I heard an interesting interview of a mental health professional. (I never remember names.) She said there was a stress study of cadets. The expectation was the cadets’ stress would be highest in the beginning of their studies or even when nearing finals and graduation. The highest stress was after they passed their classes and their careers were promising. The research discovered that the stress was higher because they no longer were in a struggle together, no longer in unity with their classmates.
I find that is true of me (and maybe you) during this pandemic. We are not pulling together as Americans. One political party is not the enemy of the other, unless individuals create chaos by reposting feeding-frenzy nonsense. I personally am not going to be used by manipulators manufacturing articles to divide us. I believe science, not fantasies. I believe most people on both sides of the aisle are basically good and share my American values.
I am stressed each time a friend posts another deep state conspiracy. Government workers are our hard working neighbors who have children and grandchildren who play with our children/grandchildren. They keep us safe in law enforcement, process paper by the tons, work for the VA, investigate nursing homes complaints, and keep our tap water clean, etc… etc…..
I am stressed by people who post their rights to infect others (me!) by not wearing a mask or curtailing their activities. As much as I grieve for those who lost loved ones – almost 80,000 families, we could have had twice that number if we had not been responsible. The time out was not a waste of my time. I had no burning desire to kill someone (the elderly, medical personnel, my neighbors). I am a grown-up and can be still for a brief time.
I am stressed by people, most churched and professing love, who have chosen to be hateful rather than be my friend on FB. It is a choice. I will miss them, but not the hate.
My stress goes down when I behave in a loving manner, am kind and rational. My choice. What I control. I hope more of my friends regain their loving centers before we are lost to one another. No one can have too many friends, especially during a pandemic.
I sat in the pit of my own being
like the trapped wolf gnawing at its foot
or a jarred firefly touching silently against the lid
or a button forcing its way through a small, garment hole.
Then I raged against politicians
and gamblers who shopped without masks devaluing my life—
charlatans as homicidal as an armed thief
and as merciless as a mass shooter. People were dying.
I moved through the grief for my country,
emotionally spent, to the altar of acceptance,
powerless until the next election to do more than observe,
wear my mask and gloves, and simply exist in timelessness.
I want to believe humanity will learn from this nefarious virus—
the invader of our dreams, the wall between us and the world,
intellectual divider and destroyer of tolerance,
the slayer of grandparents, health workers, moms, dads and children.
After we have buried the dead. After we can earn a living.
After. After. After. Will we embrace the migrant picking our food?
Will we support educators, custodians and bus drivers?
Will we find one America? Will we be better humans? After…..
Seventy-one and a woman who’s seen mighty change—internet, cell phones, and one step for mankind on moonscape. Veterans of WWII branded their stories on my young soul. That damned McCarthy caused me to look for communists neath my bed. Viet Nam tattooed my innocence. Patriotism, plated as political righteousness, challenged the rage against dying and peace movements—Gandhi dared Patton philosophies wrestling for ethos. No winners, just battle-worn heroes. Now drums the social-till-doomsday-shrill-media robbing weak heads of free thinking—new mind control. Fear like rain cuts rough, new gullies of hate, fear and rage. Peace lost not on a battlefield, love in surrender to hate. Godly abandoned in rallies, the modern lion’s den, truth’s death. Long serving soldiers dismissed for truth-telling. A Medal of Honor bestowed on a bigot. Romney the lone statesman. Loyal, weak servants rewarded and righteous, strong saints defiled. Labeling knowledable elitist. Labeling brown other. Labeling good hearts feeding hungry folk socialists. Villainous! Rise up you virtuous patriots. Be the strong voice of right. Rise up still Christians and claim the mantle of kindness. Rise up to speak! Rise up to vote! Rise up!
I am a baby boomer, born shortly after WWII. Throughout my childhood I heard the stories soldiers told in their living rooms, stories about riding on ships, their wounding, the friends they held while dying, the skeletons (as one man said, “…flesh hanging on bones”) walking away from the newly freed concentration camps.
History and civics were taught with vigor in those days because we knew the price and fragility of democracy. Hitler was voted into office, so we had a duty to study the candidates and make good choices.
I watch the impeachment of Donald Trump and think back to Richard Nixon’s impeachment. I was in my twenties and making calls for the local Republican Party. I knew Richard Nixon was innocent. I watched the trial day after day, as obsessive as I am today about justice. When I realized he had committed the crimes, I was devastated. I felt a personal sense of betrayal, not because I was a Republican, but because I was an American.
I wondered in 1974, as I do today, how anyone can take an office as powerful as the Presidency and not feel humility. It is like holding a sparrow with a broken wing in one hand and a nuclear bomb in the other.
Democracy is a fragile balancing act. Only a fool sitting in the Oval Office or in a congressional seat would place personal gain above freedom.
These times challenge saints more than sinners.
Fear and anxiety accompany worship and school attendance.
Slowly we move into democracy lost or renewed.
Our children will live on a dying planet or learn stewardship.
This journey will make heroes and villains of us all.
Must we relinquish control to madness?
Some frantically compose FB posts to vent their anger –
posts with scripture to counterpoint side against side,
posts to request prayer – pointed and raging – self-defeating peace,
posts with cartoons screaming louder than words.
Must we become what we hate in others?
If my voice is the loudest, am I right?
If I manage to trample on your rights to protect mine, am I right?
If I belong to a party, does my membership make me right?
If I rationalize without facts, can I proclaim truth?
Have we seen these behaviors play out in history? Perhaps.
The Crusades. Germany. Turn neighbor against neighbor,
religious sects in pious rebellion abandon values long held,
citizens dehumanize the immigrants, the disadvantaged, women.
Like Legos in a three-year-old’s hands, we are breaking apart.
I refuse to conform!
I have the power not to be evil or angry or hurt.
I will speak truth in a quiet voice, but I will speak!
Perhaps, someone will join me and two of us will be free of hate.
Awesome power. All I control is me.
Eyes greet her eldest.
“Goodbye,” she utters. Eyes close.
(Written after yesterday’s visit with my 97-year-old mother-in-law.)