Finding Peace In The Midst Of The Pandemic, Uncertainty 

A recent survey from Onepoll research says 16% of Americans have let go of a friendship since the pandemic started.
Posted at 9:12 PM, Oct 11, 2021

From school board battles to restaurant attacks to airplane standoffs — with more than 4,000 unruly passenger reports and 3,000-plus mask-related incidents, to be exact — the country seems a bit like a balloon ready to pop.

It's hard to know if the world is angrier or if it's a matter of perception. 

Here's what we do know: Relationships have splintered. A recent survey from Onepoll research says 16% of Americans have let go of a friendship since the pandemic started. The top two reasons: political divides and disagreements over the COVID-19 vaccine.

In times of uncertainty, some people turn to faith for answers. But if you ask any faith leader they'll tell you the division is nothing new. At least that's what they told Newsy regarding what's driving the angst and how to find peace.

In D.C.'s DuPont Circle, Rabbi Laurie Green tells me you have to start by defining peace.

"In Hebrew, peace comes from the root for wholeness. Everything is like whole and complete," Green said. "So it's not just the absence of conflict. But there's kind of an internal wholeness and completion. And that's what brings peace."

She says the current absence of personal peace comes from the need to be in control.

"We delude ourselves into thinking that we have a lot more control over the world than we really do," Green said. "And I think something like this shows us all, especially us, you know, smart, wealthy, 'We know how to control everything' and 'We run the world' Westerners — that's actually not so true."

And yet, Yale University's chaplain, Omer Bajwa, said he believes the present chaos is predictable. 

"I think the world is really maddening right now," he said. "Life is not meant to be frictionless or without turbulence. There is turbulence that is inevitable at some level in our lives. At every interpersonal, societal, we would say even sort of communal, political, social level, there's going to be turbulence. The question is the response."

It goes back to that "control" word. Bajwa says it's important to recognize that the only person you can control is you. 

"What God wants to see is: How do we respond? What is the response of the people of faith and conscience? Where are the good people in the world?" Bajwa said. "How do we navigate this? What's the best way? The Quran says: Don't repel evil with evil. Repel evil with good."

City University of New York Director of Innovation and Mental Health Victoria Ngo says when dealing with the anger of others, compassion goes a long way for you and them. 

"When something happens on the street that would typically  upset you, then it decreases that upset when you recognize that 'You know what, this person might just have had a really bad day.' Maybe that person just found out that someone they love was hospitalized or someone they love passed away or they just lost their job," Ngo said.

Christian therapist Stacey Mayo agrees with the compassion element. 

"The idea of the vaccine, for example, people have said: 'I feel really nervous about this. This seems new. I don't know what this will do to my body.' And I can't imagine that people who have chosen to have the vaccine wouldn't feel that, as well. And so being able to find the common ground of, 'We actually have a lot in common here' — let's start from that place," Mayo said.

She said she also understands when people need to part ways. 

"Hopefully, people will continue to try to engage and not just end the relationships," Mayo said. "But I do think because the pandemic continues, anxiety can be so difficult to bear. Some people have said, 'I don't have the bandwidth to continue this relationship, as much as I want to.'"

Back in D.C., Rabbi Green said there's actually comfort in knowing she doesn't have all the answers. 

"I think, really, the best you can do is learn to live a normal life — to move on, to not be stuck with it. To make peace with your past — make peace with yourself," Green said. "Take a nice walk, enjoy the sunshine, meditate, do yoga, whatever, you know, journal — whatever is going to work for you."