[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/15/newyork.crash.passengers/art.survivors.nydn.jpg caption="The New York Fire Department rescued passengers from the downed plane in the Hudson River."]
Dr. Gail Saltz
Psychiatrist and AC360° Contributor
2008 has been a dismal year for so many and 2009 is shaping up to be very difficult as well. Most people have been engrossed in the economic impact, which is huge. But what of the impact on the nation's psyche?
I have watched with great concern as we have been bombarded by “systems” not working. Whether it be financial institutions, corrupt politicians and businessmen, the failure of accountability for money, for military action, there has been a constant message that our system is broken, nothing works right, certainly not the way its supposed to.
And trust has been shattered by money mangers who absconded with others' money, by politicians who lied and cheated their constituents, by companies who put their own needs so before those of employees and stockholders that they were willing to devastate their victims.
When our national trust is so violated, the tenor of our people risks becoming cold, cynical and despondent.
The incredible story of the US Airways flight is that it is a shining example of just how well an American System can work.
There was skill, heroism, humanism, organization, use of incredible training and professionalism. Professionals in various arenas did a superb job, and people involved were kind to one another, helpful, caring deeply about their fellow man and willing to be brave to do so.
This is the America we have all been missing, this is the America we all want to see return.
That's why I see this as a real “shot in the arm” for our national psyche. We all really needed to feel there is someone you can trust, particularly each other.
This was no doubt a terrible event and a near tragedy which I hope, like everyone else will never happen again. But curiously it is also a boost for our nation’s mental health, an example that the system can work and that we are good competent people at heart who will help each other.
We all needed some optimism back. And the genuine heroism demonstrated in that rescue gave it to us.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with