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Plant City Observer Friday, Jun. 16, 2017 1 year ago

OPINION: Focus on freedoms to lessen fears

Scott Toler believes it's possible to find inner peace in a world gripped by fear.


ith the recent fatalities from attacks in Europe, the tendency to adopt a fearful view of life might become an issue. Letting fear grow as a companion to daily life seems paralyzing. However, reminding ourselves of certain abiding values holds a lot of merit.

We value the freedom to speak our minds in appropriate ways. This gives us the latitude to agree or disagree with others and to engage in public debate. It includes the freedom of speaking and acting in ways that reflect our genuine selves.

Something else we have always valued is freedom of the press. This freedom fits with our origins of wanting to live by Constitutional guidelines instead of authoritative decrees. The press reports what it thinks happened and we, as citizens, decide the individual validity of these stories on a personal basis.

Freedom of religion took root as an important value in our country many years ago. It allows us to worship and to express our faith in ways that our hearts find acceptable. It provides refuge and shelter against any possible sanctions that seek to curtail liberties in this area.

The freedom of lawful assembly flourishes here. We engage in groups and associations that we feel enhance our public and private lives. This includes gatherings that express a belief or a set of opinions.

These freedoms only respond to fear if we allow it to happen. In fact, they stand as the antidote to any fear provoked by those with destructive agendas. We need to remind ourselves of these free traditions, born out of a desire that people live without fear.

Focusing on this reassuring heritage also applies to our inner lives. The act of diminishing fear provides a peace that many seem to crave. Inner peace leads to order in our thinking, balanced perspectives on outer events and efficacious personal actions.

Our history stands as an affirmation that millions of people have lived and are living in an open society that promotes the kind of freedom which banishes fear. Our responsibility lies in reaffirming our commitment to shaping and communicating these values in the face of those who wish to relegate them to secondary status.

We have met and survived these kinds of challenges to our society before in history. The Civil War and the Great Depression stand as two examples. Just as we need other people to play important roles in our lives, we may need others who share our values to help us overcome the situations that have played a bigger role in our national lives since September 11, 2001.

The freedoms we share will help us to overcome these challenges, too.

Scott Toler is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and writer living in Plant City. He may be reached at [email protected].

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