By Ricardo Márquez
Some news stories become symbols of the times we live in.
The implosion of the submersible Titan is one of those signs.
God reminds us in the Gospels to be attentive to the signs of the times: “When you see a cloud rising in the West, you say immediately that it is going to rain — and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the South, you say that it is going to be hot — and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Luke 12:54-56).
An implosion occurs when the exterior pressure of an object is greater than its interior one, leading to the interior’s collapse. That is precisely how Titan was destroyed.
Bombarded by news stories about natural catastrophes, wildfires, the melting of the polar caps, fish die-offs, war, large-scale human migration, abuses by repressive regimes, mass shootings that kill students and others regularly … our external emotional pressure is highly elevated. We all feel it. As I see it, all of this contributes to an internal emotional collapse that manifests itself in anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges.
In 2021, there were an estimated 57.8 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with a mental illness, 22.8% of all adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The impact of this illness ranged from no impairment to mild, moderate or even severe.
In my view, external emotional pressures have contributed to an implosion in our psyches, resulting in serious mental illness.
Private mental health services are so costly that they are beyond the means of most families, particularly low-income ones. Public services do what they can, but can’t meet demand.
The mental health system, generally speaking, offers an immediate response to a person’s crisis, usually with medication, but treatment and true healing take time.
When thinking about this reality, a phrase comes to mind from Frederick Douglass: “It’s easier to build strong children, than repair broken men.”
Behind this emotional implosion, there is a deep pain that can’t be expressed. Those affected feel like they can’t breathe; they scream, but no one hears them. All too frequently, they fill this interior vacuum with the exterior fire from drugs.
How can we create an interior strength to counteract the exterior pressure?
Paradoxically, it is in silence where recovery can begin. Silence is the entryway to our interior world and the understanding of what surrounds us. In silence, we can focus on ourselves and become aware of what is affecting us emotionally, of what is “inflaming” our central nervous system. To be silent brings calmness, like a serenade to ourselves, and allows us to recognize what destabilizes, what moves us.
From a compassionate silence, we can accept the truth of what we are and what we need. In silence, we can listen to the truth of our conscience, to the voice that drives us, to the Spirit of God in which we live. From silence, hope can be reborn, opening space for action, for healing and for a restoration of life. From silence, we can build our strength, our internal pressure, to prevent an implosion.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Let’s slow down, put down our screens, stop arrogantly fighting, and let’s be still and enjoy the love that sustains us.
Ricardo Márquez may be reached at email@example.com.