Posted on April 9, 2021
I was thinking today about perceived reality (again and again). For many, there has never been the sense of waiting for something ‘out there’ growing and coming closer. For many, their lives have been predictable, safe, and they believed that their survival was due to their own merit. “I did this” was a shared delusion.
And then there are others who have known this current sense of the ominous wait, this sense of fate, the out of my control formation of some new future.
There are those who lived through the depression and knew food scarcity. My mother’s family had six children and owned 2 pairs of shoes for their offspring. Daily, everything changed as they used up their resources and had to adapt for survival.
I remember clearly sheltering at home when school was done as I watched polio spread in my home town. The pool, the movie theatre, the parks were all dangerous. I lost friends. People were deformed for life or laying in an iron lung. It was out there… the unimagined threat. It could not be controlled. And so we waited. We were careful.
As a schoolchild, we heard the school PA go on and at the yelling out of the word “flash” at random times during the day, we huddled under our metal and wood desks. Across the river was a major port. We were told, when the bombs were dropped, it would be close to us. And so we waited and ducked.
One day at noon, I walked into the vast school cafeteria and it was dead silent. We were eating lunch with dry mouths. The Cuban missile crises was underway. A teacher told me it would all happen within 15 minutes. The missiles would be released to cripple the country in which I lived. The missiles would seek out the important ports and melt the area flat. Hundreds of us sat at the tables with our knees pressed against the underside of the table tops. We remember the flash training. We ate our lunch waiting to die.
When a group of people have had an unthreatened existence there is imprinting within them. They begin to think that it is through some merit of their own that they are healthy, that they can predict their own future. And the wounding it leaves on their psyches is that it destroys their compassion. They no longer understand “the greater good.”