-Rev Melissa Fain-
"You are not alone." This is the uplifting point of Dear Evan Hansen, a Broadway musical that won Best Musical at both the Tony's and the Grammy's. It takes on some serious issues as it delves into anxiety, depression, and suicide, talking about the impact on families and on the people who are dealing with those problems. The statement, "You are not alone," goes viral, when the lead character speaks those words at a memorial for a young man who committed suicide.
Notice the words. They are negative. We could simplify that sentence by saying "You are loved," or "You are wanted." Instead, we are pitting the world against loneliness. Honestly, considering people are far more likely to share a negative sentiment, it makes more sense that the drive is written in the negative. I wouldn't believe a video with the phrase "You are loved," would go viral. If that bothers you, keep reading.
Like my title. I knew I could write, "This is a Good Post," but I also know something happens when I phrase it in the negative. You are drawn to what you consider is bad. You know what a bad post is. You know what to expect. Maybe it's a very clunky background that makes it difficult to read the post itself. Perhaps it's a convoluted message that appears pulled from an impromptu sermon. Maybe it's a page of text with nothing that breaks it up. It could be the post says nothing at all. (These are all things Fig Tree has suffered through, so I point the finger squarely at myself.)
There are also promises involved. I have told you this isn't a bad post. You do not know, before clicking the link, if I am going to deliver on that promise. Therefore, it's the internet version of gambling. The only cost to this gamble is time, so you are more likely to play- especially if the whammy means you are only stuck with the negative. When the post or video actually does deliver on it's promise, you are more likely to press that little upvote button. You won! That was nice. Thank you.
If the post fails, you want to share in that outrage. It's like giving fake lotto tickets to your closest friends. It's fun to know you are raising their hopes before dashing them to pieces. Then they are more likely to do the exact same thing. Posts that payoff are paid with upvotes. Posts that trick you into trash or negative feelings are shared... and gain more money from those sweet clicks. Guess what professional blog and vlog writers are more likely to create? (Side note- Fig Tree gains nothing monetarily through visiting the website. We don't have ads, and why will be a post next week. Share away!)
That's why it's interesting that Jesus tells the women at the tomb (and generally God tells pretty much everyone) "Don't be afraid."
But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.”
How easy would it had been for God to say, "Stay calm." "It's Okay!" or simply "Peace"? Instead we get this phrase that returns time and time again, "Do not be afraid." That's not to say the positive is forgotten. The word "Peace" comes up over 400 times. It's said four times as much as "Do not be Afraid." We need that relationship of four to one. God's message is meant to be shared, but we simply don't share the GOOD news. It needs to be said four times as much just to get the coverage the scary stuff gets naturally.
That being said, the negative has to be shared too, but couched and honestly told in an uplifting way. Do not be afraid. That statement understands and raises what is scary and wrong, while calling it out as wrong. In the scripture I quoted, it accepts how scary pre-resurrection was, and letting the women know there is no longer anything to fear.
In many ways, Evan Hansen's saying "You are not alone," is the modern equivalent. Yeah, you're scared. You feel you are doing this alone, but don't be afraid, you're not really alone.
That's not scary at all, is it?