Terrorism. Chaos. Fear of the future. In the age of Obama, America is undergoing a “fundamental transformation” – that much everyone knows.
But what few seem to realize about this transformation is that the sheer stress of living in today’s America is driving tens of millions to the point of illness, depression and self-destruction. Consider the following trends:
- Suicide has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of injury death for Americans. Even more disturbing, in the world’s greatest military, more U.S. soldiers died last year by suicide than in combat;
- Fully one-third of the nation’s employees suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all “millennials” (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder.
- Shocking new research from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in five of all high-school-aged children in the United States has been diagnosed with ADHD, and likewise a large new study of New York City residents shows, sadly, that one in five preteens – children aged six to 12 – have been medically diagnosed with either ADHD, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder;
- New research concludes that stress renders people susceptible to serious illness, and a growing number of studies now confirm that chronic stress plays a major role in the progression of cancer, the nation’s second-biggest killer. The biggest killer of all, heart disease, which causes one in four deaths in the U.S., is also known to have a huge stress component;
- Incredibly, 11 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are currently taking SSRI antidepressants – those highly controversial, mood-altering psychiatric drugs with the FDA’s “suicidality” warning label and alarming correlation with school shooters. Women are especially prone to depression, with a stunning 23 percent of all American women in their 40s and 50s – almost one in four – now taking antidepressants, according to a major study by the CDC;
- Add to that the tens of millions of users of all other types of psychiatric drugs, including (just to pick one) the 6.4 million American children between 4 and 17 diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin or similar psycho-stimulants. Throw in the 28 percent of American adults with a drinking problem, that’s more than 60 million, plus the 22 million using illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, and pretty soon a picture emerges of a nation of drug-takers, with hundreds of millions dependent on one toxic substance or another – legal or illegal – to “help” them deal with the stresses and problems of life.
By the way, things are no better over the pond – and may be worse, according to one major study that concluded almost 40 percent of Europeans are plagued by mental illness.
What on earth is going on? Why isn’t medical science – and for that matter all of our incredible scientific and technological innovations in every area of life – reducing our stress and lightening our load? Why doesn’t the almost-magical availability of the world’s accumulated knowledge, thanks to the Internet, make us more enlightened and happy? Why is it that, instead, more and more of us are so stressed out as to be on a collision course with illness, misery, tragedy and death?
Most important, what can we do to reverse course? Fortunately, amazingly effective help is available – but more on that later.
‘He wants people to snap’
“Life is difficult,” wrote psychiatrist M. Scott Peck at the outset of his international best-seller, “The Road Less Traveled.” Stress, difficulties, disappointments, accidents, disease, misfortune, cruelty, betrayal – they’re unavoidable in this life.
Yet, during eras when society and families are stable, unified and fundamentally decent and moral – as, say, America during the 1950s – the stress level for each person is minimized, or at least not compounded by a perverse society. Conversely, when – as is the case today – we have widespread family breakdown, a depraved culture that mocks traditional moral values, a chaotic economy and disintegrating monetary system and a power-mad government dominated by demagogues and sociopaths, the normal stresses of life are greatly multiplied.
Thus it has come to pass that America, long the hope of the world, has grown increasingly dispirited and angry, which in turn breeds anxiety, fear, confusion, hopelessness and depression.
After all, let’s face the hard facts: We just re-elected perhaps the worst president in history, someone manifestly obsessed with dismantling traditional, free-market capitalist America and transforming it into a socialist nanny state. That in itself is highly stressful – at least for the roughly half the population that still understands socialism always leads to a profound loss of freedom and prosperity.
Then there’s today’s relentless economic pressures: high unemployment (the actual rate is at least double that of the “official” government rate), foreclosures and bankruptcies, a stagnant growth rate, 11,000 new people signing up for food stamps every single day, rising taxes for the entire middle class whose net worth is simultaneously shrinking, ever-higher prices for food, gas and other essentials – and overshadowing it all, a galactic national debt burden, courtesy of a wildly out-of-control government unrestrained by either the Constitution or common sense.
That, too, is very stressful. Top it all off with an administration continually abusing the public for the sake of enlarging and consolidating its political power – for instance, by purposely making the “sequester” cuts hurt Americans, even our active-duty soldiers, as much as possible.
