A More Dangerous Virus
At the time of this writing, over 1,000 U.S. citizens per day are dying of COVID-19. Well over 100,000 people are diagnosed with the virus each day. We are careening toward 700,000 total deaths since the first case of the disease was discovered here in early 2020.
Clearly, this is a dangerous virus. But, we are being plagued by another, even more insidious and dangerous virus. And most of us don’t even know we have been infected.
What are the symptoms of this “bug”?
It is known to cause blindness. Deafness is often known to result at its onset. One may witness a wide fluctuation in energy levels, moving from low-energy to dangerously high-energy, sometimes within seconds. This disease is also known to harden people’s hearts. It can render its victims unable to create meaningful connections with other human beings.
What is it called and how does it work?
The name of this deadly plague is the “enemy-image” virus, or EIV-2020.
Just like it sounds, it causes those who catch it to form enemy-images of other human beings. Once the enemy-image is formed, a second stage of the infection ensues.
It implants with the seed of a story that grows with a rapidity that defies even Jack’s beanstalk. It feeds on stories just like it. For those with this disease, the plant takes root and a thick pod of reinforcing ignorance forms over the person’s mind. The reduction of thought to “right or wrong” results in their fight-flight-or-freeze response mechanism becoming prominent and hyperactive. More often than not, this growth triggers aggressive behaviors by which the one infected may attempt to harm, maim, or even kill anyone who matches the enemy-image they have formed in their heart-mind.
In extreme cases, the sickened person becomes unable to distinguish between who is “safe” and who is “dangerous”. Everyone looks like a foe. When they reach that stage, they will act aggressively toward all others, even others who have been infected.
EIV-2020 can spread easily and quickly escalate to pandemic proportions. So-called “super-spreader” events can be triggered where one infected person comes into contact with a crowd that is predisposed to infection and within minutes a large percentage of the group is creating enemy-images.
There are several precedents of viral pandemics throughout history.
The EIV-2020 has existed among peoples throughout Middle Eastern nations for thousands of years.
In 1930s Germany, it gained a foothold. It reached pandemic levels throughout the nation. By the time it was finally stopped, it had claimed millions of lives. Tragically, the fatalities were not those who had been infected. Instead, they slaughtered the children, women, and men whom they mistook as their “enemies”.
Sadly, in recent years, evidence shows a resurgence of the virus there and in surrounding European countries.
In my lifetime, there have been pandemics in Bosnia and Serbia, and Rwanda, to mention just a few.
In my country, the disease has just minimally been brought under control at times but, it has not yet been eliminated. We have seen a major outbreak during the four year period from 2016 through 2020 that has reached frightening levels of intensity.
As an aside, one variant that has plagued the U.S. for over 400 years is more commonly known as racism. This variant infects people such that they form enemy-images of people with skin colors that are different than their own.
Is there a cure?
There are a few ways one can mitigate the infection, and with patience and persistence, even eliminate it altogether.
A common obstacle to healing is a person’s inability to recognize that they are infected. Often, when they are presented with the possibility they have been infected, they may deny it, despite the clear presence of those symptoms I outlined above. They may even lash out at the person who is trying to help them heal. Or, they may turn the disease back upon themselves and end up with secondary infections such as self-hate or depression.
What is not obvious is that another condition underlies the enemy-image virus and is necessary for its growth in individuals and spread in populations. It is fear.
People may fear some kind of imagined loss such as the loss of employment, or social status, or liberty. If they can find the capacity within themselves to self-soothe the fear, they can quickly reduce other, more serious symptoms. If not, then they may be able to find someone who can provide them with what Sarah Peyton calls resonance and accompaniment. In other words, having someone who deeply understands them, without also being infected, can stimulate the person’s prefrontal cortex (PFC) to send calming messages to their limbic system and thus lower the volume of the fear messages that can get stirred up with the constant “spin” of the amygdala’s “Am I safe? Do I belong?” loop. These functions of the brain have been born out by decades of research, as Peyton describes in her book, Your Resonant Self.
Sometimes, a person can pause or escape the looping fear messages in the limbic system and take a position of curiosity about the enemy-image itself. In other cases, they can even adopt a curiosity about how they themselves are creating the enemy-image. When this occurs, they may begin to question the “truth” they have believed about their so-called enemies. They can recognize the impact of this growth they have fed. That can lead to a reversal of the ignorance mentioned above, which in turn can help them pause the automatic responses of ill will, anger, hatred, a judgmental heart, and such.
If one can recognize and name the fear, they may find that being able to see it clearly shifts it into self-empathy, that is, the ability to see or hear their own underlying need or longing. The need might be safety for some. It could be security, peace of mind, or survival needs like food, water, or shelter for others.
Whatever the need is, when the person sees and knows it clearly, compassion for their self often arises. If this happens, it usually breaks the grip of the virus, allowing the compassion to flow outward and create a connection with others who the EIV-2020 victim had previously seen as their enemies.
Why should this matter to me?
You may be wondering, if you have read this far, “Why should this matter to me? I don’t have any enemy-images. I’m not infected.”
That may be true. I sincerely hope that it is.
Like the COVID-19 virus though, the enemy-image virus can exist “asymptomatically” in us. We might not show any outwardly observable signs that we have been infected. The bug can lie dormant inside of our heart-minds until the conditions are conducive for fear to be activated. That can set off a chain reaction of fear, disliking, disdain, disgust, suspicion, ill will, and finally, hatred, which is the most deadly evidence of severe infection.
The point is, we all need to be ardent, alert, and watchful for the most subtle of signs of the presence of the enemy-image virus.
I highly recommend frequent testing for early detection of it.
Here are some tests you can apply, right in the comfort of your own mind.
Ask yourself the following:
- Do I regard people with views, understandings, and/or experiences of politics or religion that differ from mine as being bad, evil, wrong, stupid, ill-informed, mistaken, lacking intelligence, or having similar characteristics?
- Do I fear, feel distant from, or feel slightly uncomfortable with people who do not look like me or speak my language?
- Do I think people who do not look like me or speak my language are not as good as me or are less intelligent than me? Do I avoid them?
- Are there any times in which I think in terms of “us” and “them”? Even to the slightest, almost imperceptible degree?
If you answered “yes” or “I don’t know” to any of these, then you have been infected. If you want to rid yourself of EIV-2020, please go back to the earlier section, “Is there a cure?” and put those suggestions into practice. The length of your recovery will be shortened significantly if you get support from others who have recovered from it or those who have taken preventative measures and have not become infected.
You may also want to practice generating good will for others. One way I do this, and can recommend from my positive experience with it, is to use a “couplet” to send an intention or wish for peace, safety, well being, or whatever you want, to yourself and to others. That could be:
May I be safe. May all beings everywhere, without exception, be safe.
May I be at peace. May all beings everywhere, without exception, be at peace.
It is important to start with yourself and move outward from your center. This follows the adage which I learned decades ago from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.”
Finally, I send you my wishes for well being and for Peace and Joy.
May we find our way to a world that is completely free of EIV-2020.
Peace & Joy,