LOVE AND FEAR: A short story by Stephen Gill

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The soft fingers of the first breeze started to play with his hair. The poet looked at the moon that smiled in its grace and then at the stars that twinkled in their silent harmony across the horizon of the endless canopy. His thoughts dozed like butterflies on the blossoms of love and peace. Feeling the freshness of the silvery beams, he began to feel lulled.
“What do you want”, a voice came from somewhere.
“Do you know I am a poet?”
“You are from the tribe who can reach where no one can.” The voice responded.
“Poets always seek refuge.”
“Why do you say this?” The voice questioned.
“Do you know Plato? He exiles their voices from his Republic.” The poet added.
“Is Shakespeare wrong when he says that the pen is mightier than the sword, and Shelley that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world? These are their voices and also the voice of Khalil Gibran, Tagore, Lorca, Byron and a host of others who are alive today. Think of them. In Ireland, they say do not let a poet die. Poets are sought on special occasions and when no other help is around like on births and death. And…”
“The idealistic aspirations of poets are skillfully fused with the flowers of a realistic understanding of unyielding faith in human capacity for goodness. These flowers will whither and drift somewhere shortly, even with a slight gust.” After a short pause the poet asked,
“Can I ask for something?”
“You have everything.”
“What makes you to say that?” The poet posed another question.
“You are rich in every way, “I just said.
“I don’t want these flowers to drift. I want love and peace.”
“Do you know”, the voice asked.
“Know what?”
“Do you know the Gospel of Matthew, chapter five, verse nine?”
“What is there?” The poet asked.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
“And God is peace.” The poet replied.
“Love and peace flow from the same source. You cannot ask for something that you already have.” It was an authoritative voice.
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“Perhaps love and peace wander hand in hand in the isolation of the jungles, depth of the valleys, or sobriety of the mountain peaks,” The poet replied.
“When the fire of fear rages, people hide the beauty of love and peace in their caves. Get out of those caves. These beauties are enveloped with the dust of the noise and the arms of the creepers of greed. Love is the driving emotion for joy, forgiveness and peace. Love has no laws, because they are not required in its domain. Love has no age, color and boundaries. God is love and His children inherit this love. Love is light, and to act in fear is to turn off the light.
“Love is selfless, caring, and the manifestation of the divine spark. Love is not escapism. Love is the circulation of the blood in the body. Love is the energy that heals. It softens cynical hearts. Love is strong, unlike fear; love is surrender whereas fear binds; love is honest whereas fear is deceitful. Love is trust, forgiving and compassionate.
“What is fear?”
“Fear is Adolf Hitler who killed 32 million people because of a tiny minority of the Jews, and two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was fear that led the Chinese Cultural Revolution in which 30 million people were killed, and Stalin who was responsible for 17 million deaths, Khomeini who sent children to die in the war with Iraq and the Hutus in Rwanda.
There are ethical, racial, religious and national genocides and all are based on fear. The partition of the subcontinent of India in 1947 was the outcome of the fear of being dominated by the majority.”
“How to stop these genocides?” The poet asked.
“Without protecting the rights of the minorities, peace shall remain elusive, and genocides will continue raising their ugliness.” The voice said.
“Is there any peaceful solution?” The poet put another question.
“The nations which fail to protect the human rights of minorities should be denied their entry into international markets, and the advantages of financial institutions. Their memberships with international organizations should be suspended, and their foreign aid should be curtailed or given with conditions. The loans of the governments which repress ethnic minorities, particularly through laws, should not be granted by the UN agencies. Those loans should be revoked even if they have been approved.
“There are negative forces at play. These forces continue neglecting the rights of minorities and continue violating the rights of the weaker sections. Their intentions are against the welfare and progress of their citizens. Their work should be guided by the principles of human first, not religion and language. They should believe in unity in diversity. They should affirm the values of human rights. These are some peaceful measures to compel nations to treat their citizens equally. Minorities are the salt of the nation. The weaker segment particularly children and women are the rubies in the crown of the bliss. Do not ignore this crown.
”Otherwise, there will be the fear that nourishes hatred, prejudices, anger and depression. The way of fear is the way to eat or be eaten, kill or be killed. Fear inspires more fear. Fear fuels atrocities. Human do not know when it sneaks up. Fear is lethal, toxic, contagious and self-destructive. It is a multifaceted serpent.
