Bridging the Great Divide That Isn't
Through television, radio, news outlets and social media—plus anything else with a mouthpiece or bully pulpit—we are being bombarded with the message that we're a bitterly, dangerously divided society on the verge of imploding. But that's not what I see daily within the many tribes to which I belong and among which I move. Rather, what I see is a great disconnect. True, there are lots of people on various media making disparaging comments about others and spewing rhetoric that's often preposterous and definitely uncivil, but I have yet to personally experience anything like this. I'm wondering if this whole divided country thing is "fake news", or at least a fake movement.
What I find baffling is that the folks I regularly talk with in person or by email or text and those whose work I read and engage with every day are considerate, respectful and thoughtful. They disagree without being disagreeable. Yet what I see on TV seems like a different world. I'm beginning to think that the disconnect is a function of who has the loudest voice and speaks most often. I've also noticed that the biggest points of public contention tend to focus on one of two things: intolerance and a sense of being overlooked. To be sure, we all need to feel valued, to be appreciated for our contributions to society, to be told (implicitly, if not overtly) that the world is a better place because we're here. I think the disconnect happens when some folks don't recognize that innate need, and that we're at our best as a society when everyone is appreciated and has a role to play.
We are all critical instruments in nature's beautiful symphony. We were all created in God's image and with His goodness, which makes the world a good place because we are in it. Yet sometimes we get beaten down by the steady torrent of negativity, and when it's hyped by seemingly shining stars on Facebook and other social media, it can seem like that's the real world. It's not. Our world, our culture, is the result of a trillion tiny acts taken by billions of people every day. Taken alone, each act might seem insignificant. But they add up to become the change that we live through.
Consider how the natural world survives and thrives in perfect balance, and how when it gets a little out of whack relentlessly seeks equilibrium. God, the Creator of nature's perfect system, also created ours, and we were similarly designed to seek equilibrium—physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually. So how do we get back to equilibrium? Well, I think it involves getting back to basics: surrounding ourselves with nature and keenly observing it, with the understanding that humans and nature are unbreakably connected; and realizing that every person on this planet is in some way concerned about COVID-19, social unrest, and the noise and ugliness of public discourse.
I also believe that this combination of concerns has led to widespread underlying societal stress, as evidenced by the uptick in domestic violence, child abuse and homicides over the last six months. Experts say stress often goes unrecognized until it comes to the surface in some type of eruption. So it behooves each of us to pay attention to advice about managing stress, whether or not we feel stressed. On a number of occasions when reading or hearing about the subject, I've recognized myself and what I was experiencing. That's happened often enough to make me a firm believer.
Stress management is the focus of this month's issue of Natural Awakenings. The centerpiece is our feature story by Marlaina Donato, who writes about the vital connections between our mind and body; how stress from our own life events and from following world news can damage our health; and practical ways to mitigate stress, such as tai chi and qigong. That article is complemented by a timely one from Dorsey Standish, of Mastermind Meditate, in Dallas, who explains how mindful meditation can center and calm us. Also this month, we shine a spotlight on North Texas' own Parker University, one of the country's top chiropractic educational institutions, which elevates and promotes natural health through its Health Sciences degree programs.
As always, we hope you will find much in this month's issue to help you on your journey to living a healthier life on a healthy planet.
Blessings until next month,