Over the decades, I've had the opportunity to watch American society change. That it inexorably does change is close to a truism. Each generation that's born into the work begins assuming what they experience is "normal" and becomes a baseline for trying to ferret out what "true" and what's, well, untrue. That task has become a lot harder this decade. What with coercive advertising, spun facts, "fake news," "social reality" (largely via the internet), superheroes everywhere and a level of propagandizing that hasn't been heard since the two World Wars, it's getting harder and harder to know what's true -- what's reality -- and what isn't. Mental health is becoming a misnomer. Is there anything at all healthy about a world manipulated such that one is sorely challenged to know what to believe and what to not believe? An illness (verses a disease) is a sense of feeling ill, and that would make our current decade one of mass mental illness. Mass mental illness, with less and less of a baseline to which to refer. 

As a retired post-secondary educator, I taught the importance of critical thinking (meaning critical reading, writing, listening, speaking and decision-making). Last year, when I asked the incoming college class what the purpose of a higher education was, they almost uniformly said "to make more money." I'd not heard that answer en masse before, and while it shocked me at first, it was surprisingly easy to understand, given this generation's lack of a baseline of truth, and the overwhelming emphasis today on accumulation of wealth (or, if you're already "wealthy," the accumulation of power). It feels strangely antiquated to say that I was taught the primary reason for American higher education was to convey to its future participants in democracy, the ability to think critically, and thereby determine the "truth value" of what's heard or written. Without this, a democracy degenerates into mob rule. 

So, where are we as a society and nation "going wrong?" It's certainly not in the acquisition of data, technology, wealth or power. I think it's in the slow disappearance in the emphasis of "human service" over "product sales." I hear more and more that the solution to anything that isn't "making money" is to "make it a business" or "get rid of it altogether." Unfortunately for business, there are endeavors that simply aren't business-like, and should never be. Think curiosity, discovery, spirituality, social assistance, medicine, gender equality, education and the like. Yes, there's a lot of room for business, but because the principal goal of business in the accumulation of wealth, often by any means, I hold that business is unhealthy, call it a mental illness if you like, in many traditional "public" sectors. We desperately need to let go of business as the answer to all our problems, and return to a sprite of service. After all, it's as much the service as the food that elevates one restaurant above another, one experience above another.