Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock.” After nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to say that many Americans suffer from PTSD. I am not trying to make excuses for aberrant behavior, but I am trying to get a handle on what is happening in America and around the globe. The United States had witnessed more than its share of abnormal behavior in 2020. The year 2021 has not been any better so far. Cool heads are far and few between. Humility and respect are in short supply.
The polarization of America cannot go on. It has led to catastrophe and will only lead to more hardship. America has to depolarize and rather quickly. The pandemic has only exacerbated a dangerous situation.
Passions are running high, and the pandemic has pushed them into the stratosphere.
Everyone has to come down to earth. There is plenty of blame to be spread around, but please can we focus on the pandemic and leave the finger-pointing to another day?
As bad as the trespass and mayhem at the Capitol was, having an impeachment vote with one week to go on President Trump’s presidency was just pouring kerosene on the flames. This will not unify the nation. Once again, I have to believe symptoms of PTSD are manifest. The treatment for PTSD is cognitive behavioral therapy. One must change the thought patterns that are disturbing one’s life. This is what is needed to get us back on track.
The Republicans lost the moral high ground with the Capitol break-in.
The Democrats lost credibility with the latest impeachment. Once again, respect for one another is what is needed, not slap downs and body slams. As my colleague Rabbi David Katz of the Igud HaRabbonim wrote in a letter to me, “Our choice should be respected. Our choice gives us freedom.”
I am sure that once we conquer the COVID-19 pandemic, we will all be able to inhale and exhale better. The PTSD that America is living with will subside. It is up to our leaders to laser-focus on curing COVID-19 and bring America back from the brink.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.