The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies. From “Behind Our Anxiety, The Fear of Being Unneeded” by The Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks
That article from last Friday’s New York Times pulled many things together for me in our anxiety-drowning land. Here’s my simplistic observation:
- Millions of (mostly) White Americans fear that they are losing control of their culture. They see People of Color, LGBTQ People, and all kinds of immigrants Everywhere. The world seems foreign.
- People of Color, LGBTQ People and all kinds of immigrants, plus women and progressive co-conspirators worry that Making America Great Again = Jim Crow, Closets, Coat Hangers, and more hate crimes.
- Baby Boomers aren’t ready to retire (financially, psychologically) but feel set aside.
- Gen Xers haven’t yet gotten their Big Shot and wonder when the Baby Boomers will step aside
- Millennials are either overwhelmed by college debt (and maybe can’t get a job to pay back those loans.) Or they are trying – without a college degree – to land a job with a live-able wage.
- Gen Z-ers are pushed to succeed at Everything and there’s very little down time. Or they are stuck in terrible schools with little hope for success surrounded by violence and confusing messages.
Once again, my analysis is more Off-The-Top-Of-My-Head than scientific or even very thoughtful. But my point is this: our lives indeed have a purpose and we are measuring our purposes against ridiculous things like material wealth and fame.
It’s killing us.
We do not value each other more than we value stuff. “Success” has brought us more anxiety than pleasure. “Success” has given us one of the most stressful election seasons in memory.
We are willing to demonize each other to succeed.
So, imagine taking this wise word from our Buddhist brother and relish how blessed we are to be alive right now. Before the Dalai Lama, there was Jesus who said some things about our inherent worth and it had nothing to do with worldly things.
Imagine valuing even those with whom we disagree as children of the living God. I’m not kidding: Picture someone who is voting for the candidate you loathe or someone who literally hates you (or people like you) and then ask God to help you see them through the eyes of Christ. Maybe it will help ease anxiety and help us to value each other. We need each other.
Happy Election Week, my friends.