Article 43

 

Spiritual Diversions

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Global Hypnosis

image: zo,bies

Colleges across the country have transitioned from bastions of intellectual enlightenment to resort hotels prizing amenities above academics. The rigor of a universitys courses doesnt attract the awe of doe-eyed high school seniors. Lavish dorms and other luxuries do.
- Professors on Food Stamps, 2014
.

Ever wonder why NEWS SHOWS got all those circles swirling around the screen? 

EVER THINK it may have SOMETHING TO DO with MIND CONTROL?

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Internet of Things Formula for a Global Trance

By Jon Rappoport
Activist Post
March 28, 2018

Here is the psychology in a nutshell:

MAKE PEOPLE PASSIVE. PUT THEM IN A TRANCE.

IoT is the absurd plan - now rolling out - to connect every conceivable device to the Internet. Worldwide. This means life will become automatic for a large chunk of the population in due time.

Your car will drive you. Your fridge will order new food items. Your heat and air conditioning will operate beyond your control. Your toaster will decide how brown the bread will be. Your whole home will run on prescribed algorithms, deciding how much energy you can use and when.

You will become a spectator.

Passivity IS hypnosis.

Why would you care about WHAT’S HAPPENING beyond your bubble? As long as “functions are functioning,” all is well.

Of course, as you enter a decline in health, owing to the introduction of wireless 5G, the harmful technology necessary to implement IoT, and as your home devices spy on you and register your “symptoms,” there will be mandatory doctors’ visits. But don’t worry, you won’t have to leave your house. The diagnosis will occur on a screen in your hand, and the toxic medicine will arrive at your door. These drugs will make you more PASSIVE.

No, all this won’t happen tomorrow, but up the line, that is THE PLAN and the picture. Brave New World.

Ambition? Achievement? The will to succeed?

These former qualities will fade into extinction. No longer required. They existed merely to bring us to the point where TECHNOLOGY would take over.

And if you think the present EDUCATION SYSTEM is grossly inadequate, imagine what it will look like when “IoT homes” proliferate. If you can sit back and let your life run on automatic, why would you need to learn - anything?

At one time, my cardinal skill was flipping a switch that would automate all devices in my apartment. But now I don’t have to do that. The apartment is always ON. I can’t turn it off. “Who cares?”

Huge numbers of people won’t have IoT homes. The promise will go unfulfilled. This fact will set up a new class system. But with enhanced (automatic) security systems, and the backing of State force, the fortunate ones will be protected in formidable fashion.

Hypnosis works by “freeing a person from making choices.” He sits there. When he is suitably passive, he receives suggestions. In the case of IoT, those suggestions will be provided by his AI environment: “I’m here. I serve you. I give you what you need. I decide what you need. I’m your guide to happiness.” By doing less and less, you get more and more.

If you say, Well, “this is already happening,” youre right. But with IoT, the difference will be extraordinary.

On a broad scale, the basics of hypnosis - trance plus suggestions - will revolutionize human relationships. Interactions will occur at much lower levels of energy. The content of future communication will make today’s Facebook posts seem like conversations among university scholars.

But its all good.

If you want your children and grandchildren to float in a passive electronic dead sea.

If not, you’d better reinstate the old virtues. Ambition. Achievement. Will power. Independence. Self-reliance. Self-sufficiency.

The trance-breakers.

Finally, for now, as the IoT moves forward, people who accept it are going to start believing that the objects around them are seeing and perceiving and thinking. People are going to develop a strange metaphysics, in which objects are conscious and alive and all-knowing. People are going to hold fast to this premise. They are going to take the trance to a whole new level, in which the hypnotic suggestions are coming from gods.

That will increase the power of the suggestions by many degrees.

It always works this way. The source of the trance is elevated, until it becomes, for the faithful, a Vatican of ultimate truth

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Posted by Elvis on 03/28/18 •
Section Revelations • Section Spiritual Diversions
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why Don’t Americans Care About Each Other

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One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you cant exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You cant be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu 2008

How Societies Based on Rivalry Become Lord of the Flies

By Umair Haque
Eudaimonia
March 2018

Heres a tiny question. Does a society prosper, mature, develop, grow? By people pulling themselves up?

Today, high school students across America are walking out. But lets remember exactly why. Because their elders HAVE ALLOWED gun massacres at schools, and appear totally unmotivated or unmoved to change it. Hence, its left to the vulnerable kids to fend for themselves. Pull yourself up!! How Lord of the Flies.

So. Why don’t Americans care about each other? After all, that high school students have to walk out en masse to demand, well, they don’t be massacred is a pretty good indication that Americans don’t.

(But perhaps you object to my question. Very well, lets consider it in a number of other ways. Americans won’t give each other working healthcare, education, media, transport, safety nets, retirement, mobility, stability. The result is lives like pressure cookers - boiling with stress, mistrust, despair, and rage. Hence, opioid epidemics, loneliness, depression, anxiety, anger. America is above all renowned today for being something like a new Rome: for its cruelty. But all that is just another way to say that Americans don’t care about one another.)

I think that the reason is hidden in plain sight. Americans have been taught to see one another as rivals - because the idea was that way, everyone would pull themselves up. Rivals, everywhere, in everything. Whether at work, in life, or at play. It is something like the most rivalrous society that has ever existed. But that led to a catastrophic outcome: people forever pulling each other down, instead of lifting themselves up. And a society, economy, and democracy cannot function that way. There are better ways.

