Living in the world of today with all of its uncertainties, it is easy to see why so many people find themselves in the depths of despair. Contemplate the magnitude of the worst tragedies both man-made and natural that have been witnessed on earth. During the holocaust, 11,000,000 people perished; an earthquake in Haiti killed over 300,000; from the Indian Ocean tsunami, 212,000 lives were lost. Famine kills thousands of people across our globe every day.

Whether it is the fear of terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction, worries about the unsettling power of Mother Nature gone awry as witnessed by the earthquake and resultant tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan or simply the fear of the unknown, there is an undeniable deleterious effect on our mental health.

Back in April 2007, I stopped at a local restaurant for breakfast. I smiled as I noticed a father opening his 4 year-old son’s ‘Happy Meal’. I reminisced back to a time long ago when my son, Tyler and I would spend a weekend morning at what we referred to as ‘Men’s Club’ where Daddy and son would spend quality one-on-one time together. As I was recalling that marvelous experience, I was suddenly yanked back into a sad reality.

As the father was unwrapping his son’s meal and toy, I realized this youngster was distracted, mesmerized by what was on the big-screen TV in the dining area of the restaurant. CNN was showing the vivid images of bloodied, dead students being carried from the Virginia Tech classrooms, the tragic aftermath of a bloodbath senselessly inflicted by a crazed young man.

Watching with a look of horror on his innocent young face, I watched his reaction to the video sent to NBC by the killer. Certainly, this child didn’t understand Cho’s raging diatribe of threats and demented explanations of why he had felt compelled to commit such a horrific crime, but the impact was undeniable. The irony struck me that this was anything but a ‘happy meal’!

The tragic truth is that very few of us can enjoy a happy meal, or a happy day for that matter. As I witnessed this child losing his innocence, it became painfully apparent that we as a world community have also lost much, primarily the loss of balance in our lives.

Entire generations of children have grown up in a tragic milieu of hatred and violence; anger and hostility continue to be cultivated in our children beginning at a very early age. Palestinian children have been taught to hate Israeli children and vice versa. The Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda have murdered one another over their perceived differences. All of these and the many other conflicts in our world continue to feed the self-perpetuating cycle, which has never, nor ever will serve a constructive purpose.

It should come as no surprise that in a study co-authored by Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University it was found that nearly half of those of college age suffer with some form of mental health disorder that interfered with everyday life. These disorders included obsessive-compulsive tendencies and other anti-social behavior that can lead to violence. This is being borne out in the now frequent shooting rampages we are experiencing.

     Columbine . . . 15 dead

     Virginia Tech … 32 dead

     Aurora . . . 12 dead

Our world’s culture has evolved to a point where we seem to thrive on the misfortunes of others. Perhaps this makes us feel more secure in that such atrocities have yet to touch us on a more personal level. With today‘s technological advances, we are made aware via global media coverage of each catastrophe, almost instantaneously.

What we expose our souls to certainly will dictate what we are to become. Throughout the history of mankind, many avatars have been sent to teach us an important lesson. Dr. Wayne Dyer teaches: “As you think, so shall you be”. If one allows angry and negative thoughts to enter the mind, one becomes just that. Positive energy on the other hand fosters the promulgation of peace.

I often wonder how most of us feel after watching the evening news or reading a newspaper filled with tragic events of the day. Do we feel better and are we empowered? Or are we weakened by that constant exposure? How many beheadings would there be if the media didn’t show the graphic footage of such atrocities? How many twisted agendas would fail to reach us? How many crazed individuals will attempt in the future to outdo Cho, knowing well that the media will somehow rationalize why we need and deserve to view such crimes against humanity? We would be much better not exposing our souls to such negativity.

It is the constant barrage, the incessant exposure to the negative energy percolating through our world that is poisoning the innocent and fertile minds of our children, while adversely affecting adults as well.

Each time a massacre occurs, the tragic loss of life offers us as a world society the opportunity to begin anew, to change the thought, to teach our children well. Expose our children not to the beheadings in Mexico, not to the daily bombings and murders occurring across this world, not to the Caylee Anthony murder updates, not to the constant barrage of horrific scenes our children view in the movies or on television. We must provide our children and thus ourselves with a vastly different paradigm, the path of positive thoughts, which will result in the manifestation of that which we all seek . . . peace.

Our legacy to the next generation, whether here in America or in Gaza, can be to offer a life much different from the one we have all helped to create. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The gift to our children can be the taste of a truly positive life experience. Perhaps it could begin with a Happy Meal.

About the Author

Terry Gordon, DO, FACC

Cardiologist Terry Gordon, DO, FACC, is the author of No Storm Lasts Forever.

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