Mental Health

Why not consider unhappiness a mental illness? If you are unhappy, something is wrong.

This seems to be the era of mental illness. Looking around it sure seems like everyone is going over the top. We didn’t talk about it much back in the day, and now everyone is talking about it. We went from a stigma to almost looking it is used as an excuse for laziness, lack of ambition or responsibility. I can’t do this or that, because I’m sad. I have to take care of my mental health.

What’s wrong with people these days? 

Are people less healthy than they ever were?

The thing is, we are not the happiest country in the world, far from it. And we haven’t been for a long time. People are getting therapy and medications to help them deal with reality. Life. But do we really need to teach people, or drug people, do deal with reality? Maybe that’s a problem with reality.

If people are unhappy because they are stressed about money, or health, or how difficult life is, or politics, or sexism, or social injustice, or even just because they go to high school, maybe what we really need to do is change society.

Until we can to that, coping is something that they may need assistance for, but at the point at which it becomes a nationwide phenomenon, accompanied by an epidemic of suicide and even when it doesn’t get that far, anxiety, depression, and straight up unhappiness, we need to think about the real problem.

I applaud the fact that people are being open about it. Even though it bothers me if a child of mine seems lazy and unmotivated. I moved out when I could. I supported myself. I did what I needed to do. Why can’t they do what I did? But was I happy? Am I happy now? No. Quite frankly no. Watching them struggle is making me even more unhappy, but I don’t want to fault them because they expect to be happy, because they won’t settle. They shouldn’t have to adjust that expectation, like I did.

Maybe therapy and medications are only a temporary solution.

The more permanent solution?  Don’t laugh. Higher taxes. The countries with the highest taxes also have the happiest people.

That’s because they get a living wage. That’s because if they were to lose their job, they don’t also lose their health insurance, if they even had any in the first place. That’s because they don’t have to pay for their education. Maybe they can afford housing. Maybe they can afford childcare. Maybe they can get help if they need it, and that helps alleviate anxiety, even if they don’t need it. Maybe they have pensions when they’re old. They have services for their taxes. Safety nets. And the gap between rich and poor is less, but more importantly there are less poor, period, and more middle class.

Here in the US of America, too many of us think that taxes is a redistribution of wealth from rich people who earned it all by themselves and deserve to keep it.

Let’s correct that. The rich didn’t earn everything they made in a vacuum. They have benefited from a lot of help. No man is an island. We are all in this together.

Addressing Roe

I’m disappointed with how i see the left framing the overturning of Roe. The issue is not as clear cut to me as voting rights, or racism or freedom of speech. Is it so hard to understand someone who sees that embryo’s potential? Are they hateful, selfish, uncaring and mean, for caring about the baby?

I know, it’s just potential. There is potential in every egg and sperm. They can’t all be babies. Maybe it was never meant to be. Maybe it was never going to be. But it is not unreasonable, to think this is no longer just spilled seed,  no longer just an egg that passed in the night.

I consider myself pro choice and anti-abortion. Is anyone actually pro-abortion? There is an opportunity here to cast a broader net to bring in more supporters of choice, regardless of their reasons. If we can acknowledge that the issue isn’t just about whether that baby is real, but about whether anti-abortion laws work, then maybe we can agree that making something illegal doesn’t always make things better. Sometimes it doesnt achieve the result we’re looking for. Sometimes it makes things worse.

Anti-abortion sentiment, doesn’t just reside with the religious right. It can come from anyone who loves kids. But they can understand that there are better ways to lower the rate of abortion, than making it a crime. And we can and should seek broader support for those solutions.

But the religious right support policies that lead to circumstances favoring abortion, and then they expect to be able to reverse all that by creating a law. They seem to forget that before abortion was legal, women still had them, felt forced by circumstance to do so, and sometimes died trying. They don’t want to support effective measures to lower abortions maybe because they’re committed to an absolute that will never come to pass, illegal or not. If anyone thinks they can ever completely eliminate abortion, they are denying reality.

The religious right is against contraception. They are against pre-marital sex. They are against welfare. They are against national healthcare, They are against free education. They are against minimum wages. They are against all of the safety nets that would make it easier for people to choose life, to make life easier in general, to actually promote family, and to top it off, they judge and ostracize women who get pregnant out of wedlock, but not typically the men who put it there, even sometimes in cases of rape. They are against family planning in general, other than abstinence – the failure of which is known, and to think otherwise is another denial of reality. 

Put simply, their policies lead to abortion, putting more women into the circumstance in which they must contemplate what has been made into an impossible choice. Should they sacrifice their own dreams, or live a life of second guessing? Because abortion is not, and this is something I wish the left would acknowledge a little more often, without it’s emotional toll on the woman who chooses it.  

