Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

October, 2004

Fear & Hope

While I generally try to keep out of politics, lately it has become impractical. Especially since the media in the United States, is saturated with messages from the Presidential candidates, and the various so-called independent support groups.

Predictably, in the initial stages of the election campaign, all candidates claim that they want to run clean debates and stay away from mud slinging. And even more predictably, the closer we get to the election, the thickness of dust raised from mud slinging approaches opacity.

But what is unusually pronounced in the current US Presidential election is the level of fear mongering, from both sides.

All focus has moved away from the daily affairs of life – things such as economy, law and order, health and education… almost the entire focus is on what is termed "the War on Terror". This issue has overshadowed everything else to the extent that should an alien visit the United States now, it should be fascinated with how we live in such terror of Terror.

But I guess it is not surprising that this is happening. Fear has always been a more primal and powerful emotion than hope. And since the majority of the people vote with their emotions not with their reason, it is inevitable that such electoral process will finally appeal to the voters’ fears and not their aspirations.

What does it take for us to rise above our fears and reach for our dreams? Is reason enough, or is there more? Does it not require a level of equanimity to accept the fact that there will always be threats of different kind to our lives and livelihoods? And does it not demand a certain degree of trust in our selves and our world to know that we can always overcome adversity?

Yes, faith is demanded to put aside our fears and vote for our aspirations and hopes.

And this raises the question, has America as a nation, become spiritually mature enough to vote for what it wants to see rather than vote against what it is trying to avoid?

I could play the patronizing role of the unaffected observer. However, since I am a believer that the outer offers us a reflection of the inner, the real question that it has raised for me is this: Where in my life am I choosing to avoid what I fear, instead of embracing my hopes and aspirations? Where am I lacking in faith?

© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
October 2004

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