Friday, March 13, 2020

Please Stop Panicking Over #COVID19- Don't Be Afraid

With the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, or Wuhan Flu, Chinese virus or Kung Flu * pandemic now official, we've seen the store shelves empty of bottled water, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and now even the staples like canned goods, rice and flour. The United States is slowly sliding into a full-blown panic. So I've decided to dust off a piece I wrote back in 2017 with a simple message I learned from the game "We Become What We Behold", that message is simply: Don't Be Afraid.

Look around you, check your social media feeds (go ahead I'll wait here in the other tab/window...) you're going to find post after post, story after story, videos in the millions designed to do one very simple thing: make you afraid in order to motivate you into doing something. The idea is to make you afraid enough to buy something, go somewhere, do something, say something. They'll scare you to make you vote, they'll scare you to make you protest, they'll scare you to make you violent. Above all other things people who are afraid, are people who OBEY.

Fear is a primal response which forces binary thinking, fight or fly, for or against, Pro-Trump or Never-Trump, resist or submit. Binary thinking is a logical fallacy in almost every possible situation. If you can be made afraid enough, your most basic possible thought process in the oldest part of our brains driven by adrenaline forces you to make what can be the worst decisions of your life. What the powers of social media and group-think have done is to powerfully enhance our most base possible instincts. Rather than setting us free intellectually, the readily available flow of uninhibited information is regressing us to our primal, savage natures.

Today we live in a world where rights that were held two centuries ago as beyond contestation and to paraphrase the Declaration of independence were "truths (held) to be self-evident" are under constant and sustained attack. We have a President who in the face of some of the most biased media coverage in history has candidly raised the question of whether or not the truthfulness of the Press or rather the flagrant lack thereof can or should be policed and if so by whom? We have hundreds of thousands of people, movie stars and politicians alike decrying the uninfringed right to bear arms, long held sacrosanct as the final resort to preserve a free nation. It's all about fear. The way societies have traditionally surrendered their rights has always been through the surreptitious administration and steady exploitation of fear.

I don't want my children or anyone's to grow up afraid that they will be judged and held indirectly responsible for the crimes of other, unrelated, men who lived and died in this nation a century before their ancestors arrived here all through the fallacy of "white privilege". And it is only through fear and anger that such a concept can flourish. The unholy fusion of anger at the past atrocities of slavery, racism and oppression combined with the fear of the same renewed again. All people are responsible only for their own individual behavior and that of the children they raise. The only path forward for our society is through love, brotherhood & individual responsibility as Dr. King himself put it:
"And herein lies our responsibility. We are not responsible for the environment we are born in, neither are we responsible for our hereditary circumstances. But there is a third factor for which we are responsible namely, the personal response which we make to these circumstances.”
The most important lesson I can ever teach to my three little boys and my little girl, which I can and must pass on: Is that while fear can be useful as a motivator to avoid injury or danger, fear of disappointing a loved one can be a positive behavioral force or the fear of consequences can guide our morality: Fear is something to keep tamed, curbed and in check. We must rule our fear, or we can and certainly will be ruled by it, and by those who wield it.

Don't be manipulated into hating your countrymen. Don't be motivated to act outside of the truths you hold to be self-evident. Don't be controlled. Be free my countrymen and #Don'tBeAfraid.

Photo from "We Become What We Behold"

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