I heard a new term this morning--new to me that is. "Credible fear." Its used by those who vet potential refugee immigrants when they are trying to enter this country and are claiming they have a legitimate reason to be afraid to return to their own country. A credible fear.
I got to thinking about that and began to wonder who are the people these days who have credible fears? After all, we seem to be driven by fear in many of our actions. Those who support the current administration, those who don't. Those who protest, those who don't. Fear seems to be rampant.
Blue collar workers who have lost their jobs due to the exporting of manufacturing to overseas locations and who are concerned about finding new employment. Do they have a credible fear?
Person who are currently covered under the Affordable Care Act, who have pre-existing conditions and are worried that repealing s-called Obamacare without replacing it will result in a lack of insurance coverage. Do they have a credible fear?
Parents of young black boys who feel the need to sit them down for "the talk" so that they will not run the risk of provoking arrest or worse. Do they have a credible fear?
Police officers who deal tentatively with certain people because they are concerned they might be labeled as racist. Do they have a credible fear?
Trangendered folks who see the whole bathroom controversy as just the beginning of what may become an increasingly hostile atmosphere. Do they have a credible fear?
Proponents of one man, one woman, who see same-gender marriage as undermining a sacred institution. Do they have a credible fear?
I suppose how you answer each of these may have something to do with where you stand on the liberal to conservative continuum. But here's a thought. What if we simply accepted the fact that a lot of people, on all sides of every issue, are running scared these days? Wouldn't that make us a bit more compassionate? A bit more willing to listen, and then find solutions?
On the Christian liturgical calendar, this past weekend we marked Transfiguration Sunday. I won't go into details here (you can read the Biblical story for yourself in Matthew 17:1-9) but when Peter, James and John experience an overwhelming vision they are paralyzed by fear. In terror they fall to the ground, not even able to look up. But Jesus comes over to them and says, "Get up and don't be afraid."
Maybe that's how we need to approach one another in these challenging times. maybe we need to remind one another that we are not alone in all of this. That God is with us, and we are in it together. And while there are real issues that need real solutions, we can only address them if collectively we let go of fear, look up, get up, and then do what needs to be done to make this a better nation, a better world, for everyone.
(Image: Edvard Munch, "The Scream")