Thursday, August 18, 2011


Ready or not, the political season is once again attacking us. Political candidates, pundits and pollsters attempt to define the anxiety of our country in economical and emotional terms. Anyone who does not agree with them in congress or the presidency is disparaged as partisan. This revelation should not knock your socks off.

Dissent and lack of control increase the level of anxiety and volume of proclaimed disbelief that anyone would hold to such an idiotic position. Comparisons to Hitler proliferate. I'm already weary of patriotism claims and accusations of terrorism.

The more anxious we become the more we slant the issue, stack the facts, and shade our witness in our attempt to show our position in the best light. The story can never reflect the whole truth because, with our hysteria controlling our reactive thought processes, we can’t see the whole truth. Our emotions warp our perceptions so our thinking spirals out of proportion. And as our thinking goes, so does our story. (More on this with future posts on Storytelling.)

We frantically defend our point of view as we vehemently dismiss our opponents. Anxiety blinds us to our part in the devilment, as it binds us in our need to convince others to protest with us.

In a troubled marriage there is no totally good spouse and totally bad spouse. In an angry family, there is no good parent and bad parent, as there is no single bad child and the rest escape as acceptable. In an organization a wide swath of grey wanders between the black and white. But we do so love to assign blame.

We are naturally wired to become anxious when threatened or we think we see threat. (“Anxieties of life” Luke 21:34) Loss of job, income, home, health, family. You can name your anxiety of the day.

As dementia diminishes the thought process, the sufferer thinks they can continue to take charge; sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and we never know what’s coming next.

A small coalition of members decide the leadership isn’t performing and they foment for change. The neighborhood around the church changes complexion as members move out and cash flow, with the membership, fails to meet agreed upon goals. Misbehavior alleged or real by a leader or member jump-starts the rumor mill.

Dr. Peter Steinke in How your Church Family Works, writes, “Crowd delirium is fed by both emotional extremes—ecstasy and anxiety. Both numb the thinking processes. As long as people function in reciprocally reactive ways, there is little emotional separation between them.”  Blobs wobble; differentiated individuals reason.

Like any challenge, anxiety's impact depends on how we handle it.

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