Scared Straight

If you grew up during my period of youth, I am sure you have been witness to the technique used by educators, coaches and parents where they would use fear and threats to force children to learn.  I know I had that technique used on me by many of my teachers and even coaches.  I’ve even been guilty of using it myself, which I am not proud to admit.

Despite compelling evidence that fear is not a useful technique to use, many teachers, coaches and parents still believe that fear is a prime motivator for children to do high-quality work. The intentional creation of fear in a child for their personal growth and well-being still remains one of the most widely used strategies for managing their behavior and encouraging academic, athletic and any other sort of achievement.

But fear compromises our ability to learn, so why are we doing this to our children?

Recently, I had to go for a mammogram, ultrasound and consultation with the radiologist over a lump that I found under my arm pit.  While I was there, I had the pleasure of spending my morning with three other patients under the same circumstances as myself.  They were all much, much older than me, and as they interacted with each other, their opinions really started to talk to my heart.

Their conversations ranges from the failing school system, the dwindling church population, the youth’s addiction to electronics, the breaking-up of the family systems and of course, how Trump is going to ruin the world.  Very deep conversations for a group of complete strangers.  I mostly remained silent, and just listened to their beliefs, which I found very intriguing.

As I was soaking it all in, I noticed that there was a link to it all…fear.  They talked about how nobody instills the fear of God into children any more.  They were terrified of their parents and did exactly what they were told to do.  Sundays they never missed church because they knew the consequences they would receive in their home if they did.  Teachers ran their classroom with an iron fist and they knew better than to talk out in class.  Coaches would run you so hard you would throw up if you weren’t working to your top ability.

Being an educator myself, I sat there chuckling to myself on the inside.  If only they were educated on the studies that show how a child brain shuts down and cannot learn for thirty minutes after it has been startled in any way.  That is what is so marvelous about scientific research—it helps us develop as race.  We don’t have to keep our old techniques that drive children eventually to substance abuse over the scars they received growing up under such barbaric conditions.  We learn from our past and grow from it.  Just because that is how life was when you grew up, doesn’t make it right.

Ironically, I am studying the book of Jeremiah and I feel the same way about this book of the Bible.  It is scaring people into following the word of the Lord.  It makes God out to be this nasty, heartless entity that threatens to kill you with a slow and painful death if you don’t follow his rules.  God is being no different than those old school teachers, coaches and parents that are saying do things my way or you will fail.  Almost to the point of being mentally abusive.

No wonder these patients I met that day are witnessing a drop in the church population.  Who wants to go somewhere to be scared into worshiping a horrible punitive God, like the God that is portrayed in this book of the Bible?  I know I sure don’t want to…or do I want my children being exposed to such threats.

To me, we have to get rid of the fear based programming in all parts of our lives.  It is time to focus on love and compassion.  Fear, anger and resentment have no place in our world today.  We have developed as a race and know the dangers on the body of having these horribly negative things harboring inside our bodies.

Jesus was love.  Buddha was love.  Gandhi was love.  Mother Teresa was love.  There have so many wonderful prophets who gave examples to us on how to show love, mercy and grace.  These are the people that we should look up to and try to model our behavior after them if we want to have an amazing life.

We are all going to have our own opinion on matters of the heart like educating our youth, religion, politics and that is what the world needs.  But your opinion doesn’t make it right.  Believe what you want to believe, your thoughts are your own thoughts and that is marvelous.  We don’t want to be drones.  But until we can eliminate the fear tactic and the need to be right in all of these areas you are going to have those people that hate school, hate religion, and hate Trump.

I love the timeless story of St. Francis d’ Assisi when he spoke to the almond tree, “Speak to me of God!” and suddenly the almond tree was full blossoms and it came to life in the middle of winter.  How many of us are like that almond tree?  Scared and alone.  Struggling through our winter months.  Feeling dead on the inside.

Instead of being scared, start doing your own research.  Find things that talk to your soul and resonate with your heart and bring out your true happiness.  It’s time that fear-frozen humans start sprouting their own blossoms and say like St. Francis, “Stop scaring me God and just speak to me!”  He will show you YOUR way without fear.  Just be ready for humans to continue to scare you…and “pray for you” because they are still programmed with fear and are scared if you aren’t doing it their way, you are going to Hell.  Realize that they just haven’t let go of their own EGOs yet and are still stuck in thinking that their way is the only way.  God has no ego.  He loves all of his sons and daughters equally.  There is no right way to love God!