Editor’s note: disagree with this Op-Ed or opinion? Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your own view here.
During a rough time in my life, I sought guidance on forgiveness, letting go, and healing.
Upon recommendation, I read Love is Letting Go of Fear, written by Gerald G. Jampolsky. Within this book is such great wisdom and awareness.
The book talks of only two emotions: love and fear. Even though there are a plethora of emotions in the human condition, it really does all boil down to love and fear.
Sit with that for a minute before reading further.
Thinking of how life plays out and emotions run high, can you ultimately define them in either a state of love or fear?
We are witnessing the manifestation of fear in our society today. So much of what we see, hear, and talk about is fear-based. We are scared of what others might do to us. We are scared of what others think of us. We are scared of who is in the White House. We fear the police. We fear losing our income or job. There is a fear of viruses. There is always a fear of death or the death of loved ones.
Many fears are completely made-up, anxious mind games that we play on ourselves. So many, especially in youth, fear not being (good) enough, which translates into adults with the same negative self-talk and esteem.
Where does this come from? So many places.
In 2019, I took a course on racial relations. I had real hopes that this program was truly making a change in our community and our world. I left the course feeling beyond frustrated, especially after the night we discussed racial relations and law enforcement. Our leader was an African American lady. Her heavy energy was evident, even as I walked into the room. At one point, she stated that she had an 18-month-old grandson. She said that he had a water gun that he was playing with, and he pointed it at them and said, “Pew, Pew!”
As she continued to tell this story explicitly, I could sense her fear, her anger, and her resistance to love. She expressed to us that she immediately jumped into action, ripped the water gun from his hands, and proceeded to advise him that he could not ever play with a water gun, toy gun—because he was a Black boy. She said she had to let him know that the police would shoot him dead if he ever came in contact with them, and he even appeared to have a gun. She scared me just telling the story. Her energy was overwhelming and dripping in fear and anger. He was 18 months old.
Think about this scene from the child’s perspective: what does this do for him? Such things instill fear in these children, our children, our future, our communities.
Here is a quote from Love is Letting Go of Fear:
“To the children of the universe, who are the essence of their being, love, bring light into a darkened world!” ~ Gerald G. Jampolsky
How beautiful is that?
Now, let me be clear about something. I understand that racial inequality and tensions exist and are at an all-time high right now, especially. I understand the desire to keep a child safe and the fear of the thought of losing a loved one in any way.
However, over the course of 2020, around COVID-19 and the election fumes, I have witnessed fear being the only way of communication—the only realm that people are experiencing and steeping in. The media has scared everyone about everything. Fear and hate have bubbled from every nook and cranny of our country. Accusations, death, attacks, fires, riots, protests, looting, removal of rights, turning family and friends against each other—they are all a fear tactic.
Fear divides. Fear plows through a crowd, taking everyone down with it. Fear creates panic. Fear creates anger. Fear heads off love at the pass and derails all good intentions. Fear controls. Fear eats you alive from the inside out.
Now let us go back to the children. Telling your children of the dangers in this old world is being a good parent. Bringing awareness to your children to keep them safe is necessary and has always been. There are bad people out there, and our kids need to learn how to recognize those predators and use their intuition in times of potential harm. That is awareness and trusting yourself. These are fundamental skills for everyone to know. Your gut is there to keep you safe.
However, instilling fear is a whole different aspect of this world. We see it everywhere. Our media tells of horrors stories, stretches the truth to slant toward how they want you to perceive the story. The media has become polarized with personal goals to divide our country. Politicians do the same, blaming the other side for all the horrors in the world. Pointing fingers at people being racist, homophobic, xenophobic—this is all fear-based. It is either fear of acceptance, fear of being, fear of the unknown, or creating fear where there is no reason to be fearful. The results are that “the people” are looking for anything or anyone who might take away their fears and cling to the narrative that best fits the hope that they will be able to release such fears. But us releasing our fears is not the goal of the powerful. If we have no fear, they have no power.
Back to the children.
Children are born with pure hearts, loving hearts, and the ability to be open, to be anything they can possibly dream of being. If we left a group of two to four-year-olds together, they would love each other—across every race. They would not see their differences but create harmony amongst themselves, as long as their basic human needs are met. If we could not (did not) influence our children about the preconceptions that our world has created, human concepts of differences, imagine what they would feel, become, and accomplish together.
It breaks my heart when I hear of parents, teachers, neighbors, media, and politicians instilling fear into our children and society—especially about race relations.
If we instill fear, not love, into a child, we instill negative energy into their very being. Like a dog can sense fear and take advantage of it, humans can do the same.
We’re telling our kids to watch out for the police, for the white supremacists, to always be on guard and ready to defend themselves. We tell them that they can never be a CEO, an astronaut, or wealthy because the white hierarchy and its privileges will always keep them down. They hear this all around them.
Are their dreams not crushed before they even have a chance to dream them? Does this teach kids not to love themselves? And does it harm their growth, potential, self-love, and relationships moving forward?
These children grow up fearful, with an aura of dark clouds over them. They have embodied the concept that they are not worthy or capable—only the targets of oppression and hatred. So they walk around with armor on them. They are poised to fight, defend, protect, and resist all they have been warned about. They give off this negative energy of defensiveness, even if there is no danger or need. (And this is for anyone who feels they need to be on the defense because they have been told of the dangers and horrors at every turn.)
They may come into a restaurant, bank, or car dealership with the air of protection around themselves, expecting to be met with racism, judgment, and mistreatment. So before they are even greeted, there is a scent of fear and defensiveness in the air. But, energy meets energy, and before you know it, both parties are on edge, creating a powerfully fearful and protective dynamic of self-preservation instead of open, honest, welcoming, and collaborative interaction.
These examples go for any race, any gender—any such way we “check a box” around our differences. Differences should not scare us; they should invite us to be curious about others and grow in acceptance, love, and awe of the beauty in everyone in our world.
The scent and energy of fear are heavy and strong. Imagine carrying fear all the time, all our lives. It becomes such a burden—constantly carrying that ever-growing apprehension on our shoulders, back, and hands. Is that what we want for our children, their children, and all the future generations?
We have all heard, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” It starts with each of us. It starts with all of us—together. We can lead with love and teach our children to lead with love, creating a world of peace, hope, openness, kindness, and compassion.
Think about how you walk into a business, school, friend’s home, family home, or anywhere else that you are free to venture in this country. Think about the energy that you exude and, in turn, the energy you receive.
We all have bad days, but we do not have to settle for bad lives because we are constantly in a state of fear.
I have recently developed a middle school girls’ program around yoga, meditation, and journaling. (Because of all the fear, bullying, and general struggles that middle school girls face, I felt they needed skills to deal, process, and heal from the fear that comes with growing up and becoming who they are.)
Within this program, I strive to allow these young ladies to see that they are worthy of love. If we can teach our children to love themselves, to know who they are born to be, we can debunk many of the fears facing our children today. Bullies are like the media and politicians; they lead with fear to gain power over others.
We are all born perfect, with soul purposes, out of love, and the ability to shine from our hearts. We just need to be reminded that we are capable of this love—capable of sharing it with each other.
We can make this world a better place by giving our hearts, in love, to the world and not to the pain or fear. Let’s teach our children awareness, by all means, but let’s also teach them about love.
It is up to you. It is up to me. “Choose love” is not just a cool sticker on a water bottle. It is a way of life.
So join with me: take my hand, and let’s lead with love.