Let me give you a small but telling example. My friend recently got her “performance review.” It was full of sniping and bitching and pettiness: ”NEGATIVE FEEDBACK.” Now, she’s great at what she does - really. She’s never once had “negative feedback” in her life. She was shocked. But that’’s because she’s from Canada. I had to explain to her: this is just what Americans do: they have learned how to game this system of “review” by constantly being savage with one another - instead of being honest, its better to talk down everyone else, and get ahead that way. And so these “review systems” quite obviously don’t work in America - its leaders are nothing of the kind, of the lowest calibre imaginable, whether in business, politics, law, or media.

Do you see my point? Let me make it clearer.

What happens in the end if we make rivalry the fundamental principle of society - the one great ideal that orders and defines it that people see one another as bitter rivals to defeat? American thinking suggested the following outcome: that people would compete to pull themselves up, and that way, everyone would rise.

But it forgot one crucial detail. There are two ways to compete. By pulling yourself up or dragging others down. Now, which is less costly, which one requires less effort, time, imagination? Which only takes brutality, muscle, and cunning? Pulling others down, obviously. You can pull people down with a tug or a punch. But lifting yourself up? You have to fight gravity. You have to find a foothold. You have to look up and be blinded by the sun. In other words, you need empathy, compassion, grace, and courage. How much easier to just pull down. The economics are simple: pulling others down is much less costly than lifting yourself up, and that is the fatal mistake American thought made, but still HASN’T LEARNED yet.

And so the RESULT is now. A society of people forever pulling one another down, just like crabs in the proverbial bucket, each one trying to escape, but only ensuring none go anywhere. Lord of the Flies - remember?

When life becomes rivalry, the result is that relationships get blown apart, that institutions - which depend on genuine relationships - erode, that norms of decency and humanity corrode. An atmosphere of cruelty is produced when life becomes rivalry - but nothing can really function amid such absolute cruelty, not even basic things like performance reviews, let alone democracy, society, or the economy.

Democracy depends not on rivalry, but on a sense of COOPERATION, of people standing together. But because life is rivalry in America, the only people who stand together anymore are the extremists. Society depends not on rivalry, either, but on people crafting a fair and expansive social contract, that provides everyone some minimum level of well-being - otherwise, a society is broken by definition. And you think an economy depends on bitter, bruising rivalry - thats what American thinking says, after all - but you, and it are wrong: an economy depends on people being able to work together, for one anothers real human benefit, on things of genuine worth, accomplishments that matter. In genuinely transformative ways - not just those that please a Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Zuck’s quarterly profit imperative.

So America is profoundly broken because rivalry has made stunted its democracy, society, and economy - they do not have the raw materials they need to really elevate human lives anymore: concern, passion, imagination, empathy, creativity, authenticity, trust, beauty, and truth.

What has all that been replaced with? Well, what is a life of such constant, intense, bitter rivalry like? Well, it means that everyone in your life is an adversary, opponent, or enemy - though you might call them your colleague, peer, coworker, classmate, they are really just your rival. So you don’t really friends, hence, “frenemies” you don’t really do work of service, your primary goal is to compete; that you measure yourself by how many people you have defeated, bested, and thrown down - not by how meaningful, rich, and worthwhile your life really is. A life of rivalry is full of stress, pressure, fear, and misery. One quickly becomes paranoid, fragile, bitter, and toxic.

How funny. How sad. How terrible. AMERICAN THINKING does not yet understand that rivalry does not work as the ordering principle for society because it is always cheaper to pull someone else down than lift one’s self up. To be cunning, ruthless, and deceitful is always easier than being compassionate, gentle, courageous, and strong.

But none of that is even the real tragedy.

It never CONSIDERED the third possibility at all - the greatest one of all. That people do not have to lift themselves up, or pull each other down. That they can lift each other up, too. That is what happened elsewhere in nations that developed expansive social contracts, with healthcare, education, retirement, etcetera, and now live vastly longer, happier, saner, healthier lives. Remember those poor high school kids, left to fend for themselves? Exactly.

Let us hope they LEARN this lesson.

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Posted by Elvis on 03/25/18 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America • Section Spiritual Diversions
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Friday, January 05, 2018

Drugs Du Jour

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LSD in the 60s; ecstasy in the 80s; smart drugs today: how we get high reflects the desires and fears of our times

By Cody Delistraty
January 4, 2018

Few peoples VIEWS ON DRUGS have changed so starkly as those of Aldous Huxley. Born in 1894 to a high-society English family, Huxley witnessed the early 20th-century “war on drugs,” when two extremely popular narcotics were banned within years of one another: cocaine, which had been sold by the German pharmaceutical company Merck as a treatment for morphine addiction; and heroin, which had been sold for the same purpose by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer.

The timing of these twin bans was not coincidental. Ahead of the First World War, politicians and newspapers had created a hysteria surrounding the “dope fiends” whose use of cocaine, heroin and certain amphetamines allegedly showed that they had been “enslaved” by the German invention, as noted in Thom Metzer’s book “The Birth of Heroin and the Demonization of the Dope Fiend (1998).”

As the rhetoric of eugenics flourished during the interwar years both from the mouth of Adolf Hitler and from Huxley’s older brother, Julian, the first director of the Paris-based UNESCO and a notorious eugenicist, Aldous Huxley imagined the use of drugs by government entities as a nefarious means of dictatorial control. In Brave New World (1932), the fictitious drug soma is doled out to the populace as a means to keep them dumbly happy and sated (All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects, Huxley wrote), and the book makes multiple mentions of mescaline (which at that point he had not tried but clearly did not approve of), which renders his character Linda stupid and prone to vomiting.

“The dictatorships of tomorrow will deprive men of their freedom, but will give them in exchange a happiness none the less real, as a subjective experience, for being chemically induced,” Huxley later wrote in The Saturday Evening Post. The pursuit of happiness is one of the traditional rights of man; unfortunately, the achievement of happiness may turn out to be incompatible with another of man’s rights - liberty. Hard drugs were inherently tied up with politics in Huxley’s early years, and to be a proponent of cocaine or heroin was, in many ways, to be aligned with Nazi Germany in the eyes of politicians and leading newspapers.

