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Guest Commentary / May 27, 2022

Thoughts on Mental Health in Our Society

We have failed, and are failing, our children by giving them a life without structure, meaning, or support.

By Larry Craig

Mental health is on everyone’s minds now after an 18-year-old killed a class of 5th graders this week. What the bleep was he thinking?

It seems there is a great need for mental health professionals throughout our society — our schools, our businesses, and even our families.

A recent newspaper editorial noted the rise of increasing serious mental health issues among college students and the lack of adequate resources to help them. The article made no attempt to explain why serious mental health issues are a problem or on the rise.

I will try. I offer my analysis and solution here.

College students are on the brink of adulthood. As children, they were under the care of their parents, but now they will be facing the world on their own.

Our society has discouraged marriage and families for decades. Ostensibly, it’s relatively unimportant, as women need to pursue professional careers. Something like 80% of incarcerated individuals grew up without a father in the home.

Whether you believe in God or evolution, both ended up with a man and a woman creating new life, and these two people are essential for the well-being of children as they grow up.

A loving home instills a sense of safety and security into children. They always have a place to go.

Children are discouraged themselves from getting married and having a family, or at least for a long time. There are more important things to do first. So they are avoiding some of the richest experiences of their lives — living with someone who is committed to share their life til death and the joy of having their own family. Maybe they are too young to start a family of their own, but the whole idea of a committed relationship seems out of the question for now, so they must do this alone.

Their sex education so far has taught them that there is no such thing as normative sex, and sex has nothing to do with marriage and family. Sex is essentially a form of recreation, and one that can play havoc with a person’s emotions, though they aren’t told that. It’s not seen as an act of love but of pleasure. It is not meant for a special committed someone, but something to do for enjoyment, like going bowling, only more intense. So their sex lives don’t enrich their emotional health; it may even leave them feeling empty.

So all of human history had gotten this wrong. Pretty much everything. But even more importantly, most likely everything they heard at home was wrong.

Science teaches them that life is an accident of nature. Human beings are nothing more than animals that talk and wear clothes. There is no intrinsic value to human life. We are mere specks in a vast, cold universe that is oblivious to their presence. Your parents could have killed you before you were born. You were lucky they didn’t.

Science also tells them that our whole world is on the brink of destruction, caused by human activity, and it’s essentially too late to fix it. We, human beings, have destroyed our planet.

History tells them that they were born into an evil, irredeemably flawed nation built on the backs of slavery and oppression. It is thoroughly corrupt and the system is broken beyond repair. It needs to be entirely reinvented.

Economics tells them we have a system run by the rich for the rich, and you are easily exploited. The whole thing needs to be torn down and replaced with a more equitable and inclusive economy. And that won’t be easy to do.

Sociology tells them that if you are white, you are inherently racist and an oppressor. If you are not white, you are a victim. The cards are stacked against you. You must be vigilant against racism in all its forms, because it is everywhere and you are the target.

Religion is irrelevant. It is merely the attempt of unenlightened primitive people in the past to try to explain things that science now does for us. There is no ultimate meaning in life. There is no purpose to any of it. You live, you die, and that’s it. And the universe doesn’t care. About anything, including you.

Religion used to provide a basic moral framework for life, giving us the rules by which we can live our lives. But there are no rules, only what you make yourself and the society you live in.

There is no Higher Power to direct your life. Life is like standing before an open field where you can go in any direction you want. There is no right or wrong, per se. Just be who you are, whatever that means. There is no Higher Power to whom they can seek help, and no Higher Power to whom they are accountable for their actions.

It’s only the last few generations in all of human history that tells its children that we don’t need God, there is no such thing, we are on our own. This has never been done before in human history. We think we are smarter than everybody else who has gone before us.

And mental illness is now on the rise among those people who have to sort through all this.

We have failed, and are failing, our children by giving them a life without structure, meaning, or support. They are alone in a world that doesn’t care whether they live or die.

Obviously, many people have been able to navigate through all this successfully. But they’re not the ones we read about in the news because of the unspeakable horrors they have committed.

Our society has lost its way. The worst part about this is that society thinks it is smarter than all prior generations. Not just regarding religion, but everything.

Our children don’t feel connected to life or to anything bigger than they are.

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