Setting a new course…

IMG_1995For the next few weeks, months, years (?), I am going publish short commentaries on what’s happening in the world rather than longer essays.  My goal is to publish one a week, on Saturday mornings.  I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read, “liked” and/or commented on articles on my blog!

 

A lot of (most?) people in the U.S. have played “Monopoly” at some time. The board game that’s designed to produce a winner and losers in an imaginary battle to acquire wealth. There is maneuvering for advantage, developing properties, lucky and unlucky roles of the dice. In the end someone bankrupts everyone else and owns it all. Then everyone can put the game away and head to the kitchen for snacks. That’s the part that’s missing in real life.
As in the game, in real life most (all?) people contribute in some way to building up and maintaining our communities. Most contribute throughout most of their lifetime. Building, serving, performing tasks meant to help keep the community vibrant. Unfortunately, these days it is happening within a system that is increasingly resembling the board game: designed to produce a relatively few big winners and lots of losers. Because we live in a finite system, there cannot be unbelievably extravagant winners without a whole lot of losers.
In the U.S. it hasn’t always been this way. Regulations against monopolies, a progressive tax system, wages and benefits people could thrive on, social safety nets and other safeguards kept the playing field more balanced; viable for the majority of, if not all, people. Then, those with more wealth began to find ways to manipulate the system. The regulations and safeguards which previously existed to protect the well-being of the whole have been, and are being, dismantled. This is leading to increasing economic imbalance with all the attendant debilitating effects on the general population that one can expect, even predict. We’re now seeing individuals with more wealth than millions of others. Others who have also been contributing.
The system needs repair. We need to restore lost safeguards. We need greater community mindedness. We need greater recognition of our inherent interdependence.

Respecting our individual developmental imperatives.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Why do I use Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs so often in my articles? Because it informs us of a universal key to a successful life as an individual and as a culture.

Culture.  We all need one to live.  However, if and when that culture becomes too rigid, too intolerant, it stops being the supportive, nurturing, positive context we all need for whole, healthy lives.  We human beings are complex in our make-up, in how it is that we experience our world, our environment, and in how we, as individuals, want to respond and behave within it.  Each of us, while we do all share an essential common core of basic needs: water, food, air, shelter, love…, as complex beings are also very different in many ways.

We all experience and relate to our world in a somewhat different manner.  Some people are more oriented toward an auditory experience of the world.  Some the visual, or the tactile.  And there are many other aspects of our lives which we all approach in different measure, with varying degrees of passion.  We all have available to us the realities of logic, mathematics, healing/medicine, art, architecture, music, taste/food, physical capabilities; balance, strength, motion, sensuality.  There are so very many aspects of our lives and our world which we all can and do find ourselves drawn to, interested in, to varying degrees.  And they are all equally valid*What we find ourselves naturally drawn to is the path we need, as an individual living organism with both physical and spiritual components.  The path which will lead us to realizing our individual developmental journey in this life.  It is, in fact our developmental imperative.  And, again, they are all equally valid*.

This reality, of individual developmental imperatives, while so common sensical and simple at it’s base, has profound implications for us within our cultures and interpersonal relationships.  Currently, in many cultures, there is an expectation, sometimes a quite rigid expectation, that within the culture we should all follow a highly regimented common path.  This can, and often does, apply within our interpersonal relationships and especially marriages.  It can, and often does demand, that one party accept a subservient relationship to the other.  Often, but by no means always, the subservient role is expected of the female.  It is hard, real hard, (all but impossible?) to get in touch with and express one’s individual developmental imperative in such a situation.  Someone may want to attempt the argument that then the subservient person is experiencing that difficulty then that is their developmental imperative at that moment (to learn it is impossible to experience self-actualization while being rigidly held to someone else’s expectations and rules?).  What do you think?

Within healthy interpersonal relationships we often take on obligations.  Couples take on the obligation of maintaining a household, raising children, working together toward common goals.  Honoring one’s own developmental imperative does not mean being defiantly independent and resisting all cooperative efforts and arrangements in our lives.  It does mean being in touch with and honest with ourselves.  Honoring what we know to be our essential orientations and needs.  When partners recognize this reality within their own and their partner’s life, and when the individual orientations and needs are not incompatible with the needs that exist within the partnership, then all’s well.  As a matter of fact, it’s better than well, it’s excellent.

