FEAR AND FREEDOM
J. N. Manokaran
Fearlessness, or courage, is an appreciated virtue. However, if courage ignores the fundamentals, then it could be termed as recklessness and not courage. Today, the younger generation is trained to become fearless, ignoring the basic norms and tenets of life. The spurt in crimes such as sexual abuse, violence, corruption and financial irregularities is the result of a lack of fear. Here are some fears that restrain a person from becoming an ‘evil doer.’ One who exercises true freedom desists from acting or reacting irresponsibly. Such a person has a healthy fear of the law as well as the consequences of breaking it.
Fear of God
The Bible states, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov.9:10). The knowledge that God is holy and expects us to be holy instils in us awe and reverence for Him. The fear of God reminds people that God watches them 24/7 (2Chr.16:9). If that consciousness becomes a part of their paradigm and thinking, then each person would feel God’s presence and there would be no need for CCTV cameras! Those who do not believe in God or misunderstand His holiness and do not fear His judgment, have no qualms about indulging in lawless activities. Joy, peace, happiness and contentment in life are possible only when one remains within the limits of God’s boundaries.
Fear of Authority
A person driving his BMW jumps the signal even while the traffic cop is watching. This person thinks he can overrule lawful authority. With that attitude, he is not afraid of the government or its representative. Don’t we hear about toll collectors being shot at, cops being beaten up and killed, bureaucrats murdered, professors harassed and shot at, parents strangled, wives burnt for insufficient dowry, etc.? There is no fear of authority and the laws of the land. When police, politicians, bureaucrats,judges, teachers and religious leaders are ridiculed in popular and social media, respect for authority disappears and the impunity to do evil gains an upper hand. St. Paul writes, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval” (Rom.13:3).
Fear of Society
Society is a restraining force for potential evildoers, in that it disapproves certain behaviour. To avoid being antagonised by the society, they behave well. The shame of being caught while stealing would restrain people from indulging in such acts. Fear of being stigmatised by society restrains people from committing social evils. However, society changes and so do values. And in some societies, evil is tolerated subtly. Giving dowry is a social evil, but the society tolerates and even accepts this evil! The dowry takers are no longer considered evil in society. Eve teasing is another evil that is tolerated by the society and celebrated in the movies. It is no wonder that teasing girls is a common phenomenon in public places throughout the nation. No one cares, and girls are forbidden to go out alone after dark.
Fear of Family
Parents are respected and feared in traditional societies. In many homes, parents’ words are law. When parental authority is resisted, evil flourishes. The modern parents do not understand their authority and responsibility as parents. With their immaturity and irrational thinking, coupled with inadequate skills of parenting, parents fail to draw the lines where they need to, nor do they correct, rebuke or guide their children properly. In urban India, parents would rather fight with teachers in support of their kids than find out the truth and be unbiased in their approach to the conflicts. This kind of attitude has given rise to a new generation that expects the world to bow to their whims and fancies. Parents are more prone to pamper their only child, and when the child grows up, he/she expects their peers and teachers, institutions and society to pamper them! Without the parental discipline and discipleship, the children tend to go astray and indulge in all kinds of evil even before they reach adulthood.
Fear of Loved Ones
There is a natural bond of love and respect between children and parents, students and teachers, intimate friends, spouses, and children and grand-parents. For fear of hurting their loved ones, people exercise restraint. In the modern, busy world, few take the time to build trusted relationships.There are married couples who have not spoken to each other for years while they live under the same roof. Such persons could indulge in unlawful acts just to shame their partners. Broken relationships have resulted in hatred and disloyalty.
Fear of Consequences
Fear of the consequences of words and deeds helps a person refrain from indulging in wrongdoing. All words and deeds have moral, spiritual, social and legal consequences. Evil thoughts and desires corrupt our moral life and alienate us from God. Many think it’s ok to do wrong as long as you do not get caught! When a person takes bribe and becomes wealthy, no one warns him of that evil. On the contrary, the society respects him because of his wealth. If, however, he is caught and put behind bars, he is shunned by the same people who had respected him.
True freedom is expressed within spiritual, moral, legal and social parameters. Breaking these norms would result in consequences that can harm everyone.