THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Desolate or peaceful - a matter of perception

By Fred Cavaiani

This past Fourth of July my wife and I spent a couple of days with our daughters, son in law and six grandchildren up at our "summer weekend home," at an RV park in Port Austin, Michigan. It was an energizing and peaceful four days. A friend of ours up there told me that he had moved to a year-round home in Port Austin last December. He and his wife have retired there. Someone said to him, "But Bruce, it is so desolate up here in the winter." Bruce said to me "for some people it may seem desolate, but for me it is peaceful."

So much of life is all a matter of perception. We have been coming up this way for many years and we experience this as a peaceful place to be. The hurried pace of life is absent. The freedom to sit quietly and listen to the birds, the breezes, the waves, and the animals roaming through the woods is refreshing and peacefully energizing. It is a privilege to have quiet time to reflect, meditate and look at life in a deeper manner.

As I write this on July 4th and reflect on the meaning of this day and the privilege to live in a free country, I feel very grateful to be an American. We live today with a President who seems to be negative about everything and everyone who disagrees with him. He is tweeting and vocalizing personal attacks on almost anyone who challenges him and he has created a negative attitude about the United States throughout the world. Whatever party we might affiliate with or favor, there is no excuse to treat people with disrespect and negativity. We need Republicans and we need Democrats. What we don't need is a President who sees life as all about him and attacks anyone personally who disagrees with him. The Leader of the Free World needs to be a model of personal integrity to the whole world.

Yet on this July 4th we still live in a free world. It is a matter of perception as to how we choose to live our lives. Even if our leaders seem to be negative, critical and narcissistic regardless of party affiliation, we can choose to appreciate in this week of celebrating our Independence and Freedom, that we are a free society and have the power to make positive changes in the world. In this age of social technology and immediate communication, we can choose to be positive and loving.

People from the United States who travel to other countries are often confronted, "What is happening to your country right now? The United States used to be so respected and now is so disrespected."

There is an easy answer to this: "It is because we are a free country. Sometimes you can have great leaders and sometimes you can have poor leaders." The truth is that because of July 4th this country will never become a dictatorship. The wrongs will be corrected. The vast majority of people are not condemning and judgmental and have the ability to see what is good about us and what isn't so good.

It is a privilege to be an American and to become an American citizen. Sometimes we might get persecuted for wanting to put compassion first and respect for all first. Sometimes we might suffer because we aren't condemning those who disagree with us by engaging in personal character attacks. The truth in life is that by our kind actions we will eventually be judged to have been effective in making the world a better place.

I hope you all have had a glorious July Fourth. Our freedom will remain. It is realistic to be hopeful and compassionate. There is a strong desire in human nature for compassionate connections with other people. Those who are hurting, broken, and struggling, caring and compassionate are quite often the backbone of a country. This describes most of us on this planet. When we listen to our hearts we will discover the right thing to do. It is how our country started. After the first Independence Day there were many attempts to exclude other people from these shores. Many immigrants suffered from prejudicial actions and social boycotts. Yet none of this ever overcame our free nation. What has always won out is freedom for all and the ability to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on these glorious shores. Because we are a democracy allowing people to choose to experience and find God or choose not to do this, we will go forward with love and compassion for all.

Have a wonderful July everyone. Let your perceptions always see peace, love, compassion and goodness in everything and everyone. Do not be upset by those who condemn and judge you. Only be upset if you do the same to others. Let love win out. It is the road to freedom and independence. Be always loving and positive and see the goodness everywhere. It is there but we must look for it. When we do this we can peacefully stand up to those who see things negatively and attempt to destroy positivity, optimism and genuine love of others.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. He is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other week. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Thu, Jul 06, 2017