Is it my imagination, but I can almost feel some sighs of relief as many of us gladly wave good-bye to 2020 and enter 2021 with the hope that it will be better so we can regain some of the life we had before the virus descended upon us. This is the reaction of an optimist. However, there are those who suffered greatly this past year by losing a loved one or their job and are facing the new year with anxiety and dread. Their reaction may be that of a pessimist. Finally, there are those who are facing the new year with a mix of both not knowing quite what to expect. They are the realists who have managed to stay alert to learning about the virus, diligently followed the rules as set out by our health and political leaders, and probably haven’t suffered too greatly either financially or personally. Whatever category we might fit in, these words which I saw in a recent advertisement really struck a cord with me and will be my words of wisdom for dealing with 2021.
To quote it was: “Without love there is no hope”.
This means that we must face this year without fear driving our thoughts, words or actions. Instead we must do the opposite which is to face the new year with love. Living with fear is often easier to do than to live with love. Why? Because fear is where the majority of people have lived for a very long time. Most of us aren’t even aware that so many of our responses to life are made from a place of fear. This is especially true today because of COVID. Many people are afraid to voice an opinion or to take a side they feel is the right one for fear that they will be ostracized. The concept of just what defines fear can be baffling to some. We know what it is when faced with something real, such as what to do when being attacked by a bear, but today it’s not so tangible and is more hidden. Most of us will learn unknowingly about fear from the day we are born, from our parents and teachers. As a newborn we fear being abandoned if we aren’t fed when hungry or cuddled when in pain. As we age, fear can manifest itself when we are afraid to speak out on something which we know is wrong. We strive to become a part of the crowd and to go with the norm because if we don’t we might be left out or worse still… bullied! We have witnessed this throughout our lives and are seeing it more now since the virus took over our life and as the vaccines for it are rolled out. Our government is strongly advising us to get the vaccine. If many don’t want to get it, could it become mandatory? Then what? Will those who don’t get the vaccine be treated like a pariah? Choosing to take the vaccine or not will be a difficult decision for some people to make as it raises so many questions. In the end, whatever decision we make should be based on love and not fear, and that we all need to respect the choices each of us will make. We cannot let this virus divide us.
Let’s go one step further with this whole concept of what fear is and how it can have such negative effects on us and our world. From time immemorial, we have made war on each other. We say we want peace and to get along with others, but we fail miserably because we aren’t willing to do the work that this requires, such as acceptance of differing points of view and co-operation. Why? Because fear takes over and begins to drive all our actions. Fear messes up our lives and pits us against each other because it’s based on pride, envy, anger, competition, and aggression. It’s all about scarcity of thought and action. It keeps us stuck in doing what we have always done and keeps us from moving forward. It does not allow us to open up to new ideas or ways of doing things and worst of all it can stifle our creativity and our freedom of speech.
To understand how living in fear has affected the human race, I happened upon the following website by an Australian biologist, Jeremy Griffith, who for many years has studied the history of the human journey. His explanation was certainly a confirmation to my study of the human being as portrayed not only by the famous psychologist, Alfred Jung, but also Plato that early Greek philosopher I discovered in my first philosophy course many years ago. All the pieces of the puzzle dealing with humanity came together in Griffith’s book. For a quick analysis of what he has to say, you can click on the following link:
All we have to do is flip the coin and live our lives with love as our driver. Love is the opposite of fear. It is driven by our hearts, not our minds as fear can be. It comes from a source which can help us to be more compassionate and understanding of others. Such a concept can be foreign to many of us because we didn’t see or experience this as we were growing up. Certainly in school we weren’t told such things about loving ourselves and others. Many of us remember our school days as a kind of competition to be accepted into the ‘in’ crowd, to make good marks, and be accepted into the best universities in order to obtain more degrees so we could be at the top of our game and make more money. There was little if any discussion about the EQ (Emotional Quotient) of a person; it was always about our IQ (Intellectual Quotient).**
Since the onset of COVID, I can sense changes happening with many of us as we learn more about this subject of love. The latest word being bandied about is carrying out acts of kindness to others where help is needed. We are also becoming more aware of the mistreatment of our underprivileged indigenous peoples and blacks who have been held down by our colonial attitude. Others of us are realising that we have much to be thankful for and are taking the time to make gratitude lists. The concept of love and acts of kindness to all is an extremely difficult task for many who only now are beginning to address the truth of what ails us. We are only just beginning to to accept the reality of how our past actions are the cause of our present day problems which are verging on the insurmountable. We are beginning to see that we really are in this present day mess together, and it’s up to all of us to accept responsibility. Instead of fearing the virus, we should be thanking it for opening up our eyes to our problems.
