In these current events essays we often point out that Americans have failed to create a sustainable community. This realization might be causing what some observers have labeled “deaths of despair.” This phrase was coined by economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton to describe a sudden rise in deaths from suicide, alcohol and drug abuse in the last 20 years. “Now  a report from the Senate’s Joint Economic Committee charts the scale of this increase—a doubling from 22.7 deaths per 100,000 Americans in 2000 to 45.8 per 100,000 in 2017, easily eclipsing all prior 20th century highs.” (1)
Even babies in America are being born in a state of despair. “Every 15 minutes in America, a child is born after a prenatal exposure to opioids. Here in West Virginia, 14 percent of babies are born exposed to drugs, and perhaps 5 percent more to alcohol, totaling nearly one out of five newborns. Some get by without symptoms, but for many, their very first experience after birth is the torment of withdrawal.” (2)
Sadly, no one seems to understand the causes or the solutions relating to our dilemma. “This is primarily a drug abuse and mental-health crisis, and the only way to solve it is with more and better drug treatment programs, and more and better psychiatric care. We’ll save these lives with one patient, one addict, one treatment center at a time.” (1) Pete Buttigieg is our first politician to reveal his shallow thinking.
Next is Bernie Sanders. “This is obviously an economic crisis! People are despairing because their jobs have been outsourced, their wages are stagnant, the rich have hijacked the economy. Tax the plutocrats, raise the minimum wage, give everybody health insurance, and you’ll see this trend reversed.” (1)
Like all first world communities on our planet we tend to approach our problems with our fear-driven intellect firing on all cylinders. To our socio-economic analysis we begin to add our projections onto the other to explain our burgeoning paranoia and despair. “Instead of the Technocrat, imagine the Enforcer, talking about drug interdiction and border security; instead of the Socialist, the Populist, talking about China and wage subsidies and industrial policy; instead of the Cultural Healer, the Preacher talking about the need for a religious revival while the Online Nietzschean bellows from backstage about restoring masculinity.” (1)
We must find the courage to take a realistic look at our self-destructive behaviors. To begin that process, click on the link below.
Insight # 161:
If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
You are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu
- “Euphoria or Dysphoria: Virtual Delusion” in this blog and also in print version, The Human Community, by Roy Charles Henry (2016), pages 147-150.
- Douthat, Ross. “The Age of American Despair.” The New York Times Sunday Review. September 8, 2019, page 9.
- Kristof, Nicholas. “Newborns Crying for Drugs, Not Milk.” The New York Times. September 8, 2019, page 9.