What are you protecting?

Last night I had horrible dreams. Fuelled, I am certain, by social media and more traditional news sources. I was in turmoil watching the horrific events unfolding at the US/Mexico border. My heart breaks for these families who are being separated. All those feelings surfaced during the night. In one dream, my daughter’s children were being taken from her. She was distraught and so was I. We managed to rescue the kids and escape with them but we were being hunted. It was like a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale (the series). There was no safe place. I woke up with my heart pounding.

I decided to go for a very early morning walk and I came across this tree.

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I was happy for the tree and curious about what it was being protected from. But the word ‘protected’ stayed with me as I walked. I was walking along a trail alone at dawn. I was feeling a little vulnerable and thinking about what I really believe about being protected. God's protection was a big deal in the churches I attended. We believed it was something given to those who earned and/or deserved it. That makes Donald Trump sound a lot like God to me. So I was asking myself as I walked a lot of questions about protection, God, faith and what I believe.

We live in a fear based society. We’ve lost any real sense of security. The media bombards us with horrifying situations. The messages are relentless. There is no end to this erosion of security. Just to demonstrate I’m going to randomly open my Weather app and write the three news stories that appear:

  • Did Mexico soccer fans really cause an earthquake after game-winning goal?
  • Black widow spider sneaks into broccoli, surprises man
  • Tesla car unexpectedly bursts into flames

I just saw those three stories checking the weather. I check the weather several times a day (don’t judge me) so just how many alarming stories am I seeing each day? Yesterday when I looked to see if it was going to rain I read about a woman who went to check on her corn and was killed and swallowed by a python. 

The message is clear. We need to protect ourselves. How much time and money are you putting into try to feel secure? We think if we follow the rules nothing bad will happen to us. We all have long lists that are always growing that may include ways to address the media’s popular fears of the month. Your list may include:

  • Cyber security
  • Eating well and exercising (good luck sifting through all the diet and cancer research)
  • Have insurance on everything (do you have flood insurance?)
  • Having RRSP’s and other investments
  • A good education and then a job at a stable business
  • Security systems and cameras in our homes
  • RFID wallet

It’s not wrong to have these things but they don’t guarantee our security (you may still find a black widow spider in your broccoli). We are so fixated on protecting ourselves that we continually come up with new ways to do it. We are deeply afraid as a society. In our core we feel vulnerable and we believe if we can do it all right then everything will be OK. Even though we know that isn’t how life works. So we feel anxious and divert ourselves by posting pictures that show how in control of life we are. We may even feel smug. We’ve got it together!

It’s natural to want to protect ourselves. It’s primal. It might be helpful to explore your choices through the lens of protection a little more deeply. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What am I protecting myself from?
  • How does protecting myself or my interests threaten other people or the environment?
  • How do I manage this polarity?
  • What would it be like if I stopped letting fear drive me?
  • What if I let love lead me instead?
  • What if my decisions included how I can protect the vulnerable?
  • Would I protect the environment instead of corporate interests?

If we all answered those questions and started to see our part in this system would we find a humane way to deal with those who show up at our borders? Could we create a world where we didn’t have to fear quite as much because we knew that when we are vulnerable and weak others would support and care for us?