Fear and faith do not live in the same home. The word ‘faith’ conjures images of peace of mind, hope for the future, for the fellowship of man. Faith speaks to the lion lying with the lamb – and the lamb can sleep with both eyes closed. Fear exists in a troubled mind, a troubled future, and distrust of our fellow man. Fear will not allow the lamb to lie with the lion. Do fear and faith apply when evaluating the foreign policy affairs of America? Absolutely.
President Barack Obama is embracing faith – embracing hope for the future of a long troubled middle east. The President has denounced extremism – and particularly violent extremism. The past eight years witnessed the leaders of the most powerful military ever conceived by man acting out of fear. Our country was lead by fear. The Bush Doctrine was rooted in fear.
The conflict between Israel and Palestinians is rooted in fear. The faith position of the Israeli Government is distorted to suggest that God will support their military – insuring victory. Thus violence is seen as a comrade of faith. Is this different than the violent Muslim extremists? Perhaps. Each will argue they are acting in defense of their culture, religion, and sometimes their government. Each will point to past attrocities against their people – and these attrocities are real, they are not imagined. Fear of future attrocities leads the battle charge.
If anything can stimulate fear in the hearts of man it is the prospect of a nuclear attack. Fear prompts nations to seek this heinous weapon of humanity. Fear prompts nations to want more nuclear weapons than others who may or may not be our enemy. The fear of nuclear attack is legitimate – many thousands of nuclear bombs have been manufactured in the past sixty years – and people of fear seek possession.
Democracies around the world fear totalitarian regimes – and conversely – totalitarian leaders fear democracy. Totalitarian leaders fear loss of control. Democracies fear erratic and unpredictable totalitarian leaders. Democracies operate on faith in the wisdom of their people. Totalitarian leaders operate on fear of their own people.
Fear of religions we do not understand, or religions that are not of our stripe, has led many times to historical holy wars. When fear dominates faith the result is violent extremism as a function of religion. Our supposition here is that people of faith do not operate out of fear. Adherents to particular religions who operate out of fear are not true representatives of the faith. Fear and faith, by definition, cannot coexist.
The Obama Doctrine is rooted in faith. President Obama is not a fool – he clearly recognizes the evil that exists in the hearts of violent extremists. But President Obama has faith that these extremists are in the extreme minority. President Obama presents a foreign policy of tolerance, of reconciliation, of faith in the fundamental goodness of man – rather than the fundamental evil of man.
By extending the hand of peace President Obama alleviates the fear of others. The hand of peace will win more converts than the hand of the sword. Faith will defeat fear.