We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -The United States Declaration of Independence.
Normally I never write on political, social or civic issues. I try to stay away from controversial subjects and stay in my own lane. As a practicing psychotherapist, I write what I know most about. But now I feel compelled to share my feelings with my followers on social media.
For the first time I find myself avoiding the news, but that’s almost an impossible effort. It comes across the internet before I even click on my emails. It’s on newspaper headlines when I enter a grocery store. It’s the main theme over dinner conversations. I can’t feel comfortable going to a restaurant, the movies or any large gatherings. It’s the scariest time of my life.
I grew up in the 50’s, the last age of innocence. We roller skated in Flamingo Park with light only on the skating rink and when we left, the lights went out. We walked through the rest of the park in the dark. Never was there a rape, mugging or shooting. No one in my family or neighborhood owned a gun. It was never even a thought. Families prayed in their respective house of pray without feeling threatened. It’s true we practiced apartheid without much of a social conscience as teenagers. Racism was out of control. We heard about the KKK but lived far away from these atrocities, so they didn’t interfere with the quality of our lives. Some of us were more conscious than others, but gun control never entered our social circles.
Most of our mothers stayed at home to care for us while Dads worked hard to support the families. I went through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and racial injustice without ever feeling the impending doom I am experiencing now as an octogenarian. That’s not to say life was easy. It just didn’t feel as frightening as it feels now. Now it feels as if we are going backwards in time. The streets I grew up on are no longer safe. The congress I once knew is no longer sane. The far left is just as radical as the far right. I never saw our capital being insurrected or in any danger during my entire life until January 6, 2021.
We never heard of porn, ED, transgender or vaping. The only drugs I knew about were aspirin and penicillin. Our parents were respected, our teachers, revered. I feel as if I fell into one of the seven circles of hell. What’s going on?
Yesterday the Supreme Court reversed Roe VS Wade. Trump created conspiracies that took us from The United States of America to the Divided States of America. Those of us from my time are in shock with the radicalism that has infiltrated our country. Anti-Semitism is rising not unlike the 1930’s in Eastern Europe. Every synagogue maintains guards. The stock market feels like flying in eternal turbulence. Gas prices have never been this outrageous. Covid is ubiquitous and feels like it’s going to be around the rest of our lives in one variant or another. I feel like Henny Penny— “the sky is falling”!
I won’t be around to bear witness to what some might believe will be Armageddon, but my grandchildren will. I fear for them because they will never have the joy or innocence I once knew. Covid cancelled my grandson’s high school graduation and prom. He and his sister were at the Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School when the shooter murdered 17 of their classmates.It was unbearable to watch the innocent children and teachers who lost their lives in Uvalde, Texas, as well as the parents who will never recover from their loss. It was unconscionable to see the babies murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre and their parents who turned their grief and sorrow into fighting for gun control with little change since their losses. It’s been 25 years since I lost my daughter to mental illness and little has been done to take care of our mentally ill. The country whose Declaration of Independence declared life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and a borrowed phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance), and justice for all, has fallen from grace. I never thought I would see it in my lifetime.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t know if anyone does. It feels like we are in a perpetual hailstorm with no ending in sight. My heart aches for our country. It feels like a ship with a captain whose sailors have tied him to the mast while they declared mutiny. Will we ever see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker and author of I Hate The Man I Love: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success. In private practice since 1978, she specializes in individual and couple’s therapy, grief therapy, EMDR, NLP, Inner Child Work and codependency. Learn more about her services at www.joanechilds.com.