A Not So Happy Meal

Changing the paradigm of negative thoughts.

Posted Jan 18, 2019

Living in today’s world with all of its uncertainties, it is easy to see why so many people fall into 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; a tidal wave in Bangladesh resulted in 2,000,000 lives lost and the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic killed over 50,000,000 people. 

In today’s world, with its modern technological advances, we are made aware via global media coverage of each catastrophe, almost instantaneously. Moments after the graphic beheading of yet another innocent hostage, a nauseating video was posted on YouTube for the world to see. Whether it’s the fear of acts of terrorism using nail-laced pressure cookers or worries about the unsettling power of Mother Nature gone awry or simply trepidations of the unknown, there is an undeniable deleterious effect on each of us, and especially on the mental health of our children.      

One Sunday morning a while back, I stopped at a local restaurant for coffee. I smiled noticing a father helping his young son open his “Happy Meal.” I reminisced back to a time years ago when my son, Tyler, and I would spend weekend mornings at what we referred to as “men’s club” where Daddy and son would spend quality time together. As I was recalling that marvelous experience, I was suddenly yanked back into a sad reality.

As this father was opening his son’s “Happy Meal,” I realized that the youngster was not paying attention to the meal or toy being placed before him. Instead, he was mesmerized by what appeared on the big-screen TV in the dining area of the restaurant. CNN was showing the vivid images of bloodied, dead college students being carried from Virginia Tech classrooms, the tragic aftermath of a bloodbath senselessly inflicted by a crazed young man. 

The young boy had a look of horror on his sweet young face. I intently watched his reaction to the video of the mass murderer’s raging diatribe of threats and demented explanations of this horrific crime.

The irony struck me that this was anything but a happy meal! 

The tragic truth is that in today’s world, very few of us enjoy a happy meal or a happy day for that matter. As I observed this child losing his innocence, it became painfully apparent to me that humankind has 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. Sadly 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. The same is happening in Syria, Yemen, and countless other countries. It is widely reported that ISIS is forcing their children to watch beheadings and teaching their little boys how to fire automatic weapons. 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 any constructive purpose.

It should come as no surprise that in a study co-authored by Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, it was found that twenty percent of young Americans had been diagnosed with a personality disorder that interfered with everyday life. These disorders include obsessive-compulsive tendencies and other anti-social behavior that can lead to violence. This is being manifest in the frequent school shooting rampages that now seem sadly commonplace. Fueling these imbalances, too many of our youth are abusing alcohol and drugs attempting to escape their reality. I suspect none of this is unique to our American society.

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. There is no doubt that immeasurable pain and suffering exists in our world. How we deal with that sadness dictates its effect on us and on the entire cosmos as well. Each time a catastrophic event occurs, humanity is offered an opportunity to begin anew, to change the thought, to teach our children well. We should expose our children not to graphic beheadings, not to the daily bombings and murders occurring across this world, not to the latest child’s murder updates, not to the constant barrage of horrific scenes our children view in movies, on television, and in video games. We must provide our children and ourselves with a vastly different paradigm, a path of positive thoughts, which will result in the manifestation of that which we all seek... Peace, Shalom, Salaam, Shanti.

Our legacy to the next generation, whether it is here in America or halfway across the globe 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 good news while enjoying a “Happy Meal.”