Fear and Loathing in Coronavirus.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.” — Frank Herbert, Dune
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” — George Lucas
FEAR — “Fuck Everything and Run” — Stephen King, although the first time I ever heard it was in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.
Fear is a powerful thing.
They say fear is a motivator. It can motivate us to get out of the way of a vehicle speeding in our direction, and other obvious, immediate threats to our personal safety.
It can often reinforce good habits: I don’t want to get robbed, so I will make sure I lock the door when I leave the house, or I want to keep my job, so I’d better get to work early or on time.
It can also push us to do extraordinary things, like the woman who lifted the car off of her child. Yes, I know it was actually adrenaline (they call it hysterical strength), but what caused that adrenaline to spike? FEAR.
But despite all of the GOOD things fear can motivate us to do, fear has also been known to bring out the worst impulses in us. Fear of missing out on some low-priced merchandise on Black Friday has caused stampedes that have seriously injured shoppers. Fear of running out of toilet paper, because other folks have been panic-buying all of the toilet paper, has made people horde a ridiculous amount of toilet paper, leaving less or none for our fellow citizens.
And fear of losing a general election has made SOME people break the law by extorting a foreign official, it has made some people defy congressional subpoenas, threaten witnesses, and hide witnesses and evidence. Those very same people have even minimized the seriousness of a pandemic that threatens the lives of MILLIONS of Americans.
Yes, those “some people” are the same people: Donald trump.
America is now in the grip of a frightening pandemic.
COVID-19 has shut down entire nations, initiated school closings in major cities, caused every major sport to cancel or postpone their seasons, forced thousands of other businesses to cancel events and layoff employees. The fear of contracting the flu-like illness is almost as scary as the increasingly draconian measures being taken to “flatten the curve” to prevent more people from contracting it.
Without sane and steady leadership to guide us through this crisis (the guy currently in that role is actually making it WORSE), it is easy to see how this could only exacerbate the situation. In fact, just TONIGHT, Orange Twitler referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus.”
While it’s true that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China, every single health official and world leader refers to it as COVID-19 or coronavirus. trump’s use of the phrase “Chinese Virus” is a racist attempt to rebrand it, and direct people’s fears at our Asian brothers and sisters. This will only help add to a climate of uncertainty and fear. Instead of trying to calm the nerves of an anxious nation, he is stoking its fears.
But the lack of a decent, compassionate Commander-in-Chief doesn’t necessarily mean that all hope is lost. In fact, even if we had competent leadership at the highest level, much of the heavy lifting through this crisis would fall to our local leaders, citizens, and even neighbors.
Remember the immediate aftermath of 9/11?
Very little of the “coming together” of Americans had anything to do with anything President Bush said or did. After the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, many Americans were paralyzed with fear…I can remember riding the Q train across the Manhattan Bridge into NYC every day, able to see the still-smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, and wondering which person on my subway car was a possible terrorist.
Naturally, many of us were looking around for the next threat, feeling as if we were under siege when some maniac sent out envelopes packed with powder to create an anthrax scare. And I joined millions of other Americans in the rush to buy face masks to protect against an invisible threat. The mass fear created a possible threat around every corner that never existed.
But eventually, people figured that the best way to break out of the fearfulness and powerlessness was to ACT: most of it was just regular folks doing what felt right: helping at Ground Zero; people donating to local charities to assist in the recovery effort; people lining up to give blood to those who were injured in the attack – while Bush started to beat the drums of war, most folks at the local level were helping to break us out of the crippling grip of fear.
I’m not going to lie: I AM SCARED.
Much of that fear is of the unknown – how bad is it going to get? Will I or my family members contract the illness? What will happen to the economy? Will we all be forced to stay in our homes? Will food and supplies run out? So many questions, and so few solid, credible answers.
But this is the most crucial time to REMAIN CALM. No rational, critical decision is ever made in the hazy fog of panic. There is much that I cannot control, which feeds the fear. So I have to IGNORE those factors beyond my control, and only focus on the things that I CAN control.
I can control my own actions and reactions. I can control my behavior. I can control my hygiene habits, like washing my hands frequently and for 20 seconds. I can keep my family safe by not bringing germs into the house. I can conserve the resources I have in the house.
This will NOT be comfortable for most of us. We will be tightening our belts, missing out on our favorite sports, not going to the movies (!!!!), or restaurants. Many people will lose their jobs, and even more will contract the coronavirus. But we WILL get through this…we must.
We can make a conscious decision to:
I choose the latter.