I stayed up on election night falling into something that felt like panic. Perhaps that’s what it was. In the months leading up to that moment in history, analysts frequently discussed the politics of fear as a phenomenon entering our national landscape in a way it hadn’t in quite some time; in particular, how a certain presidential candidate incited fear in numbers that hadn’t been seen in a decade; with polls reporting that United States Americans were worried about being victims of terrorism and crime, despite the fact that crime rates, for instance, had been steadily declining for decades.
Today’s Gospel abounds with moments of fear. It is something like a refrain, appearing every few lines. The guards at the tomb were shaken with fear at the appearance of Jesus. The angel told the women not to be afraid. They went away from the tomb fearful, yet overjoyed. And, finally, Jesus himself told them not be afraid (Mt 28:1-10). And while fear is a natural emotional reaction, this reading suggests that, perhaps, we have a choice to push against it. For the disciples, it was their faith that reminded them that they did not need to be afraid.
In a moment saturated with fear, I am curious about the power of pushing against it.
In a similar way to what is suggested in today’s Gospel. But the question is whether or not, today, we might find something to believe in that could inspire us to push against fear.
Because, today, fear catalyzes more law enforcement in poorer neighborhoods; and thus more black and brown bodies being executed in the streets.
Fear means refugee bans that are written through a lens of bigotry; and the trauma or imminent deaths of those refugees who might have nowhere else to go.
Fear means a trans woman who is brutally murdered because this country refuses to protect her.
So to push against fear requires that we do the work to dismantle the systems around us: the ones that require the exploitation of some in order to guarantee the security of others. It means building bridges where others are attempting to erect walls. Placing microphones at the margins, to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced. Having faith where others have given up.
To push against fear…means building bridges where others are erecting walls #RiseUpLentClick to tweet
Perhaps to follow Jesus is to push against fear. To reject the movements and decisions and refrains of fearmongers. To say: we can choose to build bridges, and we have nothing to fear.
- What systems do you benefit from that exploit or marginalize another?
- When it comes to dismantling those systems, what fears do you have that prevent you from advocating for others?
Kristen Trudo is a currently the Community Engagement Coordinator at La Salle Middle School, a public charter in St. Louis, while also employed by Rise Coffee House, a St. Louis business committed to social justice.
Trudo is an emerging leader in the Ignatian family, challenging oppressive structures in predominantly white organizations. Since graduating from Loyola Marymount University (’14) and moving to St. Louis as a Jesuit Volunteer, Kristen has been challenged to think about the ways she is privileged, and not; and inspired to write about black liberation, violence against LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals, and the complicity and responsibility of the Catholic Church in the oppression of these groups. Kristen hopes to continue writing and finding her place in the work to dismantle systemic oppression, especially as it related to the liberation of black lives.