Do you believe in the power of inclusion, the determined, and the potential to move humanity forward?
Silent Killers Hidden in Plain Sight:
I remain concerned about what is now regarded as a whole new category of disease and cause of death; “Diseases of Despair” that are plaguing modern society.
Longevity rates in the US have dropped in the last two years for the first time in decades, not because of the scourge of gun violence which remains a critical topic in our social consciousness that we need to address proactively and systemically as modeled powerfully and decisively right now in New Zealand (see last article below) but because of staggering rises in suicide rates, depression, overdoses from the opioid crisis, and other drugs/alcohol.
Diseases of Despair: Anomie is a psychological imbalance that leads to prolonged despair, lethargy and yearnings for self-annihilation. It is caused by a collapse of societal norms, ideals, values and standards. It is, in short, a loss of faith in the structures and beliefs that define a functioning democracy.
This week we focus on some things we can do about it…
A Psychotherapist Goes To Therapy — And Gets A Taste Of Her Own Medicine:
“I think that therapy at any age, it helps people to relate better to themselves and to the people around them,” she says. “It helps them to examine the way that they live their lives and take responsibility for what’s not working and also for what they can change.”
How To Raise Boys:
Because what it means to be a “man” is changing, as are the ways that parents are raising boys to become men. So who sets that standard? What do we expect of boys today? How do we define what kind of men we want them to be? And are there any traditional notions of masculinity worth keeping?
Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: News and Views for a Meaningful Life:
“Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people?” — Desmond Tutu
I’VE BEEN THINKING…
Sometimes you are lucky enough to take a trip at just the right moment…
I have been in Abu Dhabi this week for the Special Olympics World Games and, everywhere I’ve looked, I have seen the good of humanity.
Athletes from all over the world have traveled here with coaches, parents and volunteers. They have gathered together because they believe in the power of sports, the power of inclusion and the potential to move humanity forward.
Within this community, I find myself enveloped in goodness. I find myself surrounded by people who are giving themselves to others and who speak about unity, tolerance, respect and love. Those are the values that matter to them. These are the values that matter to me.
The Special Olympics World Games have been soul-lifting for me because I’ve met people of different nationalities and faiths who are committed to building a more inclusive world together. These are people who believe in a world where we lift each other up, not tear each other down. These are people who believe in a world of positivity and possibility. These are people who believe in a world where discrimination does not exist, and where the word disability is replaced with determination.
All of this has brought me hope this week as I have absorbed the tragic news out of New Zealand. It’s also brought me hope as I’ve digested the stunning story of wealth, corruption and deceit behind the college cheating scandal in the United States.
News stories like these can really get you down. They can make you feel like the world is really dark. But when you get involved with something like the Special Olympics, it can remind you that there is light in our world and that most people are good.
It’s also a reminder that the way we spend our time, and the people who we surround ourselves with, can change our perspective. You may not be able to travel to Abu Dhabi to see this, but you can still see it in your own community. After all, there are organizations like the Special Olympics doing this kind of life-changing work in your own backyard.
Through the Special Olympics, individuals with intellectual disabilities are stepping into a world where they are treated like whole beings. Many who traveled here are getting health screenings for the first time. They are reveling in the things the rest of us take for granted, like being able to see, hear or have our teeth checked. All of this makes my heart feel full. It fills me with hope and optimism and a belief that things can get better.
Of course, the news out of New Zealand has reminded me yet again that hateful and divisive words still have power, especially when they are uttered in the public space.
My guide here in Abu Dhabi is a Muslim man. He told me that his heart pounded as he watched the New Zealand news on his phone. “Violence in a place of prayer?” he said. “Why? Why?” I looked at him and, for a moment, was unsure what to say. Then, I used the words and the message that everyone else here is using.
We are here to build a world based on love, inclusion and acceptance of everyone. We are here to show the world a different way. I told him that I stand with him. I said that I am his friend and that I am sorry so many people in his faith lost their lives while in prayer this week. I told him that we should collectively condemn this kind of violence and that the best way to do so is to carry forward in a different way.
During times like these, we must remember why we are here. We must remember what we all have in common. The vast majority of us—the good of humanity—are individuals trying to build lives filled with love, family, honorable work, and a belief that things can get better. That’s true no matter who you are, where you live, or what faith you believe. The vast majority of us want to make things better. We must not lose sight of that.
So, on this Sunday, I will visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I will visit not just as a sightseer, but as a human being standing in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.
I will also stand with my Irish brothers and sisters around the world in honor of my Irish heritage. And, I’ll stand by those in the intellectual disability community, who are referred to at the World Games as “the determined.”
I’ll stand with everyone who vows to wipe out hate. As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “we utterly reject and condemn” this kind of violence. It has no place in our world.
Together, we can build a world based on acceptance, inclusion, faith and tolerance. We can use our words and actions to move humanity forward. We can, and we will, find a new way forward.
Dear God, thank you for this awe-inspiring, beautiful life you have created and given us. Help us do a better job of treating each other with respect and remembering that we are all in this together. Amen.
Thanks this week go to Meg M, Cathy S, Maria S, as well as NPR for being a rich source of important stories and subjects.
Stay positive, stay informed and please pay it forward…
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama