To the editor,

As I was in attendance of The Orange Frog Initiative in October, I felt that I was somehow in the middle of a virtual reality interactive board game. There were a series of ‘adventures’ to go through with other gamers where worthless “points” were given for random things at the whim of the leader or fellow gamers. Adventures included giving ourselves new names based on who and how we identified ourselves using “pond terminology.” 

Another adventure had us standing face-to-face and then back-to-back (changing a few things about our appearance) then again face-to-face to see if we could identify what was different. This was to teach us to be more aware of others. We made posters, created theme songs for our groups, and talked about changing our environment. As we traversed from one adventure to another, I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on how and what we could do to be happy. It felt as if I didn’t participate, and I didn’t do what was being taught, I would be left in the dust, and I wouldn’t win at this game of “Happiness.”

I wondered what would happen to us “happy” people playing a “happy” game when the masks were taken off and the game was packed away in its box; and the cheers, high-fives, singing and dancing were done. Yes, we could get the game out again and go through all the rituals again and again and again. We could even create a habit in us to play the game every Sunday morning, feel “happy,” and then go back to living our lives of quiet desperation throughout the week.  

Since the seminar, I have thought often of those in our community who are desperately in need of loving encouragement and someone to walk with them through their dark times. I really don’t believe that some virtually real orange frog (or pink lizard, or purple turtle) can make a healing difference in their lives. It is sad to me that most of our current county commissioners still believe that spending even more money on this “Happy Game” will make that difference. It is my opinion that, because this program has a temporary effect on those who are already in a good place, there are much better ways to apply these funds to help create lasting mental health healing in our community. 

Gary Lantz


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