However, it’s important for us to realise that the true meaning of love also includes taking the time to take care of ourselves and in essence love ‘thy self’. This is probably the most difficult task of all. We learned from whatever religion we were exposed to that we must love our neighbour and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, but did we understand what this really meant? I know I didn’t. It was my psychology education and work with psychotherapy that awakened me to what love of ‘self’ was all about.You may ask: “How can I love myself? Isn’t that rather selfish?” My answer is that it certainly is not. It’s about caring for and understanding your ‘self’. This is so important because it’s about gaining a sense of worthiness about your ‘self’. No more putting down of your ‘self’ from those inner thoughts constantly floating around in your mind and no more of letting others do the same by taking advantage of you. If we can’t learn to accept our ‘self’, including the good and the bad qualities that make us the person that we are, then how can we accept others for all that they are? We really can’t. We can try but invariably we’ll become disillusioned and fall back into that world of negativity… aggressiveness, greed, jealousy, and guilt, to name a few.
Learning to love our ‘self’ and others is what unconditional love is all about. It has nothing to do with romantic love; it’s about understanding, loving, and forgiving, first ourselves and then others. This is the crux of the problem that humanity has suffered from for such a long time (Jeremy Griffith). It explains why we have the mess we are facing, and especially why we have COVID as another of our problems. This virus is forcing us to go within and face our ‘selves’… ‘our shadow’ in Jungian terms… the hard way. It’s forcing us to change our way of thinking and our actions. It’s urging us to take up the gauntlet and begin to create a new world for our ‘self’ and to help others to do the same.
It may sound like an easy task at first, so like me and many others, you will tackle it with all good intentions. However, this time around I truly believe that the virus isn’t going to let us off the hook so easily. How can I say this when so many of us know so little about the virus and how it and the vaccines all work? Well my thoughts about it are based on the reality that we humans are slow learners when it comes to making changes in our lives. We resist change even though we know better because we hate having to leave our comfort zones. We basically want things to stay the same. We are putting all our faith into the hands of the vaccine to bring the virus under control so we can resume our normal lives. Already we are seeing the ads urging us to book our next trip to some exotic country. It is good to be optimistic but in this… I am not so sure?
With the appearance of new strains of the virus cropping up, she is trying to tell us that our work has just begun. Our first step is to acknowledge that the world as we knew it just short of a year ago has changed, and the only choice we have now is to face what lies ahead of us. This will be the greatest challenge all of us will have to face, so it’s imperative that we all take whatever time and endurance we have to go inside and learn about ourselves so we can build up the resilience and courage we will need to deal with the future.
** IQ or the Intelligence Quotient is defined as a person’s relative intelligence, measured by his performance on a standardized intelligence test relative to the average performance of others of the same age OR it can be a proficiency in the knowledge of a specific subject. Those with high IQ’s over 140 are considered to be in the genius catagory.
EQ – Emotional Quotient is the ability to manage emotions of the self and others…. a newer concept that many large corporations use in their hiring practice. Those with a high EQ make better leaders and are often more successful in today’s world. (Dictionary definitions)
The ideal is to have a balance of the two for success in all walks of life (the author’s words).