Make no mistake: This sort of stress on Americans is not only intentional on the part of Team Obama – it is strategic. Remember, these people are revolutionaries (that is, engaged in “bringing about a major or fundamental change,” as Merriam-Webster puts it) and utterly committed to replacing one societal structure – America’s constitutional, limited-government, free-enterprise system – with another – a socialist, wealth-redistributionist system run by an all-powerful government.
Such a radical change cannot be accomplished while Americans are calm, happy, content and grateful for their blessings. Citizens must be unhappy and stressed out. Indeed, widespread popular discontent has always been the required fuel for leftist transformation.
Just reading a few pages into Saul Alinsky’s notorious “Rules for Radicals,” one encounters repeated confirmation that the very key to radical “change” is keeping the populace angry, encouraging their grievances, stoking their resentments and making sure they are continually upset. That is the primary psychological dynamic of “community organizing” – and America today is led by community-organizer-in-chief Barack Obama, a long-time master practitioner and instructor in Alinsky’s neo-Marxist agitation methods.
Top radio talker Rush Limbaugh recently picked up on this normally unspoken aspect of Obama’s modus operandi: “I think he wants people to snap,” opined Rush. “I think Obama is challenging everybody’s sanity. Obama [is] literally pushing people to snap, attacking the very sanity of the country.”
Commenting on Obama’s sudden obsession with employing every means possible to deny law-abiding Americans their constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms, Limbaugh exclaimed: “All of this is so in our face. Everything that people hold dear is under assault. Deliberately making people upset! This is not what presidents do.”
It’s not what presidents do – unless they happen to be leftist revolutionaries, in which case “deliberately making people upset” is precisely what they do to accomplish their intended “fundamental transformation.”
We need to realize that Americans could not have twice elected a leader as transcendently unworthy of the presidency as Barack Obama without first having had their minds and hearts captured. Through constant leftist indoctrination, emotional manipulation, ruthless intimidation – and then being rewarded once they have “converted” – perhaps half of the American electorate has been programmed over the course of decades by a subversive school system and equally perverse “news” establishment. Truth be told, both institutions have become full-blown abominations, occupying as they do near-sacred stations of public trust in American civilization.
Of course, at the nuclear core of the myriad assaults on traditional America is the rejection (at least by society’s elites) of God and repudiation of the Judeo-Christian values that underpin Western civilization. This in turn has led to pervasive societal disintegration and a Pandora’s Box of almost unimaginable problems.
Unfortunately, despite our nation’s growing number of seriously troubled people, psychiatry provides little help. It has evolved in our secular, mechanistic culture to see virtually all mental, emotional and spiritual problems as genetic or physiological in origin. No longer is there any such thing as sin. Nothing is moral or spiritual. Good character, introspection, understanding, repentance and forgiveness, so vital to genuine healing, are now irrelevant. Just write a prescription.
Since the current research fad is to conclude (as the National Institute of Mental Health puts it) that “depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain,” psychiatry has come to rely heavily on altering our brain chemistry by (in the case of depression) tricking it into producing higher levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. But this forces us to ask an obvious question: What are you talking about? Do you really believe that the 23 percent of American women ages 40 through 59 currently on antidepressants ALL have defective or diseased brains?
Or, is it just possible that, rather than tens of millions of inexplicably damaged brains, much of today’s epidemic of “depression” and other “disorders” has a lot more to do with the prevalence of stress, pressure, confusion, cruelty, anger, injustice, temptation and corruption all around us – and our inability to deal with it without being infected and hurt by it?
Finding the way out
There are, of course, proven commonsense steps each individual can take to minimize the effects of stress. Chuck Norris’ personal list of “12 ways to avoid depression” is as good as any available online, and encompasses everything from diet and exercise to meditation and gratitude to God.
But boiling the matter down to core essentials, there are really three time-tested elements required for staying healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They are:
1) A genuinely healthful diet: Newsflash – eating the wrong foods (or eating too much) causes huge problems. Obesity is not only stressful, but has myriad adverse health effects, including depression. Likewise, eating foods that are heavily processed, high-sugar, adulterated, chemicalized, processed, artificially flavored, colored, sweetened and preserved stresses both body and mind. As WND columnist and orthopedic surgeon Lee Hieb, M.D., puts it, “If my great-grandmother would not have recognized something as food … I don’t eat it.”
Mountains of research and dietary wisdom can be boiled down to this: Eat a variety of fresh, natural foods, especially vegetables and fruits and particularly lots of enzyme-rich raw foods. Fish and chicken are fine, so is red meat in moderation, same with dairy (eggs, milk and butter – not margarine), but buy natural/organic whenever possible.
