FEAR AND COURAGE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

by Thomas Moore

Sometimes it is not only all right but appropriate to be afraid and anxious. In these days of a runaway virus some fear will help keep you safe and healthy. At the same time, you don’t want to be disabled by fear or have your general happiness and well-being ruined by it.

Fear can make you alert to danger and motivated to do something about it. If fear feels like a weakness, that’s all right, too, because we all need to accept a portion of weakness and vulnerability just to be human. Weakness and strength are like yin and yang, one supporting the other.

But a funny thing happens to fear along the way. If you are not willing to show any weakness, you might convert that fear into something else. Sometimes, as in the case of Covid-19, people express their fears indirectly as denial and avoidance. They may pretend that the threat doesn’t exist or isn’t as bad as experts say it is. Or they blame someone else, like the doctors. Blame is an easy way to disown your feelings. There is no logic at work there, but we’re talking about emotions, not ideas.

If you can own up to your fears, which may not be terribly conscious, than you have the basis for courage and intelligence, the two qualities needed to deal with a dangerous virus.  By denying fear, you end up with puffy bravado and swagger—“I’m going to keep on doing what I want to do.”  This display of strength is not the real thing, but a false substitute. Denying fear, you don’t grasp your situation clearly, but with genuine fear you can build courage and even find wisdom.

Covid-19 could have many benefits, in spite of its tragedies. It could help us grow up and mature as people, facing adversity in spite of our fears and learning what it is like to feel courageous and competent. For all the obvious successes in modern culture, you sense a moral sleepiness and self-doubt in the face of challenges. This is an opportunity to wake up, be strong, use our intelligence and be patient as we face the challenge head-on.

Books by Thomas Moore

The Planets Within: Ficino’s Astrological Psychology. Bucknell University Press. 1982. ISBN 978-0-83875-022-3

Rituals of the imagination. 2nd edition. Dallas: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. 1984. ISBN 0-911005-03-X.

Care of the Soul: Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. HarperCollins. 1992. ISBN 978-0-06-183534-6.

Soul Mates: Honoring the Mystery of Love and Relationship. 1994. ISBN 0060169281.

Meditations: On the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 1994. ISBN 0-06-017223-1.

The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life. 1997. ISBN 0060928247.

The Education of the Heart. Harper Perennial. 1997. ISBN 0-06-092860-3.

Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism. 1998. ISBN 0882143654.

The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love. 1999. ISBN 0060930950.

Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality. Harper. 2000. ISBN 0-06-019542-8.

The Soul’s Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life. Harper. 2002. ISBN 0-06-019286-0.

Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Gotham. 2004. ISBN 1-59240-067-1.

A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You were Born to Do. 2008. ISBN 0767922530.

Writing in the Sand: Jesus, Spirituality and the Soul of the Gospels. Hay House. 2009. ISBN 1-4019-2413-1.

Care of the Soul in Medicine. Hay House. 2010. ISBN 1-4019-2563-4.

The Guru of Golf. 2010. ISBN 1401925669.

A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World. Gotham. 2014. ISBN 1-59240-829-X.

The Soul of Christmas. Franciscan Media. 2016. ISBN 1632531208.

Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy. St. Martin’s. 2017. ISBN 978-1-250-13581-0.

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