The word “panic” has been used a lot to describe a human emotional response to the current so-called virus pandemic. I say so-called because the only thing modern humans have to compare “our pandemic” to is the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.
All we have to go on from that time is historical data, since anyone alive in 1918 and alive now was probably too young to be reliably aware of what was happening in the world. So how can anyone today say anything truly useful about something with antecedents so long ago?
People are self-admittedly (almost proudly at times) panicking everywhere on social media because they don’t trust statements from anyone in any kind of authority, or because they do trust all kinds of self-proclaimed pundits who offer all kinds of unverified and unverifiable hypotheses and theories about the origins and effects of NCOVID-19.
And then, of course, there is the panic engendered by fear of death. Which has spawned all sorts of little cottage industries designed to help people cope with that. Blogs, vlogs, live-streaming counseling, websites selling t-shirts and mugs and key chains emblazoned with affirming memes, and so much more.
My own particular cottage industry is writing “think-pieces” as they are called. I usually think, before I go to bed, “Wow, it’s all so much B.S.” And then I wake up with some idea about why I and others are so un-reassured by circumstances that they start off each new day surfing the Internet for anything that will not spark worry or outrage or depressingly cruel, mordant humor.
So, last night, after a day of observing the religious traditions of my spirituality, and after an afternoon of surfing the Internet for news and calling a few friends, and after an evening of feeding cats, vacuuming, and listening to YouTube audio books, I said, “Wow, it’s all so much B.S.”
Then I went to bed, got up this morning just a little while ago, fed cats, and realized that what I was looking for (and probably will never find) is a really honest discussion of why people are panicking about dying.
Because for some people, death does not exist. Because God and sin and heaven and hell don’t exist. No God, no divine standards, no punishment for deviating from said standards, no problem, right?
And for people who believe in God, there’s always some explanation of why human beings should not fear death. Usually death is seen as difficult but ultimately and positively transformational if correctly prepared for.
And my restless and snarky inner junior-high English class priss-pot yawns.
Yah, yah, blah, blah, blah.
I think my personal talisman against fear of anything right now is the belief that, if I can mentally dig down to a “real deal” reason why anyone is trying to battle a particular fear with endless fruitless discussion . . . then I will be able to go about my own coronavirus business radiantly, almost effulgently, smug and near-immortal.
But sometimes, digging down to a real deal produces an “aha” moment that is less consoling than the chattering.
Herewith, a poem. After which, I need a hug, which at this time can only be self-administered, and about a quart of dark roast Nescafe.
Meditation on the repudiation, indifference, absence, or death of other human beings
Meaningful human connections are tenuous at best and short-lived
and when they are gone it’s hard to prove to yourself
that they ever existed in more than photos and emails
They often seem little more than complex psychological constructs
put in place by your own mind to block the unbearable thought
that perhaps you don’t exist
Because the absence of meaningful human connections
forces you to realize that the only proof your heart has ever
accepted of your own reality
Is other human beings saying your name
written 04/27/20, 08:47 AM