The only way it gets any better is when partners within a relationship not only recognize and honor one another’s individual developmental imperatives, but take an active interest in seeing one another succeed in expressing them.  

Today in the world at large we see individual developmental imperatives being honored, or neglected, to varying degrees.  Some cultures all but totally reject it.  When a brutally enforced totalitarian expectation of conformity is present, individual developmental imperative hides in fear.  Or there may be martyrs in it’s name.  The individual developmental imperative seems to most often demand our attention by being gently insistent.  However, if continually repressed there can be pressure that builds up behind it.  It can cry out within our being for recognition and expression.

The same is true within families, or interpersonal relationships and marriages.   It can require determination and personal effort in developing knowledge and reason for individual developmental imperative to find fertile ground.  Personal insecurities can get in the way of one’s own ability to express one’s developmental imperative and it can cause us to try to repress it in others.  Within close relationships knowledge of one another combined with trust and reliability are important.

We don’t come into this world “blank slates”.  We arrive with a developmental imperative already well underway.  Our spirit, our mind, our nervous system are already geared for the path that will serve us the best.  And, if we are happy and accomplished at a skill which brings enlightenment, joy, and increased turn-on to life and well-being to others…then it is a win-win-win situation.

Again, there is work involved, and discipline.  Work and discipline are not bad things when applied to the expression of that which we deeply love and seek to honor with our being.  In that context work and discipline feel right and we recognize the value they can add to our achieving that which we desire.

*So why the asterisk, the caveat?  Because there is something we need to acknowledge and honor in order to preserve our individual ability to access, explore and fulfill our lives.  It is really very simple:  we need to acknowledge and honor the basic needs and lives of everyone else as if they were our own.  Which means if we perceive our developmental imperative as requiring us to harm others, to inflict physical, psychological and/or spiritual harm:  mutilation, deprivation, destruction, upon others, then we need to rethink how we are interpreting our perceptions.  It is likely that if we find ourself having such thoughts that they are an expression of anxiety and fear.  Emotions often stemming from, at sometime in our past, our having been harmed, significantly physically, psychologically and/or emotionally mistreated.  And/or quite possibly that we are suffering from a neurological impairment resulting from an insult to our brain.  Possibly from a physical or chemical insult, or resulting from experiencing significant prolonged stress.  What is needed is an experience of pervasive healing:  and that experience will not manifest by harming others.

 

 

 

 

 

Humanity’s Plight

The Blue Marble, NASA
NASA photo “Blue Marble”

Somewhere in the past I read in a text, which I can’t remember the title of, that due to the difficult, treacherous circumstances of life on Earth, all spirits that take it upon themselves to be born here are considered heros. There are so very many dangers, pitfalls, that exist for humans. Diseases, dangerous substances, accidents, but possibly the most difficult challenges we all face are the ones related to our own senses and how we handle, how we react, to the stimulation we receive from them.

“Where the senses go the mind follows.” (author unknown) is a quote which pretty much sums up the challenge. This is such an incredibly rich planet in terms of sensory, sensual, experiences. Visual, auditory, tactile and energetic; stimulation reaching one or all of the seven chakras within us.

When the stimulation we are receiving leads us to begin considering actions which in some way compromise some aspect of our lives, our personal coherence, integrity; when we are considering actions which stand to affect the nature of our relationship with the rest of the physical, mental, spiritual world we live in (turning harmony into dissonance)- that is when we are truly facing the nature of challenge this planet, and the life on it, is famous or infamous for presenting us with.

In a way, life here on this small outpost on the fringes of the Milky Way galaxy, seems a testing ground. Can we, as spiritual/physical beings, face the sometimes (often?) seemingly contradictory “pulls” and demands upon us relating to security, integrity, pleasure, livelihood, in ways which are harmonious and viable within the whole of our spiritual/physical existence? Keeping in mind also that we live within a unified field and in order to be truly healthy, happy and viable we necessarily must be primarily in harmony with the forces within it. It’s not and never has been “all about me”. And yet it is.

If it were an impossible task we probably wouldn’t be here.

 

All the allegations flying around, if they’re true, so what?

