The View Out the Window and In the Mirror

by Robin Saenger

Daily, we throw gobs of money down into an abyss…pause, then repeat. Not figuratively, either, at least not the dollars part. It’s real dollars, every day, all day long, because we attempt to find solutions to our most challenging issues by focusing on and band-aiding the symptoms — what is in our face.

What’s in my face these days? Personally, it’s feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of our challenges — child abuse, domestic violence, climate change, veterans coming home severely challenged physically, emotionally and mentally; homelessness; drug addiction, and overdoses; loneliness and disconnect.

We have kids with complex PTSD who can’t learn and can’t read, growing numbers of folks with auto-immune diseases, diabetes, and obesity. More of us are living in poverty or are among the working poor, going to jail, and we are an increasingly aging population.

Let’s pick just one of these issues — homelessness. There are so many facets to understand, but we seem to focus on housing as “the solution” without looking at why folks are homeless to begin with. Whether the “cause” appears to be poverty, substance abuse, inability to hold a job, and on and on — digging a bit deeper we always discover a well of trauma.

Sometimes it’s just below the surface and sometimes it’s way way down deep, but it’s there. It will play out in all manner of emotional and physical ways, this is proven.

Trauma should be the first place we look and the thing to invest in early on to address and resolve. If I hear another person say something along the lines of “Some people choose to be homeless; they don’t want help,” I may do more than audibly groan. I may scream in frustration. In fact, it’s likely I will.

Why then don’t we look at solutions through that lens? Of course it’s not possible to resolve other people’s trauma because only they have the power over their own lives. We can however start owning our own trauma histories. We can acknowledge trauma as a universal experience. We can be brave and make that choice for ourselves.

Then we can work together to bring a broad sweep of a solution to the overwhelming trauma that pretty much has the whole world in its tight mean fist. We can bring wholeness and peace into our own lives, and shine a light to guide others with compassion. We can share and explore doors of possibility for all of us to be empowered to choose health on all levels.