March 3, 2011

The Antidote To Psychological Pain

March 1, 2011

By Monk Moses the Athonite

While our era is characterized by abundance and over-consumption (the economic crisis put a little brake on this), high technology, scientific progress, many comforts and material pleasures, there is a severe exacerbation of psychological problems, where one sees gray faces, nervous, troubled, frightened, anxious, sad and upset.

Even young people suffer from acute problems and internal conflicts, and are at an impasse with a dark mentality and unbearable emptiness.

Young people who are beautiful, educated and wealthy are without laughter, downcast and pessimistic. We are in a time of acquisitions, revelations, profits and success, yet our people feel bereft, without mental health, peace and joy. Often the standards of our young people are depressive types of hard music, frantic and upset. Sometimes one even thinks they like to increase the sadness and pessimism. Instead of music resurrecting and gladdening the soul, it nails it to bitter pessimism. Sad faces are the fashion.

The provocative fashions of young people, the rough all-night parties, the seduction towards the terrible scourge of drugs, high alcohol consumption, the many-houred unhealthy dependence on the Internet, and many other similar things exacerbate the problem and in no way heals it. It's as if some willy-nilly want to destroy their health, shorten their lives, and are not at all interested in the future. The statistics are very sad. Worldwide 340,000,000 people currently suffer from severe mental health problems. In Europe and America, the World Health Organization reports that nearly half the population suffers from depression, melancholy and the lighter dysthymia.

One therefore observes today with honesty and pain that neither youth, nor beauty, nor the glory of success and growth, nor a lot of money and expensive clothes, always give expected joy and much needed happiness. Among these, perhaps the continuously present gloominess wants to influence them all, to make rich the industries of psychotropic drugs? Excessive despondency, say the holy fathers of our church, is the evil spirit of sorrow that leads to depression and melancholy. It has been aptly said that the situation of grief can sometimes be morbidly enjoyable, a mild form of sadomasochism. This habit of modern society reflects and expresses our great frustration from individualism and our lack of values.

Anybody can, if they struggle and really want to, dismiss from their life immediately that which does not give them true optimism, joy and pleasure. In this way will humanity have peace, quiet and serenity. Their conscience will be rested, their life calm, even their sleep will be sweet. The poet TS Eliot said, "Doing something useful, saying something true, gazing at something truly beautiful, are enough to enrich your life." Dostoevsky said, "Beauty will save the world." The fact is that evil, cunningness, and obscenity lures and entices, but good, kindness, holiness and the beautiful is always that which really captivates and moves a person deeply.

The Greek Orthodox tradition has power, strength, meaning, faith, consolation and hope. The attempt by some to uproot from the hearts of the people this rich and life-giving tradition will only be towards the increase of the depressed, the inconsolable, and the hopeless. This tradition gave birth to excellent figures of saints and heroes. The time has come for a meaningful search, to reconnect with history, tradition and its continuity. A time which is acceptable, appropriate and necessary for a new discovery of our tradition and the certainty it offers against despair, gloom, depression and melancholy. This is the antidote to the much psychological pain of our time. We need to move quickly towards treatment. No more meaninglessness and darkness in life. Is this not the way it should be? Am I exaggerating and outdated?

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos