Holding Fear and Facing Hopelessness

I have a little story to share. Years ago, when I first moved to Kalamazoo, I got a job at the Upjohn Company, a major pharmaceutical company. This was in the late 1980s or early 1990s and the first wave of “new age” thinking was moving slowly through corporations. I was not at Upjohn very long when I noticed that everyone had a very carefully upbeat tone of voice, attitude, and outlook. They chose their words with great consciousness, and admonished one another to think positively when someone spoke in a judgmental or negative way.

One day my boss asked me what I thought his future was within the company. My response was, “If the people of this company don’t drop all that positive crap and look at themselves honestly, there isn’t going to be a company. The world changes. Upjohn is not acknowledging change. I’ll give it five years at the most and if people don’t wake up, the company will go down, people will lose their jobs, and you’ll all be forced to be real.” Five years later, Upjohn, struggling  with rising costs and hopeful decisions, merged with Pharmacia. Two years after that, it split, part of the company going to Monsanto and the rest to Pfizer. Caught in the stress of all the job losses, changes, and new demands, my former Upjohn boss had a heart attack and died.

All of us want to think that the world is safe, that life is good, tomorrow will look at least somewhat like today, and that daily events will be manageable. However, this moment in time on this planet – specifically from 2014 to 2021 – is “crunch time.” This brief cycle of seven years is the change point that will set the tone and shape the events for the next couple hundred years. What we do or don’t do is critically important.

Do pay attention to what is happening in the world around you both far and near. Do not panic. Fear is one thing; panic is something else altogether.  Do not try to pretend that all is well when it is not; this is insanity. Some information is bound to make us fearful. That’s okay. It is normal to feel fear when scary things are threatening. To insist on avoiding truth because it makes you afraid is putting your head in the sand. You cannot use power wisely with your head in the sand.

Do go about your business with as much serenity as you can muster. Do not make decisions as if disaster had already struck, but do know what decisions you need to be ready to make. Have discussions with family and friends in which you come up with all sorts of questions about what you might have to face if… Talk about answers to these questions at another time. Create a small notebook containing the questions that are important to your survival along with a wide variety of answers for each question. Stress shuts off access to the thinking part of the brain and it is very difficult to come up with useful solutions when you are caught in the stress syndrome. You don’t want to be limited to knee-jerk, fight or flight reactions at the very moment you most need access to open, out-of-the-box possibilities.

Do have a few essential supplies on hand and do not shop on a “just in time” basis. Neither should you spend the last dime of your savings buying things you think might save you. Be sensible. Part of that notebook mentioned above should contain lists of what you have on hand for emergencies and where these items are kept.

Do stay in good physical shape so that stress does not overcome you. Do not avoid talking with family and friends about what may happen; you need to be in alignment with your people if trouble should arise.

Do learn to be comfortable with paradox. Do not insist on being one-sided in your approach to life or you will create trouble for yourself and be unprepared for a lot of things. Holding paradox means holding opposing views or a multiplicity of views and being consciously flexible enough to choose what is appropriate at any given moment.

An example of a set of paradoxical positions is knowing that war is coming, loving your homeland, holding a vision of light for all people, preparing to leave your home if necessary, taking time to learn and understand the dynamics of why you are being attacked, planting a garden as if you weren’t going anywhere, and celebrating a child’s birthday as if all is well. Another set of paradoxical positions might be knowing that the economy is unsustainable or doomed to collapse, investing in a company you truly believe in, setting aside money in both savings and alternative forms of currency, putting a child through college knowing that it is preparing him or her  for an economy that probably won’t be there, helping people financially whenever you can, and improving your own skills so you can get a raise or make more money.

Do not insist that people say only what is positive. This is immature thinking and not helpful in the long run. Do insist on truth, even if it scares you. To hold fear and face hopelessness while remaining alert, aware, and informed is a challenge for even a mature consciousness. Take on that challenge. To stay alert and act wisely in the face of fear is to force that fear into the service of wisdom and power. Each of us has an immense amount of power. Do not shut it down because things are not as you wish.

4 thoughts on “Holding Fear and Facing Hopelessness

  1. Hi Penny: I’d like to add to you insightful newsletter.  Another very constructive thing people can do is to organize local or neighborhood salon’s or discusion forums, where people get togther and talk about issues and things they feel are important.  In Sweden, they have the community houses where they meet.  In Denmark there is a tradition for these meetings which are often held weekly to keep each informed about whats going on in the world and in there own country or greater regional community.

    In Santa Barbara, a few years ago they started a Food Share program where people trade or swap things they grow and each month a different neighbor hosts it….what a delightful surprise those events are….more thoughts later…thanks, Bruce

Comments are closed.