Declining standards of living and continuing exportation of our jobs have resulted in rising stress levels for all Americans. This results in negative effects on our well being – mentally, physically and emotionally. Some people seek to reduce stress levels by using alcohol and drugs. Some overwork themselves, resulting in mental breakdowns. The pharmaceutical giants pocket billions of dollars a year from sales of tranquillisers, anti-depressants, barbiturates, amphetamines, and other psychoactive medications.
We know we must learn to control stress in safer, saner, and healthier ways. So we read about Yoga or Aromatherapy, or maybe Feng Shui. We think about doing stress-management courses. We try to get more exercise and fresh air. We check for preservatives and other additives in our foods, and stock up on multi-vitamins. All useful and worthwhile ideas.
But one stress-buster that we don’t hear much about is helping others. A loving or supportive act, unsolicited and unconditional, can brighten another’s life and return to us as contentment and a sense of well being. When we involve ourselves in helping someone else, we overcome the self-centred nature of our own anxieties.
Living in huge centres of population, as so many of us do, often means that we lack the interaction and co-operation with neighbours which would have been so much a part of my grandparents’ lives. It’s understandable, I suppose, that constantly feeling our space invaded, we go out of our way to preserve some sort of privacy -- and end up cutting ourselves off from people who live only yards away from us.
On the other hand, for those of us who have access to it, the Internet has brought a whole n...
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...y own heart is its campaigning on behalf of the “unknowns” – those prisoners who are tortured or at risk of death in obscure circumstances, and whose names rarely reach the international media. You can read about some of these desperate people at www.stoptorture.org.
The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr coined the ultimate expression of empowerment:
(God) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
By joining in Amnesty’s work, we can change things. By each sending an Amnesty 'Stop Torture' postcard to five friends, together we have the potential to add thousands to the list membership and constantly increase their influence.
Can you imagine how many lives could be changed, or even saved, if all of us showed someone imprisoned and forgotten that we really do care?
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