In the first half, Marianne Williamson spoke to Lisa Garr (email) about tragedy, loss and Sunday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Williamson expressed her horror and sadness and voiced her opinion that Americans "do not go deep enough into our sadness.” She explained that what she meant by this is that she feels we are not able to process our grief before moving on to other issues, and that this causes further tension and depression. She believes that we did not mourn enough as a nation at the end of the Vietnam war, and that contributed to complicity by government officials in later conflicts. She added that "we are so afraid to suffer that we don’t take the time to do it” and this has contributed to what she calls an “epidemic" of prescriptions for antidepressant medications.
Williamson believes that grief is part of the makeup of the human psyche in the way that our physical bodies heal from trauma such as injuries or disease, and that short-circuiting the process with medication is a mistake, since the mind should be allowed to heal itself and deal with many types of pain and grief naturally. She added that grief and sadness are “part of the psychic immune system.” She places some of the blame of emotional numbness on what she calls the “society of distraction,” with access to anything that can make us ignore and forget any deep feelings, especially negative ones. She also shared her period of deep depression over a political campaign she lost and the personal transformation she felt afterwards. She pointed out those going through trying times often emerge with a profound change in the direction of their lives and outlook.
In the second half, cardiologist and Dean of Columbia University’s medical school Dr. Lee Goldman described his theory of genetics and natural selection and how a knowledge of these factors can inform our understanding of the epidemic of a stressed and overweight population. Goldman says that our genes have not been able to evolve quickly enough to deal with the stresses of modern life. He pointed out four key things that our bodies and minds deal with now which were nearly unknown to our paleolithic ancestors: Obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. He believes that at this point in history, we are "really no different in the modern world than when you put an animal in a zoo” since we are provided with variety of foods and have no reason to move and exercise. What drives changes in our genes is natural selection, which we have gradually eliminated from our lives since the beginning of civilization.
We have evolved to eat available food and to favor variety in order to survive and get the nutrients and vitamins we need, so this works against us in a world where we can eat almost anything we like, Goldman continued. For instance, he referenced studies that show people will eat more M&Ms if presented with many colors than those who are given a choice of only one. This ancient survival strategy causes us to eat more food when a variety is available, such as at a buffet. Evolutionarily, Goldman says the fact that blood will clot easily protected us from bleeding to death, but is now the cause of heart attacks and strokes. Although Goldman doesn't see much of a way out of our genetic heritage, he thinks that dietary moderation and the use of high blood pressure and cholesterol medications are "truly beneficial."