Change can be fearful. Procrastination carries consequences. Anxiety is habit-forming. However, possessing wisdom with a sense of urgency is fearlessness combined with a drop of faith. It’s all we need to create the change we desire.
During our waking hours, some of us are indeed offering encouragement and educating all generations on reasons to take the nation’s midterm elections seriously and exercise our right to vote. Yet more recently, while we lay down to sleep, our democracy was threatened and our political landscape changed drastically overnight. Many saw it happening live on the 24-hour news cycle, but even more of us woke to senseless chaos, uncertainty, and doubt on all levels. That’s what an attack feels like. Perhaps it was even more disturbing to those who are not aware of our historic circumstances.
High drama is not new to the faith community and the African-American church in particular. Our ancestors kept each other “woke” at all times. Under the covering of God’s amazing grace and prayer, spirit-filled people strengthened themselves and their strategic interests. They dog-whistled like others influencers we hear today, but only among each other without shame or political correctness. Whether attending church, visiting the local grocery store, or at work in plain sight of their oppressors, Black Christians made their plight to obtain civil rights and equality clear. They took time to teach the illiterate, educate their children, and, most importantly, communicate with little regard for political affiliation.
Much has changed since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1964, ending both segregation and granting equal voting rights. Today we have many platforms of social media. We don’t own them, but we spend millions of dollars to invest in them using the latest technologies. We have somehow become cozy with these conveniences. Let’s face it; we enjoy our toys that keep us entertained causing us to become less engaged with humanity.
Technical inanimate objects allow us to keep in touch with those we care about without human voice or touch. It is appreciated as an asset in our society. Yes, we digitally celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, achievements and such, but we must be cautious about what is shared through these mediums. Perhaps it is also a brilliant distraction as the megabytes we use can literally tick away our freedoms when abused.
As a researcher and writer, I posted one simple question to my modestly sized social media audience one day prior to the bomb threats.
Question: “Given your personal history or social concerns that may affect you or individuals within your life or community, why will you choose to vote in this 2018 midterm election?”
For nearly 24 hours, everyone was silent. Then one response was received. That individual sincerely shared that her faith is in “Jehovah, not man.”
Even in our silence, we should reach deep into our mustard seed of faith and wake up, fearless and ready to take action. Voting is the most active resistance we have as a civil right. Our enthusiasm should empower us and encourage others.
Weren’t we told to “Wake Up Everybody” 43 years ago by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes ironically in November 1975? Singer and songwriter Elton John told us to “hold the borders open” in 1970. Are we even aware of the message that Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas encouraged in his book “How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon(2018)?” He shares with us a simple truth, “When we do not choose productive options and constructively confront issues…the issue does not go away…buried feelings do not die.”
When we are socially or spiritually asleep, we become more involved with our own personal daily agendas. I offer here a bit of nutrition for spiritual thought. The Bible teaches us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV) “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Are we asleep in spite of our own best interest or complacent to our own demise? Are we aware of how high the stakes are for ourselves if we chose not to vote? Are we proactively awake enough to effectively communicate and participate in this critical process to educate both the eligible or disenfranchised voter?
If our choice is to remain silent, then perhaps the real question is — what are we doing with our stewardship? Wake Up! Stay Woke! Make the change you desire. It requires both prayer and action. Obviously, others who may not have our best interests at heart have a well-planned strategy. What’s ours? Make sure you at least use your right to vote now while you still have that right!
The rise was most pronounced in minority groups, suggesting that better access to health insurance and mental health treatment through the Affordable Care Act might have played some role in the increase. The rate of diagnosis during that time period doubled in girls, although it was still much lower than in boys.
But the researchers say they found no evidence confirming frequent complaints that the condition is overdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
The U.S. has significantly more instances of ADHD than other developed countries, which researchers said has led some to think Americans are overdiagnosing children. Dr. Wei Bao, the lead author of the study, said in an interview that a review of studies around the world doesn’t support that.
”I don’t think overdiagnosis is the main issue,” he said.
Nonetheless, those doubts persist. Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, who co-authored a 2014 book called “The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance,” compared ADHD to depression. He said in an interview that neither condition has unequivocal biological markers, so it makes it hard to determine if a patient truly has the condition without lengthy psychological evaluations. Symptoms of ADHD can include inattention, fidgety behavior and impulsivity.
“It’s probably not a true epidemic of ADHD,” said Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley and a professor of psychiatry at UC-San Francisco. “It might be an epidemic of diagnosing it.”
In interpreting their results, however, the study’s authors tied the higher numbers to better understanding of the condition by doctors and the public, new standards for diagnosis and an increase in access to health insurance through the ACA.
Because of the ACA, “some low-income families have improved access to services and referrals,” said Bao, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
The study, published in JAMA Network, used data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual federal survey of about 35,000 households. It found a steady increase in diagnoses among children from about 6 percent of children between 1997 and 1998 to more than 10 percent between 2015 and 2016.
Advances in medical technology also may have contributed to the increase, according to the research. Twenty years ago, preterm or low-weight babies had a harder time surviving. Those factors increase the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD.
The study also suggests that fewer stigmas about mental health care in minority communities may also lead to more people receiving an ADHD diagnosis.
In the late 1990s, 7.2 percent of non-Hispanic white children, 4.7 percent of non-Hispanic black children and 3.6 of Hispanic children were diagnosed with ADHD, according to the study.
By 2016, it was 12 percent of white kids, 12.8 percent of blacks and 6.1 percent of Hispanics.
Over the past several decades, Hinshaw said, there’s been an expanded view of who can develop ADHD. It’s no longer viewed as a disease that affects only white middle-class boys, as eating disorders are no longer seen as afflicting only white middle-class girls.
Still, he cautioned against over-diagnosing ADHD in communities where behavioral issues could be the result of social or environmental factors such as overcrowded classrooms.
The study found rates of ADHD among girls rose from 3 to more than 6 percent over the study period. It said that was partly a result of a change in how the condition is classified. For years, ADHD pertained to children who were hyperactive. But in recent years, the American Psychiatric Association added to its guide of mental health conditions that diagnosis should also include some children who are inattentive, Bao said. That raised the number of girls, he explained, because it seems they are more likely to be in that second subtype.
“If we compare these two, you can easily imagine people will easily recognize hyperactivity,” he said.
That rang true for Ruth Hay, a 25-year-old student and cook from New York who now lives in Jerusalem. She was diagnosed with what was then called ADD the summer between second and third grade.
Hay said her hyperactive tendencies aren’t as “loud” as some people’s. She’s less likely to bounce around a room than she is to bounce in her chair, she said.
Yet despite her early diagnosis, Hay said, no one ever told her about other symptoms. For example, she said, she suffers from executive dysfunction, which leaves her feeling unable to accomplish tasks, no matter how much she wanted to or tried.
“I grew up being called lazy in periods of time when I wasn’t,” Hay said. “If you look at a list of all the various ADHD symptoms, I have all of them to one degree or another, but the only ones ever discussed with me was you might be less focused and more fidgety.”
“I don’t know how my brain would be if I didn’t have it,” she added. “I don’t know if I’d still be me, but all it has been for me is a disability.”