What’s the Solution?
The problems are piling up in America, and it’s a big pile. We, as a nation, are in desperate need of solutions.
This late-summer morning, orange smoke from wildfires eclipsing much of the nation west of the Rockies hung hazily in the air. Tropical storms lined up like balls down a lane of a bowling alley. The New York Times reported another 1,281 deaths today, of more than 200,000 already dead due to the coronavirus in America. Recent race riots have divided communities, unveiling new depths of hatred.
Women have stalled out at earning 81.6 cents on the male dollar, yet 83% of single parents are mothers. America also ranks first in the world for the rate of single-parent households. Do the math: Almost 70% of single parents are due payments for child support.
This might be part of the reason why U.S. household debt has reached a historic high of $14.15 trillion. It will be interesting to see how many of the 40 million people at risk will be evicted in the coming months.
It’s easy to be depressed in modern-day America. It’s not like we can even escape. Our international borders are closed. So it makes sense that alcohol sales are up 16% from last year. One in eight American adults is an alcoholic.
We’re doing everything we can to avoid our feelings, including overindulgence in too many foods that aren’t nutritious. Obesity is at a whopping 42.4% for adult Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control — and, yes, growing.
Overdose deaths due to methadone skyrocketed in recent years. But maybe some retail therapy is more your thing. A few years ago, credit card companies made $163 billion in fees and interest. It’s a vicious cycle, no matter how vicious.
Whether it’s “just a cup of Mommy juice” or binging on the latest series, it’s all shades of the same desperate attempt at a solution for an overwhelming stack of mind-blowingly large problems. It’s like every other day, the American public is learning about a new problem or crisis or scandal that makes it unclear if the planet and its people will even survive.
Doesn’t everyone want our nation and Earth to not just survive, but thrive? I do, and I bet you do too.
America is literally begging for a way to solve all this. That sounds like a political statement, and perhaps it is. But anyone who’s paying attention can see that relying on the American political system to solve major problems is a little like asking the proverbial wolf for a solution to a broken hen house gate.
Did you expect I was somehow going to come up with the answer to all these problems in an easy-to-skim listicle format? I’m just some writer who cares about health and the world around me. But yeah, I’m certainly a solutions-oriented individual. And I think I’m just as much of the solution to the world’s problems as every other person reading or scrolling past this.
We are all the solution. See, “they” didn’t cause all these problems. We all did.
I try to acknowledge my unhealthy habits and negative thoughts that I put out there, but humans are imperfect by design. If we were perfect, we’d be God. And maybe we are. That’s a conversation for another time. One monumental, social existential crisis at a time.
What’s the answer, really? I know that some fools have marketing campaigns with the idea that somehow America is doing awesome, but there’s nothing fake about our current OMG moment. I lived overseas until coronavirus caused the closings of international borders. I was embarrassed about my home country, even though I recited the Pledge of Allegiance more times than you can shake an amber wave of grain.
We shouldn’t be in denial about these problems. It’s not news that America is suffering.
Recognizing this, regardless of your personal politics or religion or gender or bank account or the size of your pickup truck or the size of your pig or sexual orientation or any other way you want to separate yourself from the people around you, we all must work together. We can start by listening.
How many conversations have you had recently where you really didn’t feel like the person was actually taking in and thinking about what you said? Most people have already dug their heels in before they start. You can’t change people– that’s also not news although lots still try — but people can change their minds.
When was the last time you changed your mind about an opinion you had? Can you remember when you laughed together at the end of a conversation where there was a disagreement involved? It feels herculean to push aside our own unshakable beliefs in the name of friendship, but I think that may be a start to finding a solution. We have to work together.
I find it shocking that there are debates about whether fascism is bad or whether it’s better to break a window in a church or have a knee to the neck by a man whom you’re paying his salary through your taxes, like George Floyd. Violence is shocking and wrong on all sides, but life is life. Can’t we agree to the most basic human concepts of society?
Perhaps we need a powerful and uniting social leader for peace. But there’s a good reason why no one is stepping up to the plate. People seeking equality, justice and peace for all get assassinated.
Besides, just think about the profits to be made from the unhealthy, stressed out population. Spreading ideas about simple living, friendship and understanding isn’t good for consumerism.
This is often when the discussion turns to scapegoats. Many people demand a reason, a bad guy, the person or group that is causing all the pain, anger and frustration. But it’s so clear that they are pointing fingers away from themselves. Anyone who has a sibling knows how easy it is to shift the blame. We could just be addicted to the drama.
The big, bad “media” is often considered an underlying cause for the increased anxiety that underscores a lot of the American current moment. As a trained and seasoned journalist, I used to take great offense to this. Then I happened to catch a segment of news blasting on my parents’ television.
The piece was on CORONAVIRUS 2020, with that title surging across the screen in red and black letters, nearly dripping in Halloween font. Minor-keyed music played dramatically in the background, as the broadcaster got down to the numbers. It’s just Pavlovian conditioning people to “stay tuned,” so they’ll always know the next nuisance on the crisis.
Remember how the “Revolution will not be televised?” The longer you’re staring at the screen, the less likely you’ll be active in your life. Surely, you’ve seen the family or group of friends at all staring at their mobile devices and missing the world around them, let alone having the conversations that help you practice listening and relationship skills. We don’t want to miss a minute, and meanwhile our very existence is spiraling down the crapper.
Self-education plays another important role in solving the world’s problems. The more I travel, read, explore, ask questions and listen to the answers, understand (and love) myself, and try different things even though it’s possible I might fail, the more helpful I am to finding a solution. Because there’s always a solution. We agree on that, don’t we?
It doesn’t matter your privilege or perspective. Anyone can be kind. The more you look for similarities in the people who live around you — your neighbors, whether you like them or not — the more you’ll form the ideas to make the big changes that must happen to shift this country away from a path of destruction.
We need to come together to change in a way that is best for all of society and our Earth. Join in … and let’s figure this out.