AMERICA AT WAR: OUR ATTITUDE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Amid international tensions and the state of war between the United States and Iraq, all of us can benefit from taking especially good care of ourselves. A chief frustration for many of us is our relative lack of direct control over world affairs. No matter what we do, our ability to directly affect world events is limited. We can, however, make a difference by engaging ourselves positively in life. Here are some ideas for reflection:
*** We must each decide, in our own way, to detach ourselves somewhat from all that we cannot control. We may not be able to affect directly the outcome of the war or prevent terrorism from hitting close to home, but we can remain calm and take commonsense precautions. We can control how we feel about our current situation, much more than many of us realize.
*** We can establish a daily routine that creates a sense of well-being. If you already have a routine, there may be steps you can take to alter it in ways that will give you an added sense of control. You may wish to say no to “time-eaters” such as overworking or watching too much TV. You may want to get up earlier, prepare for potential difficult times, touch bases with key friends, or set aside more time for prayer or for family activities. Take time for activities that nourish you, such as being with nature, listening to uplifting music, or cuddling up with a loved one.
*** We can attack worry when and where it begins before it gets out of hand. Learn to distinguish between what is a clear and present danger that you must prepare for and what you really don’t need to worry about. Worry may have been more of a necessity to our prehistoric ancestors in their daily fight for survival, but a “fight or flight” mentality is unhealthy when there is nothing tangible in your daily environment to fight or run away from.
*** We can reduce stress by keeping a light heart. Enjoy a sport, hobby, or inspirational book that feeds your spirit. Have a good laugh with a special friend or a favorite comedian. Count your blessings. Listen to the whispers of your heart and soul, and follow through on the guidance you receive.
*** There is nothing like helping others to give life a sense of meaning. In helping others, we also help ourselves. Consider volunteering in a meaningful way, such as giving blood, providing food for the hungry, helping out an elderly neighbor who doesn’t get around very well anymore, or being a big brother or sister to a child who needs an extra friend.
*** We can learn to appreciate anew our friends and loved ones, and let them know how we feel about them. Be thankful for all the good and loving people in our country and throughout the family of nations. Acknowledge the debt that we all have to each and every one of the brave men and women who are risking their lives to promote freedom and equality of opportunity.
*** We can avoid hatred. It may be hard not to hate those who hurt us, but whatever you do, don’t extend that hate categorically. No nation and no religion are to blame for the misguided behavior of individuals and groups. Make an effort to get to know people of diverse backgrounds and to appreciate the similarities and differences of our wonderfully diverse human family.
If there’s one thing we learned from the events of September 11, it is that times of national crisis often bring out the best in each of us. America, at her core, is about people creatively giving of themselves and embracing the vision for a kinder, more loving world. The war with Iraq and its potential challenges will eventually pass. A brighter, more peaceful future will surely come if we each give our best to our loved ones, intelligently work for a safer and more compassionate world, and unleash our inner reservoirs of love and creativity for the benefit of all.
Prepared by Sam Quick, Ph.D., Human Development and Family Relations Specialist; Carole Gnatuk, Ed.D., Child Development Specialist; and Alex Lesueur, Jr., M.S.L.S, Staff Support Associate.