Read Connor’s Letter


Dear Connor,

Yesterday, while taking a swim, I was thinking about how wonderful it feels to be in the water. I can do almost anything in the water with the ease of a 16-year-old on land. It’s a fabulous feeling. Sometimes, I must let myself drown (pun intended) in these pleasures. I also love yoga — it’s physical, yet, its most valuable attribute comes from the inner journey the act provides. Sooner or later, this inward reflection results in a relaxation that reduces blood pressure and anxiety. Often after a yoga session, I feel an overall sense of satiety that sometimes lasts for hours.

It’s not so different from some of the activities you admittedly enjoy, gardening, playing music, and Tai Chi.

Like many — hopefully, most — adults, we have learned to soothe our anxieties by enjoying relaxing activities, infinitely variable though they may be. This isn’t brain surgery. And, to my knowledge, outside of my mother when I was a toddler, no one has ever provided me or anyone else in the vicinity of my age, with a safe place to do anything. Of course, there are gorgeous parks and waterways across North America that are fine places to enjoy. Obviously,there is nothing wrong with coloring in color books; in fact, it is one of my favorite activities to do with young children. However, by the time young people reach college, they should easily be able to find and prepare a space to relax, calm down, and cope. If they can’t accomplish this, perhaps further professional help should be explored.

The very fact that colleges and universities feel the need to provide mundane, childlike activities to calm their student body is alarming. Do these young adults seriously lack the ability to cope?  Why didn’t they learn as small children to calm themselves? As a mother, I was completely conscious of the fact that my children would not always be with me. Young babies and children must learn to cope by first learning to soothe their anxieties. One way they learn is by calming themselves back into relaxation after waking in the middle of the night. Later they learn, through exposure to various situations, to cope with anger, rejection, and sadness.

If, as the news reports suggest, our universities and colleges are filled with young adults who can’t cope with or overcome negative emotions like anger, and sadness, what ultimate risk does that pose for the future of our society?

History is a great teacher. The past demonstrates that, eventually, all societies fail. The cause is nearly always attributed to the preponderance of weakness that moves through society as if it were a virus. Often it is as simple as apathy that contributes to over-farming or failure to prepare for the possibility of drought. Nonetheless, generally speaking, it begins as the group effect of personal weakness. Often, the instability paves the way for an unscrupulous takeover of power. In fact, many dictators have first fostered a dependent society prior to their power grab.

Oh, Connor: I have to wonder if this vast frailty is the beginning of the end of the strong modern society as we know it.