In January this year (2020), every time I turned on National Public Radio, (NPR) I noticed they were banging the drums of fear. Every time I turned on the radio, which was often when driving, within seconds I would hear “coronavirus.”
There was no responsible dialogue about how to stay healthy: how often we need to wash our hands and the need to throw all our clothes into the washing machine, shower and scrub up after coming home from being out and about. Instead, there was relentless talk about how contagious and deadly Covid 19 is. NPR banging the drums of fear sent the rest of the media, and the population of the whole United States into sympathetic dominance, “fight, fright, flight.”
By March all the news networks and newspapers had picked up the drumbeat. People went into panic mode, stripping the grocery store shelves bare. You couldn’t find a roll of toilet paper. Toilet paper?
Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems
We are spiritual beings, living in a body. We are not a physical body that has a spirit and soul. As a spirit, our main job is teaching our body that it is safe and loved. This is known as parasympathetic dominance. In this state, one knows that: We are safe and loved; that we have plenty of time; people love what we do; life always works out for the best; the whole universe loves us and supports us; and life is basically good. And in a healthy state of mind, when difficulties arise, the response is “This too shall pass.” Teaching this to our body is the most important thing we ever do. Period!
We also have an emergency nervous system called the “sympathetic nervous system.” It comes full-on when we are in danger. It immediately shuts down our immune system, digestive system and our sexual system, which are nonessential during times of danger. The immense power of those three systems is diverted to our muscles and sense organs so we can survive the threat. This is a great feature when we are in danger. It has saved our lives numerous times.
The problem occurs when we start living in sympathetic dominance. The most important thing we need to know about our physical body is: Our body takes everything we see, hear or say literally. If we watch the evening news about war in Syria, every cell in our body believes that when we open our front door we will see tanks and soldiers running past. We watch the news about a shooting in another city far away, and react as if our children might be shot.
What passes for news on television these days is blatant sensationalism, designed to scoop the other networks and garner the most advertising dollars. It is interesting to note that literally every drug add on TV is for the effects of living in sympathetic dominance. America has become a sick nation, and the news media’s insistence on banging the drums of fear is a large part of the problem.
Although I was not a fan of his policies, when Ronald Reagan was president, he described America as “The house on the hill, the beacon of hope for the world.” He was describing an America that was truly operating from their parasympathetic nervous system, which is our healthy nervous system.
For the sake of our individual and collective health, we need to go inside and feel all our fears as they come up. We also need to unplug from a media that has become truly and completely sick, and focus our heart's attention on doing what we love. Then we are being the America that is a beacon of hope for the world. President Reagan’s image was and continues to be the clearest vision of who we are as Americans.