~ I was sitting at coffee recently, and a coffee house acquaintance of mine sat down at my table with a huge “sigh”,
“What’s wrong dude?” I asked?
“My wife was fired from her job last week because she got drunk with her boss and coworkers at a party, and tried to punch her manager” he said
“What!?” I exclaimed
“Yea, she’s been a drunk for awhile now. It’s wreaking havoc on our 12 year old daughter, and now we’ve lost my wife’s income” he said
It is sad how alcoholism has ravaged the lives of so many men and women for such a long time. Have you ever wondered how alcoholism became such a big problem in the United States?
Following the Civil War in the late 1800’s, an existential crisis swept across the United States; the Civil War was long and bloody, and the awful war led millions of Americans to questioning whether or not the experiment in democracy was a failure or not. Suddenly, after 100 years of the United States of America…..men and women were questioning whether or not their existence in America had any true or greater meaning.
As millions of Americans began experiencing bouts of depression, and anxiety riddled their lives, William James penned what would be a landmark book, “Principles of Psychology” and his thesis led to the creation of the American Psychological Association.
In turn of the century America, people all across the country were turning to alcohol (as well as other substances) as a way to cope with their depression and anxiety. While on the psychological front, doctors like William James attempted to treat the depression, anxiety, and sense of hopelessness that people were feeling through “talk therapy”…….another thing was happening in the United States that had never occurred before; the advent of the social cause movement.
By the early 1900’s there were so many social cause movements it was like the country had transformed itself into a new identity; prohibition, universal suffrage, women’s rights, the list grew every year.
If you look around the United States in our day and age; social cause movements are literally everywhere; the gay pride movement, the religious right, Jews for Jesus, the Animal Rights movement, Black Lives Matter, Tea Party movement, Feminist movement, Labor movement……the list is literally endless.
You see, at the root of the depression and anxiety that Americans are still experiencing more than a 100 years after the Civil War ended, is a feeling of despondency. Men, women, young adults…..they wake up in the morning, go to school or work, come home, and repeat the monotony of their day over and over and over.
Millions of men, women, and young adults lack purpose and meaning to their lives.
Social movements have been a poor manner in which Americans have tried to find a greater purpose to their lives.
Let me preface that last sentence; it is not that I’m saying social movements are bad (though some of them are VERY bad) but the problem is that finding a greater meaning to your life through a social movement is in the end, a failing endeavor.
Prohibition, Alcohol Anonymous (AA), talk therapy; putting aside what we think about those three movements that have attempted to address the problem of chemical substance addiction, what we have learned is that people who make those movements the very purpose of their lives; end up feeling just as lost and hopeless as people who don’t believe in them.
While Prohibition, AA, and talk therapy may have helped millions of people, my point is that our lives have to be more meaningful than a movement. Our lives need a greater purpose then merely fighting a social cause……because if you are fighting a cause, you must be at war with someone.
Isn’t peace what we should be striving for?
Peace in our hearts.
Peace in our souls.
Peace among humanity?
Social causes tend to create a sense of militancy within the hearts and minds of the activists involved. And if you don’t believe me, try sitting down with someone on the political Right or Left and disagree with them; they will rarely talk with you in a peaceful manner.
Look at comments on my blog from people who disagree with me; over the course of three years I have received more than 50,000 comments, and let me tell you, while some people who disagree with me write in a spirit of peace, the vast majority demonstrate very little humility in their opposition.
Despite the good things that we can list about social causes; there is an ugly truth to them;
—) Social causes have warped our sense of meaning, community, and purpose.
—) Social causes have led people to greater levels of fighting; both physically and verbally.
—) Social causes have blinded us to more meaningful discussing and dialogue
Of course, what do I know, I’m just some bloke who drinks coffee and wrote a book you should get a copy of pronto!!!!!
(P.S. Before I get a slew of emails from people who want to tell me that alcoholism was not caused by the Civil War; that was not the point of the post. Research studies have shown that in the post Civil War era, mania, alcoholism, anxiety, and depression spiked up in a MASSIVE direction…and the numbers have never really gone back down anywhere close to pre-Civil War levels).
Categories: Culture & Society