These are the golden years for both mental health providers and manufacturers of anti-depressant medications.
Survey after survey and study after study are finding remarkable numbers of Americans are sad, anxious, and frustrated—and the impact on our adolescents and young adults is frightening. Having experienced an over 50% jump in youth suicides over the past decade alone, we must ask some pointed questions about what is behind our immersion into an apparently bottomless pit of despair.
The fashionable culprits are social media—which, truth be told, is often a 24/7 rage fest—and our concurrent propensity for taking the deepest possible offense concerning every interaction we have with another person. The obvious problem is that, if you constantly walk around with your fists up (whether metaphorically or in reality), you will almost always find exactly that which you are scared of finding. Worse yet, this constant stress and anger drains us of the resources that are needed to deal with the otherwise normal bumps and bruises of our daily existences. The less-than-comforting comfort later obtained from posting our every less-than-positive encounter on social media so that it can be further amplified by the Greek Chorus of other “victims” who are fearfully clutching their own electronic devices causes yet more angst and annoyance—sounds like loads of fun, doesn’t it?
There is also no doubt that the ongoing, catastrophic breakdown of American families and communities is depriving many children, adolescents, and young adults of the love, support, mentoring, and positive role models that they need for healthy personal development. Divorce, drug use, violence, and neglect are often the signal features of childhood and adolescence today. Should we be at all surprised that emotionally and spiritually bereft upbringings produce fragile and fearful young adults who cannot find their paths in life?
We are, in addition, living through an astounding economic transformation that is dividing our society into winners—and surplus humanity. Unless one has a stupendous talent at hitting, catching, kicking, or throwing a ball of some sort, the likelihood of gainful and sustainable employment has never been so dependent upon education and training that will continue over one’s entire working life.
Sadly, we are saddled with public schools that abandon vast numbers of students to abject ignorance, colleges and universities that somehow manage to combine escalating costs and increasingly mediocre instruction, and a major mismatch in our employment marketplace that leaves companies scrambling to fill well-paying jobs in the skilled trades—while Starbucks recruits their baristas from the ready pool of PhD candidates crushed under their student loans.
To say that the economic systems of both our nation and world have dramatically shifted is the understatement of our age, and watching traditional economists struggle to apply their outdated theoretical frameworks to today’s revolutionary changes offers much the same entertainment value as watching ants being trampled by a rampaging herd of elephants.
Of course, no one’s sour mood is helped by the fear mongering of those who daily assure us that our planet is doomed, the endless childish posturing of our elected leaders, the continued erosion of any remaining social norms in the name of personal freedom—and the constant finger pointing rather than solutions that we must endure.
Our seeming inability to resolve even our most basic problems without either a wild race to the courthouse for a restraining order or the expenditure of our tax dollars on blathering advice from experts who would likely break their own necks while trying—and failing—to change a lightbulb is a dismal feature our early 21st century nation that bears close attention from us all.
Stuck somewhere between the continuing failure and unending chatter of those who presume to lead us, Americans have seen action and accountability become empty words tossed about like confetti in the wind. Nero may have (or so the Roman legend says) fiddled while Rome burned, but the American epitaph might well be that our elected officials talked—and talked and talked and talked—while our nation fell to pieces.
Most of us are sick of talk, tired of those who placate rather than act, and fed up with leaders who seem to believe we are idiots. We want to see educators educating, soldiers supported, factories producing, roads repaved, loyalty rewarded, excellence encouraged, decency celebrated, honor elevated, and criminals punished. Most of all, we want to be able to raise our families as we see fit, protect those whom we love from harm—and resist anyone who tries to take away our freedom to live as we please without the constant annoyance of pettifogging bureaucrats and virtue signaling cuckoos. See? I feel happier just imagining all this to be true.
Now imagine if it really was so….