Decision 2016: An equal opportunity stressor

800px-dwight_d-_eisenhower_official_presidential_portrait “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower    

I grew up in a politically involved family. Our dinner conversations were intense and consumed with history, politics and various social justice issues that were relevant to the 50’s and 60’s.

Today, I understand the concern regarding the divides not only in our country and in many western democracies. I am married to a British citizen who is very concerned about the unintended consequences of the Brexit vote for his country, Europe and the U.S.

As a psychologist, I worry about the mood of our country. While the  Gen Xers and Millennials  may turn to social media for conversation rather than gathering around the dining room table,  election stress crosses the generations.[1]

But I remain optimistic that the voters of each generation will understand the importance of this election. It is a pivot point for our country. We have had a number of pivot points over the last 240 years, and our citizens have stepped up amended and expanded a Constitution that was not written in stone. We don’t have to make “America Great Again”, we have to continue the journey of greatness and that requires that we elect candidates who understand that this country was founded on compromise.

We have been blessed to have courageous leaders from both parties who ultimately put their differences aside and work for the common good. It is our responsibility to vote for those individuals who are willing to govern together, to compromise, not proselytize.

President George H. W. Bush reminded us that “This is America…..a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” Unfortunately, the sky isn’t so peaceful these days.

But we the citizen have an opportunity and the responsibility to elect leaders willing to work together to address and reconcile the angst, anger, and mistrust that resonates throughout our country. Mahatma Gandhi spoke about a nation’s culture residing in “the hearts and in the soul of its people”.

It is time for “we the people” to do an “intervention” for our country. This election is about America’s heart and soul.

Catherine Smith-Wilson PsyD,ABPP (and sister of Sheila A. Smith)

[1] (APASurvey on the 2016 Presidential Election Source of Significant Stress for More Than Half of Americans.) http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/10/presidential-election-stress.aspx#

About the author

Catherine Wilson

Catherine Wilson

Staff psychologist on the spinal cord injury/disability unit at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Assistant Professor Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation till 2015. For the past 20 years Dr. Wilson has worked on numerous research studies in the area of spinal cord injury focusing on psychosocial issues and outcome measure. Currently, she is focused on exploring the relationships among depression symptoms, general distress, resiliency, and life satisfaction reported by Veterans diagnosed with ALS. Results are expected to inform standards of assessment and interventions in SCI/D rehabilitation.

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