• Erica Rosi Tham

Rejecting Fear and Distrust: Healing the Inner World While We Wait to Adopt

From the coronavirus to racism, 2020 has been a record year for news that encourages people to fear each other and distrust their neighbors.

We are waiting on approval from India for our adoption case, and my hopes declined last week with the rise in coronavirus cases. I had to turn off the news to get some peace of mind, but that is not very easy. Recently, a magazine I subscribe to, Foreign Affairs, sent their new issue on white supremacy in America. I unsubscribed, and I encourage others to reject these messages. The truly peaceful among us need to stand for peace and truth in the hope that the fearmongering will end; when it does, more people will adopt again, a natural remedy to many of our social ills.

Choosing Life, Rejecting Fear

The fear of death is one of the most fundamental fears we all experience, and whether we fear for ourselves or our loved ones, we are reminded every day of this threat.

Personally, I am not afraid of dying. I believe in God, and my faith in a better world to come is only strengthened by the insanity of our current times. Of course, there can be a better life than this one—that is a tremendous comfort. On the other hand, I do feel fear when I consider my loved ones and the pain of grief. We can find different reasons to logically explain the recent rise in cases, but this increase during the summertime and the failure of three months of quarantine to have had a better effect … it is a troubling situation.

And yet, this is precisely the time when we need to choose life, and that choice is a rejection of fear.

Recognizing when the media causes fear is a good first step; when you notice this, it’s time to turn it off and reject its messages. We may all have very little control over what is to come, but at least, we can decrease the number of views on any media that promotes fear, including sites, videos or programs about the number of virus cases. We already have a lot of information on the virus; we know how to take care of ourselves and our loved ones during our daily lives.

We can choose to turn away from fear; we can start today, and we can keep this goal in the forefront of our minds.

While training to become an adoptive parent, I learned about the internal alarm. Adopted kids may have their internal alarms triggered by events that seem strange to their new parents; and the training emphasized that we must comfort kids when the internal alarm is going off-- only later can we try to figure out the cause or change the behavior. I mention this because there will be days when each of us experience that internal alarm due to the shocking nature of the news, and then, we need to comfort ourselves, only that. Rejecting fear should never be misinterpreted as denial at times when we need to take a break.

We do need to respect our fear in order to overcome it. During hard days, when we respect our feelings and comfort ourselves, we gain the strength to choose life.

Choosing Peace, Rejecting Division

Besides racism issues, there is a new division—that between middle-aged and older people and the next generation. This division is being sown by media that is strongly supporting ideas of black oppression and white supremacy. Notice the words black and white which I will no longer use here. The term African American represented progress to me.

Many middle-aged people, myself included, are disturbed by these messages because during our lifetimes, there were huge successes in the fight against discrimination. Since the 60’s movement, only sixty years have transpired. Within that period, many African Americans became famous multi-millionaires, four became billionaires, and, of course, President Obama was elected and served for two terms; he was one of the most respected presidents I can remember. If you saw a flash card with the words famous actor, famous musician, famous athlete or famous multi-millionaire, would you only imagine Caucasian faces? I would not.

Now, because of one truly tragic event, the terms racism and supremacy are on everyone’s lips. Floyd’s death was horrible, but as a woman and a logical person, I have to bring up this question: when a woman is raped, tortured and ultimately killed by a deranged man, do we suddenly engage in prolonged protests over the existence of patriarchy which was also prominent before the sixties not only in this country, but worldwide? Do we ask why there has been no female American president? When was the last time you saw a disturbingly exploitative or humiliating image of a woman in an ad or movie?

And this Caucasian-African American divide is not as neat as its promoters would have people believe. Consider the 20 million Europeans who immigrated between 1880 and 1920, post-civil war years. Remember that families used to have four to six kids, do the exponential math, and consider how many Caucasians have strong associations with being Jewish, Swedish or Italian, to name just a few groups.

For my part, I believe the large-scale promotion of racism issues is part and parcel of a general campaign to create fear, distrust and division among people. Maybe this is driven by money or powerful influencers; we cannot know. However, just as we can choose to reject fear, we can choose to reject distrust and division.

Choose peace, hope and love. When lulled toward conversations about race, tell people that you believe in peace, hope and love, and you choose not to engage in any divisive behavior. When complex situations are made overly simple, black and white, one side or the other, the truth is that people are creating opposing camps. The only way to avoid that is to disengage and to choose a new topic in which there is leverage for conversation, such as peace.

Many of us choosing international adoption have been ready to open our lives to kids of different races; that speaks for itself. At the end of the Korean War, my father wanted to adopt a Korean orphan, but his mother was against it. She thought he would be ostracized by his neighbors if he started an inter-racial family. How far we have come since 1953! During the 2008 peak in international adoption, 20,000 orphans were brought into U.S. homes during a single year.

Are we really moving forward, becoming a better country in 2020?

We might have little control over the upcoming days, but we can choose to turn off distrust and division. Maybe if enough of us turn it off, the media will frantically search for a topic we will watch. Maybe they will be driven to their last resort; they will send us messages of hope, love, strength, and togetherness.

Erica Rosi Tham

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