“The world is a dangerous place. The historic causes which have brought war in the past are present today.”
Rabbi Olan preached two sermons that he titled “Why Men Fight.” The first was in 1963 in light of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the threat of nuclear annihilation (see post https://conscienceofthecity.com/2019/09/16/why-men-fight/). On December 4, 1966 Olan returned to the theme of the causes of war (and peace), this time in light of the Vietnam War.
To the list of the traditional causes of war (economic rivalry, national pride, and ideological zeal), Olan added another factor in 1966: a constantly fearful mentality. “Reason may teach us that going to war today for any of the historic causes is madness. It can and probably will lead to an almost complete annihilation of life itself. But fear is stronger than reason and will pull the trigger against our best judgment and interest.”
Fear is a powerful, natural motivator. But living with a high fear level all the time is self-destructive to our bodies. Constant fearfulness is also a danger to our national psyche. It erodes trust and substitutes suspicion. It assumes malevolence and produces unwarranted enmity. “Fear is contagious, just watch the behavior of a crowd.”
“But how shall we treat mass fears, collective anxiety?” To discover the solutions that Rabbi Olan proposed to this societal problem – a plague of our own making – read his second “Why Men Fight” sermon through the link below.
*Written by Timothy S. Binkley*