Be afraid, be very afraid

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By Chuck Souder

I recently heard a story about trumpet legend Louis Armstrong, who grew up in rural Louisiana in the early 1900s.

Armstrong told about how his Aunt Haddie Mae sent him down to the pond to fetch a bucket of water.  As he leaned over to get the water, an alligator surfaced and nearly scared him to death.

He dropped the pail and ran back to the house as fast as he could.  Seeing he hadn't brought the bucket with him, Aunt Haddie Mae asked him where the water was.  Breathless, he told her about the alligator.

Unimpressed, she said, "You go back down there and fetch that water.  And don't you worry about that alligator.  He's just as afraid of you as you are of him."

 Louis replied, "Aunt Haddie Mae, if that alligator's as afraid of me as I am of him that water ain't fit to drink!"

Fear is all around us it seems, and – as Satchmo discovered in the above story – it can cause us to do unfortunate things.

The swine flu “pandemic.”  The “worst economy since the great depression.”  Global warming or climate change or whatever they’re calling it today.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that these three topics are all over the news lately.  And for the most part, the way the information (or misinformation) about these topics is reported is not designed primarily to provide facts or details relating to the issues, but rather to incite fear among those who blindly trust what they hear or read. 

Consider the case of the swine flu.  Media outlets and governmental officials fanned the flames of fear a couple of weeks ago as they breathlessly reported that 176 people had died in Mexico as a result of the H1N1 virus.

However, a more recent news report by the British magazine “The Guardian” presented a much less fear-inducing reality:  of the 176 who died, only 19 were from confirmed cases of H1N1 infection.  And the continued use of the word “pandemic” – without explaining what the word means – purposefully preys on people’s ignorance to incite fear.

My guess is that most people think “pandemic” means “a really severe epidemic,” when in reality it is just a term used by health officials to describe the geographical spread of a disease, not its severity.

In other words, even if H1N1 becomes a pandemic, the number of cases still could be low and the threat to healthy people very small.  So far, there have been roughly 5,000 cases of H1N1 and five deaths here in the US.

For a little perspective, on any given year, at least 15 million (and maybe as many as 40 million) people get the “ordinary” kind of flu – and 36,000 of them die.

So, when compared with the regular-old flu, so far this catastrophe doesn’t measure up.

Could this version of the swine flu turn into something more serious?  Sure, but the reality is that it hasn’t yet.  But that didn’t keep my kids from coming home from school terrified that we’re all about to die.

Regarding the economy, are things going smoothly?  Of course not.  But to compare the situation today to the Great Depression is an insult to those who actually lived through that time and shows either an incredible lack of awareness or an obvious intent to deceive.

According to many statistical indicators, this isn’t even the worst economy in the last 35 years.  Could we get there?  Of course. And unfortunately many of the suggested cures for our current “crisis” will indeed make things worse instead of better.

And I won’t even begin on the man-made global warming charade, except to ask this question:  Have you ever shoveled 4 inches of “partly cloudy” off of your walk? If so, why would we trust the same folks who can’t accurately tell us what the weather will be like tomorrow to predict with such certainty what the weather will be like in 10 or 20 or 100 years?

Remember, only 40 years ago these exact same “experts” were absolutely sure we were approaching the next ice age.  For the actual research, I direct readers to www.globalwarminghoax.com.

Ok, the premise I started with was that a goal of many in the media and the government is to produce fear.  The question is why?

I believe the answer is simple:  Decisions based on fear are often poor decisions.  Because of this, fearful people are more easily manipulated into doing things they normally wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) do.

And, like it or not, there are those out there who, for reasons that are often less than honorable, seek to prey on our fears.

God knows this about us.  In fact, I believe that is why the most common command in the entire Bible is this:  “Fear not!”

More than any other command, God tells us not to be afraid but rather to trust Him and His Word.  Faith in God is a potent antidote to fear, and Godly wisdom as gleaned from the Bible is a strong defense against being led astray by those who would use half-truths and outright deception to mislead us.  

For me, increasingly often as I read the newspaper or hear what the “experts” are asking me to swallow, I find myself agreeing with Louis Armstrong: That water ain’t fit to drink.


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church.  If you have questions or comments for Chuck, he can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org