I am riveted to the news much like most people all over the globe. So much of my life in the last decade has been connected to life as a global citizen as I have lived and traveled across 5 continents. I can empathize with friends and colleagues in many parts of the world trapped by decisions made by themselves and others. I happen to be in the USA right now am torn by a sense of belonging in other places with being with my friends and family here. Today Ellie and I picked up our passports with Spanish residency stamped, preparing a way for another move. Yet, life is stopped for so many people in so many places and our plans are on hold as our contingencies have contingencies. At the core of it all is a pervasive, overwhelming, controlling and rational sense of fear.
“remember that we are not descended from fearful men” Edward Murrow. Although it was a speech targeted at one individuals misuse of power it reminds me that in a time of crisis and panic that we ought not be defined as a fearful generation. This isn’t a political statement but a challenge to the fabric of what is causing panic. At the core of it all is each individual dealing with their own sense of fear (or stability) in the light of a constant changing landscape of a pandemic (panicdemic?).
This week I spoke on teens and trauma looking at unique characteristics of recent Generations, what defines them and what traumatizes them. I hope that when we look back at the current health crisis we are not ashamed at being driven by fear, letting our fear cause more damage than sickness. Children and teens will absorb the fear of adults in this time of global panic (which may be more damaging to them than the current sickness). I am suggesting that this isn’t a health crisis and I am not suggesting that we do not do the things we should to care for ourselves and our communities. Only that we take actions based out of the rational thinking part of our brains.
Panic, anxiety and fear are originated in our lower, (fight, flight or freeze) part of our brain. But we must not allow fear to continuously override the upper, thinking part of our brain when it comes to how we interact with the Covid-19 crisis. This system of our brain can become maladaptive when it has free reign to flood our body with stress hormones. What is our fear based in… Sickness? Absence of toilet paper? Lack of antibacterial wipes? Loss of Control? Death? So what should we do to manage the fear?
Take a deep breath, don’t panic buy more than you need, or make hasty financial decisions. Instead, Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil 4:8)