I’m back home. Washington state was great – I got to hang out with my parents and see cousins and aunts and uncles I haven’t seen in a long time.
Now it’s back to real life. The Economist magazine was here waiting for me. The cover is a picture of monks in Burma (Myanmar) praying. The cover reads, “Burma’s saffron revolution.” I know very little about Burma, which probably makes me normal in America. I know a tiny bit about Aung San Suu Kyi because of her Nobel Prize. The Economist quotes her in this issue saying that “Fear is a habit.” (The Economist, p. 13, September 29, 2007)
What a deeply true and deeply sad statement that is. In a place like Burma, I am sure that fears of violence are a daily thing for many people. That kind of fear is in a category of its own. I know that I am lucky that I have never experienced that kind of fear. But all kinds of fear are related.
The most repeated
command injunction in the Bible (Old and New Testament) is “do not be afraid.” The reason that God says this over and over and over to us is that often, fear is where our hearts default. Like Suu Kyi says, it is a habit. I am full of fears, and sometimes those fears are the basis for how I live my life. I think that a huge part of the Christian walk is learning to trust instead of to fear. When I can step out of fear, I count it as a victory, every time. Because of my faith in the God of the Bible, I believe that it is His grace and power that enables me to step through fear, every time I manage to do so.
No matter what we might think about Bhuddist monks theologically, they are clearly stepping through fear to try and change their country to a place that is ruled less by fear than it is now. One thing that I always try to remember is that the “bad guys,” the military junta in this case, are being run by their fears.
I’m going to try and remember to pray for the people of Burma over the next months. I feel moved to ask God to continue to eradicate my fears, to eradicate the fears and violence of those who hold on to power violently, and embolden those who are fighting non-violently for freedom and peace.
Goodness, people. I just wrote a big ol’ diatribe about Burma, fear and God. Obviously, I’m still not Madeline Albright.