Although there are many ways to manage the thoughts that distress us, most lead either to acceptance or denial.

I first encountered this as a Marine when asked to consider the threat posed by Egyptian and Saudi Arabian dissidents/operatives who rallied in Afghanistan following the departure of Soviet forces in 1989. They were fighters who were so determined to see that country unified under a government friendly to their own, they’d eventually resort to terrorism in an effort to force us to do it.Back then the Pentagon considered these groups and the governments that supported them through the Soviet/Afghan War a threat to our goals in the Middle East. Denial began to interfere with our goals when political leaders took offense to the idea that either could truly pose a threat to us. That denial grew in Congress even as holy war was declared and attacks on U.S. facilities and personnel in the region surged.

As a result, security efforts meant to address the threat were not addressed until Congress was attacked on 9/11, and large-scale military deployments to Afghanistan — which the Pentagon warned would only further destabilize it — were ignored.Denial doesn’t clear the way for belief to make things happen. It didn’t work there, it’s not worked for COVID-19, and it’s not going to work for climate change.

While scary, we can embrace what frightens us, work on it, then take a break. That’s the only time we should entertain fantasy.

Jamie Beaulieu, Farmington

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