What are we afraid of? Sit down and grieve


It's not the pandemic, or viral partisanship, or even revealed racism. Rather, we're in an epidemic of being afraid of loss.

What am I going to lose today? My freedom to walk down the street with a naked face? My presidential candidate losing in November? My privileged lifestyle and station in life? Or maybe my income, job, or home. Or even my very life. I can relate to all of those fears right now. And perhaps that's OK.

Like anyone else, I don't like wearing a mask either. Yet, we've got a mask mandate in order to protect people. To me, it's a small, temporary price to pay that may save someone's health or life. But for some, that small loss of freedom might signal other losses down the pike.

Similar to many of us, I'm deathly afraid of who sits in the Oval Office come January. People's lives and our democracy are literally at stake. But no matter who is in office, we still need to work together to shift our divisive American culture of apathy and hate. Maybe I'm afraid we won't be able to.

As a white person, I'm probably afraid of what my life will look like as I drift into the minority and lose my current skin privilege. But I've been preparing for that — learning how to be anti-racist and how to rebuild systems of fairness and justice for all. It is karma that is due for the sins of colonialism. Our redemption is being able to live in integrity, empathy, and wholeness together.

So, what am I afraid of? That I'll be treated like we treated others — stolen land and enslaved?

I, too, am afraid of my income running dry and not being able to pay my mortgage. That's a real fear. But I know if that day comes, I have a loving family and beautiful community of friends that despite any of their own odds, would gather around and help to lift me up. I must fear that no one would show up for me.

Finally, as a person who's immunocompromised, I think I have a silent fear of getting coronavirus and not surviving it. Not being here for my daughters' weddings, or children, or my own next relationship. Am I living in fear of dying?

Maybe sitting in the unknowns and feeling these fears is what we're supposed to be doing right now. We're being forced to reflect — on ourselves, our communities, our systems. That doesn't mean lashing out at our political opponents, our public health employees, or fellow community members.

We may never get this precious time back to reflect on how we can improve our relationships, communities, and world. I re-learned in seminary that we are not here on the planet to live alone, but to live in relationship with each other, the land, and our God or Higher Self.

What can we do to acknowledge our fears without being consumed by them? Not that I'm perfect by any means, but I'm doing my darnedest to sit patiently in the mess, listen for those answers, and truly feel the grief of my real or potential losses. Only then, will I be able to transform those fears into positive, healthy actions for the highest good of all. So, maybe grieving can help us all.

Formerly a Colorado state senator, now with a master's in Social Justice and Ethics from Iliff School of Theology, Linda Newell is a writer, speaker, filmmaker and facilitator. She may be reached at senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.


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