On Armageddon

piedad_y_terror_en_picasso_baja
Guernica by Pablo Picasso

 

Apparently, every era believes it marks the end of humankind. Nostradamus predicted the end of the world. The Aztecs did, too, and the Mayans. Eclipses were considered a sign the world was ending. In the 1950’s, people were on edge about the push of a single button annihilating our species if not the entire planet. And in the 1980’s, remember Ehrlich’s population bomb theory, predicting “The Great Die Off” that never happened?  

These days, people flock to my office wanting coaching on how to handle what so vividly appears to be Armageddon. Disease and pestilence are rampant. Cancers, autoimmune disorders, tick-born illnesses. (Here in New England, my layperson estimate is that roughly half the people I know either currently have or have had Lyme’s Disease). The climate change that is purportedly not real meanwhile wreaks havoc on so many parts of our globe. I hold the intention of not getting political in these writings. So let me try to do this next part without naming names. I have the sense, often, while listening to my clients, my friends, my family and myself, that we are all like powerless children trapped in a minivan with a madman at the wheel, let’s call him a reckless daddy, most likely hammered, waving a gun out the window aimed at North Korea and shouting racial slurs. So we, clustered in this minivan called the U.S. of A., are a little freaked out. I recognize I am not speaking for all of us. I know many find this wacky daddy fun. But this minivan image comes to me often as I listen to people’s fears about what is currently going on in our country.  

There is a lot we can do to combat modern-day Armageddon. Getting involved in Black Lives Matter. In the Climate movement. Protesting the travel ban, the Affordable Care Act repeal, and any other decisions that we may find unfair. Writing to our congresswoman or man regularly about our objections and concerns. Et cetera… In spite of feeling powerless over the bigger picture, we can, and ought to, do whatever we hope might make a difference. (Even in the back of the screeching minivan, we can buckle our seat belts and take action from our hand-held devices.)  

There is something else we can—and must—do. Let me draw our attention to the common understanding of the Hippocratic Oath. “First, do no harm.” (I say common understanding because apparently that phrase is not in the original doctrine of Hippocrates—although if we want to split hairs, the Latin translation of the ancient Greek contains Primum non noncore, which means: First, do no harm.) Doctors take this oath—and I believe we all should, too, right now, during these anxious times.  What can we do to not cause harm?  Not contribute to the mayhem?  Not join with the dysfunction and fear?

I say: self-regulate. Do whatever you can to regulate your nervous system. Meditate. Practice 1:2 breathing. Pray. Exercise. Doodle. Write in your journal. Dance. Sing.  Whatever it takes to get yourself back to your center, back into your compassionate heart, so you don’t go out there and spread more anxiety into this already anxious system of our minivan— aka our great nation. If you’re an overachiever, and I hope you are in this case, you can take it one step further. Now that you’re not contributing to the rampant anxiety spreading like wildfire through our culture, and you are a regulated organism, spread peace. Do good deeds. Open doors for people. Smile at them. Teach someone to read. See how many people you can grace with your kindness.

21 thoughts on “On Armageddon”

  1. I would like all my followers here to know that my FB account was hacked, and disabled. It will take me a week or so, or more, apparently, to recontact my followers. If any of you also follow me on Facebook, please do me the hassle and courtesy of reconnecting with my new page of the same name: Hilary Illick. Thanks. What a weird freak show this has been… This my first foray into social media… Still. All said and done, I love the scope of the conversation we are able to have and would not trade my nine hours and counting with FB security to restore my page for the opportunity social media has given me to connect with this wider audience. I am going to be very honest though and say it has been a capital H Hassle. Love and gratitude and transparency,

    Hilary

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  2. Thanks Hils – especially for the notion of not getting caught up in the collective anxiety, but rather being an antidote. I would like to add some additional “do-it” suggestions that are working for me: volunteer at your local Food Pantry; spend time with people who are dying (gives me a very present sense of what is important); practice the Buddhist maitri meditation, sending out lovingkindness to all; pray, meditate, call your local representatives, then do it all again.
    Hugs to all

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  3. Good morning. I just wanted to let you know that one of the nurses for Dante walked in this morning with a whole list of fears related to business, Money, her husband’s health… I listened for a few moments and then I said to her let me take Dante you go sit out on the front porch and read this article… And I handed her recent Armageddon article. She came back in looking so much lighter and said to me thank you this is how I do live my life I just needed to be reminded… I thought I would share with you to let you know of the many lives that you touch… By the way I do read your articles but I cannot login to the site that allows me to comment on them so I will tell you here that I truly enjoy them and an inspired by you have a beautiful day Karen

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  4. Thank you all. I love that even while I cannot access my FB page because my access to it has been disabled due to the hacking/identity theft issue, I can still long on here and be in conversation with all of you. THANK YOU.

    P.S. I have a gifted friend Miles who is my administrator on my FB account who can still access my page and post my blogs. So that’s something. AND I put a hold on bank accounts etc… and am doing Life Lock so that all the other info the hackers got (it was a lot, and creepy to learn about) cannot be used. In other words, I don’t think there is a new passport going out with my name and social security number—if that’s even the thing to be most worried about with identity theft…

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  5. Love your can do attitude, Hil! You are so right. We do need to do whatever is within our power to make this world a better place….even the small steps matter and add up.

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  6. Thanks for giving some meaningful suggestions on how to regulate the nervous system and control anxiety! Very helpful for a young adult navigating the world.

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    1. I send you and all young adults navigating this whacked out world so much compassion and love and strength. Good luck out there. I found the transition from the structure of having been a student all my life to suddenly being an adult incredibly jarring, and stressful. I don’t know if this is consoling or not to hear, but in short: I was freaked.

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  7. I am so sorry to hear about your identity theft – that must create a lot of anxiety – until you start breathing and take it one step at a time – something that I am doing more of thanks to your coaching! I love the line “First, do no harm”. That is an expression that I will try to keep close. It reminds of one of my favorite concepts – leave the room/meeting/gathering/whatever better for your having been there.

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