The first words of John Paul II’s papacy were “Be not afraid.”
Yet, over the past months, we’ve seen snipers, terrorist attacks, a war, Iraq wanting nuclear weapons, North Korea having nuclear weapons (provided by former presidents Carter and Clinton), a deficit, a recession and over 3,000 people dead on 9-11 alone.
In the week of Oct. 3, a man received a $2 million “wrongful life” settlement because doctors failed to give his mother information that would have resulted in his abortion; the World Health Organization reported that 50 percent of the world’s violent deaths are a result of suicide; war was sort of declared on Iraq.
We live in a world racked by fear, solipsism and despair, but we still have this Polish priest in a white dress saying, “Be not afraid.” Is he nuts?
We’ve also seen a terrorist state wiped out with minimal casualties. We saw acts of heroism unparalleled in peacetime. No one can count the civilians who died on 9-11 because they ran into the fire. Blood banks had to turn away donors due to oversupply. We’ve got half a terrorist network down in Cuba. The serial sniper was caught and captured in about a month. We still haven’t fired a shot at North Korea or Iraq.
Does it even matter that the economy is on the rise and that more people have more spending money than they did a year ago?
For those of you who watch too much CNN, let me point out something that the news doesn’t: we live in a world of abundant goodness and light. Sept. 11 made me numb, but I was moved to tears by the lines of blood donors, the massive amounts of volunteers to dig through the rubble, the sudden fashionability of patriotism,and the courage and sacrifice of the men and women of Flight 93.
What is there to be afraid of? Death? If you believe in religion, there’s nothing to be afraid of in Heaven or reincarnation. Those who don’t believe in an afterlife see death as a long, dreamless sleep.
What is there to fear? Life? In a world where such creatures as firefighters exist, and new wonders await each day, where is the curse in living?
I’ll leave you with something I saw once at an Irish fair in Coney Island.
“There are only two outcomes; either you’re employed, or you’re unemployed. If you have a job, there’s nothing to worry about; if you don’t have a job, you’ve either got your health, or you don’t.
If you have your health, you can always find a job later and you have nothing to worry about; if you don’t have your health, you can either get better or not.
If you get better, there’s nothing to worry about; if you don’t, you either go to Heaven or not.
If you go to Heaven, there’s nothing to worry about, and if not, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all of your old friends that you won’t have time to worry about anything else.”
Be not afraid.