The Cycle of Life: War, Peace, Happiness, and…

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

The piece was set to music in 1952 by Pete Seeger in his song “Turn!, Turn!, Turn!” 

3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
3:6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace

In the United States, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. It is a day to remember those who went to war and sacrificed their lives in order to protect freedom and democracy.

It is very easy for people to become disenchanted and depressed about life in light of the suffering caused by war, poverty and world wide violence. This suffering also includes such problems as psychiatric disorders, i.e.: depression, psychosis, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. All of these alter peoples’ lives in very negative ways. Soldiers and civilians, the elderly, women and children are killed in war. Psychiatric illnesses cause endless emotional damage sometimes ending in suicide.

When one thinks about the state of the world and daily life, how can anyone feel happy?

As Pete Seeger sings in the piece from Ecclesiastes III, There is a cycle to life. When we are going through a period of war, personal crisis or unemployment, it seems as though things will never be better again. People convince themselves that things were never good. However, there is no reason to believe that our lives will always remain painful. Life Turns, Turns, Turns, and it is important to remember that.

For those who cannot get out of negative thinking, there is psychotherapy. The purpose of psychotherapy is not to remove personal suffering, and make everyone happy all the time. That is not possible. The purpose is to reduce suffering, improve the quality of life, enjoy those episodes of happiness and learn how be resilient when life Turns, Turns, Turns, yet again and in a negative direction.

If there is such a thing as mental health, it has to do with coping when life presents us with a crisis.

Your comments are always welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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