 

distressed house 1
<!– Fotosearch –><a href=”http://www.fotosearch.com”>(c) WitthayaP http://www.fotosearch.com Stock Photography</a>

It has been going on for some time.  However it seems to have taken off in earnest during the last couple years. Allegations have been surfacing of high-level, elected or appointed, government officials committing heinous crimes.  Sometimes the allegations involve many people, implying that if the crimes actually occurred or are occurring, they involve a conspiracy.  Often these allegations include further allegations of cover-ups involving even more elected or appointed government officials.

 

The reactions from the general pubic are usually very mixed to these allegations.  The reasons people might react as they do can be as varied as the lives and backgrounds of the people themselves.  However, there are some phenomenon we understand about human thinking which often enter into the underlying reasons people either tend to believe or disbelieve such allegations.

  • Some tend to disbelieve or ignore them because they have been taught by trusted and beloved authority figures, since childhood, to respect and believe in the goodness of those occupying the highest offices in the United States of America.
  • Some may tend to disbelieve simply because they “like” the accused for some reason or another.  Maybe the accused supports some issue which that person feels strongly about.  Maybe the accused dresses stylishly and has a pleasant manner about them.
  • Some tend to disbelieve or ignore the allegations because to give the allegations serious consideration creates such cognitive dissonance they cannot stand it.
  • Some tend to disbelieve because the evidence they have seen does not rise to a level lending them to consider the allegations as having veracity.

On the other hand…

  • Some tend to believe the allegations because they simply do not like something about the government officials implicated.  It could be the accused doesn’t belong to the correct political party, or the accused lacks style or smoothness in their life or personal presentation.
  • Some tend to believe the allegations because the accused supports some policy or cause which the person finds offensive.
  • Some may tend to believe the allegations because the evidence they have seen lends them to believe the allegations are true.

In the absence of any specific first hand experiences or knowledge about what is being alleged, it is the background experiences of the observers, the people who constitute the general public, that are going to determine that person’s initial reaction to any such allegations.  Lacking any authentic investigation into the allegations, the public is left unsure, contentiously holding onto their own personal opinions, divided.

So what? What else is new…right?  However, it matters.

When the population of a neighborhood, a city, a nation, or a world is divided, the “house” is divided.  And as the profound saying which Abraham Lincoln borrowed from Mark 3:25 goes:  “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  (NIV)  Why is it important for our “house” to stand?  It is because it is as a group, as a cooperative whole, that we can do the things that contribute to making our world the wondrous and exciting place it is.  Our roads, airplanes, trains, the products that genuinely make our lives less tedious and give us more ability to enjoy the beauty of our world and each other, the advances in technology and medicine that have such potential to better our lives:  none of us alone can bring these things to reality.  It has only been by working together for our own and the common good that these things have come into being.  And it is when we lose sight of what is in our own and the common good that our cultures begin to deteriorate.  It is then that we begin to bicker, and fight amongst ourselves, divided.

The allegations matter, knowing whether they are true or untrue matters.  What do we do when, and/or if, those controlling our laws and the enforcement of our laws use their power to give themselves exemptions from the laws the rest of us are expected to adhere to?  Or begin constructing the laws to favor themselves above all others?  Initially it isn’t good for us, the general citizenry, in the long run it’s not good for anyone.

Without digressing into another entire article, suffice to say, science is able to confirm for us today what some within the field of spiritual well-being have been saying for a long time: we live within a unified field.  We’re all interconnected, interdependent.  And it’s not just the human race that is interconnected:  it’s all of existence, everything.  Never before in recorded human history has it been possible to say with greater certainty:  “United we stand, divided we fall.”

It is also the case that, due to the seriousness of the potential ripples throughout our society, there ought to be some penalty for anyone bringing patently false allegations against anyone in high office.  That being said, we cannot simply disregard allegations because we may think them unlikely.  We need to know whether allegations of heinous cruelty and crimes leveled against public officials are true or untrue because if those in high office hold contempt for humanity, contempt for good will; is that the value we want to see directing our resources, directing us as a people?  The essential spiritual, not religious, but spiritual orientation of those to whom we entrust high office is of the utmost import to each and every one of us.

