Selective Pandemic Attention

Rajneesh (born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, and later as Osho, was an Indian mystic, and founder of the Rajneesh movement. He was asked about 40 years ago during AIDS: How do I avoid an epidemic [pandemic]? “You’re asking the wrong question,” Osho replied, “the right question should be: How to avoid the fear of dying caused by the epidemic [pandemic]? Because it is very easy to avoid the virus, it is very difficult to avoid the fear in you and in the world. People will die more from this fear than from the epidemic (pandemic). There is NO virus in this world more dangerous than FEAR. Understand this fear, otherwise you will become a dead body before your body dies. It has nothing to do with the virus. The scary atmosphere you feel in these moments is collective madness…It has happened a thousand times and will continue to happen. And it will continue if you don’t understand the psychology of crowds and fear. You usually keep your fear at bay, but in the moment of collective madness, your consciousness can be completely lost. You won’t even know when you lost control of your fear. Then fear can make you do anything. In such a situation you can also take your own life or the lives of others. So much will happen in the coming times: Many people will kill themselves and many people will kill more. Attention, be mindful. Don’t watch news that triggers fear. Stop talking about the epidemic [pandemic], repeating the same thing over and over again is like self-hypnosis. Fear is a kind of self-hypnosis. This idea will cause chemical changes in the body. If you repeat the same idea over and over again, a chemical change is triggered that can sometimes be so toxic that it can kill you. During an epidemic [pandemic], energy around the world becomes irrational. This way you can fall into a black hole anytime. Meditation then becomes a protective aura into which no negative energy can penetrate.” (Source: Journalist Eye)

Osho’s answer to the questions makes a lot of sense. Are we being ruled and controlled by fear of this pandemic? I wrote about this in my last post The Real Pandemic. The mainstream news media is solely focused on the pandemic, instilling fear into the masses. As Osho said, “Don’t watch news that triggers fear.” My question is: Is this intentional? Are there people who want to keep us in fear? That is the question that needs answering.

It reminds me of something I (#blogger #blog #somseason #authors  #YA) used to do with my students when teaching about the brain. Watch the video below and follow its directions.

The first time I saw this video, I failed to see the gorilla, and the majority of my students did as well. When we focus exclusively on one thing, we fail to see what is really happening. Could people be so focused on Covid; so caught up in the fear of dying from Covid, that they miss things? When we’re solely focused on Covid, we fail to notice that more people are dying of suicide and drug overdoses than Covid deaths. Isn’t this what Osho said, “Many people will kill themselves…” I mentioned in my last post, the US director for the Center for Disease Control, Robert Redfield, says,

“We’re seeing far greater suicides’ and ‘deaths from drug overdose’ than deaths from COVID, and prolonged school closures may be more dangerous than coronavirus.”

Interestingly, the mainstream media is relatively silent on this topic. Why is that? Do they want us fearful? I’m merely asking the question.

When we exclusively focus on the pandemic, we fail to notice that our rights and freedoms are slowly being taken away from us. We no longer have the freedom to gather in large groups. We no longer have the freedom to enter many places without having to wear a face mask. We no longer are able to run our businesses and schools as usual. Numerous countries have suspended fundamental democratic rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and protections against warrantless searches and warrantless arrests (source Forbes).

When we’re solely focused on Covid, we fail to notice that our democracies are threatened. In my province (Alberta) the government passed Bill 32 which reduces picketing rights, limits arbitrators’ discretion, lowers the legal age of work to 13 years old, and provided employers with opportunities to evade paying overtime premiums. According to research from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, at least 56 countries have delayed national or regional elections due to the coronavirus pandemic (source Infogaphic). Here in Canada, the House of Commons voted to suspend full parliamentary sitting until September. The argument is the virus is too dangerous for elections and for parliament to sit. Is this pandemic so dangerous that democracy has to be suspended, or even removed?

When we exclusively focus on the pandemic, we fail to notice that humanity is more divided than ever; pro-maskers verses anti-maskers, pro opening the economy verses keeping it closed, those who believe the media verses those who are accused of being conspiracy theorists, and pro police verses those who advocate defunding the police. TMZ reports that the pro-police group, Back the Blue, and some Black Lives Matter protesters brawled in Fort Collins, Colorado. It reports the Back the Blue crowd went after the BLM protesters. If ever there was a time for humanity to be united and working together, it is now.

There is something else we’re missing when we solely focus on Covid; something that I have been reading a lot about recently, and once again the mainstream media is silent about it. What I’m referring to is human trafficking and missing children. According to The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), 448 090 people under 21 and 161 108 over 21 went missing in 2019 in the US.  In Canada, with a much smaller population of 37 million (2019) 40, 425 reports of missing children in Canada was reported by the RCMP using numbers provided by the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) in 2019. (source the Missing Children Society of Canada). One child missing is too many as far as I am concerned.