2) Regular exercise: A good exercise regimen not only helps keep our heart (and the rest of us) healthy, it confers untold benefits, tangible and intangible – plus it is, all by itself, a major de-stressor! Again, WND columnist Chuck Norris, who as a six-time undefeated world karate champion (and reputedly the world’s toughest man) knows a little about exercise, says this: “Exercise is a cure for so many ills; depression is one of many. Exercise is so powerful on our mind that Men’s Health calls it the drug-free depression cure.” Enough said. Just do it.
3) Personal quiet time for prayer and reflection, allowing us the opportunity to seek the Creator’s will while letting go of accumulated anger, frustration and resentment toward others. (In other words, renewing our love for God and our neighbor.) Anger in all its forms has long been shown to be at the very root of many serious problems and illnesses, both physical and mental.
Pause button. One all-important point needs to be made here: It is not the stress itself that harms us, but rather, the way we overreact emotionally to it. And primarily, that reaction is one of resentment, either overt or subtle.
Grasping this often-overlooked fact leads directly to the bottom-line principle for successfully coping with stress, whether it’s related to money, work, health, relationships or trauma: Learn to calmly endure the stress (or as the Bible expresses it, “trials and tribulations”) with genuine patience and faith instead of anger and frustration, and an amazing thing happens: The stress, rather than making us sick and debilitated, actually serves to make us stronger, more at peace and more whole.
Help with this all-important facet of stress management comes, ironically, from the occupation Forbes calls the “most stressful job” in America – namely, the U.S. military.
Despite the tremendous ravages of war stress – 22 suicides per day among U.S. military veterans (on average) and an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder and other war-trauma conditions streaming out of Iraq and Afghanistan – a quiet revolution in overcoming stress is nevertheless unfolding within the military.
Like the constantly inculcated attribute of “resilience,” the military has also found the practice of “mindfulness” to be extremely helpful in overcoming stress. And the gold standard in this growing field is “Be Still and Know,” a simple and time-tested awareness exercise that been used in all five armed service branches for many years.
Currently relied on by tens of thousands of soldiers and veterans, “Be Still and Know” is the key ingredient included in a compact disc titled “Coping Strategies.” In essence, the 30-minute exercise helps users discover genuine patience, mental clarity and (a word the Founding Fathers used a lot) equanimity. It has been highly endorsed by both the U.S. Army’s chief of chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver, who calls it a “great resource for our Soldiers,” and Col. John Bradley, M.D., long the chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“Coping Strategies’” distributing organization, the nonprofit Patriot Outreach founded by U.S. Army Col. Antonio P. Monaco, offers the CD (or Internet download) free to all U.S. military personnel, veterans and family members upon request. It is also readily available to civilians as a CD or audio download, at a nominal charge to support the free grants to the military. Patriot Outreach’s program has been publicly praised by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as well as former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum.
Having written about “Coping Strategies” and the “Be Still and Know” exercise a couple of years ago, I recently checked in with a member of the Patriot Outreach team, Navy Vietnam veteran Lee Booton, for an update.
Booton, after experiencing a lot of combat, came home from Vietnam with a nice big fat case of post-traumatic stress disorder. (“In the middle of the night I was pounding on my wife, thinking I was still fighting the North Vietnamese,” he told me. “I felt horrible.”) Yet years later, when he was introduced to “Be Still and Know,” Booton knew it provided the answer he and other stressed-out soldiers were desperately seeking. Over the past five years, volunteering with Patriot Outreach, Booton has “met face to face with returning troops” and personally “handed out between 5,000 and 6,000″ of the “Coping Strategies” CDs to vets and encouraged others to download the exercises for free. (There are actually four exercises included in “Coping Strategies” – the main one, “Be Still and Know,” plus three others that focus specifically on “Overcoming Pain,” “Overcoming Fear” and “Overcoming Stress.”)
Does he ever hear back from the soldiers he helps? “Yes!” says Booton enthusiastically. “Sometimes they give me a big hug and say, ‘Boy, does that work,’ or ‘You helped save my life – this made it so much easier for me to deal day-to-day with all of my issues.’”