 What sort, what nature, of spiritual energy do we want to see people exerting, do we want to allow people to exert, especially as leaders, directors of nations and their resources, upon the events taking place in our world?

For these reasons, and others, we cannot allow serious allegations of heinous behavior; allegations of corruption; graft, influence peddling, rape, pedophilia, murder, on the part of our elected/appointed officials and others to go uninvestigated, unexamined.  At this time those “investigating” such allegations are likely as not themselves taking orders from those they are supposed to be investigating.   Or, taking orders from third parties who are directing both them and the elected/appointed officials they are supposed to be investigating.  So-called investigations are happening in a superficial and ineffective manner.  While there may be some public aspect to the investigations:  a floor show of reassurance, an attempt to appease the public without actually rocking the boat of those in power, the actual investigations, if any do occur, are hidden from public view.

What we also see happening often today often the media is brought to bear and public attention is redirected from the allegations themselves to the question of who committed the “offense” of exposing them.  This pattern of behavior, of looking to find and punish the “snitch”, is one that has long been a characteristic of criminal enterprises.  I haven’t spoken about this with many but I highly doubt I’m the only one troubled by how often this mind-set seems to be the one demonstrated by those in high office.

It’s not about who should go to prison. Although, some of the allegations definitely have public safety issues.  Maybe some, if guilty, do require confinement until we can be reasonably certain they won’t continue the heinous behaviors no matter what their socio-economic situation.  However, the heart of what is at stake is the nature and direction of the spirit of our communities, our nations.  The values held by those in high office, which they express in word and/or deed, manifest themselves in the physical, mental and spiritual health of our communities, our lives.

Whether we tend to be of the opinion that those in high office accused of heinous crimes are most likely innocent or guilty, we need to speak out and demand honest, thorough, authentic, investigations into the allegations.  Investigations with 100% transparency that are open for the world to see.  Then we can address whatever the investigations reveal, unseat any who are abusing the power which we allow, which we bestow.  Put the issues to rest and move on with greater certainty and in greater unity.

If we make it known, make it undeniably clear that We the People will not tolerate behaviors on the part of those in high office which demonstrate a contempt for humanity, we will be a step closer to establishing a culture for ourselves, for our children, in which we can experience, enjoy our lives with greater health, wholeness and stability.

 

Fotosearch_k22192444<!– Fotosearch –><a href=”http://www.fotosearch.com”>(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com Stock Photography</a>

 

What happens when good medicine is “bad for business”?

 

Med Symbol 2Last night I watched the movie “Me Before You”.  It’s about a man who is quadriplegic after an accident with a scooter.  Long story short, he decides he doesn’t want to live any longer with the limitations and pain he endures and …………….(spoiler alert) ……………………………ends his life.

The movie brings attention to the issues of assisted suicide, personal relationships and quality of life.  It also begs the question of why on Earth is anybody still having to endure, long term, the medical issues of paraplegia or quadriplegia?  By this I don’t mean why doesn’t everybody with paraplegia or quadriplegia kill themselves.  I do mean that in cases in which a person’s spinal cord is severed in an accident, why aren’t we using the therapies that are known to result in the body healing this damage?

Although I’ve heard of others, for example, one involving the use of white blood cells that must be performed within a short time frame after the injury, what I am mainly referring to is stem cell therapy to facilitate healing of the spinal cord.  Why isn’t this being performed regularly?

I have seen an excellent video of a mouse who had it’s spinal cord severed, and even after a period of time during which it experienced atrophy in the affected limbs, it was able to regain use of the affected limbs after a stem cell transplant.  I just checked online and I was unable to locate that video (??).  Where did it go?  But mice aren’t people, right?

Remember Christopher Reeve?  He played Superman in movies a couple decades or so ago.  He suffered a spinal cord injury and spent years as a quadriplegic.  During this time he became active as an advocate for issues relating to spinal cord injuries.  Stem cell therapy is one issue he was involved with.  I just looked at the Wikipedia article about him and it cites his work to get stem cell research funded.  Research is a necessary prerequisite to treatment, however, research is not treatment.  Why even mention this obvious truth?  More on that later.