But then, on Christmas Eve 1955 - 23 years after the publication of Brave New World - Huxley took his first dose of LSD and everything changed. He loved it. It inspired him to writeHeaven and Hell (1956), and he introduced the drug to Timothy Leary, a vocal political advocate for the therapeutic benefits of mind-altering drugs. Eventually, Huxley would align himself with Leary’s hippie politics - in ideological opposition to Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign and the Vietnam War - in large part = due to his now-positive experience with such drugs.

In his novel Island (1962), Huxley֒s characters inhabit a utopia (rather than Brave New Worlds dystopia) and gain serenity and understanding by taking psychoactive drugs. Whereas in Brave New World drugs are a means of political control, in Island, they are ґmedicine.

What explains Huxley’s changed perspective from seeing drugs as an instrument of dictatorial control to a way to escape from political-cultural repression? Indeed, in the grander picture, why are drugs universally despised at one time, then embraced by intellectuals and cultural influencers at another? Why do we have an almost decadal vogue for one drug or another, with popular drugs such as cocaine all but disappearing only to pop up again decades later? Above all, how are drugs used to affirm or tear down cultural boundaries? The answers colour nearly every aspect of modern history.

Drug use offers a starkly efficient windowinto the cultures in which we live. Over the past century, popularity has shifted between certain drugs - from cocaine and heroin in the 1920s and 30s, to LSD and barbiturates in the 1950s and 60s, to ecstasy and (more) cocaine in the 1980s, to today’s cognitive - and productivity-enhancing drugs, such as Adderall, Modafinil and their more serious kin. If Huxley’s progression is to be followed, the drugs we take at a given time can largely be ascribed to an eras culture. We use - and invent - the drugs that suit our culture’s needs.

The drugs chosen to pattern our culture over the past century have simultaneously helped to define what each generation has most desired and found most lacking in itself. The drugs du jour thus point towards a cultural question that needs an answer, whether that’s a thirst for SPIRITUAL TRANSCENDENCE, or for productivity, fun, exceptionalism or freedom. In this way, the drugs we take act as a reflection of our deepest desires and our inadequacies, the very feelings that create the cultures in which we live.

To be clear, this historical investigation predominately concerns psychoactive drugs. It accounts for a large family of drugs embracing LSD, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, barbiturates, anti-anxiety medications, opiates, Adderall and the like, but not anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Advil) or pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). These pharmaceuticals are not drugs that alter one’s state of mind and are consequently of little use when making sociocultural analyses.

The drugs up for discussion also cut across boundaries of law (just because a drug is illegal does not preclude it from being central to a cultural moment) and class (a drug used by the lower class is no less culturally relevant than drugs favoured by the upper class, although the latter tend to be better recorded and retrospectively viewed as of greater cultural importance). Finally, the category of drugs under scrutiny cuts across therapeutic, medical and recreational usage.

To understand the way we create and popularise drugs to match the culture we have, consider cocaine. Readily available at the turn of the 20th century, cocaine was outlawed in 1920 with the passing of The Dangerous Drugs Act in the United Kingdom (and in 1922 in the United States under the Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act). Cocaine’s initial popularity in the late-19th-century was in large part due to “its potent euphoric effects,” according to Stuart Walton, an intoxication theorist and author of Out of It: A Cultural History of Intoxication (2001). Cocaine, Walton told me, “helped potentiate a culture of resistance to Victorian norms, the abandonment of rigorous civility in favour of an emergent “anything goes” social libertarianism in the era of the Jugendstil, and the rise of social-democratic politics.”

Once Victorian moralism had been overcome, social libertarianism had vogued, and secularism had its sharp uptick in the period after the Second World War, cocaine generally fell out of style with white European-American culture. Until, that is, the 1980s, when cocaine had new cultural questions to answer. As Walton explained to me: Its return in the 1980s was predicated on precisely the opposite social tendency: iron conformism to the dictates of finance capital and stock-trading, which underscored the resurgence of entrepreneurial selfishness in the Reagan and Thatcher period.

Another instance of drugs answering cultural questions (or problems) concerns women who became addicted to barbiturates in 1950s suburban America. This was a population that faced a bleak, oppressive culture, now infamous through the works of Richard Yates and Betty Friedan. As Friedan wrote in The Feminine Mystique (1963), such women were expected to have no commitment outside the home and to find fulfilment only in sexual passivity, male domination, and nurturing maternal love. Frustrated, depressed, neurotic, they numbed themselves with barbiturates so as to fulfil norms there was as yet no licence to buck against. In Jacqueline Susann’s novel Valley of the Dolls (1966), the three female protagonists dangerously come to rely on stimulants, depressants and sleeping pills -their dolls - in order to cope with personal decisions and, especially, sociocultural boundaries.

But the solution provided by prescription drugs was not the hoped-for solve-all. When drugs are unable to fully answer the cultural questions at hand in this case, how suburban American women might escape the crippling dullness that so often characterised their lives - alternative drugs, often seemingly irrelevant to the situation at hand, tend to present themselves as potential solutions.

Judy Balaban began taking LSD in the 1950s when she was still in her 20s, under the supervision of a medical doctor. She had a seemingly perfect life: the daughter of the affluent and respected president of Paramount Pictures, Barney Balaban, she had two daughters, a sprawling home in Los Angeles, and a successful film-agent husband who represented and befriended Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck and Marilyn Monroe. She counted Grace Kelly as a close friend, and became a bridesmaid at her royal wedding in Monaco. It would have seemed crazy for her to admit it but, beneath it all, Balaban felt deeply dissatisfied with her life. Her equally privileged friends felt the same. Polly Bergen, Linda Lawson, Marion Marshall all actresses married to famous film agents or directors - complained of a similar, underlying dissatisfaction with life. 

