Make A Choice to Love Instead of Fear: The Hare and The Frogs

Last week I wrote about love. As I was putting the last touches on those thoughts, a friend described to me videos of baby girls who had been tortured by Daesh fighters. I can’t shake the images my friend described. So this week I’m thinking about love’s kryptonite, its dark twin, which we might name Fear. We could also use its nickname, Power, which is, after all, how Fear likes to dress itself up.

“What is it that creates in men an insatiable lust for power? Is it the strength of their vital energy — or is it a fundamental weakness and inability to experience life spontaneously and lovingly?” The philosopher Erich Fromm poses these questions in his book, The Fear of Freedom. I’ll answer: the root of all lust for power is weakness and a scarcity of love.

A hare was pondering in his burrow (because what else is there to do in a burrow, if not ponder?). The hare was mired in a profound ennui. Fear ate at the insides of this sad animal.

He thought to himself: Naturally fearful people are so unfortunate. They don’t know how to enjoy the least morsel to their benefit. There is no pure pleasure. They are under attack from all sides. That’s how I live. This damned fear keeps me from sleeping. Even if I tried, I’d sleep with eyes open. A wise mind would say, transform your fear. Oh really, fear can be transformed? I think that even humans are scared like me.

So reasoned the hare, while at the same time keeping watch. He was doubtful, worried—a whisper, a shadow, a nothing—all made him feverish.

One day, the melancholy animal, musing in this fashion, heard a slight noise. It was his signal to scuttle back to his den. On his way he passed a swamp. Frogs jumped into the rippled water in an instant. Frogs hurried back to their deep grottos.

The hare said to himself: Oh! I’m doing to others what’s been done to me! My very presence is scaring them. I’ve set off alarms in the frog’s kingdom. Where has this valor come from? How! Animals trembling before me! Have I become a weapon of war?  

The hare continued: I see now—there’s none on earth, who is so timid, they can’t find someone more scared than they are.

We are all consumed by fear. Most have disguised their fear as power, even if their power amounts to nothing more than scattering frogs. Too often though, as a person’s power grows, their capacity to love is squeezed aside, as if there is only so much room in the psyche.

Why is that so? Because as power grows, so does fear, because they are one. I try to imagine the magnitude of fear that would drive a man to violate a baby. My mind resists.

Love takes so much courage. Love demands that we shed our power costume, and let the world see our fear. The faith we need to have in other people to expose our fear is monumental. Humbling. The practice of love takes work to build our strength. To leave our fear exposed and resist the urge to hide it away under power’s cloak of invisibility requires a fierce discipline.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, an activist rabbi who marched on the front lines to Selma beside Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” It is easy to point the finger at someone who has behaved worse than we have. So what? We have a duty to the world to love with the most expansive heart.

Yes, we will feel helpless in the face of violence like the torture of baby girls. But that doesn’t mean we are powerless. The only place to build the courage we need is within ourselves. Face our own fear. Choose love over power in our words and actions every time we can. Roseanne’s racist tweets and Samantha Bee’s vulgar assault on Ivanka wield words as power. That’s the hare running loops around the frog pond for the pleasure of watching them hop for fear. If we diverted even a percentage of our military spending (a budget founded on fear and displays of power) to true humanitarian alternatives, that would be action founded in love. We have more than enough money to take responsibility. We lack the will. Instead, we point our finger at guilt and choose fear as our guide.

There is always someone more timid. But why do we want a person trembling before us, when we might hold them in our arms?


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