Shortly after his death I read an article in “Readers Digest” about a woman in South Korea that had suffered a spinal cord injury many years ago and who had recently received stem cell therapy.  She was, according to the article, recovering use of the affected limbs.  It was around 2004 when I read this article, it was a recent article at the time.  I thought it poignant that this article should appear so shortly after Christopher Reeve’s death.  It brought to mind the question of why didn’t he ever receive stem cell therapy?

What are the problems with stem cell therapy?  Why isn’t it being used?  When stem cell therapy first began receiving widespread coverage in the mainstream press, to my recollection, it was immediately coupled with the issue of having to use stem cells from aborted babies.  So, essentially, stem cell therapy was given a “black eye” right out of the gate.  Dead babies?  If we open the door to stem cell therapy we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in aborted fetuses, right?  Women will be selling their unborn babies so rich folks can have stem cell therapy, right?  Women might even be getting pregnant just to have a fetus to abort and sell.  Horrible, but not an unthinkable scenario.  And the media saw to it we were all thinking it.  Stem cell therapy was cast in the roll of the therapy from hell:  avoid it at all costs.

Stem cell therapy isn’t the only potential treatment to undergo this type of demonization.  How many decades did “Reefer Madness”, and other misinformation define the public perception of marijuana?  (And still does in some places.)

However, during the 1990’s there was another, infinitely less, publicized event taking place in the State of Washington, U.S.A.  A company named CellPro, in Bothell, Washington, was working on a method of extracting stem cells from an adult human body that could be used by the person they were extracted from for stem cell therapy.  Pretty anti-climatic in comparison to being led to believe stem cell therapy would lead to the gates of hell being greased with the bodies of dead fetuses.  From the point of view of selling news with sensationalism, I can see why the CellPro story might not be appealing to the marketing folk down at the press.  But is that the only reason most people in the world have never heard of CellPro nor their success?  That’s right, success.

During the 1990’s, CellPro successfully developed a method of extracting stem cells from an adult human being that can be used by that person for stem cell therapies.  No chance of rejection, no lifetime of anti-rejection medications, and maybe that touches on why it received so little publicity (?).  CellPro’s relatively inexpensive method was successfully used to save one life, one.  A case involving cancer.  Did I mention it was planned to be relatively inexpensive, around $10,000 at the time?  Again I find myself asking:  is that touching on why most people in the world have never heard of CellPro?  If you want to know what happened to this company and the blessing they were getting ready to unleash on the human race, there is a book about it.  The person who’s life was saved wrote a book.

He was the CEO of CellPro.  The book is:  “Patient Number One”, by Rick Murdock and David Fisher.  If you’re interested in learning more about the convoluted interrelationship between medicine, big business, government, and the people affected by it, I recommend this book.  It’s not an easy read, but it’s worth it.

Again, long story short, CellPro was, in effect, shut down by a U.S. District Court judge.  At the very least the judge’s ruling made sure the words “relatively inexpensive” would no longer be applicable.  The reality turned out to be that, in effect, CellPro’s fate was sealed.  That was a U.S. District Court protecting us…from what?  Good health care?

As I mentioned above, medical research is not medical treatment.  Obvious?  Should be, but the reality in the U.S. has to give one pause.  In an article updated in 2005 on NBC News.com, the amount spent on medical research, each year, in the U.S. was 95 billion (with a “B”) dollars.  What should we be expecting for 95 billion dollars a year?  Are we getting it?  There can be no doubt that there is BIG money in medical research.  How about cures?  Maybe not so much?  Look what happened to CellPro with their relatively inexpensive method of procuring transplantable stem cells.  What’s that about?  The fact is medical research is often touted as if it were treatment.  It’s not.

There are a significant number of people, and I would say an increasing number of people, in the U.S. and elsewhere that suspect treatments which would actually cure various diseases are, when discovered, buried, kept secret, in order not to jeopardize the multi-billion dollar medical research industry.  The case of CellPro definitely pushes this notion a step away from the realm of conspiracy theory and into the realm of conspiracy fact.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has a website which gives estimated costs for individuals living with a spinal cord injury.  The least figure they give is for “Incomplete motor function (any level)”.  Those costs are given as:  $347,484 the first year and $42,206 every year thereafter.  The lifetime estimated costs for someone in this category who experiences the injury at 25 years of age, are given as:  $1,578,274.  From there, as they get into the costs of paraplegia and other more profound loss of ability, the costs, as one would expect, go up.  A lot.

