I have here a message from 12-year-old Amy, who wrote me today. The main thrust of her email was this:
“...I’m really scared about what’s happening in the world, can you make me feel any better?”
Well, you’d have to be an ostrich not to know which world events Amy is scared about. In fact, there are too many frightful events to list here.
Not only has this year been fraught with viruses, unemployment, and deadly scenes taking place in Washington D.C., but as I write this, the current year is only 10 days old.
So you have every right to be afraid, Amy; you are a human being. And you’re not alone, either. This morning after reading the newspaper the first thing I did was pour myself a stiff shot of Alka-Seltzer and go back to bed.
But if you ask me, your biggest problem (and mine) is not current events. It’s fear. Which has a lot to do with how we mammals are wired. We have low thresholds for stress.
Take the rhinoceros.
This is a powerful animal who can withstand predators, hunters, droughts, and even confinement. But when a rhino sees a vehicle chasing it, do you know what sometimes happens? It drops dead.
We’re talking about one of the oldest surviving species on this planet, a creature which existed alongside sabre-toothed cats. Not to mention that a rhino can weigh upwards of 5,100 pounds and grow 11 feet long. But it’s terrified of a Jeep Wrangler.
Deer are even worse. There are cases of deer getting trapped in wire fences only to die from fright when a farmer tries to free them.
Horses too. I’ve read about horses who died during noisy fireworks displays. The cause of death? A “twisted gut” from fear.
And rabbits. A rabbit can die from cardiac arrest in the presence of loud rock-and-roll music.
Sheep and goats sometimes have heart attacks…