Sad news last night. An old friend is dead.
Life was too hard, so he took it.
We went to school with him. Back then, we envied him. He was the star of the football team, was class president… and could tell a great joke.
He was the president of his fraternity, got his master’s degree and had a good career doing good things.
Sadly, what happened to him is happening a lot these days.
Few have the guts to talk about it.
We’ve focused a lot on the notion of money in recent weeks. It’s been with great intent. There are big opportunities out there. And wealth, oh my, can be a powerful tool.
Plus, it’s easier to write about money. We’ve done it for decades. It’s what we know best… and it’s what folks want from us.
But we can’t neglect our Connections. At the risk of meandering into the cliché, our relationships are our greatest asset. And yet, they are part of a great deflationary force.
They are losing their value at a great pace… perhaps the quickest clip ever.
Forget the coronavirus. This is the plague that threatens to wipe out tens of thousands of otherwise healthy folks in 2020.
This sickness makes COVID-19 look like a hangnail.
Each year, some 10.6 million Americans seriously think about suicide. That’s a huge “infection rate.” Of those, more than 3 million make a plan. And 1.4 million attempt the act.
And the rates are rising. Suicides have surged by 35% since 1999.
The numbers break the charts, and yet nobody’s working on a vaccine. The governor isn’t making any emergency moves. And schools – the source of much of the issue – aren’t changing the way we do business.
In fact, most folks won’t even talk about it.
We say this enemy comes from three sources.
If you are at all worried about your mental well-being as America reshapes her values and her history… consider these three things as important to your health as washing your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze.
The first is clear as day. Has there ever been a drug as dangerous as social media?
It is no coincidence suicide rates have surged right alongside internet usage.
The average North American now spends more than two hours each day on brain killers like Facebook and Instagram. They scroll and scroll, looking for the endorphin rush that comes with comments on their posts or from videos that tickle their emotions.
What was meant to be a platform for strong Connections has turned into the most vile, nasty corner of our culture – where a person’s soul can be crushed for merely stating his thoughts.
Type the wrong thing or “like” the wrong picture, and suddenly it’s as if you’re standing at the podium among a stadium-sized crowd of folks booing your thoughts.
That’s okay for some. We know our thoughts are going to the masses.
But for the 12-year-old girl having a hard time on the bus… or the 40-year-old thinking about the future and dealing with a cheating spouse… it’s hell.
We said it before… Facebook should come with a surgeon general’s warning.
But after the last four months, we now say it should be available only via a doctor’s prescription.
It’s a deadly drug.
We’d rather have bales of weed on our streets.
Our second Connection buster is much newer. But it’s a real brute.
Go to the grocery store… visit your doctor… or even just talk to your neighbor and you’ll see it. We’re now all told to treat the other guy like a killer. His germs could spread, and you’ll be on a ventilator in two weeks.
It’s a hell of a way for a nation to think.
We no longer shake hands. We definitely don’t hug. And we can’t go to church to pray for change.
It’s a hell of a thing. And it’s not healthy.
The gripe folks have with cops these days stems from the fact that they’re trained to think that everybody they contact wants to kill them.
It’s a nasty mindset that’s come about because, well, so many folks want to kill cops.
The result of this way of thinking has been quite bad.
The relationship between the police and the folks they protect has been cut.
To think the same thing won’t happen on a bigger scale because of this pandemic is either ignorant or the result of too much time on social media.
Then again, one leads to the other.
Help Others… Help Yourself
Finally, a tie to the idea above… community involvement.
This one, too, is likely to get worse as we embrace the idea of remote work. It’s now easier than ever to live on an island surrounded by strangers.
It’s wholly unhealthy.
Try this… Go for a drive within a mile of your house. Take note of the number of folks you pick up your hand to wave to.
More important, take note of how it makes you feel when you pass somebody you know.
The sense of Connection is huge.
We laughed last night when a man walked by our flower farm with a white minivan trolling alongside. Two friends, with different modes of movement, passed each other and decided to talk.
Did you see the video of the man knocking over the 93-year-old woman as they passed on the sidewalk? He hit her on the head and simply kept walking.
That’s not healthy.
We used to volunteer more than 300 hours each year. When we did, it was impossible to go to the store without waving to half a dozen friendly faces.
But now, since the lockdown, we’re embarrassed to admit the amount of time we give away has fallen to near zero. And we can feel it.
We vow to change it.
We’ll close with this. It’s about a license plate.
In the ’80s, our license plates used to say, “You Have a Friend in Pennsylvania.”
But that kind phrase has since been removed and replaced with the state’s web address.
That says a lot.
We want our friends back.
What do you think is the biggest threat facing our Connections? Let us know your thoughts here.