Strange times; wouldn’t you agree?

If operating in a sterile laboratory, highly-educated advocates for evolution’s core principles would suggest that, over time, physical bodies and social cultures would tend – through natural selection – to become better-and-better, alleviating the emotional toxin called fear from society. Given enough time, sophisticated and schooled people will figure out how to eliminate the sources of our fears and introduce the ultimate outcomes for which everyone, everywhere longs.

If that’s the agenda for the elite among us, understanding the variety of issues that stimulate fears among the majority is the starting point for the people who can direct resources toward solutions. What are the fears that drive people, today?

The latest credible answers to that search precede the outbreak of Covid last year. Ongoing fears are still there but have likely been overshadowed of late by the fear of death-through-infection. Hoping for herd immunity through multiple vaccines and masks, a credible study from 2019 identifies the fears that were stalking the wellbeing of most Americans. What are we afraid of?

The Top Five Fears, in order of dominance: Corrupt government officials (77%); Pollution of oceans, rivers, lakes (68%); Loved ones becoming seriously ill (67%); Pollution of drinking water (65%); Loved ones dying (63%). The list continues… and is effectively predictable.

Though a conversation fraught with emotional energy, it bears recognition that Fear #1 – “corrupt government officials” – runs at the front of the fear marathon. Here’s the enigma of life, in a nutshell: nearly 80% of our citizenry live with relative certainty of corrupted government leaders… who are elected based on promises to alleviate all of the rest of the punch-list of influential fears.

To make the broad statement with anecdotal exceptions, our skepticism is fed by the unrelenting stories, told too frequently: Rags to Elected Office to Book Deals/Speaking Fees/Legacy Wealth, while the problems on the Fear List compound on their watch, defying meaningful solution.

We probably cannot fix the 21st Century World in this Monday morning missive, but this objective overview leads to a fascinating question: must we be part of the populace who lives in the dark shadow of unrelenting fear?

If you relish feeding your own fears and consuming the unrelenting flow of mind-controlling media bent on restacking the power list of Top Ten Fears (three of the second five on the list are tied to climate change and demand an end to modern life as you know it), close this blog now and listen for the sound of yet another political leader – domestic or international – calling for our confidence in their ability to bring solutions (hoping to be invited to Davos, after their term ends, to enhance their ongoing personal wealth creation).

During this month – leading up to Easter – our Monday  theme will be focused on a critical recognition: belief and trust are at the epicenter of everything on the list, and everything in your life. Belief and trust are not the same: belief is the first-order conclusion one must reach; it’s very much the cognitive embrace of a body of truth. Only then is trust operative: trust takes action – from the heart – based on the foundational truth that one embraces.

God’s history of creation and the story of mankind is an anthology of epic successes and avoidable disasters. He has archived the highlights of mankind’s attempt to live life in a fallen world. The contrast between people who believe the right things (and then place their trust in them) and people who rely on themselves and others to be more trustworthy than the Creator Whose claims are readily dismissed, but are eternally right, is rejected by most. Are you among that majority?

From now ‘til Easter, the question we’ll explore: What do you believe? and, Whom do you trust?

Bob Shank

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