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Monday, Aug. 24, 2020

Daily Doses Of Doom

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Depression, anxiety and separating fact from opinion

Aren’t you tired? No, really. Are you?

I mean, don’t you just feel, sometimes, just physically and emotionally exhausted? Like you just can’t muster up the energy or patience to face the world? Maybe it’s pandemic fatigue, or you’re working exceptionally long hours, or taking on exceedingly heavy workloads. Maybe it’s the civil unrest and seemingly unfettered lawlessness in our country or the economic uncertainty of more and more businesses closing and laying off workers. Perhaps it’s worrying about family and whether there will be enough money at the end of the month.

Whatever it may be for you, you certainly aren’t alone. The Census Bureau reported in May that the number of Americans showing signs of clinical anxiety, despondency and depression reached one-third of the population. A Pew Research Center survey from June indicated that 71% of Americans are angry about the state of the country right now, and 66% are fearful.

But in a 24-hour news cycle, where images of senseless violence and murders, as well as rioting and burning cities, are incessantly presented to us over and over – alongside brightly colored charts showing even more infections, a rising coronavirus death rate and longer lockdowns – is it really any surprise that so many feel fearful or angry?

And according to Psychology Today, these feelings don’t just happen overnight. It takes some time to really build up – it creeps up on us over time like a slow leak. And we see this in several national polls.

More Americans today (two-thirds of us) feel worn out by the amount of news we encounter throughout the day. This is a higher percentage than in 2016.

And Gallup just published (this month) the results of a 20,000-person survey that indicates 62 percent of Americans say it is harder “to be wellinformed because of all the sources of information available.” This suggests the reason we’re so worn out by the amount of news we encounter is that it’s more confusing than informative.

Part of the reason it’s confusing is that “news” and “non-news” (or opinion) are often mixed together as one, whether on television, in a newspaper headline or your social media feed. Separating fact from fiction is exhausting, especially when you are already working longer hours to make ends meet, and children have their homework to finish, baths to take, and the checkbook needs to be balanced.

What do you do if you’re worn out, fearful or angry about it all? For some, they put on blinders – interpreting information in a way that confirms what they already believe, regardless of the facts. The others? They just tune it all out.

The problem with that, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., is that “(o)ur lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

So, no matter how worn out, fearful or angry you may feel, you can’t give up. Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” And that’s where many of us find ourselves today.

And the Bible teaches us not to give up as well. It’s a “sin of omission” when we don’t do what we can and ought to do.” James 4:17 reads, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

You see, when you stop fighting for what you want, what you don’t want automatically takes over. By tuning out, by doing nothing, we can lose everything.

And yes, sometimes we all feel like quitting. It’s those times, though, we must remember that if changing a nation has been done by any people in any point in time in history, then what was possible for them is possible for us.

We can’t surrender our dream of restoring this nation or become depressed. Or bitter or angry, no matter how tired we may feel. Anyone can do that.

No, as Ronald Reagan put it, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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