There are plenty of things to worry about today. We see so much on the world, national, local, and Facebook news feeds. As we read headlines, our survival instincts tell us to pay attention to things that might hurt us, so we check the news throughout the day. Our caring natures tell us to try and take on these burdens, but it seems like we can only do so little. It can leave us feeling helpless. Balancing our worry with our desire to help our neighbors can be absolutely overwhelming.
We were not meant to carry the load of all humanity. As individuals, we are not supposed to carry on the burden of shutting down businesses, deciding how factories ought to shift production, or forming an economic plan that’s best in this situation. Below the surface, though, by exposing ourselves to news of the pandemic, we’re subconsciously trying to do that; we are both worrying and caring for all the things that are coming down the pipe.
We need to be especially careful about what we let into the gates of our hearts, to draw lines between things I can control, and things I cannot.
Our thoughts are the greatest sources of our fears, and harboring fear instead of hope clouds judgement and redirects our energies towards worry, instead of construction. Letting fear and worry run loose in our minds is a voluntary act. The initial alertness we feel whenever the next breaking headline comes through is important, but our immediate response gets out of hand when it isn’t taken under control.
In the words of Mark Twain, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
We are members of one family. We cannot let the sickness of fear spread when we already have a very real virus infecting the masses. Disinfect the fear.
Small acts of kindness, that we do have control over, can mean the greatest difference in someone who may be on the edge of disaster themselves. Just as something as microscopic as a virus can bring the world to a shutdown, love, on the opposite end of the spectrum, can have an exponentially infectious effect, even in very small doses.
Now is the time to demonstrate the hope you have in yourself. Others may have looked to you to lead in other contexts in the past. Today, they will look to you, they will see your response to crises, and mold their own behavior to fall in line. It’s time to ask yourself how you respond to extraordinary uncertainty. Adversity reveals character more than it makes it. Is your character marked by confidence in the storm? Is your character outlined by living hopefully instead of pessimistically?
In the 2015 Cold War film “Bridge of Spies,” Tom Hanks plays a lawyer named James B. Donovan, who escorts a captured Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, played by Mark Rylance, as the warring nations negotiate a prisoner exchange. Throughout the movie, Abel’s fate remains a mystery. He could be tried for war crimes. He may never see his family again. He could get executed. During the drama, Donovan keeps asking Abel, “aren’t you worried?” To which Abel, without fail, responds, “would it help?”
Rudolf Abel learned to live in a posture of equanimity, cool-bloodedness in the face of life and death.
We’re in this together. We must choose today to replace fear with faith. We must choose to live with equanimity because worry doesn’t help. We must focus on bearing only the burden we have capacity for. No one is asking you to carry the weight of the world, or even the entire neighborhood. No one is expecting you to be the perfect leader or to deny that things are chaotic, however we do need you to step up to the daring call of hope. Hope is seeing the situation for what it is but living on the faith that we are not ruled by fear, that things are on a trajectory towards healing, that our social body is worth fighting for.
Mission 22 stands on a spirit of power, love, and soundness of mind. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching. Well, guess what? Today, no one is watching. You’re working from home, you’re distancing like the authorities are telling you to. What you do in the “dark” will come to light. Fearfulness breeds fearfulness. Love breeds joy, patience, and peace.
While we take extreme measures to prevent the spread of a virus, it is equally important for the health of our family to take extreme measures to prevent the spread of fear.
Try not to check the news more than twice a day.
Get outside with a loved one first thing in the morning.
Write down and commit to a schedule you can stick to.
Develop contingency plans with your family.
Detach and think. Move to a quiet place in the house and take inventory of the situation exactly as it is from a 10,000ft view.
Write down three things you’re thankful for every day.
Remember, you can control whether fear infects those around you or if you choose to stay on the Path. Disinfect your homefront from fear by washing your heart and mind with faith and gratitude.
Marcus Farris is the Veteran Wellness Coordinator at Mission 22. He’s a Certified Health Coach and Level 1 Crossfit Trainer.