If you found this past Monday to be a bummer, you might take some solace in learning you weren’t alone. That particular calendar spot, after all, has been tagged “Blue Monday”(BM) — the most depressing 24 hour period of the year.
Monday of January’s final full week earned the BM designation as part of a British travel agency’s 2005 marketing campaign. Its creator, Dr. Cliff Arnall, settled on his verdict using an admittedly psuedoscientific formula, tapping a confluence of variables: three weeks into the virgin year, the accumulated gloom of diminished daylight hours is taking a toll; Christmas’ sparkle has long since dimmed and enough time elapsed for holiday season bills to come knocking; and not a few folks have already faltered in their January 1st resolutions. Neither, obviously, does it help that “Blue Monday” is, well, a Monday — the end of a weekend and, for most, the beginning of five work days.
Ironically, Arnall doesn’t deny the whole notion is rather silly and shallow. “I’m not interested in the day-to-day happiness but the deep-down happiness that seems to elude so many people,” volunteers the 47 year old psychologist.
And the good doctor is on to something there.
His rather subjective factors for narrowing down to a single day the annum’s bleakest psychological stretch help clarify one of the grandest truths of history — of eternity, in fact: it’s the meaningful life which becomes the good life.
The emotional well-being of humans refereed by the meteorological cycle? Or Christmas trees and holiday lights? Or invoices in the mailbox, or faltering success with New Year’s goals?
I don’t think so.
The Hebrew scriptures, right from the jump, offer a remarkable revelation about mankind: he is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). The rest of the Bible — and human experience — go on to qualify it’s a flawed similitude, to be sure; nonetheless, apparently a significant one.
It ought to follow, then, that, because God is great, human lives were designed for not mere survival or “getting by”, neither for mediocrity; but for at least some measure of greatness of their own.
The Creator brought all things into existence and holds them together (Colossians 1:16, 17). A thousand-or-so-page, centuries-proven document – the Bible – records His intimate involvement in every niche of life. Safe to say, God’s existence is a fruitful and consequential one.
So, shouldn’t the same be evident about those made to mirror Him and His ways? And should those privileged to share that priceless Divine stamp remain vulnerable to something as moody and frivolous as a “Blue Monday”? Or “Tearful Tuesday” or “Woebegone Wednesday” or …?
Philosopher William James averred, “the great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” The alternative? Thoreau’s lamented life “of quiet desperation” or Hannah Arendt’s poor soul sojourning on “the level of a conditioned and behaving animal” — the kind of life, in other words, tyrannized by Blue Mondays.
Every moment infused with purpose is the only proper, and most glorious, way to conduct oneself while walking planet earth; and it confers a terrific, practical benefit: Blue Monday syndrome? Neutralized.
As a convinced, conservative Constitutionalist I’m alarmed at the state of our Republic. As a Bible-believing Christian my horror at our society’s condition runs even deeper. Yet, the good news for me (and for like-minded folks) is that this distressing situation offers unparalleled opportunity: we are needed; our convictions equip us with something vital to contribute to the thrashing world around us.
One of the most diabolical lies of the ages has to be “never talk about politics and religion.” I picture the Devil and his cohorts throwing a party after they brainstormed that one; concocted, literally, to clam up the good people, the people of God.
Politics and religion, just about more than anything else — okay, I’ll throw in culture, too — shape how things unfold in this life; and in the life to come. Of course the forces that despise godly wisdom, that loathe “the light”, want anyone who favors God’s ways to back out of involvement in these crucially impactful arenas. For centuries the church and multitudes of the ”heavenly-minded” have obeisantly avoided aggressive involvement and advocacy in “politics and religion” (and culture).
And so, grimly predictably, we’ve arrived at our current societal mess.
The obligation of every responsible citizen is to respond by inserting him/herself audaciously into every corner of existence, trumpeting our nation’s founding principles and Biblical truth however we honorably can. Never impudent or hateful, but daring and purposeful, the Blue-Monday-proof man or woman defies the safe but stultifying status quo – he lives for momentous pursuits.
Solutions for what ills our land will be found in these engaged ones who love God and His precepts – the very precepts which provided a foundation for the United States of America. These confront today’s challenges – and continue standing sentry every day because, as T.S. Eliot reminds:
If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph.
That’s our unexpiring mandate, be it a rotten, mid-winter’s Monday, a spectacular Friday afternoon in June or any frantic, but unexceptional, middle-of-the-week morning.
The nature of our leaders, laws and institutions. The general moral atmosphere. God’s Kingdom. These must compel us daily. What matters is not where one lands on the calender , but the commission to live beyond ourselves, for things beyond ourselves.
Bye bye, Blue Monday.