A Society in Fibrillation


Fibrillation:  the quivering and fluttering of the heart caused by uncoordinated contraction of the individual fibrils in the heart muscle; often caused by disjointed signals of the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic division of the body’s autonomic nervous system is designed to send signals that increase heart rate and blood pressure in times of stress. When these signals become agitated by stressors that are frequent and erratic, the heart can respond by fibrillating, losing its ability to beat completely and rhythmically - a life threatening event. In this manner, our society is experiencing a prolonged episode of fibrillation. The signals coming to society’s “heart” are so rapid and disjointed and so full of adrenaline-producing fear that this societal heart has no choice but to become quivering and uncoordinated - a very dangerous situation. Just as a normal sinus rhythm must be restored to the fibrillating physical heart, so must a way be found to find a personal steady rhythm in a society whose very core is in fibrillation. 

Our world is full of tweet-driven fight or flight signals. We are off-balance all of the time because no sooner does one tweet ripple through the internet than another one on an entirely different, but equally insane, theme plops into the media pond. How can we possibly maintain a balanced life in the midst of such a lunatic energy? Perhaps this is a purposeful strategy meant to keep us in this state; or it may be simply the result of a deranged leadership. Whatever the cause, the personal path to sanity and effective action lies in finding ways to keep ourselves in a healthy, steady, non-agitated state of being. 

My first suggestion is to take measures to severely limit the presence of the tweets and other fear-producing media presentations. This is not a head-in-the-sand avoidance mechanism. It is a sane necessary step to help restore a normal rhythm to our daily life. The current leadership of our society depends on keeping us off-balance and afraid. This keeps our sympathetic nervous system in a constant state of activity and inhibits any arising of well-considered action. In the fight/flight state of mind the only thing the body cares about is lashing out at whatever feels threatening in the moment, or running away as fast as possible. The mind is not able to entertain creative solutions or to take patient steps toward effective long-term goals.

Once we have taken steps to control the random and distorted signals from media, we can begin to do those things that entrain steady rhythms in our life. These things are unique for each of us, but might include meditation, exercise, time in nature, reading inspiring literature, playing with friends and family, and a wide assortment of other spiritual and psychological practices. As our daily lives develop the quiet places where true insight and creative action might dwell, it may be helpful to consider the root fears that are being hooked and then take steps not to let the external events determine the shape of our responses. Our responses must come from our own creative power, not from the reactive fears. 

What am I really afraid of? My children’s future? My own safety? Education? My medical care? The environment? My own civil rights? Whatever the fear, the starting point of effective action is to develop a personal sense of courage, confidence, and strength in that area. It may be exploring alternate health care systems; long conversations with our children about ways of simplifying and living meaningful lives; investing time in alternate educational systems that will help prepare for a new society; a deeper immersion in nature so the “environment” becomes a living reality and not just a cause; etc. 

It is indeed a dangerous time. If the fibrillation continues the body will die. You and I are each little individual “fibrils” in the heart of society. If we can stop jerking and quivering in response to messages, and start beating with steady, patient, and dependable rhythm, we will be taking the first essential step in the healing of the body.