“Be Still and Know” was developed by Roy Masters, who at 85 is the patriarch of stress experts, having taught this method since 1960 to millions, his fans including everyone from movie star John Wayne to Internet journalist Matt Drudge. He also hosts talk radio’s longest-running counseling show, “Advice Line,” on Talk Radio Network. The author of 18 books, Masters was featured on the Sean Hannity Show to discuss his newest book, “Hypnotic States of Americans.”
Recently, all four of the audio exercises on the “Coping Strategies” CD have been released in a new civilian version on a dedicated MP3 player called, “The Cure Stress Device.”
“In today’s high-tech, wireless world,” said Masters, “a little, self-contained audio device the size of a credit card seemed like the best delivery system possible.”
In a recent message he tweeted, Masters summed up more than 60 years of work in just 140 characters: “Learn to endure cruelty and injustice without resentment and after the stress has passed you will find the fulfillment you have been seeking.”
“Most stress,” explains Masters, “is simply cruelty, in one form or another, directed at us by other stressed-out human beings, who themselves have been victimized by cruelty and stress in their own pasts.
“Imagine, however, that someone said or did something cruel to you, but that you did not react in any way whatsoever – you did not become upset, resentful or even ruffled. You simply observed that this person was saying or doing something cruel, as though you were calmly observing the scene in a movie. You simply would not be stressed by what would appear to others to be a highly stressful encounter. Stress and cruelty affect us as profoundly as they do only because we react to them resentfully.”
The exercise works so well, he adds, because “it enables you to become objective, a little bit separate, detached and disentangled from all your troublesome thoughts, emotions, heartaches, fears and traumatic memories – and that, all by itself, is extremely helpful, and actually healing.”
‘You just be cool and calm’
“Stress” – our modern name for all the trials and tribulations the Good Lord in His wisdom deems necessary for us to grow in character and faith – is not the enemy. It is, however, the difficult but necessary part of life that tests us, proves us, and ultimately makes us better – or kills us.
Fortunately, in the loving sacrifice of his Son, not only did God make provision for the forgiveness of mankind’s sins, but He also gave us another priceless gift – the perfect example of how to deal with stress. Even while hanging on the cross in agony, Jesus did not resent his tormentors and even asked God to forgive them. That’s the essence of what we need to find.
In one sense, our task is simple: Since our past sins have been forgiven, and since the future is in God’s care alone, we just need to focus on discovering how to live right now, in this present moment, with faith, patient endurance and perfect integrity.
Now more than ever, it is essential that Americans get a handle on stress. The pressures of modern life are being greatly multiplied by the ever-present threat of terrorism and a socialist government that thrives on promoting everything dark, perverse and angry (and therefore stress-producing) in human nature. Remember, Winston Churchill called socialism “the gospel of envy.”
After Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners that Obama wants good Americans “to snap,” he added, good-naturedly: “You just be cool and calm. Everything’s going to be fine. I’ll tell you when it’s not.”
Indeed, to prevent Obama and company from completing their “fundamental transformation” of America, we are going to have to learn to stay cool, calm and collected – and not just on the surface, but deep down in our souls.
Know this: If you are upset at Obama and the maniacal left – if you’re angry, full of rage, feeling hopeless, frustrated, wanting to drop out, or wanting to lash out and act violently – believe me, that’s precisely what your adversary wants. Not only that, that’s how he wins, because when you’re upset and angry and overreacting – pardon me for putting it this way – you become stupid. That’s what’s wrong with the Republican Party. Its principles are magnificent (read the 2012 platform), but most of its leaders are intimidated by the ruthless Obama administration and the blatantly biased and abusive “mainstream media.” Thus, in their reactive, intimidated state of mind, they become ineffective, cowardly and contemptible (with a few notable exceptions, for which we are very grateful).
This is true not just of politicians, but all of us: No matter how smart, moral and right-thinking we might otherwise be, when we’re angry and upset we do not possess God’s grace, wisdom, courage and creative genius guiding our steps, and thus we are no match for the evil rising in America.
But if Americans would discover grace under pressure – hey, Ronald Reagan had it, why can’t we? – if enough of us found strength and resolve that were rooted, not in rage, but in righteousness and love of God and our neighbor, then nothing, and I do mean nothing, could stop us. Having regained our lost innocence, we would likewise see our beloved country restored to the noble land it once was.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing,” James 1: 2-4 KJV.
The preceding is excerpted from the April 2013 issue of WND’s acclaimed Whistleblower magazine, “STRESSED AND DEPRESSED: The unreported health crisis of the Obama era.”