FLOWER MOUND, TX — March 27, 2020 —The tools of conquest don’t necessarily come from bombs, bullets and military troops invading our borders. There are weapons much more lethal and more easily transmitted. Although there are weapons of mass destruction that come from laboratory experiments on animals and insects that somehow, accidentally or purposely, find their way into the human genome, there’s another deadly virus that seems to emerge during challenging times. The malady to which I refer is known as panic. It’s a deep-seated fear of the unknown which creates a spiritual paralysis that robs us of our common sense and self-reliance. We can see an enemy that comes toward us with a gun, but, a state of panic flies under the radar and embeds itself in our emotional system.
A bleeding wound can be treated and healed because it’s readily observable and able to respond to outside processes. However, panic is an invisible terror that shuts down logic and reason as it feeds on itself during every conscious moment. The fallout from that terror can be every bit as perilous as that which comes from the aftermath of nuclear weapons. When President Roosevelt, during the Great Depression told us that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was talking about the destructive nature of panic. It’s a mental state that magnifies a threat to a level which can paralyze a person, a community, or even a nation. The primordial instincts for self-preservation were instilled in our DNA to allow us to recognize a threat and take evasive action, or pick up a weapon.
One wonders if the forces of evolution disciplined our brains to recognize the difference between actual threats and irrational fear. The Covid-19 threat is undoubtedly real, but, is it rational to deal with it by shutting down the country that mobilized an awesome military, which won 2 World Wars, conquered numerous deadly diseases, pioneered heart, kidney, liver and other organ transplants and successfully put the first men on the moon, while creating the most prosperous nation in history? Are we to believe that this illness is capable of destroying about a century of progress and robbing our children and grandchildren of the heritage fought and died for by their ancestors?
While I truly believe that we have some very capable leaders in every level of government, providing good advice regarding self-isolation and sanitary habits, there are others who have succumbed to the type of panic that can only be deemed irrational. It reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode entitled “The monsters are due on Maple Street.” When some of the usual comforts are suddenly taken away from residents on a street in a rural town, just minutes after a UFO is seen crossing the sky, people begin thinking that some among them are invaders from another planet. As each unexplainable incident occurs they lose their ability to reason and soon become terrorized by their own imagination.
Their community comes to a standstill as the panic spreads from family to family. At the episode’s end, the camera backs away to a hillside where the actual aliens are looking down at the madness. One of them says, “Understand the procedure now? Just stop a few of their machines, confuse them, interrupt their normal way of life, and then sit back and watch the pattern. With few variations, they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find and it’s themselves. All we need do is sit back and watch.”
For the record, I don’t believe we have reached a state of panic – yet. But, if we can’t get this insidious monster under control soon, we may as well stay under self-quarantine because there won’t be anything left when we come out of hiding. One more word about panic; it comes from the top and reverberates all the way down to street level. When President Trump provides a timeline for things to go back to normal, he’s giving hope to those who may be inching closer to hysteria each day. Moreover, he added that the timeline is flexible, which gives him some room to effectively put us back together in a systematic, prudent way. Meanwhile it provides us with a light at the end of a fearful tunnel.
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Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”