Fear

I've been thinking about fear lately. It seems like there is a lot of uncertainty in my life right now, both in the world in general and in our particular situation this year. The other day I was randomly reading the blog of a friend-of-a-friend and she wrote about a dream she had. In her dream, she and her husband went to a store to buy food and the only thing on the shelf was a bag of rice. It cost three-hundred dollars, but they bought it because that was the only thing available. Reading that filled my heart with fear and I've been thinking about it ever since. Sudden inflation is a reality in many countries around the world, and it could certainly happen to us here in the US. For years I thought of food storage as primarily something to have on hand for disasters and emergencies. During the last few years I've really seen the wisdom of stocking up in order to "shop from your pantry" for meals. Generally we have a fair amount of food on hand and, as I've pointed out, I can keep my grocery bills low by stocking up on sale items. We probably do have several months' worth of food in our pantry, although it would be kind of difficult to eat from our supply without fresh stuff to supplement it.

With my new feelings of fear I'm tempted to start panicking and run off to the store to load up my pantry. But I'm trying to figure out how to deal with the problem rationally. We'll be moving in about two months and I hate to pay money to ship a bunch of food. I also struggle with using up stored food because we don't like many of the things that store well; I'd rather each fresh food. But I think we need to be prepared for what is to come. It's just a question of fighting the fear and moving forward to doing something productive.

I've also thought about fear as I've read a number of posts discussing the best way to parent out children these days. Many people I know speak from a deep, but vague, sense of fear about their children and the dangers they face. I feel the same fear, but it bothers me because I don't like to act simply out of fear. I want to act, not just react. The thing is, I'm tired of always hearing about how the world is "becoming more evil". How do we measure that, anyways? How do we really know? Does it matter if the world is "more" or "less" evil than it used to be? To me, I feel like that is irrelevant and spending so much time stirring up fear is counterproductive when it distracts us from discussing concrete solutions. I do think the world has changed during the last few decades and that we do need to change our parenting strategies, but I don't think it's a matter of degrees of "evil". I think the real problem is that we now live in an age of vast amounts of information and we have to learn how to deal with and sort that information as well as to help our kids learn how to interact well with information.

But that's a topic for another post. What I've been talking about is fear. I don't want to make my decisions in my life based on fears that I have. It can be a powerful motivator, but it doesn't come from God. He doesn't want us to be fearful and panic, He wants us to use our heads and hearts to be productive and do stuff instead of just sitting around worrying about it. Fear tends to encourage reactions while faith produces action and change.

Comments

skyeJ said…
I don't think the world is becoming "more evil". I think that idea is only useful as a tool to manipulate people emotionally, and it bothers me. God doesn't manipulate. God inspires. I read the novel "Roots" and reading about the lives of slaves on slave ships was what made me really believe the world isn't any more evil now than it ever was. I agree with you, Foxy. I think the difference these days is that we have so much more information available to us. It makes it easier to see all the evil and good we have created in the world. Information is a powerful too for inspiring good and bad choices. The idea that "the world" is evil is inaccurate, and I wish we could get away from saying that. It is a place, not a being with choices. It has always been a place where we have been free to create good or evil. We create a lot of evil, and we create a lot of good. We are inspired to do these things by two opposing factors, but it is we who actually creates "good" and "evil" we see around us. WE make the choices, not some otherworldly force. To say "the world" is evil is to hide from fact that we are "the world". That idea can be scary and it is a lot more comforting to say we are not "of the world". It is comforting to place ourselves in another sphere. We are here, though. We aren't supposed to be anywhere else right now. I think it is more useful not to deny, but to recognize our complicity in the evil of the world Doing so also implies our complicity in the good of the world. That idea gives me a lot of hope because I have the power to choose to add to the evil or add to the good every day. To deny that power and place it on "the world" or "all those other people who are different than me" is a dangerous thing. I can be afraid of myself and others ("the world"), or I can be inspired by myself and others ("the world"). It is my choice.
Thank you. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of love . . ."

I think every generation looks back with fondness to the one before, or its childhood, and says, "Ah, things were better then. Things were simpler then." And maybe, in some ways, they were. Or perhaps it is just that when you think of childhood it seems simpler because your parents worried about the big issues of safety, mortgages, inflation, and jobs.

TNY did an article a few years ago about expat Iranians living in the US who got out when the Ayatollah came to power. Many of their children, though highly Americanized, treat their parent's upbringing in the old world with deep romanaticism and talk about going back to their homeland someday. The irony is that with the lifestyles many of these kids enjoy, true day-to-day living in Iran would eat most of them alive.

I think what I'm trying to say is that sometimes fear over what comes ahead prompts us to say that other times were better. But no time was perfect, and the trade-offs are enormous. In the 1950's our kids might have been safer outside without such close supervision, but if we could really understand the lack of opportunity for women at that time, we would never trade places. Or the severe degradation so many humans have suffered because of ignorance and unexposed cruelty. Yes, there is more pornography in our society now, but we are also fighting racism and sexism in a way the world has never before seen. Children may be less respectful than a generation ago, but they are perhaps less fearful of their parents than in times when children were forced to be seen and not heard. Examples abound.

On a practical note--I have a friend who came up with a great idea. She calls it her times 12 plan. Come up with 7 meals that your family eats well that could be made entirely out of food storage (or modified to be less than ideal out of food storage, but still workable). Make out a recipe. If you buy 12 times each ingredient, then you have a three month's supply of that meal. It takes a year or two to build it up, but it works well. You then regularly schedule these meals, 2 or 3 times a week into your schedule (my friend does it daily, but I don't think it is at all healthy to eat that way) and rotate the food storage that way. Ideally, spaghetti goes with fresh parmesan, and a big salad, but spagetti can be done just as easily with a canned vegetable and "sprinkle cheese" (my kids' words) from a can. Anyway, I think it is a great idea and if gas would quit taking up a bigger and bigger chunk of our budget every month I might be able to work on my food storage a little more diligently.
Th. said…
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It's weird that you would write this the day after I finally saw Donnie Darko....
Kengo Biddles said…
...I hear you on the food storage thing. It's been on my mind a great deal, too.

But I agree that stirring up fear is pointless. Fear is something that Satan introduced, and where fear is, faith has a hard time surviving
So true. As for the whole rice thing, my husband put it this way, "I'm not in panicking, I just don't want all the panicked people to get all the food." =) I believe on food storage and we are doing pretty good, and I believe in being prepared. However, foodstorage in not a panacea, and in the end fatih is what we will need to get through whatever disasters may come our way.

And all one has to do is read the scriptures to realize that this is not the most evil of times. It is just that things are changing. My mom used to tell me I was paranoid, now she sees that my kids are facing things that I never even had to think about and my precautions have been necessary. I'm constantly having to check myself for fear based decisions. It is hard to balance.
Whooie, too many typos in that last comment. I really should put my ice cream down when I type. =)

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