NICHOLS: fear is the mindkilller

Fear, gnawing at the national gut, poisoning the national mind, is giving the entire body politic a sour taste in the mouth. It’s pushing many otherwise stable and ordinary folk to desperation.

I once encountered a shrew, all of an inch and one-half tall as he stood on his hind legs snapping vicious teeth at the nose of our cat. He was desperate, taking desperate measures against an enemy he could see, an enemy that could squash him with one swat. 

In one of the latest of his national best sellers, Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Woodward, an associate editor of The Washington Post, records this 2016 quote by then presidential candidate Donald Trump: “Real power is – I don’t even want to  use the word – fear.” In other words, create an environment of fear and the purveyors of fear will hold real power. 

During this covid crisis the constant, unremitting, all-day, every-day media bombardment of our minds with covid worries has tainted our environment with fear. We, the people, will do what we are told – even I do what I’m told though I rail against the loss of liberty.

Fear is not always a bad thing; it’s sometimes a very good and life-preserving emotion. When fear goes beyond the temporary over which individuals have some control, when fight or flight is impossible because we can’t see the enemy and have no place to hide, it becomes chronic, debilitating, enervating.

It weakens the immune system, destroying even the will to take personal action.

The plague has already been here for months and our leaders have repeatedly reversed themselves on appropriate responses. The media have bleated the party line non-stop giving no space or time to alternate opinions – a sure formula to create and promote fear.

From the various authorities we continue to learn that our covid 19 blight is going to be around much longer and agreement on how to face it is inconsistent.

How will our kids fare in school? Are the youth receiving their money’s worth in post-secondary instruction by pre-recorded lectures?

Are we raising a generation of kids who will be shorted on their education?

With it all, we want respite from fear!

But fear persists.

Our leaders have few answers that satisfy.

Well, there are one or two unmentionables we the people can do without neglecting to do what we are told: we can start by taking some charge of our own wellbeing. 

Then, when we feel like we have some control of the process, even if the outcome is still obscure, fear will be less obtrusive and that alone will have definite, salubrious effects on our wellbeing.

Indeed!

I’m not about to play the doctor; let’s leave doctoring to the professionals.

Here in the still-great North East there is enough sunshine and wind so that we can each get a healthy share without violating the rules of the crisis.

All this will take time; but face it, it took some of us years to wear our bodies and minds into the states of health that now give us pain and anxiety. Maybe time, however short or long, is our best resource.

And there’s another antidote for the pervasive fear: trust in Divine power. Not top of the list for most people but certainly worthy of your genuine try.

Oh, by the way, the Ancients knew about these remedies also and they included this maxim: “Perfect love drives out all fear.” Hmm. Is there something here for us moderns to take to heart?

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