People readily admit to increased fear and anger in the current climate. Advertisers, politicians and others play on fears because it gives them power. Our country has long been violent, but I cannot recall a time like this. We hear violent rhetoric, conspiracy theories, fake news etc. at ever decreasing intervals. Mass shootings are also happening more often. These tactics have spread fear and anger through our society like a virus.
Fear Has A Powerful Effect On Us
One of the primal emotions, fear leads us to a fight, flight or freeze mode. It keeps us on guard. It leaves us feeling powerless to control our circumstances. As a result, many lash out in anger, or become depressed or paralyzed.
In my recent conversations I have heard countless stories of fear. People speak of genuine concerns about the state of our country and world. They speak of not knowing what to do or how to prepare for an uncertain future. Some resist the inevitable changes. Mostly, they talk of wanting the roller coaster to slow down so they can take a breath and rebalance.
Change is hard for many people. When it arrives unbidden, seems arbitrary and has little apparent benefit, it becomes especially hard.
You Can Manage The Fear
You have options for dealing with the fear. Some include:
- If listening to the news feeds your fear, stop listening. It is possible to keep up with current events by skimming the headlines.
- Vote, write letters and participate in other civic activities as you feel called. Taking action makes you feel more powerful.
- Keep political conversations to a minimum.
- If you see something, say something. Everyone needs to be alert during troubling times. The authorities can only address problems if they are alerted to possible threats. Be their eyes and ears.
- If it is the threat of random violence, know you have no control over that. Stay alert and be thoughtful about where you go. Keep perspective; the chance you would be involved is small.
- If your fear leads to anger, channel the anger constructively. If that is not possible, work to let it go before it leads you to destructive acts.
What Does This Have To Do With Civility?
Everything. Everybody is responsible for helping to make this a better world. We cannot justify bad behavior just because so many others are. If good people continue to be good and work for good, we can turn things around.
Practice kindness. Help rebuild a more civil society.