With limited options for fulfilment, clear cultural expectations, and the dreary outlook of living life on antidepressants, Balaban, Bergen, Lawson and Marshall all began regimens of LSD therapy. Bergen told Balaban in Vanity Fair in 2010: “I wanted to be the person, not the persona.” LSD, Balaban wrote, afforded the possibility of a magic wand. It was a more effective answer drug -to the problems at hand than antidepressants had been. Many of Balabans culturally disenfranchised peers felt the same way: between 1950 and 1965, a reported 40,000 people were treated with LSD therapies. It was legal, but unregulated, and nearly everyone who tried it swore to its efficacy.

LSD spoke to unmet needs that affected not only suburban housewives, but also gay or sexually confused men too. The actor Cary Grant, who was housemates with the handsome Randolph Scott for several years and was married to five different women for an average of five years each (often while living with Scott), likewise found release through therapeutic LSD. Grant’s film career would have been destroyed had he been seen publicly as homosexual; like many of the suburban women of his time, he found that LSD afforded a much-needed escape valve, a way of sublimating sexual anguish. “I wanted to rid myself of all my hypocrisies” he said, somewhat subtly, in an interview in 1959. After going to more than a dozen LSD therapy sessions administered by his psychiatrist, Grant admitted, at last, “I am close to happiness.”

But sometimes, instead of people finding drugs to answer their cultural questions, cultural problems are manufactured to sell pre-existing drugs.

In the case of todays most popular drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Ritalin and Adderall, their wide availability has led to a significant increase in ADHD diagnoses: between 2003 and 2011, there was a 43 per cent rise in the number of schoolchildren in the US diagnosed with ADHD. It’s unlikely that those eight years coincided with a massive spike in US schoolchildren manifesting ADHD: it is much more plausible that the presence of Ritalin and Adderall and their savvy marketing - grew in that period, leading to greater diagnosing.

[I]n the 21st century, diagnoses of depression have risen dramatically, as have those of post-traumatic stress disorder and attention hyperactivity disorder, writes Lauren Slater in Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the 20th Century (2004). [I]ncidences of certain diagnoses rise and fall depending on public perception, but also the doctors who are giving these labels are still doing so with perhaps too little regard for the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] criteria the field dictates.

That is to say, today’s drug-makers have helped to create a culture in which people are perceived to be less attentive and more depressed in order to sell drugs that might answer the very problems they’ve manufactured.

Similarly, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), deployed to ease discomfort during the menopause, and in which oestrogens and, sometimes, progesterone used to be injected to artificially boost a womans hormone levels, has since been expanded to include therapies for transgender people and also as an androgen replacement, in which male ageing can theoretically be delayed via hormone treatment. This desire to constantly expand the uses and necessity of drugs speaks to the way in which culture is created (and bolstered) by the drugs at hand.

Clearly, the causal motion swings both ways. Cultural questions can popularise certain drugs; but sometimes popular drugs end up creating our culture. From rav culture booming on the back of ecstasy to a culture of hyper-productivity piggybacking on drugs initially meant to help with cognitive and attention deficits, the symbiosis between chemical and culture is evident.

But while drugs can both answer cultural questions and create entirely new cultures, there is no simple explanation for why one happens rather than the other. If rave culture is created by ecstasy, does that mean ecstasy is also Ғanswering a cultural question; or was ecstasy simply there and rave culture blossomed around it? The line of causality is easily blurred.

A corollary can be found in the human sciences where it is extraordinarily difficult to categorise different types of people because, as soon as one starts ascribing properties to groups, people change and spill out of the parameters to which they were first assigned. The philosopher of science Ian Hacking coined the term for this: “the looping effect.” People
are moving targets because our investigations interact with them, and change them, Hacking wrote in the London Review of Books. ёAnd since they are changed, they are not quite the same kind of people as before.

This holds true for the relationship between drugs and culture as well. ґEvery time a drug is invented that interacts with the brains and minds of users, it changes the very object of the study: the people who are using, says Henry Cowles, assistant professor of the history of medicine at Yale. On this reading, the idea that drugs create culture is true, to an extent, but it is likewise true that cultures can shift and leave a vacuum of unresolved desires and questions that drugs are often able to fill.

Take the example of American housewives addicted to barbiturates and other drugs. The standard and aforementioned causal argument is that they were culturally repressed, had few freedoms, and so sought out the drugs as a way to overcome their anomie: LSD and later antidepressants were ґanswer drugs to the strict cultural codes, as well as a means to self-medicate emotional pain. But, Cowles argues, one might just as easily say that ґthese drugs were created with various sub-populations in mind and they end up making available a new kind of housewife or a new kind of working woman, who is medicated in order to enable this kind of lifestyle. In short, Cowles says: ґThe very image of the depressed housewife emerges only as a result of the possibility of medicating that.

Such an explanation puts drugs at the centre of the past century of cultural history for a simple reason: if drugs can create and underscore cultural limitations, then drugs and their makers can tailor-make entire socio-cultural demographics (eg, “the depressed housewife” or “the hedonistic, cocaine-snorting Wall Street trader). Crucially, this creation of cultural categories applies to everyone, meaning that even those not using the popularised drugs of a given era are beholden to their cultural effects. The causality is muddy, but what is clear is that it swings back and forth: drugs both ґanswer cultural questions and allow for cultures to be created around themselves.

