“Something has gone out of our way of life which makes for increasing tension and anxiety.”
Anxiety is the theme of this sermon of February 14, 1965, as it seems to be the theme of our lives at this moment in history. Rabbi Olan lists the external causes of global anxiety in 1965: nuclear war, automation, and mass communication. To those, we today can add new threats to our peace of mind: climate change; the state of American politics; COVID-19 and its economic impact; and a heightened awareness of racism and police brutality. And then there’s the vicious circle by which the pandemic keeps many people at home with nothing to do but watch news that stokes their anxiety, without the comfort of seeing loved ones.
Olan then goes on to talk about the free-floating anxiety that afflicts so many – above and beyond the anxieties mentioned above. While acknowledging the role of psychiatry in addressing this scourge, he ultimately concludes that anxiety thrives when life lacks meaning.
*Written by Joshua Hirsch.*