Who to Sacrifice to feel Joy?

The author Ursula LaGuinn wrote a short story titled The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. In it there is this town called Omelas where everyone feels joy all the time, people are happy, prosperous, and loved, but that euphoria the townspeople came at a price.

To feel joy in the town of Omelas the people must allow for one young child to be in misery and pain. The child is locked up in a room in a basement that’s no larger than a broom closet. The child is scared, maltreated, and alone forever. The child wails in pain, hides in fear, and starved for kindness.

It’s part of the deal for the town to prosper. This child must never feel joy. Everyone in the town knows about the child, but no one does anything to make the child’s life better. The townspeople make excuses. Making the child’s life better means making the townspeople’s life worse.

When the town’s youngsters reach their teenage years, they are encouraged to visit the child to learn the town’s “reason for happiness and prosperity,” but when they are shown the child in the closet and learn this child must live in pain, suffering, and starvation forever, their first reaction is anger or sadness. but given their well being, many come to accept the situation as necessary, but some empathetic souls question the community’s action or inaction. They must choose to go on living prosperously in the town accepting this atrocity or walk away from this nirvana forever.

LaGuinn’s, story feels strangely allegorical in these pandemic times. Should I accept that many more people should die from covid 19 in order to restart the economy so they can feel more joy, contentment, and well being? Or, do I do my best to follow the guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus and STAY AT HOME and suffer the sacrifices necessary so that more people can live?

Personally, I can only control my choices. I am responsible for my own actions to help not spread the virus. So, I promise myself to do these three things:

  1. I will follow the guidelines recommended by my doctors and elected leaders: to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash my hands and stay at home whenever possible.
  2. I will not give in to peer pressure by those who try and make me feel bad for following the guidelines. Instead I will use my integrity and “doing the right thing,” follow the guidelines.
  3. I will ask people to wear a mask in my present. I will stay my distance even as they get closer. A number of people have the mask with them. They just don’t put it on.

I see no joy in another’s death for the sake of my well being. Talking with individuals that caused another’s death either by accident or on purpose, I notice high stress; I see remorse and depression, even after ten years the incident.

Joy comes in the simple act of giving and caring for others. We see this around the Holidays.

I will adapt; I will persevere; and I will survive and do so by caring for the mortals around me.

In story LaGuinn’s story, not everyone accepts the situation of the little boy. Occasionally, adults go back and revisit the child and when they walk away they choose to keep walking away from the town. “They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman.”

I choose to walk away — six feet away from people, wearing a mask, or I can just stay at home.

Peace, Joy, Love

Face Fear, Find Joy

During the first World War, a young French officer had been disciplined by his colonel for showing fear in battle. When the commander heard of the incident, he choose to reprimand the colonel rather than the officer saying, “None but a coward dares to boast that he had never know fear.”

We all feel fear. In times like these fear holds me captive in my thoughts. It blocks me from feeling joy. I have bowed to fear, dropped to my proverbial knees and done everything I could to avoid feeling fear, but I found in the long run it was better to face my fear, go through it, slice it and dice it until I no longer fear it. My fear level has dropped significantly.

Here are a dozen ideas I found that helped me to grow passed my fears and to find more joy in my life.

Write Thoughts Down

Writing down my fears has always helped me with sorting out them out and creating possible courses of action. It was a way to express my pent up feelings and brainstorm courses of action. Many times writing helped calm my mind.

Act Selfless

There were times in my life when fear kept me in my bubble when I actually needed to grow. It was thinking of others, like my family or teammates or squad that pushed me passed my fears, calmed my mind, and motivated me to action. Who needed me right then motivated me to be more than a ball of fear.

Study the Source

“Fear always springs from ignorance.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many of my fears come from a lack of information — true information. That means researching assertions to ascertain its falsehood or truth. Once I read, study and learn from reliable sources my insecurity calms down, many times it helps me deal with it. Sometimes I call them “epiphany moments,” those times where I say, “Oh, that makes sense.” I avoid the sensationalism or exaggerated news, sometimes called “yellow journalism,” that raises my stress like watching a horror movie. Instead, I look for objectivity and facts. “Tell it to me straight.” The unknown causes me more anxiety than the known.

Study the Science

Looking at the science helps . I say science because with many unfounded “stories,” wives tales, and home remedies posted on the internet it’s easy to fall into believing they are true. Data usually does not lie. Science is backed with data and studies over a wide group of people. So, once I find information, I check how many sites actually support the information and, in particular, how many scientific sites.

Read “the Book”

I have books in my library, religious or otherwise, that inspire me to calm the storm in my mind. Just reading a few lines each day calms me enough to move through my day.

Concentrate on Breath

Concentrate on breathing not your thoughts. Thoughts are just that. They are not reality; they are perceived reality. When I concentrate on my breath, count the air flow in and out, I take power from my fear and give it to my body. This calms my mind because I no longer put energy toward my imagination. It’s a meditation technique. I meditate daily and concentrating on my breathing is a large part of it. When I am most anxious, I’ll do the meditation technique three times in a row until my mind starts to quiet.

Be Grateful

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met the man who had no feet.”

Helen Keller

Sometimes just being grateful helps me remember how much I have in my life. I must also look at the things I take for granted and be thankful. I look around me or at myself. I am so blessed. It can always be far worse, and if my time comes, I will be thankful for the life I have been given.

Develop positive affirmations

Certain affirmative phrases come to mind that help me through a situation. I like many of the same ones. They are like my mantras: “This too shall pass;” “Out of everything bad that happens, something good will come;” or “I will not go quietly into this good night.”

Set Goals

Setting goals helps me feel more empowered and less a victim. Where is it I could realistically be in five years? I focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t do. Sometimes that means radical change for me.

It’s so easy to put energy into past regrets or future uncertainties. I look to focus where I realistically can and want to be instead of what might happen. Sometimes I need to ask questions, activate new a approach or prospective or make tough decision before a more focused future was possible.

Listen to Music

This song moves me closer to joy.

There’s no doubt in my mind music helps calm my soul, raise my optimism, and motivate me to greater things. For my wife, it’s country music for me rock and roll. Sometimes it’s just one song you need to hear over and over — like the one to the right. When I get low, I crank it up.

Prayer

To me prayer is a form of mediation. It soothes my mind depending on my degree of fear. I do pray. Prayer can be in many forms.

Choose Courage

“Courage is often caused by fear.”

French proverb

When I think back, I needed to be courageous at different stages of my life. I felt fear many times. It felt like a fire, an anxiety fire, as I moved through my situation, my decision, or my actions. It felt horrible, yet, as I stepped through that fire, I came out the other side stronger and wiser. This would never happen had I not chosen to face my fears. When I avoided facing my fears or avoiding actions needed it cost me in my personal growth.

So, moving passed my fears, some with painful consequences, has helped me become a better me.

We all feel fear. I hope to keep learning techniques for dealing with my fears.

Peace, Joy, Love