“About 7-10 days.”
Now we know the answer to the question, “How long would it take for 7,000 years of civilization to devolve into fear?
For half a decade, I worked for the world’s first—and leading—policy think tank. Super-smart folks who study things big and small, and plan for contingencies that either none of us think of, or that scare the shit out of us so badly that no one wants to think about them!
One day I asked one of them, “If something big enough happened on a global scale, how long would it take for everyone to freak out and fall into fear, panic, scarcity, and paralysis?” His answer…
Now we were talking hypothetically about situations like coordinated dirty-bomb attacks, asteroid impact, supervolcano eruption, Ebola outbreaks—end-of-the-world type shit!!!
Well, apparently, he and I underestimated the power of group-fear that gets fed like a wildfire.
Apparently fear of possibly catching something, fanned by media hyper-focus, science that no one understands but sounds scary-as-fuck and is quoted frequently, and an omnivorous social media engine is enough to escalate fear of something bad happening to the level of something bad actually happening!
Add to that fear hoarding and (perceived) scarcity of resources, and the breakdown begins to catch fire! Survival-level behavior becomes the norm. And while, at the moment, people are still being kind, patient, and polite—we haven’t broken down to the point where fear and scarcity leads to violence. I pray we never get that far.
So, what to do?
RELAX. TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE.
I get that you’re scared:
—Scared of the thought that something out there is happening at such speed that it’s going to overrun you and you feel unprepared.
— I get that you might have aging parents like me and loved ones who have other health challenges that might make them vulnerable.
—I get that you’re scared that you’re going to lose someone or something precious that you love.
Then relax and think about what you can do, rather than the fear of what you can’t do.
(#1) TAKE CARE OF BASICS: Most of us will be just fine simply by being mindful about hygiene. If you are vulnerable, or love someone who is vulnerable, take extra precautions. You know what those precautions are—the instructions are everywhere. As the Arab proverb states, “Trust in Allah (God) but tie your camel.”
(#2) GRATITUDE: If you or someone you love is affected, be grateful that we live in a country that—despite any of its failures—has the most advanced healthcare system in the world.
(#3) DO YOU: Do what you need to do to feel better. If you need to have a FEW extra supplies around to feel confident, then get them. If you need comfort food, get it/make it. If you need to shelter at home, do so. You do you.
(#4) UNPLUG: Do not watch this “crisis” unfold 24/7. The chances of most of you being affected by this is infinitesimally small. Like, “s/he got struck by lightning 3 times in 10 seconds” small. But, the possibility of making yourself sick via worrying about something 24/7, stressing out your adrenal glands, spiking your cortisone, and doing damage to your body’s function is HUGE if you fixate on your fear.
(#5) SOCIAL DISTANCING/LOVING INTIMACY: As you are sheltering, take the time to reach out to those you love. Family, old friends, new friends, neighbors. Love is the antidote for fear; isolation is the catalyst for more fear. Open up your heart and love, and you will feel better and peaceful without any regard for what’s going on in the world around you.
(#6) ASK FOR HELP: If you are struggling in any way, ask for help. No matter how simple or complex your request, ask for help. Fear is isolating, and we are experiencing fear in a way that I’ve never seen in my more than 50 years. But, we are also more interconnected than we ever have been in human history.
If we can devolve as a society to hoarding toilet paper and water in 7-10 days, then—dammit—we can create a connected, supportive loving global society in 7-10 days! But only if we turn away from, and stop feeding, our fear. I invite you to join me. 💗
Peace & love always,
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Photo credit: Washington Times