I'm working hard to write this blog post in as unbiased a way as I possibly can.
We're in the midst of a scare about the Coronavirus right now. Italy is completely locked down. Cruise ships are in bays waiting to be disembarked until everyone is screened. Test kits are questions, and hospitals are full. Toilet paper is out all over the US.
Meanwhile, halfway around the world, in China, I'm hearing things. Weird things, considering not even two weeks ago Wuhan was itself in lockdown.
Now, that's why I'm writing. I'm writing about truth of information, and in so doing, I'm not including a single statistic. Why?
For exactly the reason I'm writing.
Two months ago, Iran was a scare. Last month, an impeachment debacle was wrapping up.
Funny, you don't hear about those any more. I wonder what else we're not hearing. I don't even remember what the news headline of the day was three months ago.
Meanwhile, everyone is spouting numbers like they did the research themselves. People are pointing fingers. Everyone's an expert. But the numbers don't add up. Some say they're being overblown, others say they're being minimized. This situation is being compared to normal facts of life. Who knows what to believe?
Something doesn't add up. We're being taught to be afraid of each other. In Italy, who's enforcing the lockdown? What might happen if there's an actual crime; who's going to address that? And how valid is the info we're being shared?
I don't have an opinion either way, and that's part of the issue. I don't know what to believe. This number makes that one null and void. Some of the numbers I've seen are impossible to coexist. They both can't be true, logically.
The stock market is a roller coaster. People are fighting over toilet paper in the stores. And we're not even sure what the truth is. The reality is that the stock market runs on emotion. And we see that in the plunges and spurts the past week or so. It's a volatile market run on emotion.
Something is just not adding up.
Here's where I have some thoughts and suggestions for you. I would love to hear what you think in the comments. Keep them kind; I will delete inflammatory, defamatory, or otherwise derogatory comments. We are better than that here.
1. Filter news. Believe it or not, news is supposed to contain facts and only facts. I remember coming home from Germany in June 2017 to notice that news was basically 24/7 someone's opinion, with little actual data to back up the thoughts being shared. Be very careful what you hear or read. If you have been digesting news from normal sources for a long time, this will be harder to discern. I actually suggest a media fast in such cases. Once you come back from a fast a week or longer, you will likely pick up on what I'm suggesting. Be discerning where your news does come from, so you can separate fact from opinion. You may even find yourself suspending your political opinions to do so. You can do this! And limit your viewing or reading to a certain number or words or minutes. I'll get into the effects of what happens to you based on what you are feeding yourself on, in #3.
2. Validate what you do see or read. I'm not saying bury your head in the ground, but I think the time is here for us to ensure we're validating info. The sheer logical inconsistencies I've seen in news sources, where info being shared can't all be true, means either the real number is out there, or it's not. News is supposed to be like a parking lot, where it's unbiased or indifferent to where you're going. More often than not, though, our news is like a store, with an intended product, a style, a personality, a bias, really. Stores do have biases. Target is not Wal-Mart. The good news is we can choose to consume that, or walk out of the store if we don't feel the info is correct.
3. Judiciously consume your news. Again, validate any number you see. I'm seeing so much conflicting info out there I can tell the truth is obscure. Don't take what you read or see at face value. The problem is, most of us don't have time to validate. If this is you, take a news fast seriously. Try one news source one day, and a news source from another angle the next. I know this may be disconcerting, but it's important to realize that it's hard to separate news from propaganda. No matter who you are or what your political leaning.
4. Sandwich news consumption with things you do for yourself. Read a good book, take a walk, talk with your spouse or a good friend, but NOT about the news. Visit a place of worship. Go to the library. Take a bath. Play racquetball. If you don't want to be around people, that's understandable. But don't do so out of fear. We are people and we were made for connection and friendship.
5. By all means, nurture your relationships with other people. Stop alienating people who may see things differently. They may have a different perspective that may allow all of us to come to the truth. If you prefer being alone, that's totally understandable. But if you're afraid of coming into contact with someone, or if you prefer for everyone you come into contact with to think exactly like you, please consider stepping outside your bubble a bit. We all need different perspectives and opinions, and not for judgment's sake. We need that to be better humans.
I'm not saying, "be reckless." Somewhere between recklessness and fear is faith. Let's look for THAT place.
6. Stop engaging the emotion of fear. The stock market runs on fear. We hand our freedoms away out of fear. We stop relating to others out of fear. We hit people in stores over toilet paper out of fear. We are bigger than all that. Let's replace that fear with confidence. Let's replace that fear with an understanding that we are all doing our best. Let's replace that fear with a desire to contribute to humanity rather than rip it apart.
Let me say this again. LET'S REPLACE THIS FEAR WITH LOVE, CONFIDENCE, SOLIDARITY, PEACE. If that's hard to come by, reach out to someone who can encourage you.
7. Keep perspective. I've been seeing memes about various issues that have bothered humanity over the past 20 years or so, and I'm sure it's been going on longer than that.
I intend to feed myself faith instead of fear. I'm choosing to be sober and alert, because my enemy is prowling around, seeking someone to destroy. I'm girding myself with what I read in Ephesians 6:10-18. I'm choosing to think on lovely things, as Saint Paul illuminated in Philippians 4:6-7. I'm mindful of situations, but I'm cautious, too. I'm choosing not to give into fear, but to know, "in all things (I can) give thanks." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
I'm curious, which of the above 7 suggestions spoke to you the most? What are you doing to guard your heart in days of fear?