Overwhelmed by the news of the day? Skip to our thoughts on how to handle all the tough news here.
Recognizing the Hurt
For many, this year’s Fourth of July festivities may have felt like anything but a celebration.
Instead, it served as a reminder that bodily autonomy remains under threat, decades of climate progress have been reversed, and anti-racism and inclusion efforts are still under scrutiny, even as we pass the two-year mark since the murder of George Floyd that sparked important national conversations.
Then, on the morning of July 4, another mass shooting – one of nearly a dozen that took place on the holiday – killed six and injured 31 at a parade in the historically Jewish neighborhood of Highland Park, IL.
For some, the celebrations of our nation’s freedom never started this year. For others who were celebrating, an already tense holiday was marked by yet another senseless act of mass violence. And some others may have turned off the news altogether, using this weekend and its celebrations to disconnect and recharge.
How We Move Forward
This weekend should be a reminder that we don’t have to put on a brave face and hide our thoughts. We don’t have to shrug off the events as something that is disconnected from us just because we weren’t directly affected. Our mental health doesn’t have to be an individual battle we fight when tragedies occur. We’re in this together, and we can help each other.
One of the messages we emphasize most at Active Minds is that you don’t have to be an expert to help. There are ways to support those around you that are coping with the struggles from either directly experiencing the ills of this world or from the pain caused by seeing others experience them. And, those around you don’t have to be experts to help you, either. Through empathetic and compassionate conversations, partnered with purposeful and tangible actions, we can be part of the solution to our broken world for our families, our communities, and – therefore – our nation. We can’t fix all the problems in this world for everyone, but we can control how we show up for those around us with our voices, our words, and our actions.
In difficult times, we have to be able to turn to each other. We have to be able to say, “This news is too much for me today, and I need some flexibility,” or “I know news about gun violence is especially hard for you, I’m here if you want to talk.” We have to be able to say, “I am not okay, and I need help.”
When we start having these conversations, we see the humanity in each other, and we remember that each of us is a person first, with all the joys and pains and sorrows included.
Through that, we have the ability to maintain hope. Hope that is based on the belief that as we lean into recognizing each others’ humanity, we also have to move away from accepting hate as a norm. That an improved culture for mental health both requires and creates a culture that pushes back against prejudice, violence, and injustice.
The realities of our nation may have made it too difficult to celebrate this weekend, and that’s okay. In the meantime, we encourage you to celebrate what you can, whether that be time with loved ones, a support network that cares about you, or simply to celebrate that you are here. Continue to be hopeful, and continue to inspire hope for those around you.