Letter To The Editor: STRESS
I invited my doctor to attend an upcoming “meet and greet” taking place this week. That was the first he had heard I was running for office. He told me that since the 2016 presidential election, many patients were suffering from stress. He warned me that running, watching, listening to the politics surrounding us was a big problem resulting in stress and stress related ailments. I’ve heard this from others I know who can’t sleep, are gaining weight, find themselves fearful and unable to concentrate.
For me, running for office is offsetting the stress levels, I think it is because I am actively doing something about my fears and anger, I’m not watching TV news, I’m out there meeting people and discussing solutions to the problems we all face.
There are 11 months until the 2018 elections that could change the US House and Senate, yet a few days ago the US Senate passed a tax bill that will devastate many of us in the lower Hudson Valley. Where is the stress-reducing outrage, where is the organized effort to challenge what is going on in Washington? It is certainly not being led by our home-based officials, who should have traveled to DC and met with every member of the House and Senate, thwarting this legislation before it ever came to a vote. Being proactive, addressing problems before they are catastrophes is something our state legislators should be doing. Instead, they are reactive, acting only when the problem can no longer be ignored, making solving it costly and dangerous.
My professional work over the last few decades has put me in interesting places at interesting times. I worked in Ukraine as they declared independence from the USSR, I watched many new nations form as the chains of Soviet Communism fell and I felt the euphoria of people feeling free for the very first time. A few years later I found myself in Tahrir Square in Egypt as the crowds swelled and the Mubarak regime fell, and again, the people felt something they had never known in their lives…a sense that they had power.
In both cases democracy, freedom, human rights have been a struggle and by most accounts these “revolutions” have failed. Both nations have faltered, and the hopes and dreams of a free people resorted to hoping for a strong arm to keep order and protect them from the great unknown.
Here in the United States we have a greater tradition of democracy, but we too are confronted with fear and anger, confusion and alarm. To many of us, our government is not being responsive to the citizens. So far Americans have not taken to the streets in the way Ukrainians or Egyptians did, we are still looking to our legal system to work and bring order to our current chaos. For that to happen, we, as citizens, have to become even more engaged in the process. By engaging, by being knowledgeable, you become part of the solution, not part of the problem. The people I see who are coping best are the ones who are working to make change, working to right the wrongs and challenging those in power.
In every corner of our world change comes from individuals willing to stand up. Reduce your stress. Turn off your TV, get off your computer and take your anger, fear and uncertainty to a political or social campaign, a cause, something in your neighborhood or at your church, synagogue or mosque. Action is the best cure for stress and fear. Together we can reinvigorate our democracy, together we can learn from the mistakes of Ukraine and Egypt. This isn’t the time to give up, it is the time to stand up.
Shortly we will start our Town Hall series, addressing the issues that confront everyone in this senate district. Join us, join the conversation about economic development and jobs, funding education in our communities, healthcare, energy and technology. Let’s sit down and talk about alternatives to property taxes as the prime source of school funding, let’s explore real solutions that energize our communities and region. Join us in a proactive effort that solves problems, brings positive change and rekindles the belief we have in ourselves and our community. There is a very good reason our Constitution starts with “We The People”, let us never forget it.
Robert Kesten, Candidate NYS Senate 40