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The Candid Conservative: The world just got a lot crazier
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 11:40
Special to the Daily Planet


Don’t look now, but life as we know it just got turned inside out. 

Worse, there is no indication that those in charge of this catastrophic global event have the juice to get us back to normal. 

In fact, it’s a pretty good bet that there are some big new normals on our horizon. They need not be all bad.

What just happened to our international systems of economics, education, medicine, and governance assures a generational echo. Think 9-11, World War II, the Great Depression, and the final episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” kind of echo.

Nobody has tied our hands. You and I remain fully in charge of our reaction to what’s happening. That’s power – the kind of power that no one can give us, take from us, or replace for us.

It’s the kind of power we all need to be thinking about right now. It’s ultimately the only reliable force with the capacity to turn the world right side out.


It starts with the head

Your brain is covered with bone for a reason. It’s eight pounds of mush that is remarkably easy to disrupt with a bang on the noggin or a circuit overload through your ears and eyes.

Brains are like tummies. For the same reason you should not eat more than you can digest you should not overload your brain with more information than it can absorb. Almost every brain in America has the information overload of an episode of “Hoarders.”

Your brain is designed to function as a car motor. Sometimes it’s off and sometimes it’s on. When it’s on, it may be in idle, or going slow, medium, or fast. Most people operate their brain like they’re at Daytona – going in circles with the petal to the metal until they crash.

Think of your brain as two islands connected by a bridge. When you’re stressed the bridge falls down and things get chaotic. Current world realities are blowing up a lot of bridges.

Try this bridge repair technique. Take a small ball. A tennis ball is perfect. Toss it back and forth for a minute or so. That simple right-left repeated action mechanically forces the bridge back into its proper place.

It’s next to impossible to have a stress overload when you’re doing the ball thing, and when you stop, that relief carries on for a bit.

Toss your ball, work to keep your brain at the appropriate speed for your situation, and limit how much information you eat.  These are three ways to put you in charge of your brain instead of your brain in charge of you. See Google for more.


Then comes the heart

 Crazy times have a way of generating crazy feelings. Chief among these emotions are anger and fear.

Anger is a power emotion. We use it to run from other emotions that make us feel powerless. Almost every time anger comes into play one can find hurt, sadness, disappointment, sorrow, fear, jealousy, or some other emotion lurking in the background.

There’s lots to be angry about right now. But justification doesn’t change a simple fact – with every ounce of anger you indulge comes a matching ounce of depression. Everyone who needs more depression in their life please raise your hand.

There’s only one antidote to anger – forgiveness – and it has to be given without conditions. That’s tough, but forgiving kills anger like Roundup kills weeds.

Fear is another stress hombre. It’s as addictive as anger and similarly toxic.

Having fear is no big deal unless you surrender to it. Resisting that temptation starts with remembering you have two buttons – your fear and courage buttons. The one you push the most is the one that will work the best.

Remember – the head is the source of intelligence. The head and the heart together are the source of wisdom. Wisdom is a team sport.


Your hand matters

Whatever you practice, you’ll get good at it.

It’s like that story about the old Indian speaking wisdom to the young Indian, “You have two dogs in you – one is good and one is evil. Which one will win?” The young man understood the question and answered correctly, “The one I feed the most.”

In times of hardship human beings tend to feed the wrong dog.

We do that most surely through addiction – and we can become addicted to just about anything. A short list includes the temptations of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Add to the list largely unnoticed back-door addictions like fear, worry, guilt and negativity and it’s easy to see why we go with the wrong dog.

There are a zillion evil dogs pulling us away from what usually is just one good dog – doing the right thing. Doing the right thing usually comes down to the seven lifting virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

Want to keep yourself on a good track during these troubling times? Pet and feed your good dog.


Some are about to rediscover faith

An avowed atheist recently wrote an article on faith. Though he remained true to his stated disbelief, he found himself curiously compelled to endorse the value of faith. His lamentation – man had not yet discovered a functional alternative.

Humanism hasn’t worked. Take a look at the hate, malice, anger and misery leaking out of the people – like Hillary and Bernie – who champion this movement. They reliably toast humanism – but they don’t like people.

Then there’s government, wealth, hedonism, sports, work or knowledge. All of those things have merit, but current events reveal fatal flaws.

Watch the hand of government as it struggles to alter the course of our virus, our economic plunge, and our distress. We’re busily receiving a stark lesson in the fragility of material values as a source of security. Pleasure works great – until something miserable comes along – and it always does. Sports are a super distraction, but try building hope, happiness and security on the NBA. Work is good, but is it good enough to fill all our empty moments? There’s no argument about the value of knowledge, but right about now we’ve got a front row seat on its limitations.  

So, what about faith? What is it and why does it work when other things don’t?

Faith is a belief in where we come from, what we should be doing while we are here, and where we are going when we leave here. People who have faith do demonstrably better with hard times than people who don’t. There is comfort, clarity and conviction in having a compass that points through the fog.

Over the coming months, the power and potential of living in faith is going to become crystal clear. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to get in line. It’s likely the opposite will happen.

But for some, the failure of the worldly things we’ve worshipped as Gods is going to increase our search for something more. When everything around you is crazy, looking up is a smart play.


It comes down to this

(1) Information is like food — don’t eat more than you can digest (2) Focus on solutions to what is happening versus worries about what might happen (3) Concentrate on things you can control instead of things you can’t control.

Worry is the interest you pay on trouble. The trouble may or may not come, but it’s certain that worry neither intercepts it nor makes it easier.

Number three above is extra important. You can’t control a virus, what your government does, what the economy does, what other people do, or what the future holds. 

You can control basic things like washing your hands and keeping them away from your face and higher-risk exposures; making sure you have extra food and water, medicines, and methods of self-protection to carry you and yours through any tight spots; keeping your most touchable things disinfected; and staying busy on work, projects, study, safe activities, exercise, and other positive and productive missions.

As a visual, consider the lightning bug. The darker the night, the brighter its light. The world has enough darkness. Don’t let anything stop you from being a source of light.

On a personal note, I have not found a way to get through much of anything without faith, the Bible and prayer. The greatest Commandment of all comes directly out of the faith that most Americans follow and takes us to the next suggestion. 

You can strengthen your role in this stressful contest by loving a little extra on the people you love and finding some new ones who need your love too.

This is a time to look out for one another. 

In the end, that’s probably the absolute best way to look out for yourself....

Dr. Mumpower is a psychologist and former member of Asheville City Council. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 252-8390.



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