Time for some David Brooks!
First: "Lady Gaga and the Life of Passion." What does it mean to live with passion?
It begins with a desire for self-completion, Brooks writes, which can stem from a number of motivations. Yet what is similar amongst these passionate individuals is to find a cause they can wholeheartedly devote themselves.
They become by doing—not an unfamiliar concept to Judaism. To do often requires a willingness to be courageously vulnerable. Not only does that mean taking risks, it means acknowledging and battling one's personal demons, as well as being oneself.
That means marching through fear first. Once past it, all is possible.
Second: "Tales of Super Survivors." While we love using terms like "trauma" and "PTSD," the rates are actually far lower than believed. For those who have been traumatized and have gone through PTSD, recovery is very much possible. Humans are more resilient than we realize.
But resilience is based, according to Dr. Philip Fischer, on a childhood foundation of unconditional love. Once that concrete has been poured, it sets for life.
Being real about one's circumstances is necessary, too. When paired with a Pollyanna's optimism in self-ability, a person will work through the situation. Work fixes more than we know.
Looking forward, as opposed to backward, is vital. Yes, this happened. But the future can be, will be, different.
Third: "The Shame Culture." The inherent difference between guilt and shame is that the former wags a finger at actions, the latter at the individuals themselves. (That's why the guilt-inducing Jewish mother is the best way to go.)
Because of social media and the accompanying wish to be "liked," right and wrong is no longer about ethics or morals, but about acceptance or rejection. Online, pretty much everyone is the geeky high schooler yearning to be ushered into the Mean Girls clique.
And like other aspects of teenage whimsy, the standards "right" and "wrong" changes constantly.
On the other hand, everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along. . .
The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in.