1. We fear an unknown future, a future we surmise will, like the past, bring us both blessings and woe.
2. Using induction, properly, we surmise that the future will resemble the past.
3. Despite our justification for remaining optimistic about blessings to come, the woes (and our fear of their realistic potential), loom LARGE: “What if?!”
4. Our attention is easily drawn toward the objects of our fear.
5. The media gets higher ratings by exacerbating our fears: “An unhinged lunatic at Walmart!”, “A murderer in your neighborhood!”, “An immanent missile attack!”, “A narcissistic, untrustworthy leader!”. It is live, non-stop fear-mongering, which makes us watch and talk and post!
6. We are stewards of contemplation. We must train ourselves and each other to pay attention to the highest, heavenly things. For Christians, the Most High.
7. Where we get caught—as philosophers and pontificators—is in thinking we can imbibe sources of “news”, simply add reason, suddenly discern truth, and then derive sensible arguments and assertions.
8. The problem is, many of our sources “for news” are polluted, spun, half-truths, one-sided.
9. Sources, Reasons. These we know well. But there are also our “Concerns” (see Robert C. Roberts). Concerns like a clean environment, political decorum, right to life, right to choose, right to bear arms, free enterprise, safe schools, etc.
10. Not everyone has the same concerns. And concerns are not beliefs. They are related to beliefs but they are an altogether different kind of thing. And even if two people may share the same concern, they may not agree on how to alleviate the concern. Furthermore, people prioritize their concerns in different orders. Some care about X more than Y. Others care about Y more than X.
11. The news and social media feeds know our needs, our fears, and our concerns. They can and do exploit our fears—by spinning pieces of information in ways that tip our minds and bodies toward “Alert!”. That constant barrage of fear, fear, fear, makes us fear. And so when we see a post about X or Y that touches on those fears and concerns, we have this psychological compulsion to speak, to defend, to rationalize. We can do this logically, rationally, etc. but even subconsciously, many of us do it not to speak the truth, but to alleviate those concerns and fears—to quell the storm.
12. I do not see anything wrong with speaking out and on just about anything for any reason. But I do think so much of life really is like the movie, The Matrix. Even though we should “Fear not!”, we fear. Even though we know we should attend to “things above”, we live in the Matrix “here below”. It is SO hard not to get caught up in the PULL of the world and its cares and woes.
13. In the words of Morpheus, “Look around you! What do you see? Doctors, lawyers, philosophers (okay, he didn’t say ‘philosophers’). These are the very minds of the people we are trying to save. But some of them are so helplessly inured, so tied to the system that they will fight to protect it. They are not ready to be unplugged, Neo.”
14. Just know that people are where they are. You are where you are. As you live in the Matrix, remind yourself that though you are “in” it, you are not “of” it. As you look around, have compassion and love in your heart for everyone, as I know you do. Prayerfully ask what the one thing is you can say or do to draw their minds “up”. Set your hearts on things above, not on earthly things. Do not fall prey to the banter that puts its hope in princes. And don’t beat yourself up when you do.
15. Where possible, ask yourself whether drawing their minds to what is “right” is better than drawing their minds and hearts “up”. Up toward that eternal hope where there is nothing to fear.