• First World Anxiety

    I remember this feeling. A little over 11 years ago I felt the same uneasiness. Vulnerability finding its way back to my generalized anxiety disorder. The sweaty palms and the shifty eyes I felt as I boarded my flight to Las Vegas in October of 2001 – they all returned as I dropped my son off for preschool this morning.

    It seems strange to even compare the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, but they follow a similar emotional formula:

    The breaking news report when you least expect it.

    The unfathomable reality of what is happening.

    The empathetic pains to the atrocious experience.

    The exploitation of the horror by the media.

    The tearful reunions with our families when we got home that day.

    The constant reminder from the ratings-hungry media.

    The anxious understanding in the months following that life is all too fragile.

    The slow return to an ignorant normal.

    Unlike my response to 9/11, I was determined to avoid the media’s sensationalism of the Sandy Hook shootings. They were interviewing surviving children as they reunited with their family members. They interviewed the shooter’s Mom’s car mechanic in a desperate attempt to run ‘new’ material a week after the shooting. I watched enough media coverage during my two 30 minute breaks that first day to let my empathetic imagination take over. I refused to give the media more of my soul after that. I mourned for each individual and read each bio on my own time a week later.

    I’m currently experiencing the anxious aftermath. I had horrible anxiety in the movie theater when a young man entered the theater alone with a large full backpack – turns out he brings LOTS of snacks. I jumped out of my seat at the mall when someone in the food court yelled loudly;  apparently it’s a new restaurant trend to scream out customers’ orders.

    This is the American experience – our first world experience. In my life time it’s happened only a few times. We are so blissfully ignorant.

    Twenty children and six adults died on the morning of December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary. Today, as with every day, 5,500 children will die in Eastern and Southern Africa from preventable causes (according to Unicef).

    What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary is deplorable. I don’t wish to dismiss or minimize the horror of those events. However, in assessing what happens to children worldwide from violence, disease, or malnutrition, what we experience as Americans is a drop in the bucket of the collective world suffering.

    We find our way back to the ignorant security found within our daily humdrum. As we get angry over FaceBook drama, obsess over a Kardashian pregnancy, and quantify our contribution to society by the number of gadgets we own – I challenge you, as I challenge myself, do not let go of the anxiety. Do not let the sting of our wounds heal.

    Maybe I’m more sensitive because I’m a Mom, or maybe it’s because I’m a pediatric critical care nurse – but the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings have once again ripped my head out of the sand.

    We need to stay awake.

    We need better security for the children in our country and for children across the globe.

    We need to fight for human rights – the right for everyone to feel secure, safe, healthy, and loved.

    I’m not quite sure where to start. I’ll pray, meditate, and incorporate these rights of our children into my daily intentions. I will search out reputable organizations to contribute my time and resources too. I will not let go of the pain.

    My New Year’s resolution includes creating a larger, more conscious, “love-footprint” in the world.

    “Never forget” is what they say.

    I suggest we “never look away”.

    I’m staying awake. Are you?

    • I refuse to let fear guide me Christy, I am careful and have intention with everything I do, I hope. I of course worry about my grand kids now. The other night their Mom was making emergency kits for them to take to school. It had favorite food in it and photos of the family, comfort things plus emergency items, flashlights, batteries and water too. It led us to a discussion of what things happened when I was young, Cuban missile crisis, Russian Cold war and even Elian Gonzales. The kids were fascinated by those issues that were in my life. Their life is totally new fear from things they have been exposed to but these events are very rare and because of the extensive news that is available to us we have new fears. I will not forget nor will I dwell on awful news. We need great stories to tell our kids and I am in favor of media spending more time on great people and less on the bad, deranged and mentally ill person who does a very bad act and lives for the attention they get which is so not deserved. Hope you can let go of some of the fear and focus on doing the things in your life that make you and your family cherished in your community as well as in your hearts.

      • Christy

      • January 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm
      • Reply

      Madge, I think you misunderstood me. The main idea is that our anxiety is ignorant and sheltered. Compared to many other areas of the world we live a peaceful and luxurious lifestyle. When I talk of fear, I mean awareness. We need the awareness of bad things to help motivate and propel our involvement in helping the victims out there.
      I too think our media glorifies and focuses on the negativity, and they'll keep covering story for days and days while completely ignoring atrocities around the world.
      Obviously I can't change the world, but I need to do more in some way or another.

      • Maya North

      • January 12, 2013 at 1:06 am
      • Reply

      I find wisdom in odd places. One of them was the movie 'The Shining.' Of course, I've seen both the movie and TV versions. For me, this movie was one of the power messages of 'pay attention! The universe is warning you!' I have ever seen. Yes, I am aware–perhaps too much so. My awareness annoys sleepers everywhere as I pull their recyclables out of the garbage, wash them and take them to the none-too-distant recycling bins down the hall and probably also when I post link after link on Facebook. But it does boil down to me trying to get everybody to WAKE UP. There's a lot of work to be done in this world, but if we even just choose a little corner and get started, we'd be a lot closer. Hugs…

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