Hey everybody. I haven’t posted for a while (like…years) but thought I’d try something today. So I opened up the old blog and discovered I’d actually worked on some posts a while back but then never published them for some reason. This is one of them. It’s about the early, early days of the pandemic written in April 2020. Kind of interesting for me to read in retrospect and…since I lost all my readers long ago and no one will read it anyway…I figured I’d go ahead and post it. What the hell. Here goes. –Editor
I was surprised the other day when a friend with a liberal, medical background responded angrily to an ongoing group discussion about our fear of contracting Covid. (We were an older, vulnerable bunch still grumbling after being so rudely stripped of our denial about it.)
She said as much. “I get really angry at all the fear mongering going on.”
Turns out she believes that the tests currently being used are too broad and that the number of positive tests in our state are capturing more than just the presence of the coronavirus. I called her later to talk in more detail and it was really interesting to hear her thoughts, particularly since she has an administrative background in testing development.
You know, in general I want to hear varying viewpoints and particularly those that are different from my own, mainly for selfish reasons. The understanding I gain usually helps ease the confusion and fear I feel otherwise. I want to understand why my friends and neighbors believe the way do, especially when beliefs are as strong and divisive as they are right now, and have such a profound impact on our community as a whole.
As usual I ended up gaining an insight that surprised me but explained a lot. I realized about halfway through our conversation that what was making her so angry–the thing that she was having such a powerful emotional reaction to–was the incredible spike in fear that the pandemic has caused. Turns out she’s more afraid of people’s fear of the virus than she is of the virus itself.
It was a great light bulb moment for me. The realization has helped enormously in feeling more peaceful with the current polarization. I totally get it. The way that the fear of this virus is driving the herd really is kind of terrifying. It’s not only helping to drive things like bankrupting businesses and putting people out of work, but far more destructive IMO, it’s making us all kind of nervous and uncertain about simply interacting with each other, threatening our sense of communal connection at it’s most primal level. There are a lot of people like my friend who are reacting viscerally and angrily to that threat of disconnection, and understandably so. We’re social animals. The levels of disconnection the coronavirus is forcing us to experiment with are unnatural, unhealthy, and largely unsustainable.
I feel a lot more compassion and peace now. It was so worth reaching out to her and I’m really grateful she was willing to explain. While I definitely fall into the fear-of-the-virus camp more than the fear-of-the-fear-of-the-virus camp, I can totally see both sides, and that helps me navigate the situation with a more courageous, loving heart than I had before. I want…no I need… to love all my friends and all my neighbors. That’s very important to me. I don’t want to blame or block any of them out of my life.
Probably the thing I fear most, even more than the virus or the fear of the virus, is letting my heart get sucked back down into the maelstrom of rage and blame that’s growing. I’ve been down that hole before. I know where it leads. It ultimately creates a level of disconnection and depression for me that is far worse than anything a simple virus could ever cause and I am never going back into that darkness again if I can help it.
I admit, finding genuine compassion, understanding, and patience is hard work these days but, honestly, it’s the only protection for my heart I’ve ever found that works. So it’s worth it for me.