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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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When we gather with friends and loved ones for Thanksgiving, as we do every year, we naturally take a few moments to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.
This year, among your other blessings, might I suggest you give thanks for being an American, but also give some deeper thought to what that really means.
What I mean is that, in our current tribalistic and hyper-partisan lives, we have perhaps become too often accustomed to identifying ourselves or our neighbors first as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives… instead of what unites us first as Americans.
And it may be stressing us out to the point of killing us.
News is out that, once again, American life expectancy is down.
Some see a correlation between this drop in life expectancy and a rise in extreme stress in American life.
“Taken to its extreme conclusion, this shows that Americans exclusively have been subjected to stressful media messages. It’s the end of the world as we know it. Everything you’ve been led to believe is a lie. Be outraged. Evildoers are evildoing in the shadows. Stay vigilant. Remain on alert. Glue yourself to your media device for further instructions. Eat this not that. Declutter your life. Practice mindfulness. And be guilty and stressed out about it when you can’t,” explained one commentator.
Our national division and tribalism would seem to be a key factor feeding this extreme stress and facilitating many of the sorts of messages which drive this high stress.
A second commentator puts it even more directly by saying: “Mostly there is a diminished sense of love among us.”
How much more plainly must it be said?
It is quite appropriate that we take this most American of holidays to reconnect with the truism that we share more in common than in what divides us.
In the process, hopefully we will calm some of this extreme stress which afflicts too many of us.
We have to relearn to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
As we heal our nation, we will ultimately be healing ourselves.
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