You don't have to look far to notice that people are terrified about this election. American psychologists have been writing about it. Everyone is scared, not just one side or another. And we've been scared for a while already, since before 2001 even. It just keeps ramping up.
The psychological roots of the modern fascination with Zombies relates to a doomsday feeling about our time and more recently about this election. People are even more afraid than they are angry.
No matter who wins or looses, a significant portion of the US population thinks that all is lost. We're goners. This is going down the tubes. There's no reconciliation, the other guys are idiots. There's no compromise, how can you compromise with evil? It's enough to make the sanest of people very uneasy, and enough to drive the slightly unstable right off the brink.
We need to find a way back to civility. Desperately, we need this for the survival of our nation, our families, ourselves. We need to get comfortable looking people in the eye and telling them what we really think and why. And we need to do them the honor of listening to their thoughts and reasons too.
Honesty has fallen by the wayside, and been replaced by Bullying and Obfuscation. The media can't be trusted, neither social media like this blog, or commercial media like TV news. It's hard to know what is real and what is hype. The amount of screaming about how close this election has become is not functional, I think it will shut people down.
It's sad to say but today more and more people talk like politicians. All you hear is obstructionism, evasion, and distraction. An opinion is supposed to be worth something even if it is founded on nothing. Whatever happened to having reasons for your beliefs, for finding evidence to support your position?
We can be honest. We can sit quietly and say I don't want this because I'm afraid. I do want this because I hope for something for my kids. I have reasons for my choices, and they may be my feelings, or they may be something that I believe to be a fact.
Belief is imperfect. No matter what you believe you can be mistaken. But you are still of value, even if you don't know all the facts. You are a human being, and you can learn and grow and make your own decisions.
Remember that. You too are a human being and your greatest power is your ability to care, to laugh, love, and connect. Through that you can sustain yourself and your dear ones through these troubling times, and build the strength you need to talk honestly with someone that you disagree with. One on one.
A truly magnificent poem is universal. We can all understand. We have all been there. When Mary Oliver wrote The Wild Geese, she had been to a place that most of us don't admit publicly. She had visited despair and loneliness, and remembered it to write about it.
The truth is that everyone has these experiences. If you live long enough, you will know despair. If you stay there too long, it can get to be a habit. Mary's poem reminds us that the answer is simple, that we are all connected by being creatures on this lovely planet, and that given time we will find our place in the family.
Depression is an obsession with one's own small problems. It can cause us to forget about the rest of the world. When one looks up from these problems and sees the greater picture, it is impossible to remain depressed. One's own problems are invariably small compared to all that is happening in the world, both good and bad. There is pain and there is hope, and there are the geese flying high in the clear blue air. This poem has brought me and many others through some tough times, and reminds us to look up from our misery and notice this amazing world that is going on around us.
The Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk
On your knees
For a hundred miles
Through the desert
You only have to let
The soft animal of your body
Love what it loves
Tell me about despair
Yours and I will tell you mine
But meanwhile the world goes on
Meanwhile the sun and the soft petals of rain are moving across the landscapes
Over the prairies and the deep trees, mountains and the rivers
Meanwhile the wild geese high in the clear blue air are heading home again
No matter who you are
No matter how lonely
The world offers itself to your imagination
Calls to you like the wild geese
Harsh and exciting
Over and Over again
Announcing your place in the family of things
Teresa Gryder ND is a naturopathic physician with a unique perspective on mental health, and a wide range of evidence-based alternative treatments to consider. Originally from Tennessee, she currently practices in Portland, Oregon.