GUEST OPINION - Best friend, or worst enemy?

Monday, December 3, 2001

Fear is a powerful word. It can be a devil or an angel, a best friend, or one's worst enemy. It works both sides of the street of life delivering its gifts good or bad, depending on who is using it.

Today, fear is in the hands of terrorists who are using it as a weapon in an attempt to bring the citizens or our nation and the world to their knees. Their arsenal needs no fighter planes, battleships or long-range

missiles, only a supply of terror making fears.

Fear is at work in several categories. In the area of health, it can be a best friend. Its gift is the fear of what smoking,

alcohol abuse, drugs and food can do in shortening life. It also leads one to consider what a right diet and exercise can do to lengthen it.

Nature's fury can turn fear loose. A nationwide weather service issues its "Watches and Warnings." Hurricanes, tornadoes, flood, fires,

volcanoes and earthquakes are on nature's fear list. Humans have very little control in this category; they can lessen some of their fears by hurried preparation before nature's fury arrives.

In the category of morals society's "Anything Goes" has raised our fear level. It puts double locks on the doors of our homes, cars and anything else of value. This fear is based on the breaking of the Biblical Commandment, "You shall not Steal." We no longer walk city streets at night, fear has done its thing. In larger communities walking them in day light can be a fearful experience. Those who do, wonder who is behind them while wishing God had put one eye in the back of their heads.

Fear plays an interesting role in religion. Some who have only a casual acquaintance with the Bible admit they fear death, the judgment and Hell. Members of the older generation report they have been troubled by those fears and some are busy "Cramming for the Finals." Recently fear in religion has taken a change in direction; now many fear the religion of others, especially Muslims. It is estimated the Muslim population in America equals the total membership of the Presbyterian and Episcopalian Denominations -some 5 million. This fear involves differences in what Muslims and Christians believe. Some Muslims believe to die in order to kill unbelievers is Allah's assignment for them. Its reward is a non-stop flight into Allah's presence and eternity. Bin Laden explains what we call "Terrorism" is their faithful, successful punishment in Allah's name of unbelieving America. Christianity has no place for that kind of a perverted faith.

Today's style of waging war is different from anything history has recorded; this contributes to our fears. Military-wise, America is the most powerful nation on Earth. On September 11, Bin Laden's evil band of terrorists surfaced and took command of four passenger airline flights, turning them into guided missiles which they used to destroy two New York skyscrapers and rip a gapping hole in the Pentagon, leaving in the wake several thousand dead.

Some are wondering why Muslims who are here to get an education or make a living are not vigorously condemning Bin Laden and his followers in the media and nationwide advertisements. They have their spokespeople; their silence is adding to our nation's fears.

That sad chapter is being followed by the spread of dreaded anthrax by way of the nation's postal service. The disease is contracted by

breathing its spores. The postal service is spending millions of dollars to purchase machines which will "sterilize" the mail. Fearful patrons are being advised to use gloves or wear masks when opening it.

A sample of the fear terrorists are spreading in our nation was recently in evidence in the table talk of friends who were discussing a problem. If they had to travel which would they choose: airlines, Amtrak, buses or their own cars? This provided two tough questions: "How can you believe another person will care for your life if they do not care about their own?" This was followed by the second, "How can we go anywhere if we cannot trust the air we breathe?"

Health services are telling us our nation is in trouble. Some cannot sleep, others are having nightmares. Some cannot concentrate at the working place, others admit to being nervous, irritable and depressed as a result of September 11 and anthrax fears.

Fear's best medicine is faith. America's churches should be packed every Sunday. We need to meet together, pray together, study together the reassuring words of the Scriptures and encourage each other. Singing "God Bless America" at ballgames is a poor substitute for that. Muslim's prostrate themselves daily, facing Mecca and praying to Allah. It is working for them, they are the fastest growing religion in America with an estimated 2,000 mosques in which to worship. World-wide one out

of every five persons is Muslim, in the meantime Christian churches are

struggling to get one-third of their members to worship services one hour a week.

Fear can be a best friend or a worst enemy. God Bless.