Some psychology books have labeled this outlook as denial. My elders labeled it getting on with life. Generally I have stuck with my elders on this, believing that wallowing in problems or grief only covers you with more problems and grief. Better to think on the words, “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
Occasionally, however, I veer from this outlook just to get some things out of my system. Reasonable expression of life’s woes is good. Prolonged depression is not. Sometimes tricks or techniques are needed; therefore, I will here list some things that depress me for the sole purpose of putting them to rest so that I can get my mind on the needs (and the depression) of others. My technique includes two lists. I will call one the “Very Depressed” list and call the other the “A Little Depressed” list. First, the “Very” list.
I’m depressed that so many of us are not as tough as our parents and grandparents were, that modern parents are obeying their children instead of the other way around, thereby turning the 5th Commandment on its head, that schools are more bureaucratic than ever, that funerals have become circuses, celebrities have become heroes, and returning home soldiers have become ho-hum.
I’m very depressed that men and women in the military don’t get half the respect they deserve, that evangelical churches have put hymnody to death, that some preachers fear the IRS more than they fear God, that right now America’s economic policies are moving straight as an arrow toward collectivism, and that current country music is about as country as Times Square.
I’m very depressed that dress now has no standards and is no longer tied to simple respect for either people, places, events, or occasions, but to “individual expression,” that writers for the New York Times and the Washington Post know little, if anything, about small town or rural America, that teaching to the test amounts to giving the answers in advance and aborting thinking, that so many successful parents are disdainful of technical colleges, that medical costs and college costs are still out of whack, that expensive textbooks with lots of blank, white space are one of the reasons college costs are so high, and that erotica has become mainstream.
Now for the “a little” list. I’m a little depressed that TV screens are absolutely ubiquitous, that we suffer emotionally, mentally, and probably physically because we hardly know the word solitude, much less practice it, that in American schools and colleges “history” means political history (dates, wars, elections), but never social or intellectual history, that when a First Lady adopts her cause or project, freedom is about to be diminished.
I’m a little depressed that so many politicians can’t withstand the adulation that goes with political office and therefore lose their anchor, that men wear flip-flops to church, that our beloved Georgia is literally littered with litter, and that whether I’m banking, shopping, or waiting for a doctor, I have to listen to someone else’s music. I’m a little depressed that more often than not, that music is country music that’s not country.
Finally, I’m a little depressed that school buildings are all so flat-roofed these days, that architects must have forgotten Churchill’s comment: “We shape our buildings and our buildings shape us,” that a few people still think those who voted for Ronald Reagan did so because of his good looks and good cheer, that the title “Reverend” is used by a handful of public men who exude everything but the Christian graces, that both masculinity and femininity are being emasculated, that 20-something’s really are struggling these days and need our help, and that not a single person has ever cared enough to ask if there was anything I was depressed about.
Other than that, I remain in a state of contentment, deeply grateful for family, friends and neighbors, running water, air conditioning, the clothes on my back, America, the Fourth of July, parades, fireworks, and Sunday afternoons for reading newspapers.
Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher and former state legislator.