Sunday, December 07, 2008

"Shall We Call It A Depression Now?"

Robert Reich: "We Are Falling Off A Cliff. Shall We Call It A Depression Now?" That was the headline this morning on a liberal website. We actually fell of the cliff a long time ago... when we began to ignore the capacity of our hands to generate the feelings of well-being that are essential to healthy human beings. There is a direct relationship between depression on a personal scale and on the international scale. In the case of international economies, depression means a dramatic decline in the exchange of energy in the form of currency. In the case of a single human being, depression is emotional withdrawal and lack of energy for the basic functions of living.

One of the defining symptoms of personal depression is the loss of sense of control over one's own life. A defining symptom of economic depression is loss of sense of control over economic conditions, resulting in free-fall. We know that the hands provide a feedback mechanism in which a sense of control is restored to our own lives. We can deal with personal depression and economic depression at the exact same time.

Watch a kid with a computer game, and you will see how important our hands are to maintaining mental health. It is often compulsive. Try to take one away and you may be met with anger. Games don't offer a finished product that can be shared with others to improve the quality of their lives, and they are essentially self indulgent, but they illustrate the depth of psychic, emotional engagement that the hands express in our daily lives.

There are things you can do with your hands that offer direct creative expression, sustain a level of energy in your personal life, and provide value to others. These are the simple things that have formed the foundation of human culture. Garden, nurse, prepare food, make beautiful and useful objects.

It really doesn't matter which of these you do first. Each leads to competence in the others. Each provides confidence. Each nourishes the soul, providing energy for greater intelligence and sense of control over one's life and environment. Each of these offers greater value to our communities and families.

We may hear any day, that the experts have fallen into agreement with Robert Reich... That we are in a depression. If that is true, we will all face difficult times. But what are the things that are really important? If everything falls apart as some predict, the important things will still remain. Children needing toys? Make some. Family needing food? Grow some. Running low on anti-depressants? Get your hands busy in the service of others.

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