Perhaps someone would call me an idiot for not being in the corner of my room in the fetal position, with a mask on, and deathly fearful of leaving my house all while believing that "the corona" is going to kill me dead if I step outside.
Or for not wearing a mask to go grocery shopping.
But all of those behaviors aren't really examples of prudent behavior; they are manifestations of fear and overreaction.
Fear leads to "catastrophization".
Catastrophization leads to obsessive thought processes.
Obsessive thought processes lead to self-victimization.
Self-victimization is a form of psychosis.
Thank you, COVID-19, but what damage has it done to our teams?
Our teams are likely not emotionally centered enough to be able to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people is the answer.
The people who are instantly enraged if I challenge their false narrative, aren't angry at me; they are angry that they stepped in fear and cannot shake it off their foot.
I tend to raise a middle finger to fear and I never surrender to oppression be it psychological or societal.
Sure, I feel fear and fear knows how to grip me, but unlike the COVID-scared people, I resisted the fear because I refuse to be destroyed and I have prospered.
The first question I asked myself was "What is really happening here?"
For now, let's not go down the path of over-inflating the seriousness of the virus as a reason to put the nation on house arrest because that's for others to wrestle with.
Instead, what the big picture tells us is really happening here is that things like money, position, power, fine clothes, the fancy car, going golfing, doing yoga and venti lattes, and so on are fleeting and they do not matter.
All of those trappings of life were demonstrations of control because in our minds we told ourselves that WE harnessed life and the good things are OUR making.
Then...*poof* be gone!
What also doesn't matter is shouting at people to wear masks, or to arrest them for going to the beach, or other such fear-caused shenanigans because there is no "win" in doing so.
We fear the loss of control.
Without control, we feel vulnerable and fearful--and while both upset us--fear overrides us.
There is no such thing as being fearless, but we can fear less about our situation, meaning that we can allocate less emotion to fear by channeling it.
COVID-19 did not cause our fears; it amplified them.
We carried the fears we are feeling into the playing field and COVID-19 said, "Game on!"
Fears of loneliness, awkwardness, isolation, marriages falling apart, of ending our lives, of drinking too much, and so on were all with us when COVID came knocking.
The corona intensified them and the house arrest--that some find to be unconstitutional--forced us to have to simmer and stew in our fears unable to evade them all while getting drunk on rage.
But it's what we do with fear that is the key; we have to be active.
As John Lennon wrote, "There is nothing you can do that can't be done."
So lean in and act.
Fear is a mental and/or emotional reaction that arises when there is a real or perceived threat of harm.
That harm can be real or imagined.
With COVID-19, people's fears have made them turn wild imagination born of the overselling of the severity of the virus by the media into beliefs they came to hold as real, which they then said to themselves "If I feel it, it must be real", but that does not make what was feared and imagined really real.
Emotion is not truth.
But, here's the curious thing...
That intensified heartbeat is the body clicking on to go into problem solving mode.
Yet, some channel that energy into self-imprisoning collapse--or worse bullying others into submission--rather than leaning in, showing their teeth, and fighting out of it.
We can use fear to motivate us to act, to channel that energy, to surrender the "absolute" of control, so that we can find traction in the moment.
Ironically, the militant stridency we are seeing as people brow-beat us about wearing masks, staying home, and treating everyone as having the cooties, is a total manifestation of their fear and indicates fear psychosis more than it does mental wellness.
Inside, they are scared out of their minds and they have no control, so they have to create window dressing that keeps the world from knowing how unhinged they are.
Taa daa! COVID-19 Social Justice Warrior.
They attempt to appear strong and knowledgeable because they cannot handle feeling weak.
But they fail. Everyone sees it. And they know they've been seen. It why they get so angry when challenged.
So, let's say that I fear the corona and--after contemplating--I decide to wear a mask.
That would be an example of channeling my fear into traction.
Being the mask police is something different.
It is saying, "because I am deep in fear and feel no sense of control, I am going to drag you down to my level so your state of panic will be as intense as mine so I won't be alone."
If I am trying to educate people and legitimately think people would be better off with a mask, I might say something to others.
But, if others say no to wearing a mask, the psychologically healthy person would say, "Boo, I think you're making a bad choice, but I'm with you. You do you, Boo, and I'll do me. Mazel Tov!"
And end it there.
The person living in a fear psychosis would rage up and call someone who does not wear a mask an "idiot".
How kind and compassionate of them!
Fear also challenges spirituality--with a small "s".
The spirituality I'm referring to isn't religious.
Spirituality--with a small "s"--is pushing the fear away to drill down to the essence of being human, understanding what is real and what is essential, and living grateful for the awareness.
Chanting COVID numbers, chiding people for thinking differently from us, lashing out in anger at people who are done with the COVID routine, taking on as our own the emotionality of the deaths of others are 100% examples of fear psychosis and doing so takes us away from our small "s" spirituality.
COVID-19 will end and some say we're at 14:59.
But the fear we carried into the COVID playing field--that COVID intensified and deepened--is what we will carry out with us.
It will cause post traumatic stress disorder if we do not confront it and get help.
Now, recall that I also said that we fear being vulnerable because we tell ourselves if we are vulnerable we are weak and therefore not strong.
Well, we are weak and the flick-of-the-hand that put us out of our jobs, that sent people, families, and businesses into a manufactured financial ruin not of their doing, and which forced people to stay home, illustrated what little strength we really have.
Vulnerability is strength in the sense that if we are acutely aware of our weaknesses, we can begin working on ways to be less so, which is how we build strength.
It is choosing to deal with right now without crying over the past or or borrowing worry from the future.
As George Harrison wrote, "Yesterday, today was tomorrow. And tomorrow, today will be yesterday."
Strength is not an absolute; it is instead a work in progress in the moment of now.
In fear we are alone.
In vulnerability, we are in this together.
In fear we are weak.
In vulnerability, we are less so.
All you need to manage is yourself in this moment.
And you need to let go of trying to manage people in society.
For what it's worth...
Lee Prewett, Program Manager
Bakersfield Metro CERT