Fact Retriever’s article, 56 Little-Known Human Trafficking Facts, says:

  • According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), over the past 30 years, over 30 million children have been sexually exploited through human trafficking.
  • Nearly 80% of human trafficking is for sex, and 19% is for labor exploitation.
  • Human trafficking around the globe is estimated to generate a profit of anywhere from $9 billion to $31.6 billion. Half of these profits are made in industrialized countries.
  • Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises because it holds relatively low risk with high profit potential. Criminal organizations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly.
  • Human trafficking is estimated to surpass the drug trade in less than five years.

Now I can only speak for myself, but these statistics are alarming! This is bullying (#bullying #antibullying) on a grand scale. What I don’t understand is why this is not being reported by mainstream media. I do not understand why there is not a huge outcry on this planet, like the one we saw with ‘black lives matter,’ over missing children and human trafficking. Black lives matter! Indigenous lives matter! Don’t Children’s lives matter? (#ChildrensLivesMatter #SaveOurChildren #ChildTrafficing)

It’s all About the Perception of Reality

A commentary on fear-mongering

My wife was out in the community recently and ran into a community member who had the view the “sky was falling.” What I mean is that this person thinks the world is all bad, and that there are more “bad” people in it as opposed to “good” people. I personally have talked to people with this perception as well.

I understand where this is coming from. If you watch the news regularly—which I have made the conscious choice not to—you get the impression that the world is a bad place. The news media tends to sensationalize news stories, whether it be a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, or a disease pandemic. In fact, CNN ran a story of a meteorologist who worked in a news station in Indiana who was fired after calling out his station for over-the-top weather warnings (see CNN Business). One might ask the question; Why does the media tend to sensationalize the stories they are reporting?

The ThoughtCo has an article, Is Sensationalism in the News Bad? which says:

There’s another point to be made about sensational news stories: We love them. Sensational stories are the junk food of our news diet, the ice cream sundae that you eagerly gobble up. You know it’s bad for you but it’s delicious, and you can always have a salad tomorrow.

This is one answer. The media tends to sensationalize stories because we the consumers; those who watch the news are addicted to it, so we demand the negative stories. We want to see all the “blood and gore” and see how horrible humans treat one another. Psychology Today’s article, If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media suggests sensationalization increases profits. It would if people are addicted to it.

There is a scene in the TV series, Station 19, where a first responder is rescuing a young person from a burning building that sells fireworks. The teen being rescued is so frightened by the fireworks explosions, he is unable to move, believing they are gun shots. As the fire fighter is dragging the overwhelmed person out, he says,

“If it terrifies you, you drink more, you smoke more, you take more prescription drugs, and that financially benefits the same people who program the news. Yes, there are bad people out there, with a crazy number of guns, but there are good people too, kind people who fight for justice, who build houses, and plant trees. Ignore the fear-mongering, or rise above it. So, don’t waste your energy worrying that you’re going to get shot. Use it to fight for the world you want to be a part of. Use that energy to use your fully functioning legs…and march you toward the world you want to live in.”

Now that is thought provoking! Could it be that the pharmaceutical companies, the tobacco companies, the companies promoting alcohol, and God knows who else are the ones dictating how the news is reported. Could it be that they want to instil a culture of fear so the fearful consume more antidepressants, smoke more, and drink more? The article, 25 People and Industries That Profit From Fear, by Business Pundit seems to support this.

The truth is, the world is full of good people. As the fire fighter’s rant in the TV show, Station 19, said, “there are good people too, kind people who fight for justice, who build houses, and plant trees.” My daughter traveled for three months in southeast Asia and she told us numerous stories of the kind people she and her friend encountered. My wife and I have travelled extensively, and we have always encountered kind and helpful people. We even had someone invite us to their home to stay while we were in Switzerland. There are plenty of news stories about acts of kindness. ABC News has a story, High school students gift new clothes to bullied classmate, that tells of a Memphis, Tennessee high school student receiving a new set of clothes and sneakers from two of his classmates because he was bullied for wearing the same clothes day after day. Here is the story.

Ellen DeGeneres, along with actor Will Smith, heard this story and were so touched by this story that Ellen DeGeneres invited the boys on her show (see Facebook video). My daughter living in Europe sent me a similar video from Sport Nation; a video where a bullied kid receives clothes from classmates (see Facebook video).  MSM News devotes an entire section to good news stories (see Good News).

It is true! The world is full of kind people. If you look to the news media, you’re likely not going to hear about them. There are many celebrity philanthropists—celebrities who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being. Pop star, Taylor Swift, was voted the most charitable celebrity in 2014. Oprah Winfrey, has been widely considered the ‘greatest African American philanthropist in American history.’  Bono, lead singer for U2, has been named “the face of fusion philanthropy” for collaborating with politicians, religious leaders, media organizations, and other power players throughout the world. Singer Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, started the Born This Way Foundation, which is committed to supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world. I could go one and on. The world is full of “good people and kind people who fight for justice,” as the first responders says in Station 19.  There are numerous organizations and foundations doing the same, and many of them are addressing the issue of bullying.

The only reason people believe that the world is filled with more “bad” people then “good” people is because of media sensationalism. Fred Rogers, better known as Mister Rogers, once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” I believe that to be the truth. So, as the Dalai Lama says, “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”