Fear and Courage

Fear and Courage

In Istanbul 10 German tourists become the deadly victim of a fanatic self-suicidal person. In Tunis English tourists are killed at the seaside. In Paris innocent people are shot down. In the USA teachers and children are surprised by deadly attacks of other students. In Pakistan soldiers are executed that wanted to protect the children being vaccinated. Large groups of man rape women and insult them.

Each day we read in the newspaper these terrible messages and we see on TV the shocking and frightening video pictures. Wars in Syria, in African countries, in countries in the middle east, hopeless and destructive wars with many victims that bring more than a million refugees to Europe. In the USA more than 10.000 people are the deadly victims of senseless violence. In European families some parents beat children to death, couples destroy each other, older people are seriously attacked.

Was this for many of us in the recent past a ‘far from my bed show’, today it is for all of us just around the corner. Could it have been me who was sitting in that plane that was shot down? Could I be the tourist on that square? Is it my child that was attacked in school? This awakens fear in us. Fear for the thread. It raises in me the question of what is the sense of all this and what is the underlying stream that stimulates these violent happenings?

In my eyes this is related with what is going on in the souls of the individual beings in this world. Are we not all looking desperately for the sense of the things we meet and are we not all insecure about what gives us hold in dealing with these confronting events? It is my interpretation that this worldwide violence, that happens in the ordinary society in which we all as world citizens live and work, is connected with the decline of the carrying force of the traditional community cultures, our values and norms that gave our souls a hold. What do I mean with that?

First I observe the decline of the protective working of the force of the traditional natural communities in which we live like families, neighborhoods, folk souls, religious communities. The natural protection for children, the support for the elder in the community, the love and care between partners, the religious traditions and rituals, they are not any more so strongly alive between us. We have arrived in the organized life in which all of us, young and old all day long, live and work in organized contexts and experience in a vulnerable way the strong forces at work in this organized life. The natural confidence in the protective workings of the natural communities is slowly slipping away and we do not have yet gained a new perspective for a protection shield in our organized existence.

The senseless violence that we meet on all levels of life shows us this diminishing natural protective foundation for our lives by the loosening up of the natural traditional connections between things, between us. We are standing alone and each one of us has to deal then with these phenomena. In our society we only can react in an organized way by extending our security systems and making them more intelligent to protect ourselves against this senseless violence.

Parallel to the loss of the traditional securities there is the loss of our understanding of the human soul. The soul is non-existing, that is what science is telling us. Modern philosophers tell us: ‘there is no soul’. Our searching for answers to questions about the existence of soul, about the Godly creator of humanity, about our freedom and personal destiny, about ‘is there life after death’ has been pushed to the periphery of our mind. We deal more with busy lives as producing and consuming beings that use technology and systems and this dominates the structures in which we live together. We struggle with inner turbulence and we try to hold on then to old convictions that do not stand however the complexity of our common modern life. These system forces and obsolete convictions drive our thoughts, feelings and actions, they keep them in control.

Who and what is occupying our soul and how do we deal as an individual with this? This is the question I want to bring forward.


To avoid our fear we look for the holiday that is without risk. We close the borders to keep the refugees out, we look suspicious to the lady with the veil in the bus. We fall back on very defensive routines. At the same time there is also another force living in our soul: we want to help and support the refugees to find their way in the strange and threatening surroundings they have landed in, we want to support each other in the sadness and pain, we want to show solidarity with the victims of senseless violence. The inherent living fear in our souls coming out of the invisible threads we face, raises the urgent question how we can find an answer as an individual and as a community to this confronting happening.

The only solid basis that remains in our own soul to deal with that question is the existence of our personal ‘I’ that can steer and control what happens in the own soul. I do not mean the ego that is mostly egoistic and wants to hide, but I mean the courageous ‘I’ that is prepared to support the other person in its misery, its fear and sorrow. It is the other person that can help us to overcome our fear. The meeting between ‘I’s’ can bridge our differences. The ‘I’ of the human being, our spirit can direct the soul and we can support each other in doing that.

The basis in our society is formed by the courageous personal leadership of all of us. Also political, religious, business and public leaders can stand up and take responsibility for our moral understanding of our fundamental values of freedom, respect and love and to protect them and feed them. This helps each one of us to face the complex and difficult issues we meet today. This does not solve our problems easily but it supplies us with a good basis to deal with our fear and anxiety.

It is great to see hundred-thousands yes millions of people who are ready and willing to support the other person in need and not hide away in fear and close the eyes for what is needed in the new realities we are all living in.

Adriaan Bekman