In times of unprecedented change and disaster, drastic actions must be taken in order to ensure the safety and security of the people. For over a year now, the COVID era has been a prime example of such an anomaly. People endured huge changes, most notably in their social and economic lives. This uncertainty arguably created a bigger global crisis than the COVID-19 virus itself. For instance, the rate of emergency room visits for suicides, drug overdoses, domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect have all increased, according to a recent study from JAMA Psychiatry. In December 2019, when the pandemic was barely a blip on the international radar screen, the rate of emergency room visits in the US was around 1,800 per 100,000. By June 2020, the number of visits unrelated to coronavirus symptoms shot up to about 2,700 per 100,000. Another report from Johns Hopkins University states that, ‘the stress associated with the economic effects of the pandemic, such as the shutting down or scaling back of many small businesses and rampant job loss, and the social effects such as isolation from the lock-downs have contributed to the worsening of this mental health crisis.’ This pandemic undeniably amplified the effects of mental health challenges, locally and globally.
So far, none of the stimulus efforts have addressed this mental health pandemic. Everyone needs healthy outlets for stress and uncertainty. People with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, or bipolar disorder need some sort of healthy, constructive coping mechanism in order to be able to function again. Let us also not forget the detrimental effects of the pandemic on the millions of people in this country with special needs. The compassionate response to all of these problems is simple: ponies. According to the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, horse therapy provides humans with several important benefits. Working with ponies and full-grown horses can help people learn patience, impulse control, confidence, and can even teach them about social skills and boundaries.
As the reader may well be aware, Joe Biden recently signed the Democrats’ latest of three COVID-related stimulus bills, this one costing almost $2 trillion and containing aid for a variety of areas of our economy. According to The New York Times, the bill includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $300 a week in unemployment benefits, temporary expansion of child tax credits, $350 billion for state and local governments (including aid for schools), and ObamaCare subsidies. The bill is a halfway decent aid package, given the unprecedented nature of this current global pandemic and period of economic hardship. However, there is one glaring omission from the bill that bears mentioning: NO FREE PONIES!
The proactive approach of equestrian therapy has long been a go-to method of treatment for people with neurological disorders. Patients with everything from autism to cerebral palsy have seen overwhelmingly positive outcomes when trying equestrian therapy. If there was ever a time for the government to come up with, and institute, a universal pony program; it would be right now. The people of this country need something to give them a little sliver of hope. COVID-19 has changed the world for the worse, but maybe a program of free ponies for every American can spark a chain reaction, evolving the world again, this time for the better. Our country has an opportunity to show the world how pragmatic, productive coping mechanisms can help lift everyone’s spirits and create a better society. Destructive coping mechanisms don’t create better societies, they destroy them. In the same Johns Hopkins report referenced earlier, it states that gun sales increased 41% in March 2020 from sales in 2019. By October, that number became more than 50%. While gun rights deserve to be respected and protected, they will not solve the problem of improving people’s mental health and figuring out how to live as a happy society again. In times of fear, ponies will promote peace.
Some detractors of the universal pony idea are likely to trot out the stale, clichéd, “How are we going to pay for this?” excuse in order to dismiss the proposal out of hand. The answer is an easy one. If the government can pay for bombs and bailouts, it can pay for something far more practical and beneficial for the people of this country: free ponies for all. The United States will not be an effective democracy if the government fails to do things that benefit the vast majority of its people on a long-term basis.
The stimulus bill has some decent provisions and allocations, but without a universal pony program, it is generally useless in the long run. The American people need to learn how to be happy and optimistic again, and many of them are going to need some assistance in order to do that. Ponies are an extraordinary means of therapeutic treatment, and everyone deserves to discover the positive effects of this restorative pastime. The latest stimulus bill is an attempt to stimulate the economy and prevent it from utterly collapsing; but it does nothing to stimulate the frayed nerves of a traumatized nation in desperate need of relief and comfort. To heal the country, drastic actions must be taken. Let’s get the ponies to the people and make America–and the world–happy again!