According to a recent news article, a man in his 60s was shopping in Minnesota, looking for a specific type of cheese. Since he couldn’t find it in the dairy aisle, he found an employee to help him search. He even demanded that she go “to the back” to find him. When neither of them could locate the cheese, the man “lost” it, in the words of the story, and had a temper tantrum in the store.
The employee, who was apparently shocked by the incident, later told a reporter: ‘You look at someone and you think,’ I don’t think it’s cheese. “
The man in the grocery store is not the only angry person in our country. Examples of rage towards grocery store employees, flight attendants, school board members, public health officials and others can be found in the news almost every day. I am citing this example because the person who spoke about his experience with a reporter was on to something.
It’s not about the cheese – or the vaccinations, or the wearing of the mask, or any of the other reasons people give for “losing” it and acting in a way no one would have imagined possible. only a few years ago.
It is about something more, darker and more disturbing.
A recent survey of 1,320 mental health professionals provides at least some insight: Our country is facing a mental health crisis – a second pandemic, if you will – something much harder to identify and harder to treat. .
Forget about COVID (if you can); the most frightening long-term challenge to the well-being of our country is the number of people who currently feel anxious, depressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, alone, empty and uncertain. The survey found that frontline mental health care providers themselves are inundated with people seeking care, often managing full client loads and waiting lists.
Reading the study, I found it interesting that mental health professionals were able to find good news among bad. The stigma surrounding therapy, for example, appears to have diminished dramatically as more people are willing to seek help, often for the first time. Guess there is something to be said about it (I will officially say that I am a strong advocate for psychotherapy), but the situation looks dire and must seem even more dire if you’re on the waitlist. .
We all now know the reasons we got here – the pandemic, certainly and then the travel and movement restrictions, the loneliness that comes from staying at home, the threat of inflation and the shortage of goods. , not to mention the constantly worsening political polarization in the country. I should also include the existential threats of racial justice unrest and the feeling that our democracy is dying out. I feel stressed out typing these sentences.
What interests me most, however, is how we got here and how we’re doing. The fault lines were clearly present before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. The rage we heard about on planes, at school board meetings, and even in churches did not surface overnight without warning. What seems to have happened is that the pandemic has exposed us. A good shake, and we suddenly woke up to the world as it is – fragile and vulnerable. Looking back, it seems clear that as a culture we haven’t been well placed for a long time.
In a recent column, I suggested that we seek more truth, beauty, and mystery, all of which have enabled human beings over the centuries to transcend themselves and their most pressing concerns. After reading my column, a reader challenged me to be more explicit. We need God, she wrote. And I won’t disagree.
Following:Douglas Brouwer: More truth, beauty and mystery, please
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But even believers need to learn coping skills now. And so, I’m going to recommend a few:
- Turn off the news. Reading a newspaper a day or looking at a summary of the news should be enough for any well-informed citizen.
- Get out of social media, or at least limit yourself.
- Read a book. (My last one will be available in March.)
- Write a book. (If I can do it, so can you.)
- To take a walk.
- And contact your family and friends. If they have any difficulty, they will be happy to hear from you. If they start talking about the deplorable state of the country and Congress and how the last election was stolen, let them know how happy you are to hear their voices and promise to call back soon.
– Douglas Brouwer is a resident of the Township of Park. Other columns can be found at dougsblog.substack.com.