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Fear in the World of Pandemic

by Mark Neumann | WFU Member & Retired Pediatric Doctor

In the world of COVID-19 everything looks different and some things stay the same.

As our communities respond to the threat of a virus infection, we experience fear. We are uncertain about what to do to protect ourselves and all the people that we love and want to care for.

Fear is our most potent emotion. The reaction is something that we experience in every part of what makes us who we are. We feel it in our bodies and minds and relationships. Our bodies become tense, even jumpy. Our minds become anxious and super vigilant. Our relationships become strained and apprehensive. The fear reaction is something that is experienced often. We see it in other creatures as well. Biologists call it the fight, flight or freeze response. It is something that we all have because it is something that makes us and all living creatures able to survive in the world where we live.

We humans have been very successful at living on earth. We find people living everywhere: on the land, under the seas, and even above our atmosphere. As a species we have succeeded in populating every corner of our environment. As a species we are very strong.

Our strength comes from our ability to work together, to coordinate our individual effort into group effort. And we are very good at this. Just think about all the groups we belong to. Our families, our clans, our neighborhoods, our circle of friends, our teams, our religions, our towns, our ethnic groups, our nations, our … everything. The groups that we belong to make the identities that we own as individuals.

COVID-19 is a virus that is attacking our everything. We hear stories about how it makes us sick, and how it kills some people. It is good to feel fear about something like that. It also attacks us in our groups. We sense this threat to the fabric of our society at every level. Another good reason to feel afraid.

Everything feels different because of our fear, and yet, some things stay the same because of our strength.

Let’s take stock of what we fear, the COVID-19 virus infection.  Then let’s place stock in our strength, our ability to work together.  We do this by trusting our healthcare experts' direction. Let’s keep our physical distance so the virus cannot spread but maintain our emotional togetherness by trusting each other and working together. There-in lies our strength.

Neumann is a retired pediatric critical doctor who lives in La Crosse with his wife, their teenage son and a three year old "wannabe" cow dog. He is a member of Wisconsin Farmers Union and believes that our personal good health depends on living in healthy communities. To this end, he devotes his time and effort to political engagement for our future and for those who will follow us.

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