(A reflection on Chapter 2, Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman)

We find ourselves reflecting deeply on the pervasive fear that plagues our community – a fear that grips the hearts and souls of the poor, the dispossessed, the disinherited among us. It is a fear borne of our harsh reality – the reality of being exposed to the ever-present threat of violence simply for existing. This fear pervades our every step, our every breath. It is the hound of hell that relentlessly pursues us, driving us into a corner of isolation and helplessness.

From the moment we open our eyes each morning, the vise of fear tightens around us. We must carefully calibrate our every move, our every word, in order to navigate a world that appears determined to provoke and confront us at every turn. The violence need not even manifest physically – its mere threat is enough to rob us of our dignity, our self-worth, our very will to dream and aspire.

We find ourselves in a spiritual prison of sorts, one constructed not with iron bars but with the bricks of segregation and the mortar of enforced limitations. Our horizons have been artificially constricted by those who wield power over us. Doors of opportunity are seemingly sealed shut before we can even approach them. The paths toward self-actualization and fulfillment appear to be forever blocked.

And so the whispers of doubt descend, planting the insidious seeds that sprout into a forest of fear overgrowing our souls. “Who are we to dream? What right have we to aspire?” These mental shackles bind us tighter than any physical chains ever could. If we remain entrapped by this mindset, it portends a slow, agonizing death – the death of hope, of purpose, of the vibrant spirit that urges us onward and upward.

Yet in our darkest valleys of despair, in those moments when the weight of fear feels truly crushing, a faint yet undying spark glimmers within us. It is the spark of an ancient truth, a spiritual reality that courses through the veins of every woman, man, and child among the disinherited. We are children of the Most High God.

These words, uttered by Jesus Christ himself, have sustained our ancestors through centuries of tribulation. They echo through the ages as a defiant declaration against the cynical forces that seek to dehumanize us. “You are not slaves. You are not an underclass. You are God’s children – imbued with sacred worth that can never be erased.”

To grasp the full import of this reality is to be fundamentally transformed from within. The lie of our innate inferiority is exposed and its power over us evaporates like a morning mist before the rising sun. Our spiritual vision is cleared to behold the truth – we belong to the Creator of all that exists. The same Divine hand that formed galaxies, set the oceans in their courses, numbered the grains of sand and the stars in the heavens – this same hand shaped us and breathed life into our lungs.

A profound inner fortitude takes root when we accept this great affirmation at the core of our being. We find the courage to stare unflinchingly at those who leveraged fear as a weapon against us. We recognize their true nature – they are mere mortals, not the omnipotent demigods our fears convinced us they were. Their power over our psyche is broken when we gaze upon them through the clarifying lens of spiritual truth.

For if the Maker of Heaven and Earth dotes upon us with such tender care, counting every hair upon our heads, how can we then fear the actions of those who can merely afflict the body? Death itself is rendered a diminished specter when our identities are securely anchored in the eternal. “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Christ instructed. Physical demise cannot sever us from the loving embrace of our Heavenly Parent.

Emboldened by this supreme truth, we find rising within ourselves a transcendent power to appraise our lives with clear-eyed objectivity. The “scripts” that were handed to us, which sought to dictate the limitations of our dreams and endeavors, lose their binding grip. We begin viewing our skills, talents, and abilities not through the distorting lens of an oppressive culture, but through the eyes of the One who uniquely crafted each of our souls.

With this new vision, we determine to raise the next generation unshackled by fear’s constraints. We will stoke the fires of audacious hope in our children’s spirits from their youngest days. We will counter the whispers of despair with the thundering affirmation – “You are a child of the Most High! The boundaries that confine others need not restrain you. The slights and injustices that cripple others cannot imprison your soaring dreams!”

Some may cynically brand this as mere wishful thinking, a fantasy to insulate us from harsh realities. But those who have basked in privilege may never understand the spiritual dynamo required to transcend the crushing weight of societal oppression. Our conviction is an act of rebellion against the cosmic forces aligned to dictate the demise of our selfhood and our progeny’s future.

So we march forward, children of the living God, shaped in the Divine image. Let fear’s reign be supplanted by faith – a faith that overcomes the world; a faith that sees beyond the hills and valleys of our present existence. With a daring defiance of current realities, we hold fast to the belief that the shackles that bound our ancestors are striking the ground at last.

No greater power could ever be cultivated within the spirit of the disinherited than the power to overcome fear itself. With this spiritual force beating within our chests, no injury of racism, segregation, or systemic injustice can extinguish our unquenchable hope. Like a raging wildfire overrunning every barrier in its path, our hope will continue consuming the landscape of fear until it utterly consumes itself. On that day, we – the children of the living God – will emerge unconquerable, at last.


Fear is a pervasive and crippling force for the poor and oppressed in society, arising from their vulnerability to potential violence and lack of power. The mere threat of violence conditions their behavior to avoid provoking it, leading to segregation and limitations that reinforce their sense of inferiority and prevent self-realization. This constant fear and oppression can ultimately cause a death of ambition, hope, and self-worth within the individual. The author explores whether Jesus Christ’s teachings, that all people are inherently worthy children of God, can overcome this fear. Having faith in one’s infinite value and dignity as a child of God can stabilize self-esteem, provide courage, and enable an objective perspective on one’s abilities. By nurturing this belief from childhood, parents can instill aspirations to transcend oppressive environments. The author argues that this profound conviction of being God’s child, combined with an undaunted spirit, can conquer fear and make one unconquerable from within against overwhelming odds.

Key Points

1. Fear is a persistent and deep-rooted emotion among the poor, underprivileged, and oppressed groups in society. It arises from their sense of isolation, helplessness, and exposure to potential violence from those in power.

2. The threat of violence, even without physical violence occurring, is enough to instill fear in the disadvantaged. This fear becomes a safety mechanism, conditioning their behavior to avoid provoking violence.

3. Segregation and imposed limitations on the underprivileged groups reinforce this fear and sense of inferiority. It freezes their social status and prevents them from realizing their full potential.

4. This constant fear and oppression can lead to a corroding sense of self-worth, ambition, and hope, ultimately causing a form of “death” within the individual.

5. The author explores whether the teachings of Jesus Christ can provide a solution to overcome this fear. Jesus taught that all individuals are children of God and have inherent worth and dignity, regardless of their circumstances.

6. This conviction of being a child of God can stabilize one’s sense of self-worth, provide courage to face threats, and enable an objective appraisal of one’s abilities and potential.

7. By nurturing this faith in children from an early age, parents can instill a sense of hope, aspiration, and the belief that they can transcend the limitations imposed by their environment.

8. The author argues that this profound faith in one’s worth as a child of God, combined with a daring spirit, can conquer fear and make an individual unconquerable from within.