America has been shut down for forty-two days. The world is wrapped in fear, and folks are suffering financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Scientists, politicians, and other authority figures say an entity that can only be seen with an electron microscope is the cause. Humans are made up of various bacteria and viruses that allow our bodies to do their job of keeping us alive and well. How did this particular virus turn our world upside down?
I have said in other articles on this blog how the media manipulates us if we allow it. I extend that shaping ability to others who we allow to have power over us as well. Fear can make us do things we would never dream of doing voluntarily. In fear, our body is buried in the primitive aspect of our brain, where evading pain and suffering is primal. Our prefrontal cortex- the thinking, reasoning, and creative center- is shut down. We trade our personal power for safety. I wonder if it is worth the price we pay.
Fear lowers our immune response. It causes or exacerbates existing trauma. It sets in motion specific hormonal reactions within our body and prepares it for fight or flight. Some folks feel no way out of their circumstance and just freeze, trapping the hormones inside the body and causing more damage than the initially feared entity produced.
I offer a different perspective on this current predicament. I am reminded of the Pixar movie Monsters Inc. The company employs monsters to jump out of children’s closets at night and scare the children so their fear and screams can be harvested. In turn, this fear provides energy for the world the monsters live in. After one of the children enters the monster world and offers a first-hand experience to those who would scare her, we see a change in the power dynamic. Her open joy and laughter are shown to have superior power than the screams and fear that were elicited from other children by stealth.
Humans do not change anything voluntarily. We need an incentive. Our world, pre-Covid 19, was going off the rails. Folks were working more and living less just to survive or maintain what they had acquired. Healthy relationships were strained or non-existent. Those who had got more and those who were without became entrenched in that loss. We can not expect all of life to be fair or equal. We are all individuals with our own particular motivations and needs. The disparity, in this instance, was beyond acceptable. Something was needed to make it all stop- enter a suitable viral catalyst.
The fear, whipped to a frenzy by the media, seemed contrived. Though the ability for the virus to initiate illness was real enough. I have to wonder at the complete lack of hope the news portrayed to us was not done on purpose for some nefarious plan. The attacks on any possible treatment or faith in a brighter day seemed coordinated and vindictive. The narrative seemed controlled and deliberately confusing, like a squirrel trying to determine which side of the road to go to when a car comes.
Man-kind has survived many and varied attempts to wipe it out. War, famine, disease, including pandemics, have all failed at extinguishing life for humans. Yes, our numbers have temporarily fallen, and our collective morale has taken a hit at each of these circumstances. The amazing thing is that we keep getting back up, and despite the set-back, we gain strength and momentum.
Newton’s Second Law of Motion states: Force is equal to the change in momentum (mass times velocity) over time. In other words, the rate of change is directly proportional to the amount of force applied. At the present time, the world lock-down is exerting a tremendous amount of force on the will of the people. If Newton’s physics are to be trusted, we can expect an equally enormous change in humanity as well. For the most part, folks are not fond of change, especially when it isn’t their idea. Changing our perspective to one that accepts the emerging times can bring us a gift that helps us evolve as a species. For most people, they were not aware of how bad they were doing in certain aspects of their existence until the world stopped and showed them what they were putting up with. For others, it revealed how good they could have it if they merely tweaked something in their life. More folks are also becoming aware of how much less they need to still be happy.
It seems ironic that the act of limiting in one area produces expansion in another. Much like damming of a river forces it to find another path or widen to form a lake. The Enclosure Movement in the 1700s put many small farms out of business by limiting land use to only wealthy landowners. It was one of the main acts that brought on the Industrial Revolution. With enough pressure and time, coal becomes a diamond. It is not unreasonable to expect our current enforced limitations to expand the human condition and raise it to new heights.
To easily facilitate this transformation, we must allow fear to fall away and hope to return. Fear tamps down our creative thinking and the solutions that could be attained. These are steps that can be useful in acquiring a calmer state so that our aspirations can be realized. Choose the ones that work for you.
- Diversify your news sources but do not accept any of them as the truth. Establish a neutral attitude and only take in the messages as data. Do not invest your emotions so that there will be no need to defend your position.
- Remember that to live is to risk. Taking chances is part of life, and the reason amusement park rides are so popular. We used to take our life into our hands every day, just driving on the highways.
- Examine what the fear you feel is triggering within you. Has your safety ever been threatened when you were growing up? Does your current situation remind you of those feelings? Who do you need to forgive so that you are no longer affected by this past trauma? Forgiving does not mean you absolve them of wrongdoing.
- Are there people in your life you need to express appreciation for? Did this quarantine force you to examine any dysfunctional relationships? Strengthening a partnership or taking steps to end another may be in order so that all parties can grow.
Fear is a normal reaction to adverse circumstances. It is like a warning light on your car’s dashboard. It is telling you to examine the cause and take appropriate action. The key is to not get stuck in the fear or freeze your response so that you can’t see a way out. This virus and subsequent quarantine was only a catalyst to help us move to the next level of our evolution. Blaming others such as the president, the government, China, or even those not adhering to lock-down rules hinders our individual growth.
Gifts do not always come wrapped in pretty packages. We may not see the real value of this time for many years. Do not allow others to steal what you have gained and worked hard for. You are worthy of wearing this crown. What if we discover that our potential joy and laughter overcomes our no-longer-useful fear? You are a Survivor and a Thriver. Now get out there and show us how it’s done.
~Dr. Catherine Denton is a Metaphysician who lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She is the author of her memoir- Metaphysical Girl: How I Recovered My Mental Health. Her mission is to encourage folks during challenging times and help them realize they are stronger than they know.