Compare this with the costs of one time stem cell transplant with no ongoing anti-rejection medication needed.  Tripling what, in the 1990’s, CellPro estimated would be their costs in obtaining the needed stem cells, from your own body, would put that cost at around $30,000.  Then there would be the cost of the implant itself, an injection.  If we think extortionate costs for that procedure, that might be around $100.000.  Even at extortionate pricing it doesn’t come close to the estimated costs for a lifetime of medication, medical devices, ongoing medical evaluation, caregivers and whatever else would enter in.  But what does that have to do with anything?

Is the system of medical care in the U.S. and the treatments employed the best in the world?  Let’s hope not.  I’m sure most of the medical industry’s P.R. folks would use descriptors like:  excellent, stellar, state of the art, etc.  It seems some of these treatments might be more accurately portrayed as:  the costliest we have, obsolete, ineffective, barbaric.  I’m sure there are a lot of good doctors in the U.S., thank goodness.  However, when even good doctors are at the mercy of a larger, institutionalized, business oriented medical system, well, sometimes their hands are figuratively tied.  Extravagant malpractice suits are the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of each and every physician in the U.S.  Sometimes the malpractice suits even make the extortionate pricing too often used by hospitals, clinics and other providers look trivial.

By designing/allowing extravagant malpractice suits into the bigger picture of the healthcare system those controlling the system gave themselves a ” big stick” with which to threaten recalcitrant physicians. 

The stem cell issue is just one of many treatment issues which have plagued our medical system over the past few decades.  The healthcare system in the U.S. has developed a track record of giving highly preferential treatment to those treatments marketed by big, wealthy corporations.  Pharmaceuticals immediately come to mind.

Some of the treatments which are either hard to obtain, largely ignored or actively lobbied against, even made illegal at some point if they still aren’t, include:  marijuana, stem cell therapy, neurofeedback, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and various cancer treatments offered in other countries but banned in the U.S.  I’m sure there are more.

The point is this:   Our healthcare system needs to be primarily and uncompromisingly dedicated to supporting and sustaining good health for all people.  Right now it is severely compromised by individuals who are using the importance of health and healthcare to contaminate our healthcare system with, what amount to, various avenues and degrees of extortion in a sociopathic pursuit of inordinate wealth. 

 

 

 

 

The Problems with the Answers

Problem AnswersWe now know our world, our planet (or those who are paying attention know) is one single, large, system.  When we tweak the system, for better or for worse, there are systemic consequences.  For centuries we have had examples of the systemic effects altering a single component of a system can have.  If a person’s liver stops functioning: the person dies.  The whole person, not just the liver.  As human beings we are all sub-systems within, what we undeniably now know is, the larger, unified system which is the Earth.  The danger we face is in continuing to think and behave as if each seemingly separate free-standing entity, whether a person, cow, tree, continent or ocean is an independent entity unaffected by the other seemingly free-standing entities around it.

As a video which used to be shown before movies in the U.S. said:  “There is no non-peeing section of the pool”.  Our environment is like a large pool, it’s all connected and there is no “non-peeing” section.  What happens to the ocean off New Jersey affects Shanghai, and vice-versa.  With some events proximity makes some difference; the closer a place, a people, are to the event, the greater the impact.  Yet even small doses of a poison, continued over a long enough period of time, are going to affect the whole system.

Therein lies the problem with so many of the answers that industries and governments (and those controlling them) want to hand to the rest of us.  So many, if not all, of the answers are lacking in adequate consideration of the systemic consequences of what is being proposed.  Or, if the systemic consequences are being considered, there is a Machiavellian agenda afoot which gives little or no weight to the health and well-being of the majority of people on the planet.  It is the cognizance of this latter possibility that underlies many, if not all, of the “conspiracy theories” we encounter.

The “mainstream” culture in the U.S., the government, industry, media, seem to want us to view the systemic reality that is our planetary ecosystem only one component at a time.  We’re supposed to believe there is no critical interconnection between the components (seemingly independent entities).  We are supposed to ignore the system as a whole.  In actuality, each part, each component, of our planet is in constant energetic, chemical and/or physical interaction, communication if you will, with every other part.  Just as our body is a whole system with each part in constant communication, via energetic, chemical and physical affects, with every other part.  What happens if our planet’s “liver” fails?

