We live in a world of doubts. Who doesn’t feel confused and scared when surrounded by uncertainty?
We fear the fear. And there is a lot to be scared of. So much appears to be at risk: jobs, health, freedom, and our children’s future.
Many people in the world lack paid work and can’t feed their families. Climate change is making it hard to raise crops and survive bad storms. In the U.S., many communities suffer because of the color of their skin or immigration status. Even disasters of the past, such as horrible genocides of Armenians, Jews and Yazidis, torment our minds and spirits today.
Fear is powerful. It can make our lives miserable. It can throw us into a net of obsessive thinking, anxiety and shame.
In Palestine, the fear of losing hope is the most pervasive and damaging. We do not complain anymore about the economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza, military in our villages, or our lack of water and constrained movement. We have stopped noticing that there are no playgrounds for our children or nature for our families to enjoy. Who cares? Everyone is sleeping with their fear. We can’t see anymore the good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative. It has all become the same numbness. Our greatest fear now is that we will stop hoping for our own freedom.
To ease this pain, some of us seek relief in drugs, alcohol, violence, resentment and anger. Other cling to religious fanaticism and intolerance. All of these false solutions lead to failure and more alienation.
Fear presents a choice whether we recognize it or not: to love or to hate. If we choose to love, we have sparked the first flame of creation. We are being propelled into right action. This means that we act “rightly,” without selfish attachment to our own agendas. We act mindfully, without causing hurt with speech. Our “right” actions spring from compassion and from an understanding that we are all one beloved family on this planet.
Freedom from the net of fearful thinking and into loving right action can achieve more than we could ever imagine. The fear of cancer helped many scientists to work hard to discover a cure. The fear of getting lost led to the creation of the compass; the fear of ignorance yielded the invention of the printing press.
There is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear. “The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 3:18)
We don’t have answers to all the world’s conflicts, but we have a chance to start building a new loving environment right here, right now.
American author Toni Morrison said: “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
House of Hope has been choosing loving action over fear since our founding ten years ago. We serve our community with programs that meet the local needs of women and youth. All of our work is rooted in the principles of nonviolence, whether it be teaching our students Nonviolent Communication or practicing it ourselves. We are a healing organization that blends different approaches to holistic education: Waldorf education and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, environmental therapy in our Throwing Seeds garden, music and art therapy, and consistent love and attention throughout the year, including the summer months.
It takes courage to choose love and overcome fear, especially when real concerns are staring us in the face. But by choosing love instead of fear, we guarantee our happiness in spite of all hardships and uncertainty.
I urge everyone who reads this letter to believe in the strength of love and not to fall to doubts, fears and hate. Life is so good, whether it is sweet or bitter. We need to stick in love when we sleep, when we go to work, when we meet unfriendly people or face neglect and judgment. Love is the only way to overcome fear. I invite you to join me in this freedom.
Salaam, peace, shalom,
Milad Vosgueritchian, co-founder and chairman, House of Hope