At Catechism school, we were thought that Catholics were God fearing people. And God fearing people would not indulge in vice or wrong deeds because we did not want to unleash God’s displeasure with us. God’s disapproval could be a serious matter, as he could thwart our life plans turning every event against us thereby making our existence miserable. From a theological perspective, fear of god is part of our dialogue with the divine and includes respect and confidence in god’s wisdom to guide us through salvation. It is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that fills us with respect for god, making you dread to offend him. Our mortal behavior thus aims at perfection because of sheer fear of God.
Two weeks into his mandate, president Donald J. Trump seems to have unleashed the fear of god on humanity. His no-nonsense approach to diplomatic exchanges; his mercurial approach to policy making and; his unquenchable anti bureaucratic spirit are conveying the image to the world that he means business and that his business is domestic and that he will not give in until his domestic agenda is executed. He has reneged on the US -Australia deal to bring about 1000 refugees from Muslin countries to the US. He fired half Department of Justice when the Acting Attorney General refused to defend presidential directives on the immigration ban placed upon 7 predominantly Muslin countries. He had the eleventh tantrum with the president of Mexico while making clear to Ms Merkel that the US will not play in favor of German interest in Eurasia. As he continues to unfold his primarily domestic agenda, the world tries to make sense of what will the US be like over the next few years as a neighbor; an ally, a foe or a remote presence. Meanwhile no one dares to take any initiative for either fear of attracting attention from POTUS or promoting the unleash of his famously short temper. In short, the next four or eight years will be presided by a revival of the Fear of God which will come stronger than ever before in universal history.
To be sure, as Barbara Tuchman the American historian clearly put it in her award-winning book “the March of Folly” when the world loses fear of limits anarchy ensues, when it fears limits civilian discipline is the norm. And discipline would seem to have become the norm in international and national affairs, as President Trump instils in friend and foes the fear of god. And as theologians seem to agree the God we are now facing is the God of the Bible who “…. has one way—His way. He is not tolerant of nor sensitive to your desires and your way. God cares little for what you think because sinful minds think sinfully. God is not happy with our ways and is only happy when we fulfill our chief end which is to glorify Him. Absolute obedience glorifies Him and anything less brings a response of wrath”. As everything in life this situation has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, the US is living up to its image of world power and other nations are beginning to accept this assertive demeanor. On the minus side the country might be on its way to lose part of the creative spring represented by diversity of opinions and thoughts to attempt to become the evenly puritanical and Christian country that saw the light at Plymouth Rock. It definitively would be interesting to see the results of this effort to roll back the future.