The only thing to fear…

On the surface, “Monster’s Inc” is a fun adventure movie in which two friends run around, save a small child, and revolutionize the society in which they live.  There is action, adventure, people vanishing through doors, and a cute little girl in a costume.  It is funny and uplifting.  When you dig deeper however, the movie is actually fairly dark.

The society of Monstropolis is in fact parasitic.  Not only are they entirely dependent on the emotions of children, they require children’s negative emotions to keep their society running.  They are literally powered by fear.  Not only do they power they city with the children’s fear, but the powers that be incite fear of the children as well.  Think about that for just a minute.  The monsters must terrify children enough that they scream in fear, but the children are in fact toxic to the monsters.  The monsters must go to a world and confront their own biggest fear and instill that fear in turn.  It is a fear based cycle that literally powers the world and that’s not even the creepiest part.  The creepiest part is that it is all a lie.

In course of the movie, Mike and Sully learn that not only are children harmless but that laughter is in fact more powerful than fear.  Their entire society has been lied to in order to preserve the status quo.  The company must be saved no matter what.  In the face of changing times, society must continue to hold on to what they know.  Like I said, it’s dark.  It’s also terrifyingly close to reality.

We live in a culture of fear.  There is always someone who is happy to tell us why we should be afraid.  The list is endless and the news media is the worst offender.  They are happy to tell us which group of people is a threat, which industry is substandard, which behaviors are dangerous, and which places will put our very lives in danger.  It is how they get viewers, internet buzz, and audience engagement which, of course, translates into sponsors and money.  I really noticed this trend years ago with the local news expose, “What’s really in your make-up?”  There are things in the world that I fear, scorpions being at the very top of that list.  I refuse to put my make-up anywhere on the list.  I started watching the news with a critical eye after that.  It has gotten worse.

In my experience most of the fear mongering out there boils down to a few key things.  Fear what is different.  Change is bad.  Other people want what you have and will take it from you.  That is almost entirely untrue.  (There are things that should be feared (like scorpions), some change is arbitrary and oppressive, there are criminals who are dangerous to others.  This is not the norm, this is the exception.)  It is also entirely unchristian.  We know that diversity is a gift.  We are taught that God is a god of creation, change and new beginnings.  We are taught that the second most important thing we can do is to love other people not fear them.

When angels appear to people in the Bible, the first thing they say is “Do not be afraid”.  In fact that phrase, in some form appears in the Bible almost 120 times.  To my thinking anything that is said that many times must be fairly important.  So let’s take it to heart.  Instead of responding with fear, as powerful as it may be, let’s respond with love.  Let’s think of a loving response rather than a fearful one.  Maybe we can change a situation for the better.  I believe that laughter is more powerful than fear and that love can change the world.

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