Happy and hopeful, sad and depressed — who and what we are depends on us

Yesterday I forced myself to read a piece about the declining health — both physical and mental — said to be seen among the American people.  Drug addiction is said to be rampant, suicide increasingly common (especially among younger adults — people in their twenties).

The article went on to give the seeming causes for all this.  The officially approved ones, that is.  Poor nutrition and obesity, a breaking apart of community, growing loneliness, alienation and depression.  And (of course!) there not being enough funding for "programs" to help people overcome all the above.

Totally unmentioned in the piece were several things I think are rather relative.  One is the demographics involved — just who it is that seems to be, statistically, at the greatest (and growing) risk.  And who is not.

If, I asked myself, more "programs" — that is, more government intervention and action — is truly the key to reversing these trends, then why are we seeing the trends most greatly expressed among those who are already in regular contact with the government's agents — teachers for instance?

If greater "knowledge" is key to reversing the trends, then why are they so much represented among college students — perhaps the saddest, angriest, and (going by their own words) the least happy people on the planet?

And why is all this happening now?  Are conditions in the physical sphere of life — housing, food, endemic illnesses — really worse now than in previous periods of time?


Photo credit: Pixabay.

The obvious answer to the above is no.  In the physical world, never have people as a whole been better off, and in few places is that more so than in the United States of America.

The answer to these problems, then — and their likely cause(s) — must be found elsewhere.  And if it is not in the physical world, then it must be in that which we might call the "spiritual."

Before one tosses such a thought aside, it might be wise to take note that these problems are indeed "spiritual" — whether we like the term or do not.  Loneliness, depression, hopelessness, anger, alienation — all of these things are things of the human spirit.  They are not physical.  Even poor eating habits — poor choices — rarely are attached to physical causes.  And addiction?  How does such usually get a start?

And why were people of prior periods freer of such problems than we are as a society today?  If we are not suffering from physical shortages, might the shortages not, instead, be spiritual?

"No!  No!  No!  You can't say that!"

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  We can.  And even the statistics back it up.

The fact is that married people tend to live longer than do single people.  And the differences are not small.

According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, compared with married people, people who are widowed are 40 percent more likely to die in a given year, people who are divorced or separated are 27 percent more likely to die, and people who have never married are 58 percent more likely to die.

Yet our society disparages and even laughs at marriage.

Another life-saver is...religion.

According to the Pew Research Center, the actively religious are significantly more likely than other groups to describe themselves as "very happy."

That same study tells us that actively religious Americans are also more likely to say they are in "very good health" (32 percent vs. 25 percent of the unaffiliated).  And while such figures are self-determined by the polled people, mortality rates correspond closely with those numbers.

Loneliness?  Hopelessness?  Addictions?  The same apparent truths apply.

And then there is anger, be it the red-faced screaming variety or the quiet, under-the-surface, simmering type.

Where do we see it most commonly manifest?

An honest inquiry — even into our own observations and experiences — answers that in the very same way, as being found among the very same people.  The angry, alienated, and "unhitched," thoroughly "modern" man and woman.

Finding a basis for hope in faith is not easy.  No more than is falling up a stairs.  Especially not if others are endlessly trying to push you down.  But would not getting away from such "downward pushers" be the start?

And since such "downward pushing" comes not just from individuals, but from the accepted "know betters" and the mass media, would not turning those sources of daily anxiety be a good starting point as well?  Then replacing their influence with people who are positive, who see the good, and, yes, who create it?

Even here on web.  And at school.  At work.  On the video monitor and the TV screen.

"Statistics" — including those of rising mortality rates, hopelessness, loneliness, addiction, and despair — are measurements of the masses.  Our lives, though, are our own.  The choices of who and what we are to be belong to us.

Yesterday I forced myself to read a piece about the declining health — both physical and mental — said to be seen among the American people.  Drug addiction is said to be rampant, suicide increasingly common (especially among younger adults — people in their twenties).

The article went on to give the seeming causes for all this.  The officially approved ones, that is.  Poor nutrition and obesity, a breaking apart of community, growing loneliness, alienation and depression.  And (of course!) there not being enough funding for "programs" to help people overcome all the above.

Totally unmentioned in the piece were several things I think are rather relative.  One is the demographics involved — just who it is that seems to be, statistically, at the greatest (and growing) risk.  And who is not.

If, I asked myself, more "programs" — that is, more government intervention and action — is truly the key to reversing these trends, then why are we seeing the trends most greatly expressed among those who are already in regular contact with the government's agents — teachers for instance?

If greater "knowledge" is key to reversing the trends, then why are they so much represented among college students — perhaps the saddest, angriest, and (going by their own words) the least happy people on the planet?

And why is all this happening now?  Are conditions in the physical sphere of life — housing, food, endemic illnesses — really worse now than in previous periods of time?


Photo credit: Pixabay.

The obvious answer to the above is no.  In the physical world, never have people as a whole been better off, and in few places is that more so than in the United States of America.

The answer to these problems, then — and their likely cause(s) — must be found elsewhere.  And if it is not in the physical world, then it must be in that which we might call the "spiritual."

Before one tosses such a thought aside, it might be wise to take note that these problems are indeed "spiritual" — whether we like the term or do not.  Loneliness, depression, hopelessness, anger, alienation — all of these things are things of the human spirit.  They are not physical.  Even poor eating habits — poor choices — rarely are attached to physical causes.  And addiction?  How does such usually get a start?

And why were people of prior periods freer of such problems than we are as a society today?  If we are not suffering from physical shortages, might the shortages not, instead, be spiritual?

"No!  No!  No!  You can't say that!"

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  We can.  And even the statistics back it up.

The fact is that married people tend to live longer than do single people.  And the differences are not small.

According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, compared with married people, people who are widowed are 40 percent more likely to die in a given year, people who are divorced or separated are 27 percent more likely to die, and people who have never married are 58 percent more likely to die.

Yet our society disparages and even laughs at marriage.

Another life-saver is...religion.

According to the Pew Research Center, the actively religious are significantly more likely than other groups to describe themselves as "very happy."

That same study tells us that actively religious Americans are also more likely to say they are in "very good health" (32 percent vs. 25 percent of the unaffiliated).  And while such figures are self-determined by the polled people, mortality rates correspond closely with those numbers.

Loneliness?  Hopelessness?  Addictions?  The same apparent truths apply.

And then there is anger, be it the red-faced screaming variety or the quiet, under-the-surface, simmering type.

Where do we see it most commonly manifest?

An honest inquiry — even into our own observations and experiences — answers that in the very same way, as being found among the very same people.  The angry, alienated, and "unhitched," thoroughly "modern" man and woman.

Finding a basis for hope in faith is not easy.  No more than is falling up a stairs.  Especially not if others are endlessly trying to push you down.  But would not getting away from such "downward pushers" be the start?

And since such "downward pushing" comes not just from individuals, but from the accepted "know betters" and the mass media, would not turning those sources of daily anxiety be a good starting point as well?  Then replacing their influence with people who are positive, who see the good, and, yes, who create it?

Even here on web.  And at school.  At work.  On the video monitor and the TV screen.

"Statistics" — including those of rising mortality rates, hopelessness, loneliness, addiction, and despair — are measurements of the masses.  Our lives, though, are our own.  The choices of who and what we are to be belong to us.