National Drug of Choice

TW: descriptions of substance abuse

Fear is America’s drug of choice, and I’m a user.

This year I’ve come to realize how little fear aligns itself with any one political party. An equal-opportunity motivator, it has served as primary rhetoric on both sides of the aisle for the past four years.

I watch people promote Trump out of fear. I watch people promote Biden out of fear. I do see people supporting those two candidates for reasons other than fear, sure. However, the most vocal supporters I know are bound together by fear. The only thing that distinguishes them lies in the particular things they are afraid of.

Abortion. ICE. Socialism. Nationalism. Human trafficking. Drug trafficking. Economic ruin. Economic oppression. Social rights. Religious rights.

Something about each of these feeds our addiction to fear, regardless of our preferred delivery mechanism (blue or red syringe?).

I have repeatedly heard Christians lament the absence of simple civility, let alone love, in our political discourse and policy debates. I feel the same–but I’ve come to realize that an shortage of love oughtn’t surprise us when so much fear has inundated our faculties. Christians are called to better, but not even a God-fearing addict can live out the Gospel while indulging his habit. Ultimate hope remains even for this fellow–

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire….” (1 Cor. 3)

–but he loses much. So have we.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4)

We cannot experience or share the fulfillment and security found in love so long as we are full of fear. Here we are, a nation subscribed to fear. Not a single Pandora’s box, but an endless monthly subscription. We can’t bear to go without it. No wonder the love designed to define us has grown scarce. Little demand; little supply.

One of the most discouraging parts about all this is that even when we receive our hoped-for outcome, the fear driving our efforts doesn’t go away. If anything, it increases. We now become afraid of losing what we’ve striven so hard to gain. Attaining the supposed solution for our fear does nothing so much as create more of it.

We are becoming best known for our fear-worship, across the board. We never had to settle for that. We still don’t. The alternative is so much better.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” (Ibid)

I’d rather be associated with Christ–like Christ–than affiliated with any political party, policy, or person.

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,”’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (Ibid)

Don’t worry: I’m guilty as charged, too. I’ve been so afraid of so many of you.

But I don’t have to be. I have access to love that casts out all fear. Tomorrow, and in the weeks ahead, I pray God refocuses me solidly on that.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (Ibid)

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