“Looking at the culture of today, perhaps the biggest question answered by drugs are issues of focus and productivity - a consequence of the modern attention economy,”, as termed by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert Alexander Simon.

The use of Modafinil intended for treating narcolepsy and misused to stay awake and work longer - and the abuse of other prolific, attention-deficit drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin for similar reasons reflects an attempt to answer these cultural questions. They’re widely used, too. In a Nature magazine survey in 2008, one in five people said theyґd tried cognitive-enhancing drugs at some stage in their lifetime. And according to an informal poll in The Tab in 2015, the highest rates of abuse occur at the most academic institutions: students at Oxford University abuse cognitive-enhancing drugs more than students at any other university in the United Kingdom.

“These cognitive-enhancing drugs help disguise the banality of work in a double sense,” says Walton. “They goad the user into a distractive state of high excitement, and simultaneously persuade him that it must be his success at work that allows him to feel so elated.”

In this way, modern drugs of choice not only keep people at work and make them more productive, they also permit them to stake more of their emotional worth and happiness on work, thereby reifying its importance and justifying the time and effort spent. These drugs answer the cultural prescription of more work and more productivity not just by allowing users to focus better and stay awake longer, but also by making them less miserable.

The flip side of the cultural productivity imperative is a demand for heightened convenience and ease of leisure in daily life (think of Uber, Deliveroo, etc) a desire that is sated by dubiously efficacious drug-like experiences such as Ғbinaural beats and other cognitive-altering sounds and ֑drugs that can be accessed easily via the internet. (In the case of binaural beats, one can listen to melodies that allegedly put the listener in ґnon-ordinary states of consciousness.) But if todayґs drugs mostly answer the cultural needs of the attention economy focus, productivity; leisure, convenience Ғ they also alter what it means to be oneself.

Critically, it is the way in which we now take drugs that shows the shift in the notion of the self. So-called magic-bullet drugs - one-off, limited-course drugs designed to treat highly targeted problems - have given way to maintenance drugs֖ eg, antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills that must be taken in perpetuity.

To be oneself is to be drugged. The future of drugs is likely an extension of this

“This is a big shift from the old model,” says Cowles. “It used to be: I am Henry. I am ill in some way. A pill can help me get back to being Henry, and then ‘ђm off it. Whereas now: “I am only Henry when I’m on my meds.” Between 1980, 2000, and now, the proportion of people on that kind of maintenance pill with no end in sight is just going to keep going up and up.

Might maintenance drugs then be the first step in drug use that permits a post-human state? Although they don’t necessarily fundamentally change who we are as anyone who is on daily antidepressants or other neurological medications knows Җ there is a certain cloudy feeling or dullness that begins to redefine ones most basic experiences. To be oneself is to be drugged. The future of drugs is likely to be an extension of this.

Here, it is worth stepping back. Over the past century there has been an intimate interaction between culture and drugs, each informing the other, exemplifying the cultural directions in which humans have wanted to go - be it rebelling, submitting or moving entirely outside of all systems and constraints.  Taking a good look at what we want today’s drugs and the drugs of tomorrow to do provides an idea of the cultural questions we are looking to solve. “The traditional model of drugs that do something active to a passive user,” says Walton, “will very possibly be superseded by substances that empower the user to be something else entirely.”

Surely, this possibility will come to pass in some form or another in a relatively short time - drugs allowing a total escape from the self - and with it we will see the new crop of cultural questions that are being raised, and potentially answered, by drugs.

Patterns of drug use over the past century gives us a surprisingly accurate insight into wide swaths of cultural history, with everyone from Wall Street bankers and depressed housewives to college students and literary scions taking drugs that reflect their desires and answer their culture’s issues. But the drugs have always reflected a simpler, consistent truism. Sometimes we have wanted out of ourselves, sometimes we’ve wanted out of society, sometimes out of boredom or out of poverty; but always, whatever the case, we have wanted out. In the past, this desire was always temporary - to recharge our batteries, to find a space away from our experiences and the demands of living pressed upon us. However, more recently, drug use has become about finding a durable, lengthier, existential escape - a desire that is awfully close to self-obliteration.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/05/18 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Talking About Suicide

image: man with no money

When one looses the will to struggle, and the capacity for hope, one is no longer living.
- Thanksgiving 2012

The association between suicide and unemployment is more important than the association with other socioeconomic measures. Although some potentially important confounders were not adjusted for, the findings support the idea that unemployment or lack of job security increases the risk of suicide and that social and economic policies that reduce unemployment will also reduce the rate of suicide.
- Suicide, deprivation, and unemployment: record linkage study

The PROSPECTS for the re-employment of older workers deteriorate sharply the longer they are unemployed . . . This is all the more reason to support the unemployed and depressed who threaten suicide.
- Thinking About Suicide

“People who commit suicide feel all alone, and that no one gives a damn. People who commit suicide just want someone to care.”
- Anonymous

Advice on Talking to Someone with Suicidal Thoughts from Someone Who’s Had Suicidal Thoughts

By Lydia Russo
American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
January 3, 2018

During the fall of 2009, each day began in the exact same way: I would be wide awake at 2:00 a.m., nervously shifting around in my bed. As the minutes ticked by and the windowgradually gave way to sunlight, I became increasingly consumed with fear. What was this terrifying thing that was happening to me and why couldn’t I do a thing to stop it?

According to my doctors, I was suffering from depression - a term I had used cavalierly throughout my entire life. Surely what I was experiencing could not be something as innocuous as depression?

While everyone’s EXPERIENCE WITH DEPRESSION is unique, mine went something like this: a July that didn’t feel quite right, an August defined by escalating fear, and then, as of Labor Day weekend, a two-and-a-half-month period of suicide-obsessed hell. I thought I was losing my mind.

