Not only did we celebrate Easter this past week, we celebrated my baby’s twenty-first birthday. Honestly, I can’t figure out how that happened! I remember April of 2001 like it was yesterday, but in the blink of an eye, it’s been twenty-one years. I think Morgan’s looks have changed over the past 21 years, but her personality has not.
Morgan is my girl who is never afraid to try anything. From horseback riding to parasailing to caring for her grandfather, Morgan always has a can-do attitude. Although I’m the one who is supposed to be teaching my children about life, I’ve learned so much from Morgan. I think she’d be surprised to know…
I recently came across an article in Scientific American that really intrigued me. As we (fingers crossed and prayers said) go into the diminishing phase of Covid with its strange ailments, long-term effects–and trust me, I know about these–its indiscriminate taking of life, closing of churches, separating of loved ones, and alienation of those who most need socialization, I have become keenly aware of the rise in mental health issues and disorders, including in my own inner circle. It seems that the world has fallen into a deep pit of despair, and our lives have become meaningless and out of focus. We have lost the spiritual connection that is necessary to thrive.
Enter, David Rosmarin, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the McLean Hospital Spirituality & Mental Health Program. In his study of psychiatric patients throughout the pandemic, he found that prayer increased significantly in March of 2020 and continued to rise throughout the year despite the closing of houses of worship. He found this to be an extremely important find since “Spirituality has historically been dismissed by psychiatrists.” He noted that, in 2020, American mental health sank to the lowest point in recorded history with diagnoses of mental disorders increasing by 50%. The use of alcohol and drugs rose as did contemplation of suicide. YET the mental health of those patients who attended religious services, in-person or online, actually improved significantly!
Rosmarin goes on to say that studies show that nearly 60% of psychiatric patients have a desire to discuss spirituality with their psychiatrist yet are rarely, if ever, given the opportunity to do so. He says we can blame it on Freud and his characterization of religion as a mass-delusion. We see this trend in suggestions by both the American Psychological Association’s and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for coping with the pandemic. The only near-mention of religion is the CDC’s recommendation to “connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.” The author goes on to say, “we ignore potential spiritual solutions to our mental health crisis, even when our well-being is worse than ever before.”
According to this study and another, “a belief in God is associated with significantly better treatment outcomes for acute psychiatric patients. And other laboratories have shown a connection between religious belief and the thickness of the brain’s cortex, which may help protect against depression.” He also concluded that “many nonreligious people still seek spirituality, especially in times of distress.”
A major hurricane recently devastated the city of Houston and surrounding cities and towns. A second hurricane destroyed parts of the Caribbean and the Keys while over four million people in Florida are currently without power. On a single night, there are as many as half a million people on our nation’s streets without homes. Approximately 43 million Americans live in poverty. But fear not, the new Apple iPhone 8 is here, and it will only cost you $1000. For just pennies, you can have a device that will keep you in the loop socially, tie you to your office, aid you in your FOMO (fear of missing out), and cost you countless hours of lost time while you surf the Internet or play a game. Why worry about those in need when you can drop $1000 on a phone?
I could go on and on about the negative effects that smartphones are having on our children. And that’s scary, folks, I mean, truly Stephen King type horrific. I could talk about how social media is destroying our mental health. I could tell you about the new findings on the adverse effects of cell phones on your children’s learning in school. But those things are everywhere, and I pray that parents, physicians, and educators are paying attention and proceeding with caution.
But here’s what bothers me the most about the new $1000 iPhone. I’m sure you guessed it. Yep, it’s the $1000 ticket price. When did we become a group of people who willingly, without blinking, spend $1000 on a phone? Do you know how many meals that could buy in a place like Guatemala or Colombia or Ethiopia or even at your local food pantry? Do you know how many children that could clothe?
And here’s the real kicker. How many kids will be the recipient of an iPhone 8 for Christmas this year? If you’re considering being one of those beloved parents, check out the links above about what these phones are doing to our children already!
A young man I love like a son headed to Florida on Sunday with a nearly empty wallet and little more than the clothes on his back to help the flood victims. He and his friends are sleeping in their vehicles, begging for supplies from friends and family, so that they can help others in need. Can you imagine what they could do for others with that $1000 that someone reading this is about to drop on a phone?
Okay, enough of my preaching. I will admit that I love Apple. I love my MacBook Pro and I am seldom without my iPhone 6 (all paid for and not being replaced any time soon). I hold no ill will against the company or anyone who buys their products. I just can’t help but wonder where we, as a society, is heading when we don’t even blink at the cost of a $1000 phone. I sure hope that, if I ever own one, it will make the beds, do the laundry, and cook my dinner for me. At that price, it should do all that and more.
If you want to support a group of Marines in their efforts to help Hurricane Irma victims, please click here. Good luck, men. Semper Fi.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.
I have to admit that over the summer, I had many, many moments of envy. Not all-consuming jealousy or want-to-tear-their-eyes-out rage. Not even the kind of envy that lingers. Each instance lasted for just a few seconds, but it was there nonetheless. These moments came each time I took a few minutes to pause and steal a quick look at Facebook. No, it wasn’t the traveling, or the shopping, or the amazing photos. It was even more basic than that – I was envious every time someone posted a picture of themselves by the pool. Yes, I said the pool. People had time to lay by the pool. Some even had time to get IN the pool! How could they do that? How did they find the time between laundry, housecleaning, work, driving children around, etc. to even sneak into their room and put on a bathing suit, not to mention make themselves that delicious looking cocktail, and lounge by the pool? Some of them even had books on their laps or on the table beside them. That was serious pool time! Read more →
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