It is not difficult to understand why so many people are depressed in today’s society. From joblessness to home foreclosures, the stresses seem to continually mount.
A few days ago I sat down before the television after having what I would refer to as a “bad day.” After about ten minutes of the daily news, I was totally depressed. Not only did I find that gasoline was going up due to the rising price of a barrel of oil, but there were drive-by shootings, bank and convenience store robberies, and more amber alerts for children gone missing. I asked myself why our so-called “newscasts” have come to be fixated on the “bad news.” Perhaps, it is a sign of our times that the only “real” news worth broadcasting is the bad news.
Having had my fill, I moved from one media to another- the daily newspaper. I quickly found that sections A and B are primarily for the bad news, whereas sections C & D were reserved for some good news- even if it is only the want ads and the comics. Sections A and B reported that the local school district has a multi-million dollar deficit; the state can’t balance its budget; Congress is out of control; and unemployment was hovering around 10%. Of course, we know that the reported unemployment percentage is one of the most misleading statistics in today’s economy. It measures those folks that are currently collecting unemployment benefits. Once those benefits cease, those poor folks drop off the radar screen.
The advertisement of products also provide insights into the state of the culture. Unlike days gone by, when Joe Namath would be hocking shaving cream; today, the anti-depression drugs are the top sellers on the tube and in print. And with just a little bit of research on the Internet, I discovered that there are 195 anti-depressant drugs for consumption- including such top sellers as Valium, Zoloft and Ritalin. Now, with all medicines advertised today, the side-effects associated with these wonder drugs make you wonder why any sane person would take these drugs- especially after knowing the potential adverse reactions they might bring.
As Catholics, we believe in eternal life- and as I reflect on the current sad state of affairs, I hope that the next life will be a little bit easier than this one. During times like these, it is important that we draw strength from our religion. If our 60, 70, or 80 years on the face of this earth is all that we can look forward to, depression is the least of our problems. May we struggle through these turbulent times in the hope that there is a better life ahead for us based upon the sacrifice that Christ made for us.
DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati’s Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.