My devotion this morning was Forgive.

In order to forgive myself or others, I don’t need to justify or approve behavior that’s unwelcome. That’s true, but I find it easier to forgive when I understand why we’re doing things that are reckless, ridiculous or generally upsetting.

Yesterday there was a protest downtown held by a group of people who don’t want their freedoms infringed on by the pandemic. The video footage was fascinating. One of the protesters was a little girl holding a sign that said, “We will NOT comply”. She has a fan club of other 7 year olds who also hate bedtime and rules in general. Her unmasked mother was cheering her on. I listened to an interview with one of the grown up protesters. He appeared to be an educated, rational person with purely good intentions and yet, his justifications for objecting to current public safety measures made me think of Swiss Cheese. It’s creamy, dreamy and sounds delicious, but it’s got a few holes in it.

The pandemic seems to have created a collective delusion for some of us. The rest of us are just exhausted from the moral fatigue of deciding whether or not we want to risk our lives for a late night snack run to the supermarket. I really want Ben and Jerry’s but I don’t think I have the energy to wash my hands, put on a mask, drive to the store, deal with people, drive home, Lysol my shoes, remove my mask, wash my hands again, sanitize my pint and then worry for the next week that I might get sick. Is my sweet tooth worth dying for? Ugh. Maybe I should buy my own cow.

Collective delusion is actually a behavior phenomenon called Shared Psychosis. It happens when a group of people become enmeshed in each other’s version of reality; we see it on psych units, nations in crisis, super fans of sports teams, cult victims and, to lesser degrees, families experiencing various hardships. It can also show up in individual relationships. We adopt beliefs that align with whatever we think will help us get our needs met with the least amount of discomfort, disruption or loss. Think of our perceptions across spectrums survival, resources and readiness. We might not tell ourselves we’re waiting to find a replacement for an abusive partner but until we swipe across that new special someone, we’ll convince ourselves that our Mr. Wrong is just right. Or, in history books we might relabel genocide as famine because it sounds less horrific. Hey man, it’s not my fault all their potatoes died.

Perception begins in our brain and shifts according to a variety of internal and external factors; race, gender, nationality, temperament, socioeconomic status, culture, interpersonal experiences, whether or not we like cilantro. Everything from psychosis to denial is ultimately intended to protect us from dying of shock, or, at the very least, living in fear until we can arrive at peaceful acceptance. Do these jeans make me look fat?

We question or deny the truth to varying degrees until we’re equipped to face and embrace it. No one can force us to see things a certain way, nor should they. Wearing rose colored glasses isn’t always such a bad thing. There’s a joke about two patients on a psych unit who both believe they’re the Messiah. One of them leaves the unit cured. The other is still there to this day “performing miracles”.

None of us want to be impacted by a life threatening, global virus that’s killed over a million people and fundamentally deconstructed life as we once knew it. None of us want to be impacted by or responsible for war, climate change, natural disasters, homelessness, mass shootings, wildfires, addiction, homicide, suicide, unwanted pregnancy, child abuse, human trafficking, racism, sexism, classism, mass incarceration, bad fashion or doing the personal and systemic work of addressing the absolute root of all biopsychosocialspiritual discontent: TRAUMA, but guess what? That’s reality. I know, total bummer. This virus is just a parallel macro of the pre-existing macro. Both are very big deals but one is like holding up a magnifying glass to a mirror. See.

There’s stuff in the world that’s powerful, harmful and scary, like faux fur. Yikes. There’s also a ton of beauty and goodness, like enlightenment, butterflies and eating three kinds of pie in one day. It’s all been here since the beginning. We can embrace it and support each other in our healing, or we can continue repeatedly running into brick walls till it kills us, or someone else. I speak from experience. Despite being really flexible and having two legs, there are a few brick walls in my life I haven’t quite managed to break through.

For better or worse, we’re all empowered with the history making magic of free will and forgiveness. xo

~

Join me in my delusion of forgiveness and world peace.

24 thoughts on “For Give Us Our Freedom

  1. Just so you know, I’ve decided that red lights infringe on my God and Constitution assured freedom, and from now on, I will drive through red lights as it suits my desires. As for you, whoever you are at the other side of the street: Stay the hell out of my way if you don’t want to get hit! Your health is not my concern. Now I’m off to get some ice cream – your fault for reminding me how much I want a quart of dulce de leche. I promise to share – aren’t I a loving soul?

    (And – where have you found Lysol recently?)

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  2. During the Vietnam War, the daily newspapers, the evening news shows, the newsreels before movies in theaters showed photos of coffins of American servicemen coming home, draped in the flag. We, the American public, were so enraged at so much death that we protested in the streets for years. I was one of those protestors and in fact met my husband, a vet home from the war only a year, shortly before attending one at my college. This country fought in Vietnam for 8 years, we suffered 58,000 deaths, and we howled at the vulgarity of so much carnage. Here we are, 8 months into a worldwide pandemic, and more than 250,000 American deaths. How can people refuse to wear a mask when they might kill someone? Where is the moral outrage at such flagrant entitlement to think we are not all responsible for each other?

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    • There’s a perspective, huh? Amen. In so many ways it’s beyond comprehension and yet, after studying human behavior for more than half my life, it’s sadly understandable. And, Capitalism has done quick and thorough work of dehumanization. I wonder what it will take for collective rehumanization ?

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    • Sharon, I’m assuming you’re American, and as someone watching with horror from abroad, your rant makes me feel so much better. I’m sorry you’re living with all this. ♥ You and all the other non-entitled, non-anti-Science, non-conspiaracy-theorist, non-childish-prats in the US. The rest can get a Darwin Award for all I care, I’ve had enough (sorry Ms E, you’re clearly more of a Mother Theresa than I am ♥).

      Sending love from Australia, where we stood at that precipice but then decided to act in each other’s best interest, in a vast majority – something that makes me proud of my fellow citizens, who have increasingly American tendencies these past few decades…

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      • Lately my name is Fussy Britches. I still love people and completely understand the neurobiology of trauma and adversity, but I also need a nap.

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      • I think all Forums are officially in The Great Ether! 😉

        One of my mainstays is hosted in the US, the other in Europe. And clearly I can’t make any statements that “political” on the US-hosted forum, bwahahaha, there’s a gag order with all that… we even had to stop discussing the pandemic when they closed a friend’s thread there. Not so on the European-hosted forum with its post-punk clientele, though… 😎

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  3. We like OC though the ultra-conservatives make me a bit crazy – also the traffic, and the way every last inch of land is being turned into cramped housing. When I was a kid, there was still a lot of open land and it was a great place to grow up, as long as I stayed out of the way of the John Birch Society. It’s hard to find that perfect place to live because everyone else wants the same thing. They keep stepping on my toes. LOL. I’m unlikely to move away as our older son and his family live nearby. At our age, moving to a new community is an unforgiving undertaking – and we are right back with your original theme.

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