And to add insult to injury, these same supporters of the political right care little about gun control, little about whether the babies already born have the right to survive elementary school.

The left, if it wants to win on all of these issues and more, needs to cast a wider net, and marginalize the extreme by including in our fight, those reasonable people who don’t like abortion, for obvious reasons. Together, we can support children, families, women. We can minimize abortion by minimizing unwanted pregnancies. Does it need to be pointed out that people don’t typically abort pregnancies they got on purpose? And we can make it easier for those on the fence to choose life by supporting people better.

We can tie all of this into the many liberal values that make life, in general, better and more civilized.  Making something you disagree with illegal isnt the answer. It’s often nothing more than symbolic. What has the drug war done other than promote crime, the creation of stronger drugs and overdose deaths?

There are better more effective ways to address these issues. Reasonable people should work together to do so.


Where Should We Draw the Line?

I’m losing patience. At first, I’m like, yeah, we, the US and the rest of Europe, shouldn’t engage with Russia directly. World war III. Nukes. All that.

I thought, this is a test. Can we isolate Putin with the heaviest sanctions ever? Can we show the world that we can end war without engaging in the war, without escalating? And I’m still worried about nukes, don’t get me wrong, but does the line we’ve drawn make sense?

We are giving weapons and aid to Ukraine. Putin already complains that we are escalating by waging “economic war.” We are clear about whose side we are on. It’s no secret to Putin. Ok, Ukraine is not part of NATO, and we have no pact that binds us to consider an attack on them an attack on us, but that doesnt mean that it isnt one. Putin’s invasion is an attack on the west. There is no other way to look at it. He attacked Ukraine because they are our friends. He attacked Ukraine because he thinks he can because they are not in NATO. He attacked them because they are a democracy, like us.

We are giving them weapons, but we balk at giving them planes. They use our weapons to kill the invaders, but we try to pretend we aren’t in this fight. The only reason he might not consider that an escalation is because he might think it’s not enough to defeat him. And what if he’s right? Are we holding back because we think Ukraine can win? What if we are wrong? Even if we’re right, how many innocent lives have to be lost that might not need to be?

Why do we draw the line at direct engagement with NATO? We could draw another line. We can say that we won’t go into Russia as long as Russia doesn’t attack a NATO country, but why shouldn’t we go into Ukraine? Putin did. They’ve invited us in. He wasn’t invited

The combined forces of NATO are vastly superior to Russia. But we’re being pushed around by a weaker opponent, because he’s a bully who threatens to use nukes.

Well, I ask this, what if he wins? Then the bully who threatens nukes is still around. And what if he starts losing without us in the fight, whose to say he won’t use nukes anyway. And then what are we going to do after its over.

I’ll tell you what. We’ll have to wait for the next time. Like we did the last time. Bullies don’t stop, until you make them.

So, yes, I’m scared. But he must lose.

And I don’t really understand the logical distinction between supplying Ukrainians with weapons and firing them ourselves, where one keeps us out of it and the other doesn’t? If we engage directly with Russian troops in Ukraine, when they have no business being there, how are we the ones escalating? Who started it?

Maybe there is hope that the sanctions will work, that the Russian people will rise up. Maybe we need to give it a little more time, I don’t know. But how much time does Ukraine have?

We Are at War

We are always at war, a war of ideas, at least.

This conflict in Ukraine isn’t isolated. It is a recurring symptom of the world we live in. We are paying more attention to it, for a variety of reasons that can be debated. We can complain about why we haven’t cared as much about other peoples in the past, or other conflicts going on right now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about Ukraine. You have to start somewhere. It’s not the first time Putin has done just this, and if we don’t stop him this time, it won’t be the last.

The ideologies behind the conflict in Ukraine, we fight here in the US too. Our previous president became our leader with the help of Putin’s meddling, and cozied up to him, and almost became president again, using the same kinds of tactics Putin uses, subterfuge, misinformation and force. And now he and some of his followers act like they are on Putin’s side, and maybe they are.

So the fight is here too, and it always has been. We, as a nation, are not innocent and have our own sins to answer for. But that doesn’t mean that we are hypocrites. A country is never truly united, nor should it be. We are also citizens of the ideas we support, allied globally with the like-minded, good and bad wherever they are. Russians protest this war. Germans opposed Hitler and were among his first victims.

We should not blame all white Americans for slavery, or the genocide of Native Americans, or Donald Trump. We shouldn’t blame all Israelis for Israel’s wrongs, or all Jews, certainly, without regard for where they live. 

But each of us must decide what side we’re on, and advocate, in some way, for peace, and freedom, and justice everywhere.

If we, as a race (the human race), are to rise to a greatness that often seems contrary to our nature, then we must at least acknowledge that the war (this war, that war) is never over.