SPOILER WARNING FOR WILD ARMS!
Fear—our society seems to be obsessed with it. Most commercials and political ads are pushing people to do something to play off the fears of that person. Some fear being left behind or fear missing out on gadgets and experiences when compared to their peers. These fears push people to go into debt to purchase items they may not need. Other fears, such as stage fright, can cause a person to falter in their performance despite hours upon hours of practice time.
Fear also manifests itself more profoundly at the individual level. We all have different fears of both physical things and metaphysical things. Some are afraid of spiders or snakes, while some are afraid of heights, and others yet are afraid of death.
Some fears—such as being wary of other drivers on a busy interstate—are natural and not necessarily bad. But other concerns can ingrain themselves into a person so much that when they need to act, they suffer paralysis, becoming frozen in fear. Fear can also give birth to negative emotions such as despair, hatred, or anger. These issues often lead to nasty places that we would not like to find ourselves. It is here where we find the people of Filgaia, the world of the JRPG Wild Arms for the PS1.
“If all the people in Filgaia had thoughts of Courage, Love, and Hope… The world would not have fallen. But, the weakness of their thoughts have brought Filgaia to its knees.” – Guardians of Filgaia
Wild Arms is a turn-based RPG that follows the adventures of three protagonists: Rudy, Cecilia, and Jack. Rudy is a young wanderer who seems to be trying to find his place in the world. Cecilia is the princess of the kingdom of Adlehyde who just finished her training in the magical arts. Jack is a treasure hunter looking for a great prize. The setting is an exciting mix of heavy western and fantasy theming. Prior to the time setting of this game, there was a great war between the citizens of Filgaia who were allied with the Guardians, or deities, and the Metal Demons. The Metal Demons are a faction of monsters that came to Filgaia from a different planet that had been destroyed. They waged war against the citizens of Filgaia to conquer the planet and make it their own. The citizens of Filgaia won that war, but barely. In the time after the war, people had started to lose their faith in the Guardians. These folks were becoming increasingly fearful. Due to this, the Guardians’ powers began to weaken; this weakened state is how we find the Guardians and Filgaia during the opening of Wild Arms.
Our Protagonists and Their Fear.
The protagonists meet on seemingly coincidental terms: they go on a singular adventure together to uncover one of the many Golems, large robotic weapons that were used in the great war against the Metal Demons. Our protagonists are unaware that this one adventure would be the catalyst for their adventures to come. The Metal Demons then attack, stealing the Golems, and destroying the kingdom of Adlehyde. Soon, our protagonists join in an epic struggle to save the world from the Metal Demons.
As one progresses through the story, you find numerous themes that revolve around the dangers that come from harboring fear. Rudy is cast from the village that had taken him in because he is able to use the fabled ARM, and the villagers are afraid of that power. The ARM is a type of ancient firearm that can only be used by certain people, but those who can use the ARMs are scarce in the current time. Knowing that he is different, Rudy becomes afraid of trying to enter society. Cecilia rebels from her position as the princess of Adlehyde due to her fear of people only loving her because she is a princess. Jack’s entire arc revolves around him seeking ultimate power and “courage” due to his fear of inadequacy stemming from the pre-game events where he fails in protecting Arctica Castle in Northern Filgaia. These events include the Metal Demons breaking into the castle to revive their fallen leader, Mother. These characters’ fears cause much sorrow and hurt and prevented them from moving on into their rightful duties and roles.
Did They Overcome Their Fear?
The protagonists spend the story learning how to overcome their fears. Rudy conquers his fear by finding friendship with Jack and Cecilia. Cecilia learns that she can still be loved as a regular person, even though she is a princess. Jack learns what true courage is by fighting alongside the other protagonists and learning that true courage stems from love. They learn that their fears were lying to them. Being different does not prevent Rudy from finding kinship. Cecilia learns that she could find people who love her for who she is as a person, rather than her title as royalty. Jack learns that failures occur, but they don’t always paint us as completely inadequate. Not only do these characters counter the fear in their own lives, but they also help spread hope and help to stop the spread of fear in the lives of the citizens of Filgaia.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” John 14:27.
These are promises that Jesus gave his disciples when they had become worried after Jesus gave predictions about his upcoming crucifixion. Humans today harbor a lot of fear. Fear can leave a person feeling as if they don’t belong, as if they don’t have any chance of forming real friendships. It can make one feel that they aren’t loved, and push them into situations that make things worse, such as into bad relationships or “friends” who take advantage of them. Fear can even cause a person to abandon their friends and family and push them into solitude. These pathways that fear paves only lead to destruction and isolation.
Is There Any Way We Can Stop This?
Much like the protagonists of Wild Arms, we must first start with ourselves. We must realize that fear is not always the truth. A fantastic song that helps me to see this more and more is “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams. I highly encourage folks to go and listen to it! When we realize that we can overcome these fears, we begin to heal ourselves. A big step in this is learning to trust in our God. Our God is not a God of fear, and numerous verses confirm that God will protect us.
One such verse is Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” When we place our trust in Him, we invite His peace within us. This peace helps to quell our fears and allows us the courage to press on and begin the healing from our fears. By trusting in God and understanding our fears may genuinely be lies told to us, we can start walking forward in courage.