“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear” - Aung San Suu Ky
It has been well documented that at its most primal level our biggest human fears are fear of rejection and loneliness, fear of failure, and fear of death. Clearly, it’s the last one that has dominated our country over the last two years, so strongly in fact that it has caused us to push aside the others.
So why is it everyone is so afraid of the current COVID-19 pandemic? So afraid that governments would close all borders and obstruct citizens returning home, prohibit children going to school and stop people from going to work.
It’s simple. Our leadership, media and health experts have used and spread fear in order to control the country’s population in the name of safety.
By March 2020, we all knew that COVID would kill and undeniably our leaders were right to pause and assess the situation before moving forward as a country. We needed to prepare for the fight against COVID. It was necessary to educate our communities, enhance our public health systems and develop vaccines. What was also needed, but sadly lacking, was to prepare our collective mindset. Given death is one of our biggest fears, we needed resilience and compassion for the fight. To come together as a country. Undoubtedly, it is our mindset that should have been the ultimate weapon in the battle against COVID.
But, instead of fighting, we decided to try and hide.
Now 18 months later, our leaders are just realising what some have known for a long time. We can’t beat COVID, and we can’t hide from it. It only needs a small undetected foot hold, and it will spread.
Today, almost two years on, some states are still scared and hiding, hoping the virus magically goes away soon. Still our only weapons to fight COVID are lockdowns and vaccines and we know both won’t go close to saving all lives. Even if our vaccines were 100% effective now, they won't be next year when there is a new, possibly more deadly strain.
The end result of all this hiding?
More division, hate and fear than ever before in this country.
How much has been achieved by all we have endured over the last 18 months and continue to endure today? Is the false illusion of safety worth the re-prioritisation of our country’s values? Does the transfer of responsibility for personal safety from the individual to the government make us safer in the long term? And if it does, is the improvement worth the cost to Australia’s principal value of “respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual”?
The use of fear has become so commonplace we no longer even recognise we are afraid.
Our leaders know we desire safety. “Thanks for keeping me safe Premier” we read and hear regularly. Approval ratings have never been higher while we continue to hide from COVID with quarantine’s, lockdowns and borders closures. There is open public resentment at “those people putting us at risk”. All the while, our country goes deeper and deeper into debt.
All with no real plan. Just a hope. That we can save every life.
Unfortunately we cannot.
And not only can we not save every life, it also shouldn’t be our top priority. Our priority should be our countries values, beliefs, and principles. The very thing that makes us all Australian.
It's time to fight to save our culture. Our countries soul. Because left uncontrolled, these fears will lead to regret and regret can devastate our lives.
So how do we overcome these fears?
We accept we are afraid, and we courageously move forward.
I have had to overcome many fears in my life, including the fear of death. And never have I overcome fear by pretending I could hide from it or avoid it. I have only ever overcome fear by acknowledging it. To face it and make a truce a with it. I accept that it is a part of me, and I allow myself to live my best life with its existence. To keep the fear in my head and out of my heart and soul.
What we need now is to overcome the fear of death in order to be able to live. I would rather live a short life full of adventure, experience, purpose and passion than a long one void of freedom and filled with ‘what if’s’.
It’s with this in mind, I declare that I won’t let your fear control me. I will continue to live so that my encounter with death, whenever it might come, will not be accompanied by regret.
This has never been more important than in our current climate. Despite twelve weeks now spent isolated in quarantines, not being allowed to travel to see my family, my life is still good. And I continue to work to make it better.
At a time when people feel their lives are on pause; waiting for their next holiday, for lockdown to finish, or my personal favourite, to ‘regain their freedoms in the new normal’; I am continuing to live. To move forward and improve.
Recently Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated, “It’s time to give Australians their lives back. We’ve saved lives. We’ve saved livelihoods but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country”
My reply to Mr Morrison, I never gave you my life and it is not yours to give back. While you have prolonged some lives you have not saved them. The only way to save a life is to make sure it is not squandered. That it is not lived in fear, trying desperately to prolong it while hiding from all danger. Dealing with our fears and accepting some risk is a natural part of life. We know we can’t live longer so it goes without saying we should try to live better. With purpose, passion and void of regret.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” Marcus Aurelius