THE WORLD IS FROZEN IN FEAR
Fear can hurt and even kill when the object of the presumed fear is not even in the vicinity? Fear makes people fall at false alarm.
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Stampede Caused By a Moth
We had sneaked out of a boarding high school to watch an open air film in an adjacent township. Film was a rare thing in the countryside. This meant that any time a film came to town, it would attract a big crowd. Even students for whom it was against the rules to leave school compound at night could not overcome the temptation.
A big crowd had gathered. The film was showing. A moth, apparently attracted by the light rays from the projector, fell on someone’s neck. The hairy-bodied insect caused him to convulse and shriek. His jumping and screaming caused commotion around him.
Not knowing what had happened, people who stood near him started running. The shockwave quickly spread into the whole crowd resulting in a stampede. One person died.
Why did people spontaneously start running? There were some armed forces folk camping hardly two kilometres away from the township. The general impression people had about army men was that they were bully and cruel. Because they were camping in the vicinity, there was fear hanging in the air. When the moth caused the person to scream, another person next to him shouted, “The army men have attacked us!”
Think about it! Because fear was looming in the air, a moth was all it needed to start off a stampede that cost a person his life and severe injuries to others. Because of fear, it only needed a moth to accomplish a feat that would otherwise require the force of an army.
On another occasion, we were reading during preps. It was a warm evening causing us to open the windows. It was again a moth’s story. Attracted by the light, the moth had flown into our reading room. Moths are notorious of falling abruptly on people. Like in the film’s case, the person on whom it fell screamed. He jumped and fell with his locker.
A commotion ensued. This was heard in the adjacent classes and reading rooms. In no time, the whole school was in pandemonium. Those who were sitting next to the windows rushed to close those windows. Because of the hurry, they pulled the windows with such a force that a number of the windowpanes were shattered. Many students sustained injuries caused by the flying broken glasses.
Again, why was the response spontaneously pandemic? There were rumours that a leopard had been seen in the school compound. When the adjacent classes and reading rooms heard the commotion in our reading room, they thought that the rumoured leopard had finally attacked and was mauling people. The students in other classes and reading rooms were hurrying to close their windows to stop the leopard from jumping into their rooms as well. Now think of it! A mere, ‘harmless’ moth had caused a phobic frenzy resulting into untold injuries. When fear looms in the air, a moth qualifies to fill-in for a leopard.
After the September 11th terrorism in the US, there were severe economic repercussions. Many renowned Airlines closed down after having gone bankrupt. Many people working in the Airline industry lost their jobs. Some airports were as good as vacated. Travelling by air became a life and death gamble. Since many are unwilling to gamble with their life, people only travelled by air if they had to. The fear that gripped the world was understandable. When fear is justified, the devilish activities will be intensified and the devil will be gratified because he shall have created market for one of his favourite products—fear.
There have been many delays caused by “suspicious-passenger” phobia. Some of the suspicions have been well-founded as others have been mere “security precautions”.
When people live in constant fear, it doesn’t take much to cause mayhem. Nobody knows where the next bomb will explode. It is like people are fleeing even when they are not running. The reality of terrorism and the zeal that fuels it have turned ardent optimists into latent pessimists. Security is no longer a certainty—people travail before they travel. To say that travelling has become a gamble is not an exaggeration.
Fear is one of the best weapons of the devil. He only needs to set the wave of fear in motion and the shockwaves thereof will do the rest. With fear, he will keep those in the South in panic while he is in the North causing havoc there; he will keep those in the West terrified while he is terrorising those in the East.
In December 2004, an African-looking man caused panic at Askim, a town near the boarder between Norway and Sweden. He had boarded a Norway Bus Express plying Oslo—Stockholm. According to the bus driver, the man was behaving suspiciously—could he have been a suicide bomber? The suspicion was caused by the fact that the man “overdressed” himself, creating the impression that he might have been hiding a bomb under the clothes. He also had a stop-watch that he was pressing against his chest, mumbling words and fumbling a book they perceived to have been a Bible.
The man was later arrested and no bomb was found on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if this man had just arrived from Africa and it was his first winter. Mid December was already cold enough to make him “overdress”. I personally know some Africans who, being new in a cold country, were already “overdressing” by September....
Where Do Christians Stand in All This?
What I have shared above about fear, stigma and stereotype show the natural panic and the natural response by man. Nevertheless, our security, most literally, is in God. God has the ultimate security “personnel”....