Starting to Lose Our Collective Minds, or Is Just Me?

by Laura Lynch, LCSW, Life Coach

(Note, its been awhile since I had the energy to write, haven’t felt quite the same since my medical issues, and besides )–

It has been a l o n g hot summer for me, and that’s not just because I live in the  Mojave Southwest.

I am starting to feel mentally exhausted with “the news”, the non-stop political coverage. This collective of humanity that I am a part of is beginning to feel overheated, overwhelmed, and more than a few loose screws falling off. Time for some repairs or at least some realizations. Someday we will be having “recollections” about this time, but often when you “recollect” the memory is hazy.  In other words, its like taking a taking a collection of random stuff and re-ordering it. Which means we remember things differently and so don’t always learn from history (which was news at one time). Anyway…

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I am starting to get an even better understanding of what it is like for the clients I work with who suffer from ongoing auditory hallucinations, the often negative, always annoying, sometimes obnoxious voices that harp and harp.

I am starting to really understand why I often tell people “It’s a good thing we cannot read each other’s minds, because if we did things mind come to a complete halt”. Do we really need to share every opinion and thought we have? You know, “pearls before swine”. Of course I listen for a living and love to read., but some quieting of the mind and spirit is so needed.

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I am starting to really understand that I value my privacy and my introvert tendencies. I revert to keeping my own counsel when I start to feel like I am spending too much time on social media merry go round. As it is I usually look at Facebook about once a week, and I am really bad at Twitter and Linked-n. Still haven’t put anything on my Instagram account. If all the world is a stage, and we are the actors, who exactly is the audience? (I have to wonder what the Bard would have made of all this. But he was a psychologist at heart and knew well the foolish ways we follow, often to our heart’s content).

I am starting to really understand that democracy without education, an education that encourages curious, active, open, and questioning learning, is at risk of failure. Actually I already knew this, but it bears repeating.

I am starting to appreciate even more that a democracy works best when grown in a soil that nourishes civility, trust and respect, that we cannot let these good qualities die in the poison of hatred and ignorance that give rise to demagoguery, that our common love of freedom and diverse mingling of heritages is the well-spring of optimistic energy and enterprise. The qualities of civility, trust, and respect need more than mere emotion or feeling, but should be based on thoughtful convictions. However, the wonderful quality of openness does not mean you should not have boundaries, and a wise person knows when to shut the door.

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I am starting to appreciate even more the voices that are deeply reflective and wise, and that have compassion for those who are hurting and fearful. We need to remember that those with whom we disagree down deep want to happy. (The quiet desperation).

I am starting to understand even more that everyone needs their voices heard, and “every dog must have its day”, to howl to the moon., even those who seemed discouraged or live in fear.

I am starting to be reminded of what happens when fear forces us apart, and this apartness leads to misperceptions, misunderstandings, and sadly bitterness and hate, and the opposite of fear eventually leads to compassion and love (ie Scout and Boo Radley)

 

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So…..

 

The Athletes in these current games have gathered together in a sort of collective, but they understand each other in a way that others can’t. The sense of belonging is wonderful, and I think that is part of the enjoyment. They are fiercely competitive, but for the most part, as far as I can tell, there is mutual respect. They also walk the walk. Not just a bunch of blathering but years of focus and hard work. (Yes some athletes succumb to pressures to win, with doping, etc, and I have issues with the Olympic Committee). I am as un-athletic as they come but I appreciate well-practiced talent, reaching potential and finally “elitism”, a word that should represent striving for the best, but apparently now evoke resentment. We literally put these athletes on a pedestal and bask in their reflected glory, but we should imagine the dedication and hours, days and years of hard work. Imagine within our communities, in America, and for that matter around the world if we truly got to work on solving the problems that bear down on us. Instead of blaming, making excuses, or putting childish hope in apparently easy solutions we need to do the nitty gritty work, and we need to do it together. Our diversity is our strength.

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I have been escaping a lot lately with Star Trek Voyager (so sue me) and the Borg Collective has been in a lot of plot lines, that “race” of hybrid machines and humanoid life. Efficiency is their means and perfection is their goal. However, efficiency and perfection leads to a cold and ends-justifies-the-means life, and indifference can allow evil to flourish. On the other hand, the crew of Voyager is its own community, with a common goal, but out its diversity and imperfection comes creativity and resourcefulness. But humanity is far from perfect, our democracy is messy, and it is easy to become discouraged and give in to fear. Happiness is a pursuit, but be careful with too much of a focus on this pursuit. Desire can provide energy and motivation, but it can too easily become a source of discontent and in-gratitude.

I am starting to believe more than ever that we can overcome if we don’t worry so much about what is easy and fast, but know that democracy and life itself is messy and scary. Like those athletes we may come up short, just missing by inches, but we keep trying. We cannot afford to be cynical, and we should not confuse selfish greed with healthy ambition. What is more, do not confuse loudness and force with strength. Quiet humility and patience, taking responsibility instead of giving blame, integrity and understanding will go a long way.

The seasons will change and the earth will keep turning. We are not just connected to each other but every life on earth and the universe itself. It is easy to get lost in the crowd and the noise, but some perspective on what is truly of value gives comfort. So link hands when you can, we are alone yet together on our journey.  Lets enjoy our freedoms even as we remind ourselves of our individual and collective responsibilities.

I am starting to have hope that the hot days of summer will turn to cooler autumn, and of course, that we may eventually regain our collective senses, and this too shall pass.

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