Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s the latest dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media:

Destitute Lost in Election Noise. As national elections loom in both Canada and the US, Canadian homeless advocate, filmmaker and friend Barry Moore created the above public service video to draw attention to the plight of the homeless, as the issue of homelessness is barely mentioned by any of the leadership candidates on either side of the border. His video is available free of charge to support any organization that serves the homeless. The call to action can be easily modified to provide the contact information for any organization.  The PSA can be viewed on any device that connects to the Internet at www.homelesspsa.com.

In Canada, the Liberal government has committed to the Housing First philosophy, providing $1.25 billion dollars over nine years towards a program dubbed Reaching Home. Housing First strategies are also supported by homeless advocates in the United States, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Japan and the United Kingdom.  It’s not clear if other Canadian political parties support Housing First.

As the name suggests, in the Housing First approach stable housing is provided first. Any other issues that may affect the household can and should be addressed once housing is obtained.  This contrasts with the housing ready model, wherein an individual or household must address other issues that may have led to the episode of homelessness prior to entering housing.  Proponents of Housing First say it saves taxpayers money through a reduction in police interactions, emergency room visits, and hospitalization.  Issues leading to homelessness cited in both strategies include things like mental health and addictions.

Addictions have gained a lot of attention worldwide in the last few years because of the opioid crisis.  According to the World Health Organization, in the United States of America alone in 2016, there were an estimated 63,632 deaths due to drug overdose.  That’s a 21% increase from previous years.  Meanwhile, mental health has become one of the defining issues of our time.

IMHO: I applaud Barry’s work and believe his support of a Housing First approach to homelessness makes a lot of sense. In a society as wealthy as ours, virtually no one should be homeless.

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Headlines got you down? Here’s some advice on getting through the trying times.

Climate change, threats of war, racial tensions, impeachment. It all can be pretty daunting and depressing.

I recently had the opportunity to ask psychotherapist and author Dr. Jeffrey Rubin about how ordinary people can avoid curling up in a fetal position. The guy oughtta know something. I mean he’s a graduate of Princeton University, Columbia University, and Union Institute. He received psychoanalytic training at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and The Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.  He has published six books, numerous articles and has taught at universities, psychoanalytic institutes and meditation and yoga centers including Union Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University, The Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, The C. G. Jung Foundation of New York, The American Institute for Psychoanalysis, Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, The Harlem Family Institute, New York Insight and Yoga Sutra.

He is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on the integration of meditation and psychotherapy. In his ground-breaking and critically acclaimed Psychotherapy & Buddhism: Towards an Integration, Dr. Rubin forged his own unique synthesis of Eastern and Western thought. He illuminated each discipline’s strengths and weaknesses and how they could enrich each other. In a recently published ebook, Meditative Psychotherapy, Dr. Rubin explores how a judicious blending of the best of the Eastern meditative and Western psychotherapeutic traditions offers us unmatched tools for living with greater awareness and freedom, wisdom and compassion.

JWK: By almost any objective measure, you could say Americans are better off than ever before – with historically-low unemployment and more choices than ever before. So, why are we feeling so anxious?

Dr. Jeffrey Rubin: We come by our alienation and unhappiness honestly. As I suggest in The Art of Flourishing, we are bombarded by information – much of it trivial and addictive – we are living at a frenzied pace; we are devoid of meaningful human connections in our highly wired world; we are disgusted with and demoralized by the direction of our country and distrustful of those sworn to protect us.

JWK: What role does the nexus between politicians, traditional media, and social media play in exasperating the perceived divides of Americans?

JR: Financially challenged institutions like the media are invested in making a profit. Truth doesn’t sell. Drama and conflict do.  That predisposes the media to encourage controversy and perhaps give short-shrift to positive differences between individuals and cultural and social heroes. And that inflames existing ideological,  cultural, racial, religious and gender divides. The media, on the other hand, needs to value and enumerate what connects us, as well as notice what alienates us.

JWK: How do religion and faith play into all this?

JR: Religion, like most aspects of life, is Janus-faced: it has been a force for enormous good-the architects of the Civil Rights movement in the US like Martin Luther King Jr., were deeply religious people-and it has led to centuries of hatred, brutality, and bloodshed. It is deeply troubling – and morally indefensible – that the Christian Right condones immoral behaviors and actions in our culture for political reasons.

JWK: What can we, as individuals, do not to be drawn into the national anxiety?

JR: First of all, it is natural to be anxious, even terrified. To not be anxious in an age of terror and rage might mean that a person is too detached or emotionally sleepwalking. It is important that we try to not add to our fear and trepidation and work constructively.

JWK: What can our influencers, such as politicians, people in the media and faith leaders, do to lower the national temperature?

JR: Role-model adult behavior. Try to empathize with those people we disagree with. Reward virtue. Challenge – instead of being complicit in – cultural evils.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11