The shock from the statistics in yesterday’s New York Times revealing that in “2010 there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides,” motivates me to write today, posting here a comment I submitted to that newspaper without any control over its acceptance for publication on their site. Particularly egregious is the index among men in their 50s jumping nearly 50% to 30 per 100,000.
These sad tallies underscore our society’s misguided value system. It’s not about lack of opportunities. It’s not about economics. It’s about psychological alienation. We isolate ourselves from our family at an early age under the guise of independence and fail to form meaningful life-long bonds with others.
We show little regard for the sanctity of life. We worship youth and go to extremes to remain youthful, as if having wrinkles or showing our age became unacceptable. We balk at any manifestation of spirituality. We fail to grasp what French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry expressed years ago, “the essential is invisible to the eyes.”
We’ve become a culture of superficiality. We witnessed the sexual liberation of the 60s and under the guise of progress, the break-up of the family, the proliferation of hallucinogens, and the over-consumption of substances to fit in and remain socially accepted among our peers. We pop pills to sleep, to stay awake, to take the edge off, to focus.
We’re generally flippant about life, taking it for granted along with everything else to which we feel entitled. We struggle to keep up with the latest gadgets and feel inadequate if we cannot afford the artificial lifestyle that surrounds us. Peer-pressure shapes us and overrides our own internal values, often a set of which we never fully take the time to develop or reflect upon, finding it easier to follow the herd.
We must learn to deal effectively with the important trials life brings. We must accept the cycles of life as part of it. We need to understand how all of life is change and find happiness in the daily sunrise.
Until we do, we’ll be saddened by these escalating manifestations of hopelessness.