Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for Hallam diocese, tries to raise a smile on Blue Monday.
Today is Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. So, in a highly unscientific study, I scanned people’s faces on the train this morning to find out if this could be true. After careful consideration, I decided they didn’t look any more miserable than usual, though given it was a wet Monday morning and our train was late, even the slightest smile would have been more out of place than a pork chop at a vegan BBQ.
Thinking about it, though, my wife had looked pretty miserable before I’d left the house. Apparently she hadn’t slept well and it was her first day back at work after Christmas, but maybe Blue Monday was also working its hidden curse! Anyway, I cheered her up with a breezy “stop whinging and pull yourself together”, after which, I imagine, everything was much better.
Joking aside, depression is, of course, a serious thing. Mind, the mental health charity reports that, in England, 1 in 6 people say they experience a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week. So the title of a book by academic Lynne Segal caught my eye recently: “Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy.” I haven’t read the book but, from what I gather, her basic argument is that we can find deep happiness by working with others to bring about social change.
Though Segal isn’t a Catholic, both her language and her argument could be. What’s more, her prescription for unhappiness is exactly what we at CAFOD are trying to do. No wonder CAFOD staff and volunteers always have a smile on their face! Right now, we’re calling on people to get involved with our “Share the Journey” campaign. Actually, strictly speaking, it’s not our campaign at all but has been inspired by Pope Francis’ special concern for people on the move.
At the moment, we’re inviting people to sign our petition but, later in the year, we’ll be asking people to go for a walk together in an act of solidarity with our sisters and brothers who have been forced to flee from their homes. We’re aiming to walk 24,901 miles – the distance around the whole world- and we hope that every step we take together will send a message to world leaders that they must step up too. Join us and share the joy!