This consequences of this interconnectedness has been referred to at times as the “butterfly effect”.  That is an extreme, but not unfounded, conceptualization of the systemic reality we live within.

It’s time we not only face this reality but alter our thinking and behavior to properly take it into account.  Air pollution in China affects us all.  The radioactive water leaking from the Fukushima reactor in Japan is poisoning the whole ocean.  The inordinate materialism being promoted in advertisements, movies and other media from the U.S. is affecting the collective psyche around the world.  You see, it’s not just about air, water, or soil pollution, it’s about everything.  Including the physicality, mentality and spirituality of all people, everywhere. 

Some want to see our Earth as a being named “Gaia”.  I have no problem with that.  Whether our planet, our home is a sentient being or not really should make no difference in how we treat it (her).  Our undeniable reality is that the Earth is our home, our only life-support system, and we need to give much, much greater respect and consideration to that reality than is being shown at this time.

Extremism

ExtremismViolent extremism may or may not be lethal.   Lethal extremism may or may not be violent.

In hindsight I might more descriptively have titled this article “Extremism and Terror”.

We encounter the word “extremism” a lot these days.  In the U.S., President Donald Trump uses the word a lot.  In his recent speech in Saudi Arabia he spoke strongly about the need to rid places of worship, communities, the Holy Land, and even the Earth itself, of terrorists and extremists.  (Perhaps there is more than a little extremism and terrorism in this speech itself?)  Terrorism and extremism most definitely are blights upon the Earth today.  In the world today, as in President Trump’s speech, they are frequently found going hand in hand.

Terrorism, as it is most widely recognized today, is an intentional action designed to inflict terror upon a “target population”.  That is pretty much how I have found it in dictionary definitions.  Unless one has totally ignored world news the past couple decades or longer, we all know what violent terrorism is.  And, whether we watch the news or not, most, if not all, of us know what terror is.  Just so we’re on “the same page”, here are some excerpts from the  definition of “terror”  given by Merriam-Webster online:

1   : a state of intense fear

 2   b:  a frightening aspect

      c :  a cause of anxiety :  worry”

Most of us have experienced terror for one reason or another during our lives.  Maybe we’ve even gone to watch certain movies or taken part in other activities to feel it.  However, as an ongoing aspect of our day to day lives, terror is not something to be desired or sought.  While in a single dose it may provide an exhilarating thrill, as a steady diet it is stressful and, unless one can free oneself from it’s hold (as one can in a movie situation simply by getting up and walking out), the anxiety and stress accompanying terror can wear us down, become debilitating.  Ultimately the physiological effects resulting from the anxiety and stress which accompany terror, if experienced long term, can diminish the quality and the quantity of our lives.  In fact, terror itself, not just the violence perpetrated in an act of terrorism, carries it’s own lethality.  (See the link at the end of this article.)

Extremism, in and of itself, while today’s media usually has it associated with terror and violence, isn’t always the purveyor of harm or even unpleasantness.  For example, someone may be extreme in their view that all school textbooks should contain information which is true and accurate to the best of our knowledge.  While extreme, that pursuit isn’t going to cause harm for it’s target population.  Quite the contrary.  So maybe “extremism”, in and of itself, is getting something of a bad rap in the world today?

Merriam-Webster online defines extremism as:

“1 :  the quality or state of being extreme 

 2  :  advocacy of extreme measures or views :  radicalism”

However, in recent world news the word “extremist” is most often used referring to people who hold extreme ideas about religion.  Further, in the news the past few years, the words extremist or extremism are often (always?) linked with the words “violent” and/or “religious”.  Violent religious extremism is frequently put forward as a cause of many, if not most, of the world’s ills right now.  It is a fact that people; men, women and children, are being harmed and are being killed in places where “violent religious extremism” is taking place.

