be militant, angry, suffering humans if we do not learn to manifest love from the first of our interactions, to the last of our lives. We need to learn as a people, to choose love first.