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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 9 January 2012

The Mental Illness Epidemic, Societal Friction and Teaching to Fish

Life is about balance; always has been, always will be.  We must balance the needs of the few against the needs of the many; to be good parents or good children or good members of society, we need to take care of ourselves, but not at the expense of the greater good.

Libertarianism is facetious; every social species on earth employs some degree of inter-dependence.  That is, after all, what society is all about.  Socialism is impractical; society cannot be the final authority on each and every facet of each and every individual’s life one, because it’s resource-impossible and two, because such a system is ripe for corruption.  People say Communism was a failure, which it was, but they fail to see the reason why – we never HAD a properly Communist system, because such a system simply isn’t possible.

What we have now is a hodge-podge system that leans a little bit towards individual interest in some places, a bit towards the greater good in others.  As a society, we have people that are completely selfish, some that are strategically altruistic and some that are simply too dedicated to the whole, going so far as to neglect themselves.

The friction of an anti-social society where people are told they’re lesser-thans if they don’t have jobs but nobody is hiring, we all bemoan higher hydro rates but want to keep the aircon on during the day, people get pissy about social service costs but abuse the system is plain to see – we are cracking at the social and individual seams.

The clearest indicator of this social distress is mental health.  Anxiety and depression are epidemic in their scope, more so than even the stats tell us; gridlock, snippy Public Transit operators and customers, emotionally-frayed teachers, parents, students, bosses, etc. are all symptomatic of where we are going wrong.

The solution is tried-and-true – teach a man to fish, they are fed for a lifetime.  It’s the simplest of ideas but the hardest to implement, because we lack faith and patience.  If someone is difficult, it is because they are wrong.  If someone doesn’t comprehend, it is because they are dumb.  If I have a problem, it’s someone else’s fault.  Or, the opposite – if someone is difficult, I’m doing something wrong.  If someone doesn’t comprehend, it’s because I simply can’t communicate.  I’m stupid, because I can’t make myself understood.  Communication can never be one way - all parties must have equal standing and an equal share in realizing the connection to achieve success.
The unemployed can be taught to harness their skills; employers can be taught to harness the full potential of employees.  Students can be taught how to communicate.  Couples can learn to compromise.  Politicians can learn to work collectively towards greater results, rather than competing over a shrinking watering hole.  Everyone is capable of learning; the question is only what methodology, and which lessons will help them the most.

Our social difficulty lies not in aspiration so much as it does in follow-through.  Patience, communication, compromise, education – we can reduce government spending costs, increase quality of life outcomes, live happy and live longer if we just take the time to do so together.

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