Looking at the phenomenon a little closer, what exactly is it that the religious extremists (violent or otherwise) are extreme about?  It is, in every case, their ideas; concepts, values.  In the case of religious extremism those ideas relate to religion.  In cases of religious extremism, I think it’s fair to say those concepts and values are being accorded primacy above all else.  Upholding, following, those concepts and values is being seen and acted upon as being more important than the well-being, even the lives, of others.  That is where lethality enters into situations where extremism is present:  when an idea takes on such value that it becomes more important than life itself, that of others or possibly even one’s own.    

It seems humankind, in general, does not like nor respect the act of putting one’s ideas, no matter how deeply held, before the well-being and lives of others.  Sometimes we may find honor in being willing to put one’s own life on the line for an idea, a value.  However, being willing to put someone else’s life or well-being on the line for that idea or value just doesn’t carry the same merit.

At least throughout the past couple millenia, history and now current events, are showing us that religious extremism can result in lethality.  However, extremism isn’t limited to religion.  Extremism can be found in other aspects of human thinking, human cultures around the world.  As so much suffering in the world right now is being ascribed to religious extremism, I think it is fair to ask:  are there any other forms of extremism which either historically or currently are showing themselves to be as capable of inflicting pain and suffering upon the people of the world?  As it happens, there is at least one.  If there is any other form of extremism which has shown itself to be as capable of violence and/or lethality as religious extremism through the ages, it is extremism in the pursuit of wealth.  Economic extremism.

Economic extremism can take three forms, they are:

  • Extremism around a particular economic system.  Extreme exponents of both capitalism and communism have left some significant body counts in their wake.
  • The extreme pursuit of less.  Asceticism most definitely has the potential to be lethal, but only to the person pursuing it.  I have nothing to fear if my neighbor decides to pursue a life of asceticism.  Realistically, if I live in an area characterized by even a moderate level of life’s comforts, they probably won’t be my neighbor for long if they are extreme in their pursuit.
  • The extreme pursuit of more.  This expression of extremism, as much as any other form of extremism known to human kind, including religious extremism, can result in and has resulted in violence, terror, and/or lethality.

Just as the pursuit of religiosity, carried to extremes, has led individuals and entire cultures to engage in cruel, brutal and murderous behavior toward other human beings, the pursuit of material wealth, carried to extremes, has done likewise.  It is pretty clear that an extreme desire for wealth can lead a person to give that desire the same primacy that religious extremists give the religiosity they cherish.  Off hand, without having all the data on how many people have been wounded, maimed, and/or killed by religious or economic extremists in all of recorded history, I think it would be very hard to make a reasonable estimate on whether religious extremism or economic extremism has resulted in more casualties.

It is also true that sometimes religious and economic extremism go hand in hand.

In understanding the relationship between extremism, terror and lethality, it is important to keep in mind that debilitation, terror and death are not always the results of violence.  Violence is the act of giving someone else more of something:  force, brutality, injuries, lethal trauma.  Debilitation, terror and death can and are just as easily, though not necessarily as quickly, caused by giving someone else less of something:  food, water, shelter, medical care, even education.  Revisiting the topic of terror and terrorism briefly, sometimes terror is the result of the prospect of unfulfilled needs:  unfulfilled needs for food, water, shelter, medical care.  In this way, again, we find extremism and terror going hand in hand.  It is the latter method, the method of giving or allowing less which is the primary method of lethality accompanying economic extremism.  No matter how many people have been killed by violence occurring through the extreme efforts of tyrants to acquire more wealth, more people have perished as a result of being on the wrong side of an extreme economic imbalance.

If a man or woman can be happy with the wealth produced by their own hands, we have no problems.  The problems enter in when men and women desire the wealth produced by the hands of others. The greater the desire for wealth, the more people it requires to produce it.  When inordinate amounts of that wealth are being directed to a ridiculously small number of people there is no question that the people actually producing the wealth are being deprived of an equitable share of the wealth they contributed to producing.  That is a signature of economic extremism, and there is lethality occurring as a result.

The methods, the ploys used in the expression of economic extremism, as with religious extremism, are many and I’m not going to try to go into those at this time.  Suffice to say that whenever, in this world of plenty, we see people languishing in poverty we can be certain that there is economic extremism at the root of it.

If humankind is ever going to realize it’s full potential, if healthy, viable, sustainable, communities are ever going to exist, we are going to have to transcend religious and economic extremism.  

“Why Stress is Deadly”