What if it were the sun that could cure you; would you have the courage to go and find it? Would you wear sunscreen?
If it were the schools themselves that made your child unhappy and restless; would you take him home with you and keep him there? Would you be too afraid? What if he cried to go back to school? Would you let him?
What if the work that buys the bread for your table and keeps the roof over your head were killing you day by day, blackening your lungs or heart or soul; would you have to courage to walk away?
How about if the pills you swallow each morning to cope with the pain of existence were trimming away two days from your life for every one they blur for you today; would you reconsider? What could you do instead?
What if that quiet voice you almost hear whispering deep inside your chest really is the voice of God? Could you listen? Would you still believe the translations of middlemen?
What if the car you drive every day poisons the planet you depend upon for existence? Would it still be worth the convenience? Could there be other ways to live?
What if the dream of private home ownership and the long and winding roads between us and our neighbors were the cause of car dependency? Where would you live? How could you live? Is change possible?
What if the words “settlers” and “pioneers” meant “invaders” and “killers”? What if westward expansion were accomplished through a hundred years of planned and intentional genocide? What if the Jamestown colonists were corporate shills forbidden to speak the truth? What if peaceful nations lived for thousands of years on this continent before Europeans sent their invading forces? What if we are both the offspring of these invaders and the children of those who escaped the killings? What if our blood is inseparably mixed?
What if the fuel you burn to drive your car to your American dream house underlies the cause of wars we wage half a planet away? Could you park it for one day a week in protest? Could you park it for two days a week? Could you give up your American dream house for a small apartment even when there’s a drummer that practices across the alley from your bedroom window late into the evening? Could your family manage with only one bathroom and no storage? Would you buy less stuff?
If the foods you buy for yourself and your family are made from chemicals and poisons, are they worth the convenience? How hungry are you? How much hunger can you tolerate? Can you learn to cook one dish at home or grow lettuce in a pot or walk to the market?
If, for your clean and polite cubical work that butters your bread and pays your house payment, you design electronic guidance systems for weapons used in the killing fields, what can you do? If you refuse to do the work, what will you eat? How will you make a home for your children?
What if your children tell you they’d rather be homeless than have you carve triggers in a factory all day?
What could your children know about the hard realities of homelessness? What could your children understand about work and bills and taxes and jobs and grindstones and noses? What do your children know about wars and killing the children of strangers?
Does it make sense to drive to a gym to walk on a treadmill?
Have you thought of making do with less, or smaller, or older?
Did you use it completely up?
Have you considered using it till it’s worn completely out?
Can you make it do?
What about doing without?
Why wait for weather reports filtered through anonymous others? Could there be better ways to tell which way the wind blows?
Can any other person know you better than you know yourself? How could they convince you that they do?
Could a paid professional understand your baby better than you? Were they up in the middle of the night rocking and walking and nursing?
Who will have your own best interests at heart if you do not? Can you?
How much fear is reasonable? What if things are scary? Should you be afraid?
How much anger do you want to carry around in your sack all day every day? Is there another way to manage it all?
Are there ways to make changes without fighting?
Who else could know the answers?
Is it possible to work together?
Is it the same sun that shines here and there and way over there, half a planet away?
What do their children know of hunger and homelessness and war and killing?
How much love can you feel in your heart? Is there room for that much? Where would all that extra love go?
Is it possible to love a person who has done things you disagree with? Can you love a person who’s filled with anger? What if she’s covered in scabs? What if he’s still learning, doesn’t have all the answers or struggles to find new ways to do old things?
What if he’s done things you find morally reprehensible?
Would you like to pull the trigger, push the button or tighten the noose? Can anger and killing ever be righteous?
What if you were wrong? How would you feel then?
Is it possible to change yourself even when others cannot, will not, may not change?
Is it possible to understand that others may have shifted their paradigms years ahead of you? Do you think they should have tolerated your lack of understanding, shortage of courage, or limited knowledge base? Did you even realize there was a paradigm to shift? Why not?
Have you discovered yet that all things are not known?
Is forgiveness possible? Can we forgive another? How about ourselves? Can we forgive and forgive and forgive again?
How much uncertainty can you tolerate?
As always, thanks for reading, thinking and writing.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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