The word “Frozen” pops up the imaginary characters of Elsa, Anna and Olaf for our children. Today, all Americans face a new kind of frozen, that of being frozen in place.
For the next untold weeks or even months, the country is putting herself into a protective hibernation. The big difference between natures induced slowdown and the one we are entering is the fact that we control this. While we collectively volunteer to remain frozen in place, what we do not subscribe to is being frozen by fear. Let our actions be driven by reason and thought and not hysteria.
During the worst days of World War II, people practiced blacking out their windows, for fear of enemy forces focusing in on any slight sliver of light leaking from their homes at night. A 1941 New York Times headline captions reads;
- Keep Cool
- Stay Home
- Put out lights
It has been nearly 19 years since the terror attacks of 9-11. The Cuban missile crisis had the entire world poised on the brink of a world-war some 58 years ago, taking the collective breath away from all Americans. During the 60’s teachers herded kids under school desks or into fallout shelters for fear of nuclear annihilation. Tuberculosis killed 34,000 in 1950 and 62,000 died from the flu in 1957. All of these events shared the common thread of fear. The key to that is how we reacted. We converted fear into action. And once you act, fear dissipates.
Ironically, reaction to fear is commonly expressed as running from the source of that threat. Today, we do the counter-intuitive and we are asked to stand-down, shelter in place, and deny by social distancing a place for the virus to host. By collectively agreeing to distance ourselves from one another, the virus has no way of spreading.
The situation we find ourselves in is the colossal version of the common phrase, “Take a Deep Breath.” While we hunker down, this is a good time to do some of the things we claim that we never have time for. Like exploring our relationship with God. How about practicing our prayerful life? Why not write a few letters to people you love and tell them so. Maybe go a full day without TV or internet, or radio, or cell phone, and instead listen to the sounds around you, or simply enjoy the quiet and peace.
American’s aren’t about small ideas or weak responses. While we are likely to argue, insult, engage and enrage on occasion, we also know when to stop and when to unite. Our disagreements don’t define us, our commonality as fellow Americans does.
We can decide to make of this time something productive. We can take stock of who we are and why we do the things that we do. There has never been a better time for genuine self-reflection, or a time when we have needed it more.