Letter: In these trying times, we need a sense of proportion

The Examiner

Alvin Twain, Independence

To the editor: 

“Paranoia strikes deep/Into your life it will creep/It starts when you’re always afraid…”

Stephen Stills wrote those lyrics 54 years ago. Dust them off again for it’s a theme for the next eitght weeks and beyond.

“There’s battle lines being drawn/And nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

The anxious mind is a playground for catastrophizing, and we know that fear is biologically stronger than safety. There’s no such thing as “don’t fight or don’t flight.” The amygdala is the little part of the brain that saves our emotional memories. It can react very quickly. Out come the cortisol and adrenaline, and now you’re ready for battle. That sort of reaction is exhausting and stressful and not what we need after six months of pandemic.

Initially, the pandemic brought people together. It is a real fearsome enemy, and Americans rally against a common foe. After the menace was politicized, it became another of the multitude of “issues” that tribalize us. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.

So how does this story turn out? No matter who wins, I can see families and long friendships disrupted or broken. What a pit for the country as the divide deepens, but, importantly, each of us may lose some of our relational capital – the stuff that is way more important than stuff. Who among us thrives in a lonely, alienated world?

What to do? Try to be a little philosophical and bring back into proportion the fear factors. To me the absolute scariest outcome is the loss of love.