You don’t have to go to a baseball game to hear “Bombs bursting in air” when it seems that every time you look around there’s an incoming. Wrong place at the wrong time? You did nothing to put yourself there so what’s going on?
Heck, Florida’s a case in point. I just heard from a friend down there, my age (>75), he’s tested positive for COVID. Trust me, he’s one cautious guy who is doing his best to stay safe since his daughter is expecting and wants her parents to come up north to help when she gives birth – but only if they’re virus-free. But this is Florida, land of the free where buildings collapse ($$$ trumps regulations, inspections, and enforcement), and nightclubs get shot up. No state income tax. You get what you pay for.
He’s not the first friend to get COVID. I’m sure you all have family or friends that have already met the enemy head (and lungs) straight on. And still, there are people not wanting to take precautions – not getting vaccinated or wearing a mask, and mocking social distancing. Get ready to duck the incoming then and avoid your neighbor.
Wouldn’t it be nice to experience a little stillness and feel less anxiety even as the water’s rising and the bridges washout? Think about it and remember to breathe. Meanwhile, I searched and found this quote from the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
Father, give us the courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
Be nice to feel a little more comfortable just being me; I’d have a lot less anxiety. The current world’s not exactly how I’d want it to be. Admittingly, I’m mostly a peacenik and would do poorly under fire and it does seem as if we’re in a very active combat zone. I don’t know how I can remove myself from that combat zone and like most others don’t want to be barricaded within my four walls. Also doubt that I’ll be able to change most others, get them to vaccinate, etc.
However, I can lead by example… wear my mask when I walk my dog or when I go into a store even where it’s not required. And if the discussion gets started about masks or vaccines NOT shoot my mouth off about how the other person is an idiot; acknowledge that they have valid concerns but try to help them consider the bigger picture where there are others who may not have such a robust constitution or while asymptomatic may serve as a petri dish for COVID to grow and mutate into more virulent strains.
Gun violence is a lot tougher to address. We need to tone down the volume about gun rights and turn up the one about responsibility: not twirling our sidearm in public nor suggesting that violence is an acceptable solution. AND NO – the RIOT in Congress on January 6 was exactly that – a RIOT and NOT a peaceful walk in the park. Marginalizing others and fabricating lies is part of that violence. Do that and you’re marking the spot for those “incoming” shots. Maybe this time you think you’re not in the target area… but next time? And don’t forget the combat zone morphs.
I don’t find this a very happy picture. However, we do have some effective countermeasures we can employ in the field; wage a kind of guerilla warfare, operating in small cells or solo. AND I think it’s a strategy that’s intrinsically good. I’ll throw some keywords out in no particular order and then maybe add a sentence or two for each. Small cells, operating independently, etc. – are going to be unstoppable.
KINDNESS, SMILES, CONSIDERATION, INCLUSIVENESS, OPEN HEART. You can add to the list. I don’t want to let the prejudiced enemy in on too many of our secret weapons.
KINDNESS – practice random acts of kindness, be inventive, sew the seeds of connection, reach out to others.
SMILES – a not-so-secret weapon that disarms the enemy.
CONSIDERATION – acknowledge that others are also right and that together you can come up with even a better solution to the problems that are challenging everyone.
OPEN HEART – I’ll let you write your own script on this one.
My take is that all of these and others are self-affirming, doing for others is really doing for ourselves and is part of the process of becoming whole and healthy. Not an easy battle but one worth fighting and one that we’re going to win together. Good luck!
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.