I’m gazing out over the square, where people from all around the world hurry past. Actually, not all of them are in a hurry. One young man just limped by on bent legs that were perhaps demolished in a war somewhere. Another young man is sitting on the sidewalk listlessly holding out a paper cup. I imagine that he is silent, that his cry for help was silenced long ago.
My mother sometimes says I shouldn’t think so much, but how do you stop? And is it really preferable to turn your thoughts off? To not allow yourself to feel or be touched? There are moments when I’m going by tram and I want to get up and preach about everybody’s responsibility to intervene, to act and to thwart. But I don’t — at least I haven’t, yet. Maybe someday I will be big enough to stand up. Maybe someday I will be brave enough to do my part and do what I should have done a long time ago.
Amidst all the lights and tinsel, the presents and the aromas from bubbling pots my mind is needled by the unrelenting thought — does it really have to be like this?
In a world where we all should be able to help each other and join together, loneliness is mushrooming accompanied by cynicism. On Swedish television, professional media pundits talk about goodness as if it were ballast, as if there were an excess of it. At the same time these same pundits talk about drug addiction as if it was a sickness without taking into consideration any kind of relationship or context. So random, so reckless, so dispiriting.
Theatre Director Suzanne Osten used to say we can tell the darkest stories imaginable, to children and adults alike, as long as we always ensure there is a ray of hope at the end. A glimmer of light that makes it possible for us to go on, that helps us have the courage, the ability and the will to care about the essence of human beings and their conditions in the world.
From my window I can see people coming and going holding hands. There is a son full of trust with his hand in his father’s and three smiling young women meeting the day arm-in-arm. I also see all the people who bend down and drop a coin into the worn paper cup. All the people who haven’t given up on the idea that it’s better to give than not to. All those who know it could have been them instead.
In a little while, one of the many people I’ve had the joy of meeting in my work will arrive. Soon I’ll open my door to him.
On behalf of The Extended Therapy Room I wish you all MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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.
“I also see all the people who bend down and drop a coin into the worn paper cup”
I was in Home Depo yesterday and like always I asked why with these new tools that make construction so incredibly easy compared to the not so distant past why do we still have homeless people ? Dozens of new really efficient cordless power tools, the new snap together plumbing systems, automatic screw guns and nailers to put in fasteners as fast as you can move it to the spots you want them and pull the trigger.
Tools keep getting lighter and faster, you can build a little house in a week, maybe the days of seeing homeless people will come to an end soon. There is no excuse for it.
Lovely thoughts. We have the tools to end poverty – much is getting in the way of realizing that possibility.
The brevity of your posting in no way undermines its oh so powerful message of wonder and hope.
You said: ” Maybe someday I will be big enough to stand up. Maybe someday I will be brave enough to do my part and do what I should have done a long time ago.
Amidst all the lights and tinsel, the presents and the aromas from bubbling pots my mind is needled by the unrelenting thought — does it really have to be like this?”
Yes, we all can and must do more, and yes, that does mean taking more risks to do so. To acknowledge this truth about ourselves in these difficult times is part of the power and beauty of your words.
“…does it really have to be like this?”
Your words and your courage to say/write them says volumes about the true answer to this vexing question we should be asking ourselves every single day of our existence on this planet.
Have a Great Holiday Season Across the Pond!
Here is an antidote to the news you started the article with:
Aleppo and Mosul? Good grief indeed. I suppose this is intended to evoke empathy – but most readers should recognize they are being encouraged not to think, but react to what they are reading. This is cheap. Rather than take those two pills, do spend time on understanding the bigger picture – not what the media has already told you about a far off place, that has little to do with your current problems. The same people who have destroyed so many lives over there, are at work over here. They own the media.
This holiday season, please consider that social media is one hell of a drug itself. If it lazily introduces international politics, there’s a chance it’s toxic. The world can be changed, you have the power, but it will not be allowed if you don’t think for yourself and allow affirmation journalism to get the best of your mind.
There’s a method to the continuing stream of journalism that poses as social justice online. Reasonable and hopeful sounding – but almost empty. Most online content suits the interests of the money that runs the outlet. Mad in America is a blog that might have been about questioning the status quo at one point, but never really was. Question everything you read, especially when the media criticizes itself, as the piece above does, which is worthless. Don’t let journalism spread disability, you have the power to change the world, no matter how hopeless they try to tell you it is.
I’ll make a prediction, stick around MIM awhile – and you’ll be convinced social justice means everyone takes their meds. Think of the peace we could bring to Aleppo and Mosul if we drugged them, instead of bombing them.
Please explain what you are talking about here/
The mental health system is completely bound up with poverty and homelessness. But for most people in such situations, their place in the world was gone before they even reached adolescence.
And then many would go on to fall into the mental health system, from which getting out is very had.
And the rest usually end up in therapy, recovery, healing and religion. So nothing happens, and we survivors have no social standing.
We must stop with the appeals for pity and the endorsement of therapy, recovery, and healing.
We get our status back by organizing and engaging in principled conflict! We must move from talk to action.
Lovely read, Carina, thank you for sharing these touching thoughts. I felt it as a prayer, had that energy all over it. What a dispiriting world we have created.
While I think that simply being alive at this time is courageous, I join you in the commitment to expand my courage and refine my focus in order to flood the planet with light, so perhaps from here forward, we can co-create a just, peaceful, and inclusively sound global society–one based on truth, integrity, and diversity, as opposed to the deceit, illusions, and violent intolerance we’ve got going on now.
Human beings should not make other human beings suffer, yet it happens all the time, on a daily basis. It has become a way of life to hurt others, to take our anger out on those around us, projecting outward our fears and insecurities, rather than owning them and taking responsibility for our own feelings.
Given that we are all one energy and consciousness (to me that’s a given, in any case), we’re basically just hurting ourselves when we marginalize others. So really, we live in a self-sabotaging society. That’s a sobering thought, but empowering nonetheless, as it points us to the seeds of change, I believe–within ourselves, always.
I wish you, and everyone reading this comment a Merry Christmas.
Lets start holding the parents accountable. Those who end up in the mental health system, they are simply living out what was handed to them by their parents, in the attitude the parents took towards their child.
And all the therapists, there job is simply to prevent their client from ever seeing the truth.
So lets hold the parents and the mental health system accountable.
Hello Carina. I’m touched by your heartfelt holiday greeting. Knowing your work, I know firsthand that you have more than enough courage to let yourself be touched, to see and hear the pain of others. What you have built and led has given so much heart to this haven-less world. Thank you for being the risk-taker that you are. I wish you and all of us an empowering new year as we create the tools needed to address the injustices of the world.