Education For Our Troubled TimesWritten by Dr. Dorree Lynn
The events of September 11th and aftermath of anthrax scares and security warnings shattered our illusions and morphed our once familiar world into a new and unfamiliar one. As a result, all of us are learning to live with a newly developing normalcy. Metaphorically speaking, we are only at first stage of this education—taking our preliminary prerequisite classes: Living with Terrorism 101. Living with Anxiety 102. Getting out of Bed and Handling Depression 103. Sleeplessness and Nightmares 104. Intimacy and Caring under Stress 105. Staying sane in an insane world is an extremely difficult task.
Not all our professors and teachers know what they are doing. Not all are easy to understand. And many are neither very likable nor very good educators. The homework is hard and takes time. Making sense out of often-contradictory news bombardment can seem an overwhelming task. Those of us who pay attention to daily news events are on overload. Every time we think we have hang of what is going on, something new and unexpected develops and with increased confusion, we return to ground zero and have to start our education process all over again.
The government isn’t helping us with our feelings very much. On one hand, they tell us to go on with life as usual—to be cowboys and cowgirls, pull ourselves up by our boot straps and ride on—overcoming any obstacles in our path until, at end of day, at our proverbial campfires, we lay our weary heads to rest.
On other hand, using terse abstract terms, officials are issuing dire warnings while providing minimal information that can quell our concerns. In general, these information givers are not yet very good at psychological aspects of their job and most can barely teach introductory courses they have taken on. Psychologist know that in order to ease fear, when you give a warning you also give instructions about how to handle warning. Psychologists also know that a very good way to increase anxiety and erratic behavior, even with rats, is to use intermittent reinforcement schedules. The ambiguity helps to drive poor animals crazy.
A Season of Sorrow and JoyWritten by Dr. Dorree Lynn
As holiday week starts in full force many of us will skate between sorrow and joy, fear and hope concern and celebration. For some, it will be a particularly hard week. As a result of September 11th, they have lost someone they love and are not only alone, but also in mourning. Others will reevaluate their priorities and cherish even more those they love. They will appreciate all they have and hold their families more tightly to their hearts than ever before and reach out to embrace those less fortunate than themselves. Many will be concerned about empty pocket books, travel travail, and will have added words such as Cipro, Anthrax, terrorism and war to their vocabulary. Some will simply smile, hold their heads high and hope. Either way, for most of population this holiday season will be a different one than last year’s—and certainly different from what we anticipated in New Millennium This year there is no single path for all to follow, except perhaps, feelings of patriotism that bind us. We are Americans all.
I suggest that you keep relevant rituals and traditions and at same time, if they don’t feel right, don’t be afraid to part with old ways of celebrating. Keep what sustains you and take advantage of this time of upheaval to try new ways of giving and getting. Few of us need more non-essential items, yet most of us are in need. It is a good time to reevaluate our priorities and consider what we hold most dear. Whether you travel or stay at home, party or have a quiet dinner, or reach out to those you care about, during times of upheaval relationships, kindness, routine and love help to sustain us. This holiday season is not a time to be alone.