Someone Has to Speak to the Fear
guess, since I had this thought this morning, I’m that someone. Some days I wish I wasn’t. Today isn’t one of those days.
In the space of twenty minutes this morning, I scanned The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and a newsletter from my primary care doctor’s practice. All three made me long for the days when I was certain that The Times really was, by their own report, “All the News that’s Fit to Print.”
It might be. Or, it might not.
The coronavirus is spreading. That’s a fact.
No one is immune. That’s a fact.
There are simple things — disciplines — that we can do. That’s a fact.
Some of us are more vulnerable than others. That’s a fact.
What isn’t a fact is the fear.
My doctor is one in a group practice that’s part of a major hospital in Boston. She says that none of their doctors has encountered one case in their practice. They’re doing the disciplines. So are we in our home.
The thing is: since the political season that elected the incumbent in the current White House, fear has been at the top of the emotional scale of social discourse. Fear. Fear-mongering. Fear projectiling. There are those who maintain that fear is what elected the Toddler-in-Chief.
The situation is real. The fear, however, may or may not be a fact. Oh sure, we’re afraid, but are we afraid because we’re so used to being afraid that we don’t know who we are without it? Or are we afraid because there’s something to fear?
Strangely, fear is very rarely factual. This is not to say it isn’t real. It’s real, alright, but it’s not a fact.
I live with a chronic disease that might make me more vulnerable than some others to the coronavirus. I’m taking precautions.
More importantly, my dearest friend is HIV-positive. I’m afraid for him to be exposed to it.
I know way too many people who suffer mysterious auto-immune diseases. I’m afraid for them to be exposed to it.
A beloved surrogate daughter of mine works in a nursing home. I’m afraid for her to catch it from the elderly population she adores.
But … I’m beginning to think that those of us who can need to take a stand about being afraid of the fear.
After all, isn’t it fear of being exposed [as an ineffectual government system] that caused China to cover up the extent of the contagion when it started?
Isn’t it fear that has caused the Denier-in-Chief to downplay the virus? To claim that he’s ‘got it covered’? To suggest we shop rather than take good care of ourselves?
Isn’t it fear at the core of all the stockpiling and profiteering? I heard this morning of persons who are buying Purell to resell it at $70 a bottle. I know of a friend who can only use one kind of loo paper who had her sister combing neighboring communities only to find it was all sold out. There are those who are making fake hand sanitizer and selling it.
A Times headline this morning said something like, “When the world falls apart, the people come together.” Of course, I can’t find it again now that I’m looking for it.
I lived half a mile from the World Trade Center on 9.11.01. A cab driver gave me a free ride to get my aging cat to safety if I’d pray for his dog in New Jersey.
The Times is right. We do come together when things fall apart. I humbly invite all of us who have worked to face down our personal fears to stand together to face down our collective fear.
I refuse to be known as the civilization that died of fear. Won’t you join me?