Come gather ‘round people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
-Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize for Literature
Our collective mental wellness is at risk. What has happened to us? As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I witnessed significant civil unrest and protests when the people of this country believed we were going in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, sometimes it was violent, but many times it was not. But back then the people in this country seemed to know when the equilibrium of our existence was broken and the masses stood up and did something about it. Today, all we seem to be able to do is shake our heads and hope that our worst fears don’t come true. Our shared mental and emotional strength is being supplanted by fear and complacency.
Kindness, compassion, respect, and basic love for each other need to replace the incomprehensible crudeness, ignorance, dishonesty, anger, and hatred that too often paint the picture of our country and our people today.
It struck me as rather telling last week when much of North Carolina was flooded and the lives of so many were broken, yet how little of what was happening in that state was on the news. Instead we had the continuous reverberation of our political nonsense. Who we are as individuals and as a national community is as simple as what we pay attention to and what we allow to happen.
We may be lost, but we are inherently good. We need to dig down to our souls for the courage, the energy, and the passion to refuse to accept what is currently the “norm.” To some extent, we all share the blame for where we are, but we also are able to influence what is to come. We can start by waking up each morning and asking ourselves, “What small action can I take to change the world today?” A small step? Yes. An insignificant step? No. Yes, the “times are a changing,” but the hearts and souls of Americans are better than this. We need to take the time to look into one another’s eyes and see the good in each other as well as the reflection of the good in ourselves. We can fix this and we must. Our collective mental health and wellness could depend on it.