It was discovered in the trenches of World War I that combat fatigue isnít a test of character. Every soldier, if exposed long enough to artillery fire and deprived of rest, will become shell-shocked.
But in WWI there was always a home front where the shooting stopped. We arenít so fortunate today. Every news story about terrorism reminds us that all three factors exist at home: the threat is inescapable, attacks can come at random, and no individual has control over the outcome.
A kind of civilian battle fatigue has set in, and people who once felt aroused by threat are beginning to find the constancy of threat exhausting. We go through the motions of being on alert while the underlying reality is that alertness is hard to maintain even at minimal levels.
As unwelcome as it would be for the authorities to hear, the body at peace is stronger than the body at war. When you can free yourself of the random, uncontrollable stress that is always present, your body will start to be at peace.
Modern medicine has already discovered that love increases the human immune response. Love has the power to change our bodies as much as violence, but in a positive direction. People who feel loved live longer, have fewer colds, lower blood pressure, and lower cancer rates; and have fewer heart attacks.
Widowers who lose a spouse and begin to feel unloved and lonely suffer higher rates of all these afflictions, as well as a shorter life span. You cannot use stress, in the form of constant reminders about terror, to create peace in the body. The mechanisms simply arenít there.
Adapted from Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).