Panic is, and always has been the enemy of wisdom.

Don’t tell me the person hyperventilating is the one making the best decisions based on the available facts…

When we panic our eyesight narrows and we see only what’s in front of us (toilet paper in Costco) and we lose our peripheral perspective. Perspective would tell us that we didn’t use more than we did last week, but panic creates its own shortages. In other news, we decided as a family that if you needed toilet paper in this time you could have some of ours. There are other ways…

We lose critical brain function too.

If you’re someone prone to panic it might be easy to lash out in your mind while reading this because, well, it’s right in front of you and anger is an easier reaction than evaluation. Anger never admits its own fault but having the ability to look at what we do in the cold light of day is a trait becoming more rare.

My wife is lovely and very smart, smarter than I’ll ever be, but she’ll be the first to admit she’s a little prone to panic at the disco (I would laugh and say maybe a little more than a little:). Part of what makes her special is her ability to emotionally plug herself into your hard drive and feel what it’s like to be you. This is an amazing gift until it’s not…

Everyone’s gift has two edges.

Someone else’s panic can also attack her system like a virus…

I think this situation with the coronavirus has us all panicking, and it’s easy to hide a panicky reaction that leaves wisdom behind by claiming the wise aren’t action oriented enough, maybe because some people claim they are wise but are simply risk-adverse procrastinators who criticize people actually doing something to fix a problem.

As a spiritual leader I’m trying to drill down to find the thing under the thing of this issue. It’s not just sickness we’re afraid of, there’s some trigger we’re struggling with as a society. To beat this thing we can’t just beat the issue itself, which we MUST do, we desperately need to ask a few more questions to unearth why we feel the way we do about it.

I wonder if this is the first time those in their thirties or younger have had to deal with a particular set of fears they haven’t had a process for yet?

I remember the morning of 9/11 when I walked into the electrical shop and another apprentice came in looking wild eyed and said “Haven’t you watched the news yet??” All of a sudden our lives were different and we couldn’t go back. I’m not sure what his first thought was but I remember thinking (because I’m action oriented), “This could escalate into war! What would Erin think if I had to go?”. This was pre children too but the thought hurt in a way my generation had never felt.

Everybody had a different trigger. In speaking with my mother she said “Oh, in school we did bomb drills and were scared to death Russia would invade us!”

When we goes through crisis, we all land in a different place. I’m worried on a larger scale that we don’t have the tools anymore to create a process to really deal well with crisis.

There is a misconception that more information will help us, but I suspect more information might freeze us. It’s not the random compilation of thousands of pieces of information that helps us fight a thing, it is an ordered application of critical information that does. 

I secretly wonder if this is triggering a generation that hasn’t really had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death yet that David spoke of in the Bible. What I really mean is have we had to wrestle with the fear of death?

We’ve worked overseas in years past where people have far less distraction and far more danger. Every single day they worry their children could die.

I don’t worry about that here. Well, I didn’t until last week.

Are we psychologically and spiritually prepared to start asking something I call questions that matter?

People sneer at religion for a number of reasons, but religion has at least attempted to ask questions about the afterlife. I have heard a hundred self proclaimed experts of the afterlife spin their theories, normally hashed out originally at the local pub after a few too many, but their beliefs tend to break down after two or three “And WHY do you think that?’s” and land on the typical “I don’t know?”.

I tend to think trouble is often a blessing in disguise if one has the stomach for it. Other people are shovelling manure but I’m looking for the “pony in there somewhere”.

The further we remove ourselves from trouble the less real it seems, until one day we disconnect emotion from our beliefs and pat ourselves on the back for being so intellectual. But every world view / eternal view requires a great deal of faith. My faith in God is something I think that requires less faith than any other option I’ve found.

Here’s the trick: Emotion is the driver to get us to the right destination, but the road is a hard one with questions in boxes impossible to check off completely, so we avoid emotion when we can. Oh, we’ll get enraged on FB over silly issues, but I mean real emotion that leads to real life change that costs us something, or .. (God forbid?).. EVERYTHING.

Some questions are worth everything though.

A daydreamer on the battlefield in a crisis usually gets shot in the face. There are those of us who will spend most of our emotional clock simply wishing things could go back to the way they were, but they can’t. It’s a waste of time, of course, to wish for it but wish we do that dreams come true as we stay in Neverland and never grow up.

Others are tempted to shore up their own lives and things immediately affecting them and ride out the storm. Our lives get small and selfish and we learn to survive, but survival in this manner is often the cost of our soul. We were perhaps not supposed to leave a man behind.

But perhaps this is our moment? Our time to shine?

Join with me in asking WHY? Why does this crisis make us feel this way?

Have we subconsciously set aside the religion of our forefathers because we haven’t had the courage to ask the questions they did? To wrestle with a little of the harsh realities they did? Have we secretly thought we’d grown past our need for help or direction to navigate these issues? Have we tried to solve them on our phones rather than on our knees?

I wonder how we will come through this and I’m worried, and I’m never worried.

That it will change us is certain, perhaps it will change us for the better if we lift our eyes a little higher than we have before?

One thought on “Panic!

  1. Fear breeds fear. And we choose to live in peace, a peace that passes all understanding.
    I can truly say this last year was the hardest year of my life. But this last Thursday as I was getting another needle in my eye & the doctor told me that my cancerous tumour had shrunk 20% in 3 months. God is truly good.


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