Can we attempt to reverse the sad facts of life?

Some time ago the World Health Organization predicted that suicide would become the highest cause of death by the year 2020. As again we learn of several more high profile people having taken their lives, it seems that prediction has almost become a reality. Even more mystifying is that the act of suicide is very often taken by those who are seen to ‘have everything’ … prestige, economic wealth and the prospect of a successful future.

How can we as a community attempt to reverse such negativity? Questions arise.

What are the primary values of Western society today? Who could be so significant that they are deserving of excessive salaries while worthy folk struggle and some lie destitute in the streets? Why is anger so readily expressed – from road rage to newsworthy ‘incidents’ right through to domestic violence and beyond? Why are many ruining their lives and the lives of others, seeking the bliss they crave in drugs and the accompanying way of life? Why are many admitting to depression and how have these negative matters so painfully infiltrated the modern world to the extent that life for too many people has become worthless?

Attempts to normalise mental illness are liberating but there is also an accompanying risk that irrational acts are part of that normality. For many it seems life has deteriorated into a roller-coaster experience where calm reason appears to have vanished, leaving behind it a raft of pain for others including shock, bewilderment, loneliness, lack of resolution and grief.

Surely we must acknowledge that the ever-increasing expansion of technology and the expectations that brings, is somehow robbing us of humanity. Virtual tools are creating ‘virtual’ lives … lives that may remain empty of personal contact. Yes, there is medication and there is therapy. But clearly medication is not a complete answer to emotional restoration; and therapy is only successful when there is rapport and relationship between patient and therapist. And even to commence to assist or resolve this level of suffering and its surrounding hopelessness takes time and most importantly, patience – for the sufferer and therapist alike. In our fast moving world where technology promises to repair, replicate, amend at the touch of a button, new understanding of the requirements for emotional change must be recognised.

Then, with so much 21stC freedom and so little restraint, due respect – for oneself as well as to others – is also becoming scarce. It’s all too easy to judge, criticise and blame, internally and externally. And so values become trivialised and individuals, diminished. Unfortunately this lack of respect in many instances is exemplified right at the top. If all leadership would demonstrate respect, perhaps respect would regain its rightful place.

And we need courage and the ability to encourage. Though it can be challenging to really understand another’s emotional turmoil, let’s take courage and patiently and respectfully listen, knowing that any conversation with any person may be the conversation that makes or breaks an emotional situation.  So let’s readily ‘be there’, offering trust, companionship, compassion and encouragement so the downcast may glimpse the support they so desperately need – and sufficient hope to gather the strength to continue to live the life they’ve been given.

Let’s also remember where we each began – in the natural world. The seasons don’t hurry or expect more than is due. Each comes in time, bringing with it challenges as well as joys. In the crispness now of our Melbourne winter, remember that the world keeps turning, darkness passes and the leaves having fallen soon we will see again, fresh new growth. Let’s learn and exemplify the ability be still, to breathe, wait, let go and feel the living life. Let’s be leaders, not followers and set about generating some joy?

Look into another’s eyes with kindness, and touch their soul
And so two souls might lift both hearts in hope, optimism and the eternal power of love

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                Pauline McKinnon (c)
Melbourne, June 2018