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OPINION | Culture of ‘fear itself’

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MY heart goes out to anyone living in fear and even more so to those whose greatest fears may have been realized through the loss of loved ones.

I doubt there is anything I could say to ease those fears and know there is absolutely nothing I can do to soften the pain (even at the thought) of losing a loved one — those are not my intentions here. Death is “life’s greatest common denominator” (as mysterious as life itself) and a cruel reality for those it leaves behind though none of us will get out of here alive. And fear? Well, “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration” (Herbert, F.).

I’ve experienced fear and certainly loss — I suspect we all have — so I’m not without empathy. In fact, like most of us, I’ve bought into some of the current narrative and find myself scrambling, trying to make sense of this new normal and to create some illusion of safety around my family and friends. It is just an illusion.

Still (and please note that these are my thoughts and not necessarily reflective of anyone associated with me either personally or through work), I feel embarrassed for my fears and for the general level of fear emanating throughout our community and our Nation as a whole. I also feel angry over the downward trajectory of our personal liberties and the gross uptick in governmental over-reach with marching orders of a police-state trying to rear its ugly head. But most of all, I am profoundly saddened at the prospect of my kids being raised in a culture of fear. I want them to be smart, but not afraid. I’d rather hoped that in the face of any enemy, they’d see me step up and take bullets for them and yet here I am on the front lines nervous, even jittery like an old sheep afraid to meet its end.

While multiple generations of people before us charged directly into lines of fire (literally) to preserve our freedoms and to insure them for future generations, we so willfully cower behind shrouds of face-masks, hand-sanitizers and contrived curfews in fear of an invisible enemy. Why? Because the proverbial “they” told us we have to do it. What’s worse is we’re doing it all under pretense of concern for the well-being of our elders.

If that were true then why is my 76-year-old mother being turned back from taking her evening walk/run on the beach path? And why are an 86-year-old lady and her husband being chased off the beach while trying to enjoy a private lunch in the sun? Yes. That happened here on Saipan this week. In other words, we’re preventing our Manamko’ from doing what we know to be healthy and good for them (i.e., exercising and sunbathing) under the guise of protecting them. How are we protecting them with these policies? I feel for the police (who, for the record, were extremely polite and respectful in both instances as stated above) having to enforce this nonsense and I challenge all of them to exercise their discretion and look the other way when seeing people (particularly our Manamko’) out enjoying their freedom and the fresh, salty air of our beautiful island.

As for my new curfew (under threat of arrest), is it really for the community’s protection? Or is it a veiled design to proliferate some new world order where the powers that be tell us to jump and we ask how high? How does jailing people (for moving around freely in the open air of our community) and forcing them into a confined spaces (likely with 10 people or more) help in thwarting Covid-19?

To be clear, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t necessarily believe that there is some grand design (particularly among our local leadership) to usurp the powers of our democracy, but I question the wisdom in certain decisions being rolled out as directives. Who is advising our Administration on these directives? Is it the Covid-19 task force and, if so, are medical professionals appropriately represented? Shouldn’t we have a Covid-19 Advisory Medical Board to insure medically sound decisions?

Coincidentally, the World Health Organization advises against policies requiring the general public to wear masks while out and about and yet suddenly I’m not allowed to buy groceries without wrapping my face in a mask — it doesn’t matter what kind of mask, just a mask. Why? And by the way, more than 90 people die in car accidents everyday and about 3 million people are injured each year, so why haven’t we stopped people from driving all together? Just a passing thought.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously asserted that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” describing it further as, “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” In the course of less than a hundred years since Roosevelt’s address, we have gone from the “Greatest Generation” to a bunch of “Covid-19 Dinglebytes” (look it up).

I’d be remiss not to mention that for countless Americans, fear/anxiety is a painful way of life that regularly prevents them from moving about freely in our society with nearly 40 million adults, or 18.1 percent of the population being affected. Although not synonymous, fear being an emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is the anticipation of a future threat, fear causes anxiety and anxiety can cause fear — a fine line. For emphasis, this is a health statistic far exceeding the current threat of Covid-19. Among other things, fear might actually weaken our immune systems, so perhaps fear mongering is not our best course of action in response.

Show me a leader who can put aside his/her own fears in order to allay our community’s fears and I’ll show a leader I’d happily follow.

In the meantime if you see my kids and I at the beach, let’s keep a safe distance (6 feet or more if we must) and wave at each other, but please don’t let me or anyone else get arrested for fishing, swimming or bathing in the sun. More now than ever, we need the medicinal wonders of Mother Nature and no amount of rhetoric will convince me otherwise.

For more information regarding legal protections for individuals with mental illness and other rights protections for our Manamko’, please contact NMPASI at 235-7273/4 (voice) / 235-7275 (fax) or on-line via www.nmpasi.org.

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