Cocooning

cocoon.jpg

I just started reading Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser. In this little gem, the author tells about a time when his parents took him and his sister on a Grand Tour of Europe during the summer of 1939. They traveled to England, Greece and Rome, visited Christian churches, viewed paintings by the old masters and spoke languages that they had studied in school. Then on the way home, they received some news:

“Sailing home on the Statendam in September, we heard over the radio that the Nazis had invaded Poland. But the news didn’t have much reality; it was someone else’s war. Cocooned in our steamer blankets, we tried not to believe—or chose not to believe—that our own snug world was also coming to an end.”[i]

Zinsser’s words seem eerily fitting as 2015 comes to an end.

When 9/11 happened we watched as terrorists invaded our land, killing thousands on our shores. Church attendance swelled. People vowed to never forget but all too soon, complacency set in.

We tried not to believe—or chose not to believe—that our own snug world was also coming to an end.

Since then, we have watched as the threat of ISIS has grown in the Middle East. These religious zealots commit acts of barbarism that just don’t fit our modern mindset but it’s someone else’s war. It could never happen here…

Then in November, ISIS gunned down 130 people in the modern city of Paris, committing acts of brutality that we just can’t make sense of but it’s someone else’s war. It could never happen here….

Then one day in December our own snug world came to an end when someone else’s war invaded our own town, be it San Bernardino, Redlands or Lake Arrowhead. The greatest act of terrorism on American soil since 9/11 happened here.

Now, eighteen days have passed. Vigils are over, funerals have been held and Obama finally came. For the victims and their families, the tragedy is far from over but for the rest of us, what now?

Cocooned in our homes and workplaces, we are trying not to believe—or choosing not to believe—that our own snug world is coming to an end.

According to those in the counseling profession, it takes ten years before most people begin to process trauma, like 9/11 or 12/2. In the mean time, all that unspoken, unacknowledged fear and anxiety goes underground only to emerge in maladaptive ways—we eat a little more, drink a little more, and watch more NCIS. But we can’t heal from what we don’t feel. Talking is a great way to feel but it seems like no one is talking. According to my counselor, in the weeks since the shootings very few of her clients have talked about the terrorist’s attack that occurred in our own neighborhood.  That is a resounding silence among a population who is seeking emotional health.

I realize that it may be easier to deny our tragedy in San Bernardino than in New York City—there are no crumbled buildings or mangled fire engines to remind us of this act of evil but that doesn’t change the fact that we were all victims of terror, directly or indirectly. We all know someone who knows someone who was involved, either as a victim or in law enforcement. Our community is smaller than we thought and the wounds run deeper than we want to acknowledge. Our unspoken fear is that we will be next.

Cocooned in our homes and workplaces, we are trying not to believe—or choosing not to believe—that our own snug world is coming to an end.

 

[i] Zinsser, William. Writing About Your Life, Da Capo Press, 2004, p. 33.

GENEVA CHINNOCK works as a nurse at Loma Linda University Medical Center and has lived in the Loma Linda/Redlands area for longer than she wants to admit. She is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. She blogs about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com.