Hot and dry. More so than usual, that August, along Campbell’s creek in the isolated mountains of eastern Kentucky,which undoubtedly added to the uneasiness among its inhabitants. Already, the drum beat of war was being both heard and felt and the inability to cope with the alarming rumors of a coming catastrophe weighed heavily on the minds and hearts of young and old alike. They spoke little about this to others, hoping by their silence that what they feared would not come to pass.
So it was that one very clear evening toward the end of the month that a brilliant and unusual display of the Northern Lights unveiled those fears so that they now too joined the beating of the drums of war.
“It’s the end of the world,” some cried, while others proclaimed it was the American flag waving in the sky, a dreadful omen of what was to come.
War did come, the end of the world did not and the American flag remained in place. The fears of that generation faded as resolve replaced panic and leaders of integrity with a coordinated purpose , stood firmly together to drive away the noise of the drums.
But not forever. Once again the drums of fear beat loudly across the land. They are heard in a multitude of ways, fanned by the divisiveness of hate and blame and perpetrated by a new kind of leadership that seeks to exploit rather than calm their unsettling sound. So fear now well fanned, like fire licking its way along a hot August day, must find where to land and whom to blame. Conspiracy theories straight out of science fiction and a “deep state” that is waiting to consume us all are fueled by this unfettered fear. Racism abounds, the poor are maligned, armed vigilantes assume the role of “defenders of freedom,” walls are constructed to keep out “freedom seekers” and defenseless children are thrust away, under cover of darkness, from any compassion that would save them all because the drum beat of fear has grown louder and louder.
A deep seated part of the human journey, driven by the conviction that good overcomes evil, is the belief that the ethics of concern for others along with justice and mercy are what binds together the elements of our souls and is the light that returns fear to the darkness from which it came. We must hold to that belief and stand firmly against those who would rather beat the drums of fear than be gifted by the brilliant display of light in a clear night sky.
That is the hope that will drive away the drum beat of fear and keep us securely on the side of the angels.