The power of fear

Don’t be misled! This is all irony about the negative power of fear, the debilitating grip that defies reason and even intelligence. Edmund Burke (1729-1797) commented on fear with these words: “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear”.

What better illustration can be found than yesterday’s verdict in a Moscow court to send three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot to two years prison term for “hooliganism”. Yes, hooliganism, not treason!

But, to the Kremlin authorities, the three, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekatarina Samutsevich, 30, are guilty of treason (even if not spelled so in court) for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

Fear by the highest powers in the state sees hooliganism in the scary picture of treason. Even the highest religious authorities can be so gripped by fear as to seek to defend God, as if God needs human defense from the Pussy Riot.

This is a good lesson at the individual as well as the highest levels of power. Power in itself, or authority, is not real empowerment. Only true freedom – of mind and conscience – and the spirit of love, empowers by defeating fear. For, at the heart of the Putin-Pussy Riot tug of war lies the issue of freedom; those seeking it on the one hand, and those denying it, on the other.


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