Monday, February 16, 2009

The Forgotten Virtues

One of the basic principles you learn in Economics 101 is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. This idea has truth not just in the field of economics but also relating to our physical, emotional. spiritual and social selves. Anything of value requires the expenditure of effort, a conscious, determined action towards a desired goal. Since the focus of this blog is mental health I will focus on how our societies' arrogant assumption that there is a newer, easier way to approach life has led to worsening emotional health for individuals and for our society as a whole.

Whether we like it or not we are subject to certain physical laws. One of the core laws of our world is the Second Law of Thermodynamics which in essence states that everything flows to a state of disorganization or chaos unless otherwise acted upon. Translated that means that to stay strong mentally, physically, spiritually,etc. that you cannot remain in a state of passivity or inactivity. Staying at a state of equilibrium let alone improving requires effort. For example, we realize that to strengthen muscles they need resistance or to experience some level of opposition. Without that "stretching" which also involves some level of physical discomfort or pain the muscles get weaker, they atrophy. We see this with intellectual functioning-the old adage use it or lose it is universally understood to be true. It is fascinating to me that we somehow suspend this concept when it comes to emotional or spiritual health. People assume that these areas of their lives should be about avoiding pain and involving minimal if any effort. That emotional and spiritual well being should just naturally happen and not involve any effort on their part.

How do people grow emotionally? By having to face difficult situations and figure out their own solutions. By having to learn how to be patient, using mental discipline to overcome natural impulses. By learning how to sacrifice-doing what is good for the group as a whole rather than for their own well being. By learning how to think independently and critically rather than passively believing whatever they hear or see. By learning emotional and spiritual self reliance. All of these things are harder than what our society is promoting as desirable-namely instant gratification, sexual and financial irresponsibility, having it all, choosing to marry or have children when or if it is convenient or comfortable, or lately even redefining things so that it fits what you want rather than you fitting in with societal norms. Obscenity has become commonplace, vulgarity is the language of the day, materialism is the driving force and more recently now even removing our ability to use our creativity, intelligence, stamina and resourcefulness to solve difficult financial problems. If the government or the media decide things for us and seek to take away every opportunity to struggle and be tested then how can we stay strong? In a family if you want to raise strong, responsible children you don't do things for them you let them learn by doing, by having to struggle and overcome, by having to go without. You love them and encourage them but you don't coddle them or do it for them-that weakens not only their intellectual and physical selves it atrophies their soul. They can then have zero self confidence, no empathy for others, no ability to problem solve and will be a drain on the family rather than a contributor. We see this happening with many families now and against all reason we know are considering doing the exact same thing but on a much larger scale. Now our country is going to become the great enabler and we will undo all the great qualities that have kept this country strong. Our country has undergone many different kinds of crises in its over 200 hundred year existence-natural disasters, wars, economic difficulties, moral strife and yet we have risen above all of them due to the strength of the individual members of our society. The government is there to strengthen and assist it's citizens not vice versa. Countries that have allowed their governing entities to control them have become weaker on every level-England, the USSR, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. have not benefited from straying from the basic laws of physics, which some would say are God's laws. Removing the tension from our lives by trying to make things pain free only creates a different kind of pain-a longer lasting, insidiously slow path towards destruction-from the inside out. People need to be free to act for themselves, to make their own choices, to learn their own lessons, to use their own money, time and intellect. Freedom to exercise their natural abilities is what is best for individuals, families and societies. History has demonstrated repeatedly that there is not a better way to happiness and well being than hard work, self restraint, sacrifice, sharing, cooperating, living in traditional families, being actively involved in a religion and living under a system of government that fosters individual freedom.

Remember someone pays for lunch-it just who gets to decide who pays?

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