Fearlessness or courage is an appreciated virtue. However, if the courage ignores the fundamentals, then that could be termed as recklessness and not courage. Today, the younger generation is trained to become fearless, ignoring the basic norms and tenets of life. The spurt in crimes including sexual abuse, violence, corruption and financial irregularities is the result of a lack of fear. Here are some fears that restrain a person from becoming an evil doer. True freedom is within the limits of these fears and not beyond them.
Fear of God
Bible states: “Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) The knowledge that God is Holy and expects people to be holy provides awe and reverence to God. The Fear of God reminds people that God watches them 24/7. (II Chronicles 16:9) If that consciousness becomes part of their paradigm and thinking, then each person would feel God’s presence. There is no need for CCTV cameras to watch over us. When people do not believe in God, misunderstand his holiness, and do not bother about His judgment; then they could involve in any deed that is evil or wicked. Joy, peace, happiness and meaning in life is possible only within the limits of God’s boundaries.
Fear of Authority (Government)
A person driving his BMW jumps the signal even while the traffic cop is standing there. This person thinks, he has authority over the Lawful authority and even Laws. With that attitude he is not afraid of the Government or the representatives of the Government. Do we not hear how toll collectors are shot; cops being beaten and killed; bureaucrats murdered; professors harassed and shot at; parents strangled, wives burnt for insufficient dowry… There is no fear for the authority and laws that are in place. When police, politicians, bureaucrats, judges, teachers and religious leaders are ridiculed, poke fun at in popular and social media, the respect for authority disappears. When that disappears, the impunity to do evil gains an upper hand in the mind of a person. St. Paul writes: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval.” (Romans 13:3)
Fear of Society
The society is also a restraining force for evil doers. Society disapproves certain behaviour. When people do not want to antagonize the society, they behave well. For example, a thief will be looked down upon. The shame would restrain people from indulging in such acts. The social stigma for certain type of acts restrains people. However, the society changes and so do the values. And in some societies, the evil is tolerated subtlety. Giving dowry is wrong, but the society tolerates that and it has become a social evil. The dowry takers are not considered as evildoers in society. So, giving and taking dowry has become common in India. Eve teasing is also another evil that is tolerated by the society and celebrated in movies. It is no wonder teasing girls is common in all public places throughout the nation. No one cares and girls are asked not to go alone or after dark.
Fear of Family
Parents are respected and feared in traditional societies. In many homes, parents’ words are law. When parental authority is broken, evil flourishes. One of the reasons is that the modern parents do not understand their responsibility as parents and inherent authority. With immature, irrational and inadequate skills for parenting, parents do not draw lines, correct, rebuke or guide children properly. In Urban India, more parents are willing to fight with teachers on behalf of their kids and work to change the teachers if necessary. Such kind of attitude has brought up a new generation that expects the world to bow to their whims and fancies. As single or pamperedand lonely kids, parents treat them like kings and queens; and in turn these kids expect the peers, teachers, institutions, society and whole world to treat them in the same way. Without inner software of disciple imbibed by the parents, children grow up to go astray and indulge in all evils.
Fear of loved ones
There is a moral bond by the loved ones: parents or beloved teacher or intimate friend or spouse or children or grand parents. Feeling ashamed to hurt their loved ones, people exercise restraint. In the modern busy world, people do not take time to build trusted relationships. There are couples who do not speak with one another for several years, but live under the same roof. Such persons may indulge in evil to bring shame to other rather than restrain not to hurt others. Such broken relationships in all areas of life, has reduced love, loyalty and long-term relationships.
Fear of consequences
Having insights about the consequences of words and deeds helps a person to restrain from doing evil. All words and deeds have moral, spiritual, social and legal consequences. Desiring evil and thinking evil will corrupt the moral aspect of a person. There would be spiritual alienation from God. Society may not bother as long as a person is not caught in the act, but if caught, the person would be ostracized. So it’s ok to do wrong as long as one does not get caught. When a person takes bribe and becomes wealthy, no one warns or cares about him. In fact, he gets respect in the society because of his wealth. If he is caught, and police files a case against him, the people would boycott and keep a distance. The long arm of Law also would catch these people.
Freedom is not unfettered or unlimited or unrestrained. Freedom is possible within parameters of spiritual, moral, legal and sometimes, social parameters. Breaking these norms and parameters would result in consequences that harms self, others and society as a whole. Freedom within the parameters of fears listed is true freedom.