“Most fears for tomorrow are irrational. Jesus says “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.” Jesus adds, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”(Matthew 6:26-29). To overcome the root of fears, Gautama Buddha taught the truth of emptiness, or no self. “
“What else to do,” the poet asked again.
“The voice did not wait to add, “Genocide began to appear when humans started living in societies and began to cultivate land. With cultivation, humans began to store food and raise
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armies to protect their food. Genocide did not appear at the hunting stage of history. It also did not appear soon after the discovery of agriculture. Genocide began to appear when people began to preserve the surplus of their wealth. It takes place after extensive preparations and planning of the instigators. Most of them appear because of land, and also within the societies which promote religious and nationalistic ideas rigidly, glorifying their individual way of thinking. Such societies are not open to diversity and repress freedom of expression. It is the result of too much power with the state. Greed and hate in their extreme form foster fear.
“The instigators of genecide usually make use of the press and other media to spread the message of hatred and disinformation about the segment they want to eliminate, dehumanizing it. The locusts of fear start their work.
“Fear prompts humans to store more than they need, creating an artificial shortage. Because of this man-created shortage, everyone has to work hard. How much a person should own has been exemplified by Leo Tolstoy in his story “How Much Land a Man Needs.”
“The story is about a man who is offered as much land as he could cover in one day from the rise to the setting of the sun. He got up early. In his excitement, he could not enjoy proper sleep and went to the spot from where he was asked to start his marathon. He began to run as fast as he could to cover a lot of land. He was tired yet continued running and did not rest
even for his lunch. When the evening started approaching, he became more greedy. He was breathless, yet he did not stop. As the sun was about to set behind the hills, he increased his speed. Soon he dropped dead. The land that he needed was just where he was buried. His greed that was based on fear hastened his death. He feared that he might die in poverty.
“How fear builds webs of further fears has been illustrate by John Galsworthy in his story “Fear is the Black Godmother” through a dog that is left behind by a bicyclist. Tired, hungry and masterless, the dog roams. A group of school children want to pet him, but he appears to be rabid and the dog also suspects children. Therefore he does not like their nearness and shows his anger. As a result, the children hit him with stones. He begins to bleed. While bleeding, tired and hungry, he runs. He is seen by a farmer who takes him to be a rabid dog. He does not want to take a chance. He hits him with a weapon. He starts bleeding more. No one wants to take a chance to come closer to him and, the dog also suspects the motives of others and snaps at everyone who wants to be closer to him. Some people corner the dog and tie him to a tree where he keeps barking.
“A poet hears dog’s cries in the night. He approaches the dog. The dog because of his experiences snaps at him. The poet goes to his home and brings food for the dog. He shows his love and offers him food. In a few minutes, the dog begins to understand his intentions and stops barking and snapping and eats the food. The poet brings him to his home where he offers him more food and covers him with warm sheets. The dog dies in the night.
“It is obvious from this story that no one had bad intentions. Neither the people nor the dog wants to take chance. Therefore each hits the other to be at the safe distance. This is what happens in the world. All the nations and people within nations are afraid of one another. This gives rise to suspicions. These suspicions lead them to preparations against perceived enemies that create further enemies in different forms.
“Fear results in restless sleep, lack of concentration on anything, loss of appetite and inability to enjoy the gift of life. They affect the internal organs of the body. Difficulty in getting a proper sleep causes indigestion, elevation of the blood pressure, and irritability. These factors cause further social and medical ailments.
“When fear becomes persistent and severe, it begins to cause stress and stress causes other problems. Stress is a form of mild fear. There are exercises to alleviate stress, but they are pain killers. The real cure is neither detachment nor these exercises. The real cure is addressing the source of the stress.”
“What to do,” the poet asked.
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“Smile with the lips of love that will fragrant the environment with peace. Let its warmth flow freely.”
“We know this.” The poet responded.
“Knowledge does not heal the wound. It is the ministering of the remedy“ was the whisper that was loud and clear.

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Indo/Canadian legendry poet and fiction writer Stephen Gill is known for his epical poem The Flame, and his novel the Coexistence. stephengillgazette@gmail.com

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