I was 36 at the time, but I might as well have been five years old. I had gone from being a bubbly, high-functioning professional and loving family member and friend to a woman totally incapable of caring for herself. I had no appetite and would never eat more than a third of what was put in front of me. I put zero effort into my personal hygiene, my physical appearance, or my homes cleanliness. My whole body was shaky. I could not laugh or cry. My once strong voice had transformed into a raspy whisper; eventually, I stopped talking altogether. 

If you looked at the external appearance of my life at the time, none of this made any sense. I had a great job, a loving husband, supportive family and friends, and a clean bill of health following treatment for breast cancer. Yet during those months, the world I once knew ceased to exist. I found myself gone from that world, and never thought I would live to see it again.

If you have a loved one who is SUFFERING WITH suicidal thoughts, perhaps my experience will give you SOME IDEAS about how to provide the support they need.

First, from the time my suicidal thoughts took hold until the time my depression began to lift, most of my waking moments were spent contemplating ways to escape the pain. A huge part of my anxiety was living with thoughts of suicide, but not being brave enough to articulate them to my loved ones. I did not want to scare them, and it seemed an enormous burden to bring others into my frightening world. When my family eventually BROADENED THE TOPIC of suicide with me, they did so without mincing words, and it was an incredible relief. Please don’t be afraid to talk directly with someone you think may be contemplating suicide. It may be scary for you, but it is terrifying for your loved one to be alone with those thoughts.

Most of us with suicidal thoughts have a crippling fear that our life is on the verge of falling apart, and a loop of negativity is often playing on “repeat” in our minds. Encourage your loved one to express these thoughts out loud or in writing. The more your loved one addresses their fears head-on, the less power those fears will have over them. In fact, until I was able to clearly articulate the depths of my anxiety to my psychiatrist, I didn’t make an ounce of progress. Once my doctor recognized that anxiety was the dominant emotion of my depression, he treated it with the aggressiveness it required. This was a game-changer for me.

Next, and I know this is a tall task, but your unwavering confidence in your loved one’s recovery is essential. Please find the strength to look your loved one in the eye and say with confidence, over and over again, that they will get through this and that they will get back to their old selves. They likely will not believe you, but do not be deterred. Try saying things like, “I know you think you will never get through this. I know you think life will never be the same again. I know you think no one has ever experienced this pain and that no one can help you. But I am here to tell you your brain is playing tricks on you. You WILL get through this.”

Regardless of all your kindnesses and demonstrations of support, please know that your loved one may be terrified of losing you. I cannot underscore enough the importance of reassuring your loved one that you are not going to give up on them and that you will never leave. When I first told my mother about my suicidal thoughts, she said something that kept me going through my darkest moments: You will get through this. I will carry you on my back if that’s what it takes to get you through this.

When your loved one is depressed, they know that they are asking a tremendous amount of you and this probably makes them feel guilty. Depression often renders them incapable of feeling, much less expressing, love for you or anyone else in their lives, which compounds their guilt. Your loved one realizes they are pushing you away, and it likely breaks their heart. Please know that once their depression lifts, all of the love that was once there will come rushing back.

Finally, your loved one knows you cannot wave a magic wand and make it all go away, although they know you desperately wish you could. What matters most is that you simply walk with them through this valley, and that you never, never, never give up.

SOURCE

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What Not To Say About Suicide

By Madeline Muotka
Odyessy
Oct 3, 2016

How many times do I have to say it before it makes you uncomfortable, before you get squeamish, before you want to run away and leave this word in a room bursting with shame, misconceptions and ignorance? Saying suicide even just once is more than enough to evoke extreme discomfort from many.

As a suicide attempt survivor, Im speaking out about what I and others I know dislike hearing after people learn about our attempts. This is how you shouldn’t react when learning someone has attempted or actually died by suicide. All of the following contribute to the blanket of shame and embarrassment that can envelope suicide attempt survivors and follows those who have fallen to suicide.

1. Dont start by asking why.

This is the most common question I’ve encountered once people find out I’ve attempted suicide. Why did you do it? The nurse in the emergency room actually asked me why, and then reminded me how young I am. I can’t give an external reason for why I overdosed. (I can. Ed) I didn’t attempt suicide because I got in a fight with a friend, because I failed a test or because I lost a game. It’s called an illness. Mental illness is a real medical condition. I was tired of the emotional pain I was in. Did I really want to die? No, I wanted the feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, emptiness and despair to go away. Don’t minimize my pain and pretend it doesn’t exist. I didn’t ask for this illness. Nobody asks for any illness.

2. Don’t call them selfish.

Another common reaction to someone attempting suicide is calling them selfish. Don’t you realize there are people who love and care about you? Don’t you realize how many people you would’ve hurt if you had actually died? When you’re about to attempt suicide, youre likely not thinking about yourself at all. You’re thinking about how everyone would be better off without you, how you’re a burden to everyone, how you’re doing everyone a favor and how you’re undeserving of life.

3. Don’t say, It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

This has thoroughly annoyed and irked me. A temporary problem? My documented medical condition of bipolar disorder is clearly a temporary problem. Right now, many mental illnesses are treatable, but it’s often a lifelong journey. Maybe if there wasn’t such a stigma around mental illness, I would’ve gotten help sooner and found additional ways to manage my suicidal ideations. My attempt was at the time the only way I could acknowledge I actually needed help and get that help.

4. Dont say, “It’s the easy way out.”

Suicide is anything but the easy way out. It’s the last straw after battling and fighting your own thoughts for so long. It is succumbing to the illness and cancerous thoughts that have consumed you. You’ve tried to fight it for so long, but just cant handle it anymore. You’ve had enough of being miserable.

