I am currently reading a book by renowned author and Harvard psychology professor, Dr. Stephen Pinker entitled Enlightenment Now: A Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress. This book is a follow-up to his groundbreaking The Better Angels of our Nature, where he shows that our assumptions of the world is falling apart or going to “hell in a hand basket” are all wrong. Instead he shows that we are truly living is the best of times and that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge and happiness are all on the rise.
We all have a tendency of viewing our present circumstances, the current politics, cultural values and more as devolving instead of taking us to better times, to peace and toward values where all people are loved and valued. We look at the future with fear and anxiety and long for the good ole days, which often were not so good.
This reminds me of my grandmother. Her name was Doreen and her maiden name was Martin. I was named after her family. When I was growing up in Arizona, my grandparents would often come to visit. They would bring their camper which was so large, I wondered how their truck didn’t tip over with any gust of wind. When I was about eight or nine years old, they took me and my brother to the Phoenix Zoo. I believe my mom was there with us and my baby sister who was in her stroller. We walked through half of the park and came to the lion and tiger exhibits. Most of the time these zoo animals rarely give you a good show. Often, animals are hiding or sleeping but not today. Today the large male lion was making some noise and roaring at the crowd. My grandma pulled out her Kodak instamatic camera and with limited vision, started moving closer to the lion exhibit. What she didn’t see was that she was walking toward a sloped flower and shrubbery bed that was faced with raised railroad ties. Grandma tripped on these ties and fell straight down into this lowered shrubbery bed beside the lion’s area. Grandma was now head first, wearing a dress and her legs lifted in the air. All the while, the lion becomes louder and louder with his roars and grandma is screaming, thinking she just fell in the lion’s den and she is now on the menu. My grandpa was trying to help my grandma up, but also trying to keep her dress closed as that was probably worse for grandma that being eaten alive by the lion.
Soon, with the help of some other zoo patrons, my grandmother was lifted out of the bed. She was disoriented and scratched up from the shrubs but soon saw that her fear of being a lion burger was unfounded. Later, she could see the humor in the confrontation with the lion and would laugh at the incident. I should also mention that grandma got a great picture of the lion before she went down!
We all have a tendency to believe that we are falling into the lion’s den. Often, we are also in the midst of true oppression or distress, experiencing the loss of a loved one or have been experiencing failing health. Yet, there is hope and often opportunities exist to overcome and become stronger. I became a licensed professional counselor and a professor because I love lifting people up and guiding them out of their own lion’s den. I love helping people out of addiction, family dysfunction or out of feelings of depression because they see no hope for the future. If you are like me and want to help people out of their own lion’s den, please reach out to me or others at Argosy University who can help you in your next adventure.
Dr. Martin C. Wesley is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the Chair of the College of Counseling, Psychology and Social Sciences in Florida at Argosy University, Sarasota and Argosy University, Tampa. Feel free to reach out to Dr. Wesley at [email protected]