With Love from Indonesia to the World

Freedom from Fear

Jangan lupa shalat, karena kalau tidak….dosa…dosa….dosa..dosa… Ada api neraka…..” (Don’t forget to pray, sin…sin…sin…sin…There’s fire in hell)

That was part of the lyric from a funky rap song which I was swaying to its tunes. I was practically moving my legs in rhythm and tapping my fingers against my bag in the middle of a shopping mall. When I realized the contents of the lyric, it is as though my brain just commanded my whole body to stop moving to its’ beat. A beautiful song turned ugly in a second. Why use dreadful, horrifying, condemning lyrics to remind us of The Lord?

If I were a child listening to those lyrics, I would be so scared of God that there will never be love growing in me for God. I think I am too underestimating children. Actually that is what is happening to the society…..yes, in other words, adults!

“Religion is the first indoctrination done to children which can never be erased from one’s subconscious mind”, says Anand Krishna, Interfaith Spiritualist/Humanist. I try to emphasize the importance of the danger in indoctrinating religious dogmas in early childhood years. If it is always done through great fear, they will never learn to be courageous in the true sense. They will grow into traumatic fearful individuals.

As what they say in psychological terms, the reaction to fear is Fight or Flight. This acute stress response was first proposed by Walter Cannon in 1929. Whenever we perceive a significant threat, our bodies get ready to either fight until the end or flee like the wind. When we are in fear, we usually do not think straight. Even worse, we don’t think. This situation is only beneficial when we are faced with a shocking situation, such as being jumped upon by a tiger, which requires immediate reaction such as running or climbing a tree. The amygdale, which is located in the mid-brain, is responsible for this response.

Fear causes physical events associated with the fight or flight reaction, such as, increased heart rate, sweaty cold palms, nausea, digestive problems, increased tense muscles, fast breathing, and many more. Imagine a society having all these symptoms.

Of course the effect of fear differs from the duration one is exposed to it. If we are exposed to fear over a long period of time – mentally, physically, and emotionally it will finally wear us down – paralyzing the mind, castrating the soul. Fear is often used as an ultimate negative motivator to move people but fear can’t be used alone per se. An interesting example is like when we try to get rid of a “gang” of flies. We try to shoo them away by scaring them with a swift movement of our hand. Instead of going away, they scatter in all direction and settle in a nearby place. This is not what we had in mind. So to be able to collect them in one place and eliminate them, we install a blue light in the room where all of them gets attracted to it and get killed by the electrical wire.

The above description is just a mere example of how clergies try to instill fear in their followers so that they would get more “followers”. The effect of being intimidated all the time through punishment and reward method, or what we so call heaven and hell , creates a fearful society who does not think, easily manipulated, blinded their insights, paralyzing their sense of creativity, making them dull, crippling the mind, hardening their hearts, and so many other negative effects which “kills” the soul.

A hard swollen fact but true. Of course, this does not apply to all clergies. There are many who convey the message of God in a peace and loving manner. However, they are the silent majorities. The above song is a tool to instill fear of God in youngsters. However, we keep on forgetting how the law of nature functions. If one is suppressed with fear all through the course of one’s life, it is just a ticking bomb waiting one day to explode. This is what happened to the Indonesian people that have been living with fear from the freedom to express oneself for 3 decades and it just took one day to explode and topple a government.

Fear is the factor why one creates discrimination, separation, and paranoia. Fear causes one to gain domination. This is the cause for all religious conflicts, ethnic conflicts, and other conflicts. Fear is the seed why one can become so violent. This explains the phenomenon behind religious radical movements, which is driven by fear. Fear that they will not get the “heaven” that was promised to them. One good example in Indonesia is the fear that is created by the Council for Indonesian Muslim Cleric to forbid Muslims to wish the Christians Merry Christmas. They have partially succeeded in crippling the common sense of a supposed to be peace and loving Indonesian Muslims, who have lived side by side in harmony for centuries with other on Muslims in the archipelago. Children became victims of this discrimination. They learn to hate others of different religion. Their innocence tainted by the first signs of subtle hatred which is caused by fear. This segregation and fundamentalism is against the UNESCO Universal Declaration of The Cultural Diversity.

What happened to the word “reverence”? Why can’t we use this word more instead of “fear”? Why can’t we be more gentle is our ways to persuade people to respect and worship God? Why do we always have to be so stone hearted and a tyrant to “move” people? Have we all forgotten the teachings of The Lord – no matter what religion we submit ourselves to – about Love and Reverence? Yes, it is written is several Holy Scriptures in several religions that the word “fear” is used to obey God. But again, have we ever thought of the word “reverence” instead? If we do have reverence towards Allah, The Lord, Ishwar….we automatically will obey all what IT says. Why do we doubt? Because those who have to “fear” God by ways of intimidation are those who have doubts. Therefore, it is through our own courage that we be truthful to ourselves, and ask, “Do I still have doubt?” If we still have doubt, that means we still do not have a strong “desire” to be with Love, Peace, and God. If we live in fear, we will never attain Love and Peace. And only those who are Courageous can obtain Love and Peace.

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