5. Don’t say they did it for attention.

I clearly wanted all the negative criticism and reactions people who’ve attempted suicide receive. I tried to hide how much I was struggling for the longest time because I was mortified I couldnt seem to deal with real life. Most everyone I know who has attempted suicide is ashamed. They don’t want people to know. How this seemingly corresponds to wanting attention is beyond me. There is still a stigma surrounding mental illness and an even worse stigma surrounding suicide.

6. Dont glamorize it.

There is absolutely nothing glamorous about suicide and suicide attempts. It’s not cool. It’s not killing yourself because you can’t be with the love of your life. Sorry, Shakespeare. Its real, and what’s real isnt always pretty. It shouldn’t be romanticized. This is so ludicrous and creates an absurd dichotomy of glamorizing something that is so negatively perceived by society. We cant nonchalantly throw around the idea of killing oneself or say, “Just shoot me. “ That’s minimizing what suicide truly is.

Suicide is a legitimate cause of death and needs to be treated the same as any other cause of death. Death is death, a sad occasion all around. However, those who die by their own hands deserve the same respect and dignity as those who die in any other way.

Please, respect what I and many others have been through and open the door to separate shame, misconceptions and ignorance from suicide. If you know someone who has attempted suicide, let them know they are loved. Tell them that although you might not be able to fathom the pain theyre in or what they’re going through, you’re there to support them no matter what. Your love for them is not dependent on whether they’re having a good or bad day. Let them know how much they mean to you and how much they always will.

SOURCE

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10 Things Not to Say to a Suicidal Person

By Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW
Speaking of Suicide
March 2, 2015

“I want to kill myself.”

Those five words are a shock to hear, a dreadful pronouncement from a friend or family member you do not want to lose. You recoil at the thought. How could they want to die?

As unwelcome as those words are to your ears, your loved one has handed you a gift. He or she is letting you in. By telling you they want to die, they are giving you the opportunity to help.

What you say next is very important. It could lead to your friend or family member letting you in even more or shutting the door. Understandably you are full of emotion, and you might have many thoughts, some helpful, some not.

Here are 10 common responses that can discourage the person from telling you more. First, a caveat: In general, these statements can convey judgment and foster alienation. But, depending on the context, some people might respond positively to at least some of these responses.

“How could you think of suicide? Your lifes not that bad.” Perhaps on the outside the suicidal persons life does not seem “that bad.” The pain lies underneath. It can greatly help a suicidal person to feel understood. This sort of statement conveys disbelief and judgment, not understanding.

“Don’t you know I would be devastated if you killed yourself?” “How could you think of hurting me like that?” Your loved one already feels awful. Heaping guilt on top of that is not going to help them feel soothed, understood, or welcome to tell you more.

“Suicide is selfish.” This inspires more guilt. Two points are important here. One, many people who seriously consider suicide actually think they are burdening their family by staying alive. So, in their distressed, perhaps even mentally ill state of mind, they would be helping their loved ones by freeing them of this burden. Two, isnt it a natural response to excruciating pain to think of escaping the torment? (I writemore about this in my post, Is It Selfish to Die in a Tornado?)

“Suicide is cowardly.” This inspires shame. It also does not really make sense. Most people fear death. While I hesitate to call suicide brave or courageous, overcoming the fear of death does not strike me as cowardly, either.

“You don’t mean that. You don’t really want to die.” Often said out of anxiety or fear, this message is invalidating and dismissive. Presume that the person really does mean that they want to die. It does more harm to dismiss someone who is truly suicidal than it does to take someone seriously who is not suicidal, so why not just take everyone seriously?

“You have so much to live for.” In some contexts, this kind of statement might be a soothing reminder of abundance and hope. But for many people who think of suicide and do not at all feel they have much to live for, this remark can convey a profound lack of understanding.

“Things could be worse.” Yes, things could be worse, but that knowledge does not inspire joy or hope. I compare it to two people who are stabbed, one in the chest, one in the leg. It is far worse to be stabbed in the chest, but that does not make the pain go away for the person stabbed in the leg. It still hurts. A lot. So even if people who think of suicide have many good things going for them, even if their lives could be far worse, they still experience a seemingly intolerable situation that makes them want to die.

“Other people have problems worse than you and they dont want to die.” True, and your loved one may well have already considered this with shame. People who want to die often compare themselves to others and come up wanting. They may even feel defective or broken. Comparing them to others who cope better, or who simply are lucky enough to never have suicidal thoughts, may only worsen their self-condemnation.

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I do know people, especially teens, for whom this statement was tremendously helpful. It spoke to them. But it also communicates that the persons problems are temporary, when they might be anything but. In such a situation, a realistic goal for the person might be to learn to cope with problems and to live a meaningful life in spite of them. The other problem with this statement is it conveys that suicide is a solution - permanent, yes, and a solution. At a minimum, I recommend changing the word solution to act or action, simply to avoid reinforcing that suicide does indeed solve problems.

“You will go to hell if you die by suicide.” Your loved one has likely already thought of this possibility. Maybe they do not believe in hell. Maybe they believe the god they believe in will forgive their suicide. Regardless, their wish to die remains. Telling them they will go to hell can exacerbate feelings of alienation.

Again, any or all of the thoughts and emotions above may come to you. It doesnt mean you are wrong or bad to have such reactions.

After all, you are human. You may feel angry, hurt, betrayed. You cannot control the thoughts and feelings that come to you. You can only control what you say or do in response to your thoughts and feelings.

When someone discloses suicidal thoughts to you, your words and actions can help the suicidal person to feel less alone and, as a result, hopeful. Good questions to ask yourself are, “How can what I want to say help this person? How can it do harm?”

