Fear in the middle of the pandemic

  • Blog 10 Do you wake at 3AM like I do? Sometimes I just seem to need to get up, get a drink, and go back to bed. Other times, I’m woken from a dream, and stop and think about it for a while. I always seem to fall back asleep pretty quickly. Unless I have a worry or a dream fragment I want my mind to linger with… I’ve stopped getting anxious about not sleeping since learning that it is perfectly natural to wake at 3AM; a biorhythm that can be traced back to the age of cavemen, when pre-dawn hunting was a requirement. When I get up, I don’t turn on any lights, a dim nightlight lights my way. I wrap in a shawl to keep from getting chilled, slip into slippers by the bed, and move slowly with eyes at half mast, get my business done quietly, and slip back into bed. A couple of deep belly breaths later, I’m in dreamland again, finding solutions to the worlds greatest problems, which I will forget the moment I awaken! But sometimes a thought stays for my morning savoring, pulls into focus as I stretch and curl out of bed, I sit up straight: I have to write this down! Today I was thinking about all the friends and family members who have expressed ideas which I’m pretty sure are not backed up by the facts, such as they are. All the talk of “fake news”, and our leaderships’ conflicting and sometimes misleading statements, have confused people. The distrust has been building exponentially with those who participate in certain talk radio communities and internet communities that congeal on the conspiracy theory of Deep State and its overthrow. More than anything, the unswerving allegiance to an incompetent and delirious sounding President Trump really scares me. All those people have guns and have been hoarding big artillery for quite a long time. And yet I know they are human, have the best of intentions, and care deeply for fellow human beings (at least some of them). Their tribal identity pulls them into irrationality and violent thinking, which is very worrying to me. “Disgust is our most primal instinct, honed for survival against predators by early cavemen.” Rick Hansen, PhD., a neuro-psychologist from my old home town in Marin, California, says. The rapidity of change with technology and globalization has catapulted people into a future they don’t understand or feel comfortable with. Primal instincts for survival are aroused and used by the right wing evangelicals and the “Q” theorists alike. It’s a very addictive mind-set in hatred and disgust towards those outside the tribe. Belonging is easy, as long as you hate similarly. They call themselves pro-life, but they are actually not even anti-death, especially to people outside their group. As an immigrant to this country at the age of 6, this is antithetical to everything I ever thought was American. American values of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness hold dear the freedoms of speech, religion, and humanity. Kindness and respect have been cornerstones of my religion, seeking to hang it’s shingle on all religions, all ethnicities, all cultures, all languages.

It is easy to experience disgust myself at the evangelical right and the “ignorance” I perceive. Dr. Hansen’s explanation helps me to feel empathy for these people who I may know, and may just know about. I understand how our fears congeal over this pandemic, and I also understand something else:

Throughout the history of humanity, it’s not the hatred and disgust that’s helped humans survive as much as the kindness and cooperation, the attachment and joy in mother’s love, Now, when the world is so inter-connected it has become increasingly clear that we depend on each other to survive.

If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us it has to be this:

When we replace “I” with “We”,

ILLNESS BECOMES WELLNESS. WE will survive this together!

Amen.