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Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ “Help Me Not Live in Fear!”

Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ “Help Me Not Live in Fear!”

Dear Dr V  ~

I’m not a religious person, and I’m not a crazy right or left winger either. But every time I look at the news I really do feel like the world’s coming to an end. When things really get bad (like what happened in Japan) I can obsess about it, but even when we’re all just kind of going along, it still seems like the sky is falling to me: people are out of work, environmental destruction, it seems like we’re always going to be at war, everything’s more expensive … I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to live my life in fear, but what can I do, it seems like there’s some very real things to be afraid of.


Dear Allison,

Wow. Believe me I can empathize on a very real level with you: I feel the same way myself when the latest horror show, real or manufactured, is paraded before us by the Media. No doubt the unfathomable tragedy still unfolding in Japan was a jarring reminder for all of us that we are truly here at the pleasure of the planet. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in the minutiae and routine of daily life and forget to look up at the heavens, out to the sea or even into our own hearts and remember what a delicate and singular gift existence on the earth truly is. How sad that it often takes such massive tragedy to remind us.

As far as the other things you mentioned, while certainly worthy of attention and action when possible, I think it’s worthwhile to remember who is bringing the messages to you and why. As I’ve said before, fear sells. Specifically, it sells ad time and generates ratings for cable news stations and other media outlets that stand to gain a buck by keeping you glued to the screen while they scare the shit out of you in between trying to convince you to buy a Sham-Wow or a blanket with sleeves. Because if you’re scared, you’ll sit through the commercials to get to the next terrifying segment on Y2K/SARS/Swine Flu/Terrorism/Etc. Pandemics and Terrorism are of course real potential threats, but if you consider the mania the media flies into whenever there’s even a kernel of fear to exploit, I think it’s pretty obvious most of the time they’re Crying Wolf. Only unlike the villagers in the story, we keep running every time. Strange that the actual disasters and tragedies are usually completely unpredictable (for most of us) and arrive out of nowhere.

Which brings me to my next point. In some ways, I do think our Civilization is nearing a point of Critical Mass. Stay with me here, the Dr. V Spring Wardrobe is not a sandwich board reading THE END IS NEAR. But, when you consider how many people there are in the world, how limited our resources are, and how unbalanced the access to those resources is (like water), it’s not hard to see that things can’t go on as they are indefinitely.

I think this is true on a spiritual level a well. Here in America, we seem to have gone into a coma of the soul. As I’ve also said many times before, Empathy is viewed as a liability, avarice and greed as character assets. We’ve allowed the same technology that literally puts the collected knowledge of humanity at our fingertips to turn us into a nation of Facebooking narcissists. This is also an unsustainable way of life, as it robs us of the wonderful human potential for love and compassion, which is only truly possible though actual person to person interaction.

I won’t paint an unrealistic picture for you, there are times when things get scary and there’s nothing we can do about it. Thankfully, those moments are the exception, rather than the rule. Unless you or someone you know has some incredible powers of clairvoyance, whatever waits behind the door of the future will always be conjecture and guesswork. The one thing you can be sure of is the kind of person you are and the life you lead. By remaining purposeful and positive in your actions and thoughts, you will be actively doing all you can to move us all towards a more positive kind of change. Of course there’s the mundane stuff like recycling, not wasting electricity, and blah blah blah. And it couldn’t hurt to prepare an emergency kit for the house, “just in case.” If there are particular circumstances that really frighten you, learn about them and how to deal with them (take a Wilderness Survival Course, you’ll be tougher than Rambo!). Information is the antidote to fear. But I think also if you can become purposeful and responsible within yourself, it will be a comfort to you when you find yourself worrying that the sky could be falling. Try to make empathy and gratitude centerpieces of your consciousness. Even something a simple as going to the supermarket could be a moment of reflection and gratefulness. “Wow. I got in my car, drove safely down the street to this place where I can get more food than I could ever want.” For millions of people we share the world with that is a luxury they will never know. To not rejoice in it is almost akin to wasting it.

Is the world ending? Probably not. Changing? Definitely, and changing in many ways. How gradual or sudden these changes may be I can’t say, or even exactly what many of them will be. And change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to have said this, change is really the only constant factor throughout history.  Gandhi has an oft-repeated quote “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” Maybe it’s been bandied around so much it’s as meaningless to some as the poster on a guidance counselor’s wall, but I think it’s very true. Live your life in a way that honors your authentic self and respects the same in others, and no matter what happens as you move through life, you’ll have the comfort of knowing you’re a force for good, which is really the best anyone could hope for.

And for the cynical among us who would argue that the individual can’t make a difference by making positive changes to their lifestyle and worldview: How then can you account for the negative impact on our world caused by millions of individuals deliberately maintaining unsustainable lifestyles? The push back has to start somewhere. It’s easy to make an argument in favor of inertia when one is not in motion.

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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