Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Plastic Community

September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and, suffice it to say, the topic is one which is quite personal to me (though NAMI could certainly come up with a better acronym, let's be honest here).

What does this month mean?

In our trend-obsessed culture of hashtag campaigns, and social media activism it can be exceedingly easy to allow ourselves to give an obligatory nod to the showcased cause (if it even gains enough traction to be noticed) and then move right on to the next bandwagon event.

We are a culture of consumers.
We consume commodities and causes alike, all the while not allowing deep thought to penetrate our superficial exterior.

It is very interesting to me, to witness the behaviors of those immersed in western cultures. Human beings, desperate to be known, yet isolating ourselves constantly. Afraid of vulnerability. Obsessed with generality. We'd far rather talk about the weather, or that weekend we got shit-faced once upon a college-time, than to talk about the present.

How are you?

How is anyone, really?

Would I tell you that, as a father, I'm scared to death of the world I'm bringing my daughters up in? Would I tell you that I'm stressed as fuck about money, or that I don't understand the purpose of my existence or, even worse, that I fear I'll never even come close to achieving the things I could if I would simply just apply myself.

No, I'd rather tell you that everything is great.

How are the kids? They're fine.
How is the job? It's fine.
How is your relationship? It's totally fine.

Because, the truth is, that as much as we wish we could share our innermost anxieties, fears and struggles, we are really, truly, painfully aware that we have forgotten what it means to care. We don't truly care about others so why would they care about the things that we have to say?

It may sound callous. It should.

Somewhere along the way we gained everything we ever really dreamed of in this society, and we lost our soul and what it actually meant to be human in the process.

We have all the fancy gadgets, plenty to eat and overeat, nice cars and smartphones.
We have our carefully crafted Facebook life, with the friends we never see, yet kill ourselves to appear funny, hip, or deep to. All for a like or a retweet.

And all the while we are dying inside.

Our souls are decaying because our relationships aren't genuine. Our communities are in disarray.

We try to ignore this simple fact.

Take an overpriced pill, and try not to get mired into the danger of overthinking.
You're overthinking it. Stop it!

I submit to you that we don't think damn near enough nowadays. We could all do with a good bit of overthinking and reflection upon the world we've created. The world we're giving to those around us. The world where all is not OK. The world where we can't medicate the pain away, and shouldn't desire to.

It's time to face the demons.

The path to strength and freedom is through acknowledging the problem exists, and relentlessly attacking the problem until we emerge, bloodied and victorious. Knowing that we've overcome the darkness by showing it light. Light is painful, but it reveals to us the truth. The truth that you and I are broken beings. That we are lonely and desperate for authentic relationship. That our souls are starved for love, and that a computer screen or a slickly marketed product won't relieve that ache we feel when our soul remains without sustenance.

So, when I think about Suicide Awareness Prevention Month, I don't think about a month. I don't think about a period of time. I think about how we've gotten to this place. I think about a society in which people have everything yet feel so empty that they have to medicate or self-destruct.

I think about the world we live in that is more connected than ever yet faces an astronomical deficiency in basic social skills, and feels the effects of mass alienation between neighbors, and fellow human beings in general.

We need to think again my friends.
We must reclaim what it means to be truly human.

This means embracing the pain, and darkness, yet knowing that in doing so we are not alone because we've also reclaimed what it means to have true and honest relationships. Knowing that though we face all manner of hardship, that we never again have to fight it or struggle alone.

I wonder if we would dare to be so bold...

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