Do you feel the tension?

Do you feel the tension right now? It’s not pervasive, yet, but it is apparent, when you tune in your awareness.

People are angry and fearful.

In Ireland, there was a political golf society get-together last week, which contravened official public health guidelines on gatherings designed to limit the spread of coronavirus, which had been tightened up earlier in the week.

The fall-out of the event, which has been given the title and social media hashtag #golfgate, has run deep. A Government minister and European Union commissioner resigned. Several political party members were stripped of the “party whip” (expelled from their parliamentary party for not following leadership instruction).

Peel back the layers, and it’s clear to see the reason: People are angry. People are fearful. People are tense.

They’re angry because the people charged with making the decisions and enforcing them appear to have one rule for the masses and a separate one for themselves.

They’re angry because the consequences of lockdowns are unequal, and while human nature makes inequality almost inevitable, inequality still cultivates unfairness, and unfairness leads to anger.

They’re fearful because there’s a new virus and disease sweeping the world, and it’s not hard to find an expert with an opinion that suits your version of events, or fits your worst fears.

They’re fearful because they’ve seen empty supermarket shelves for the first time in living memory.

They’re tense because they don’t know what’s around the corner: a great depression as deep or deeper as the 1930s, a decade which precipitated a world war that killed millions, left millions more starving, and brought the planetary destruction power of nuclear arms into existence? Something bad but not quite as bad as that? Something even worse?

They’re tense because nobody’s job is secure, so nobody’s income is secure, so nobody’s safety and health and wellbeing is secure, and they’re tense because they walk around the streets and see recently buzzing coffee shops closed and stark yellow warning arrows on the floor and security guards decked out in masks and padded vests.

All the anger, fear and tension manifests in behaviours.

So we unleash on social media, or on public figures who have failed us, or on the stupid f***ing driver up ahead who’s driving 10 kph under the speed limit.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.

Our anger, fear and tension is energy, and by unleashing it, or by deflecting it, we’re almost certain to get it back in the future, perhaps with greater force.

We can observe that energy within the anger, fear and tension, and choose to do two things.

  1. We can choose not to judge it negatively, because judging it negatively is its own form of repackaging the energy.
  2. We can choose to change it into some other form, into something positive: by proactively seeking out something to be grateful for, by being mindful with our complaints and criticisms, by noticing moments of wonder amid the woe.

These choices are difficult choices to make.

But they can be powerful when we choose to make them.