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Fight or flight

According to the website health.harvard.edu, the “fight or flight” response is a combination of reactions to stress that produces well-orchestrated physiological changes. The heart pounds, breathing quickens, muscles tense and beads of sweat appear.

This response to stress or danger evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life threatening situations. The carefully orchestrated yet near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone to fight the threat or flee to safety.

Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, family difficulties or piss poor governance.

The problem is that researchers have found that the long-term effects of chronic stress has an effect of physical and psychological health. Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body. Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, addiction and maybe even obesity.

Based on that definition, it would seem like many of us living in this country have been afflicted with chronic stress caused by our own leaders when they make us feel a combination of danger, panic, despair and disgust every time they open their mouths.

To be fair, many of us should’ve developed some sort of immunity after six long years of being stressed by our leaders’ words and actions (or lack thereof). However, with elections just around the corner, it looks like our fight or flight systems are going to be rebooted pretty soon as we start to realize that there just maybe something we can do about our situation. With what many may consider as a war for survival on the horizon, the fight or flee instincts that have been numbed over time must be starting to kick in again.

Nobody wants to live with the long term effects of stress. As the website article I cited noted, chronic stress can endanger health. And based on our experience from the past 6 years, the source of that chronic stress, if not removed, can endanger the future of an entire country. If we don’t want to get sick from stress, worry and despair due to living in a country led by underachievers, scammers and morons; we will have to choose if we are going to stay blissfully ignorant, fight, or flee.

The fight or flight response plays a critical role in how we deal with stress and danger. When we are under threat, the response prepares the body to either fight or flee. By priming the body for action, you are better prepared to perform under pressure, making it more likely that you will cope effectively with the threat.

If animals with better flight or flee instincts are more likely to survive and pass on their genes to succeeding generations, maybe we need to have that instinct and an equivalent set of reactions baked into our society if we want it to survive and evolve as well. We cannot be unaffected bystanders all the time. Sometimes, we have to choose whether to fight or flee but if the instinct isn’t there, we could end up flattened by a slow-moving steamroller after freezing and refusing to move, like a deer mesmerized by deadly headlights.

A collective fight or flee instinct has been building up in the past few weeks. No matter who or what you believe in, uncertain times are coming and while many are still apathetic or think of themselves as unaffected, it feels like many more are starting to feel the danger and are going into fight or flee mode. Figuratively, heart and respiration rates are up, pupils are dilating, and muscles are tensing in preparation for action.

The fight or flight instinct kicks in instantaneously for humans and mammals. But if you come to think of it, societies don’t react as quickly and simply recognizing the presence of an existential threat may take a little more time. For some groups, sensing the threat can take weeks or maybe even years. Other groups totally fail to recognize the danger and even become part of the threat.

Those of us who haven’t flown the coop yet are now on the spot and will have to choose between fight and flee. If you are already heavily invested with a lot to lose and no options, fight it is. Those who can afford to flee can still pack up and run for their lives.

My family and I are going to stand our ground to fight for what we believe in. Given the stakes, we will fight like we’ve never fought before, hoping to walk away with a win and hope for a better future. If we end up losing, which the odds pretty much favor right now, then we will just go through this fight of flight process again.*

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