Have you ever had a fear problem? By this I mean have you ever spent, read “wasted,” time being afraid of something that turned out not to be a problem after all? And, if so, did you ever get over being afraid of this non-problem?
I have to ask, because I’m noticing that in this USA political election season, we are being inundated with messages in social media, TV ads, and on cable news channels telling us to be afraid. And when it’s not about opposing candidates in our elections, it’s about issues in our legislatures. Fear! Fear! Fear!
Of recent note in public media here in the States has been North Carolina’s HB 2 banning transgendered persons from using public restrooms in that State except those of their original birth gender. Besides the LOL of considering who will have the authority to go knocking on stall doors to record evidence yea or nay for each user, there has been an all-too-serious response by the good people of North Carolina fearing for their own safety and that of their children should transgendered people enter the “wrong” bathroom. The typical respondent at least in social media seems to be women worried about the safety of their daughters and granddaughters, though no doubt many men have been similarly alarmed. Fear! Fear! Fear!
To be clear, there is absolutely no LOL when it comes to public safety. Were there an actual safety problem, then the use of fear would be most appropriate. Safety problems make fear a good investment, and not wasteful spending, in terms of time and even legislation or enforcement. That said, from my own experience as a psychotherapist for 30 years or so, I do believe that sexual assaults happen in bathrooms. True enough. If I had to guess, probably something over 99% of those occur in private bathrooms at the hands of a known family member. And if I had to guess about the remainder of cases of sexual assault in bathrooms, it would be that the assailants were serial sex offenders fully identified with and dressed in the attire of their original gender. Making it likely that 0.00% of bathroom sexual assaults would be perpetrated by transgendered men or women.
What happens, of course, among victims of sexual assault is that the common condition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can easily cause phobias related to the scene or surroundings of their assault. For example, if the assault occurred in a bathroom, any bathroom, then every bathroom could trigger high anxiety or panic. If it happened in the shower at home, the shower at school or at the Y is apt to induce panic as well. Mostly, this is because there are not door locks on these public showers. Fear! Fear! Fear!
So what happens when legislative governments, for instance, start writing laws to protect people from safety problems that exist in the minds of PTSD victims such as rape victims, soldiers returning from combat, and such? How thick will our State Revised Codebooks become? And, worse by far, when the general public is sold on their having a safety problem they hadn’t even thought about before, how many hours, days, and months will be wasted fearing that which is not real? How many public dollars get poorly allocated in this process, I wonder?
Worst scenario of all? How many new victims are created when innocent transgendered individuals are now reputed to be sexual offenders at risk of raping children and adults in public bathrooms? This is what happens when individuals, and state legislators, mistake fear problems for safety problems. Fear! Fear! Fear!
And now one reason that I changed careers going from therapist to pastor as a Christian. In the Bible’s New Testament, we read where fear problems were common among the people Jesus would often hang out with. Many or perhaps all of them thought they had a safety problem. In which case Jesus may have said something very different. But on 14 occasions, if my own count is correct, Jesus was quoted as using the word translated in Greek as phobeo, the English word for “fear.” Only Jesus doesn’t say Fear! He says “Fear not!”
That’s right, fear not.
I have to wonder what Jesus would say to the people of America who are afraid, now that the word is out, that the sky is falling in terms of transgendered persons sexually assaulting people in public bathrooms. What might Jesus tell people who are in the mood to write or call their own state legislators and ask for a law like North Carolina now has?
Well, what do you think?
I think Jesus would say “Fear not!” You don’t have a safety problem after all! You just have a big fear problem, a solvable problem unlike your non-solvable non-problems, and you need to get help.