Our country is getting more and more polarized over the Coronavirus. I was amused when Donald Trump's press secretary first spoke of alternative facts. What an oxymoron. But now like living into a science fiction movie, there are people on both sides of the divide furious with the other side for doing what they regard to be life threatening or life worth living threatening behaviors. There is no way for them to even discuss the "facts" of the issue because they have different news sources and literally different facts. In my clinical practice I listen to families that are being torn apart by these differences, and literally to people moving to other states, so they can either live where people are vaccinated, or live where they do not have to wear masks.
My last blog about the virus I said "well clearly Corona is not done teaching us. We are still being held still in order to learn." But I was getting pretty tired and board myself with that. It was easy to just feel like "I wish those other people would hurry up and learn so we can get out of purgatory." That is never a good position when you stop noticing what you might need to be learning.
Recently while talking to one of my clients - I noticed that all of us, both sides are grasping desperately for certainty, for normalcy. One side grasp for an end through vaccination and herd immunity, the other grasps to maintain a freedom of choice and the normalcy that comes with that. It occurred to me that through out time humans have looked for and made up explanations for the scary and unexplained thing in their time. Ancient people explained earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes as the God's were angry with the people. A previous generation believed the earth was flat because that was what they could see and the idea it was round felt like we could "fall off". In a pandemic gone by people not knowing about germs and how they spread believed that whole towns fell ill because witches communed with the Devil. There is a long list of things that without understanding the science, people made up explanations for. Actually part of how our brains are literally wired is to fill in missing pieces of info to make sense. If you print a word without a vowel most people will substitute it and not even know they did.
We don't want uncertainty. It is uncomfortable; it feels scary. We feel better with an explanation even if it is as horrible as one of our neighbors is a witch who has turned the whole town over to the Devil.
What arises for me out of this - especially if Corona is here as our spiritual teacher, is how do we learn to live with uncertainty? It seems to me it requires quite a bit of faith, a belief in a Supreme being who is weighing in for good. It means learning how to live inside the Serenity prayer. It means having to surrender the desire for certainty and big T truths. It means embracing the mystical which is the unknown and trusting being on a journey. It means not turning away from the suffering which is part of the unknown experience we are having. It means having to learn to respond with compassion and find hope from within.