By Kenneth Justice
“I think you’re just stubborn and don’t want to accept the world as it is” he said
~ I was sitting at coffee recently when an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He was one of those ‘let’s discuss politics and if you don’t agree with me I’m going to yell you” kind of people. I tend to take moderate positions in political discussion, partly because I’m at a point in life where political debates have begun to feel a bit tedious to me, and partly because I actually am a rather moderate person in my political philosophy.
However, somewhere between the older man telling me the only solution for peace in the Middle East was to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran and murder every single Middle Easterner and that white people are inherently better human beings than “people of color”…..I started getting extremely annoyed.
While I was careful not to take his bait and allow myself to get wrapped up in an emotional debate that would go nowhere, I did make a couple comments and suggested he consider a few things that weren’t apart of his worldview. My comments got him to stop for a moment and actually listen, and after a few moments of reflection he said, “Kenneth, you’re a damn idealist. You’re too wrapped up in a world that sounds good on paper but is entirely unrealistic. You need to grow up son”
Yesterday on my blog I discussed me trepidations regarding our pill popping culture; statistically 75% of all North Americans are taking at least one kind of prescription drug. Although most of the feedback I received from my article was fairly positive….I did get a few detractors; which is good. If everyone always agreed with me the quality of discussion on my Website would probably decline.
The simple fact of the matter is that I believe strongly in the theory that the culture we’ve created here in Western Society is not the best environment for mental health,
—-) Studies have found that large amounts of time sitting in automobiles increases anxiety and depression levels
—-) Studies have found that children have different learning styles; and forcing ALL children to sit in classrooms and ‘learn’ the same way can agitate them exponentially
—-) Studies have found that lack of exercise and proper diet have a direct effect on our mental health
Thus, for some time I have questioned the way we ‘do life’ here in North America and other parts of the Western World. I’m concerned that our fast paced, fast food, individualistic culture is contributing to mental health problems that would otherwise not exist in a different society.
My article yesterday on mental health and specifically Bi-Polar Disorder was a cursory suggestion that there may be other ways to deal with mental health problems then lifelong medication. Yet as many readers pointed out yesterday, there are a lot of people who go to doctors looking for a ‘magic pill’, a pill that will take away all their problems; we’ve taken our fast food attitude into the medical profession.
In 2008 after my father died, coupled with a number of other issues going on my life I realized that I was struggling with a lot of anxiety and depression. Because my day job requires me to visit clients I have to spend a significant amount of my time in the car and all that driving was not helping my anxiety levels. And so I made a big decision to purchase a house at the center of the city and in a walking and biking friendly community; my depression and anxiety practically disappeared over night.
While I still have to drive a car during the day; I’ve cut my commute time in half. And in the evening I’m within walking distance of the grocer, multiple coffee shops, and only a mile walk from the downtown restaurant district. Instead of having to force myself to go to the gym to get exercise, by living within walking distance of the grocer I’m able turn a trip to the store for groceries into a positive mental health activity.
The simple fact of the matter is that there is no scientific tool or study that exists which is able to measure the level of neurotransmitters in your brain; when a doctor tells you that your brain isn’t releasing enough dopamine or serotonin; it’s merely a guess. To build an entire philosophical system upon a guess seems rather foolhardy to me.
It bothers me that people with Asperger’s are told they aren’t ‘normal’. The medical profession says that men and women with Asperger’s need to be ‘fixed’ or ‘taught’ to ‘deal’ with their disorder. This bothers me a lot. I have good friends who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s and I believe they are wonderful people; the problem they struggle with is not that there is something wrong with them…..but rather that there is something wrong with the damn society they live in that isn’t able to accept them as they are.
Obviously, the issue of mental health is a lot bigger than taking a walk or going on a bike ride. I definitely don’t want to trivialize the subject. I do however want to point out that until we the citizens begin making proactive decisions to change our culture; then the rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems will continue to skyrocket.
Is it too damn idealistic of me to want to make the world a better place? I don’t think so. What’s the point of having serious discussions about life and culture if we’re not going to interweave a sense of idealism within our thoughts?
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
—-) If you haven’t heard I’m co-hosting a weekly podcast, The Kenny & Kylie Show, a link is available on my home page. New episodes air every Monday
Categories: Culture & Society