Denial is not an affirmation of what supports life, of what nurtures and enhances living. Denial is not a curious questioning or testing of what is real, what is true. Denial does not listen and patiently wait to hear the answer to a question or the solution to a problem.

Denial does not summon the courage to make a decision and take action, hoping for success, yet being fully ready to understand and learn from failure, should it come. Denial does not embrace vulnerability and the lack of total control. Denial cannot trust another or a loved one or a community or a family.

Denial can only stop, holding against any movement forward, any improvement, any learning, any healing, any birth and rebirth. Denial can only kill by strangling, demeaning, bleeding, blinding and then finally hiding in fear of the who, the what, the when and the why it is denying.

We can, and some of us do, deny science, deny learned servants and officials, deny medicine and vaccinations, deny any changes in the climate. We can, and some of us do, deny our faults, our bad decisions, our ability to make changes, our obligation to help those needing help and our own self-interests.

We can, and some of us do, deny just because it is easy and simple, until it becomes habitual — a normal way to avoid what takes effort, risk, openness and optimism. Denial, well, I wouldn’t like denial, if denial was good.

Mark Oldstrom is a retired hospital chaplain and mental health counselor from Columbia.


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