Your answer may mean the difference between the person feeling judged and even more alone - or accepted and understood.

What If Youve Already Said the “Wrong Thing” to a Suicidal Person?

I suspect that if I stopped this post here, I would receive frantic emails from people who already reacted in ways that were not especially helpful or understanding. Their fear and anxiety may have spilled out when they heard their friend or family member express a desire to die.

That fear and anxiety are understandable. So are the reactions above. But what to do when what has been said cannot be unsaid?

My advice? Try again. Go back to the person and say that you realize you did not respond helpfully, that you are frightened by the possibility of their dying by suicide, but you want to set aside your fears and understand better their wish to die so that you can be a listening ear, a partner in their struggle, an ally who helps them feel less alone and hopeless.

And then it can be helpful to ask some of the most important words of all, “How can I help?”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/04/18 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What The Bible Says About The Poor

image: greedy executive

First some words on what The Bible may be saying about present day corporatism:

12 The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until Gods words are fulfilled.
- Revelation 17:12-13, 16-17

Translation: “The Lord will keep our top ten corporations here making them give their economic strength to America.  However, they in fact hate our government and will eventually take their economic base and related jobs overseas.  Thereby will they consume Americas pride, and destroy our financial reputation… Whereas He has put it in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree to give their economic strength to America, but only until His Prophecies are fulfilled.
- Vince Diehl 1990

Here’s what the Bible actually says about taxing the rich to help the poor

By Mathew Schmalz
The Conversation
December 10, 2017

The new tax reform bill has led to an intense debate over whether it would HELP OR HURT THE POOR. Tax reform in general raises critical issues about whether the government should redistribute income and promote equality in the first place.

Jews and Christians look to the Bible for guidance about these questions. And while the Bible is clear about aiding the poor, it does not provide easy answers about taxing the rich. But even so, over the centuries biblical principles have provided an understanding on how to help the needy.

The Hebrew Bible and the poor

The Hebrew Bible has extensive regulations that require the wealthy to set aside for the poor a portion of the crops that they grow.

The Bible’s Book of LEVITICUS states that the needy have a right to the “leftovers of the harvest.” Farmers are also prohibited from REAPING THE CORNERS OF THEIR FIELDS so that the poor can access and use for their own food the crops grown there.

In DEUTERONOMY, the fifth book of the Bible, there is the requirement that every three years, 10 percent of a person’s produce should be given to “foreigners, the fatherless and widows.”

Helping the poor is a way of paying “rent” to God, who is understood to actually own all property and who provides the rain and sun needed to grow crops. In fact, every seventh year, during the SABBATICAL year, all debts are forgiven and everything that grows in the land is made available freely to all people. Then, in the great JUBILEE, celebrated every 50 years, property returns to its original owner. This means that, in the biblical model, no one can permanently hold onto something that finally belongs to God.

Christians and taxes

In the GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, Jesus says, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Jesus thus joins respect for the poor with respect for God. In the Gospel of Mark, JESUS ALSO STATES “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” which is often interpreted as requiring Christians to pay taxes.

Throughout Christian history, taxation has been considered an essential government responsibility.

The Protestant reformers MARTIN LUTHER and JOHN CALVIN drew upon PSALM 72 to argue that a “righteous” government helps the poor.

In 16th-century England, ”POOR LAWS” were passed to aid the deserving poor and unemployed. The “deserving poor” were children, the old and the sick. By contrast, the “undeserving poor” were beggars and criminals and they were usually put in prison. These laws also shaped EARLY AMERICAN approaches to social welfare.

The common good

Over the last two centuries, new economic realities have raised new challenges in applying biblical principles to economic life. Approaches not foreseen in biblical times emerged in an attempt to respond to new situations.

In the 19th century, organizations like the SALVATION ARMY believed that Christians should go out of the churches and into the streets to care for the destitute. During this period, the United States also saw the rise of the SOCIAL GOSPEL MOVEMENT that emphasized biblical ideals of justice and equality. Poverty was considered a social problem that required a comprehensive - social - and governmental - response.

The idea that government has an important role to play in human flourishing was made by Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 encyclical RERUM ONOVARUM. In it, the pope argued that governments should promote THE COMMON GOOD. Catholicism DEFINES the common good as the"conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”

While human fulfillment is not just about material comfort, the Catholic Church has always maintained that citizens should have access to food, housing and health care. As the Catholic Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church makes clear, taxation is necessary because government should HARMONIZE society in a just way.

And when it comes to taxes, no one should pay more or less than they are able. As POPE JOHN XXIII wrote IN 1961, taxation must “be proportioned to the capacity of the people contributing.”

In other words, believing that helping the poor is simply an individual or private responsibility ignores the scope and complexity of the world we live in.

Mercy, not the market

Human life has become more interconnected. In toda’’s globalized economy, decisions made in the heartland of China impact the American Midwest. But even with this deepening interdependence, by some measures, inequality has risen worldwide. In the United States alone, the top 1 percent possess an increasingly larger share of national income.

When it comes to helping the poor in these current times, some argue that cutting taxes on individuals and corporations will stimulate economic growth and create jobs called the “trickle-down effect,” in which money flows from those at the top of the social pyramid down to lower levels.

Pope Francis, however, argues that “trickle-down economics” places a “crude and naive trust” in those wielding economic power. In the pope’s view, an ethics of mercy, not the market, should shape society.

But given the Jewish and Christian commitment to the poor, the question is perhaps a factual one: What social policy does the most good?

In the GOSPEL OF LUKE, Jesus taught:

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full.”

The Conversation At the very least, this means that people should never be afraid to offer up what they have in order to help those in need.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/13/17 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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