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.

“Rabbit Holes”: Do you think you’re jumping into one while you’re actually trying to climb out?

Rabbit hole
(c) Dazdraperma http://www.fotosearch.com

We read or hear every now and then about someone “going down a rabbit hole”.  That is no doubt an allusion to Alice in Wonderland (Or Alice Through the Looking Glass) and a young girl’s journey into a fantastic, somewhat disorienting world.  These days “going down a rabbit hole” is most often used to describe someone who is delving into information having to do with conspiracies, manipulations of the public consciousness. Often these people may also be described as being “on the fringe”, nut jobs or nut cases, conspiracy theorists, or even lunatics.  However, is this really the case?  Are the people who delve into such information, trying to discern what is or isn’t real, actually going down a rabbit hole?  Or, are they trying to climb out of one?

It certainly seems many people live in one of two ways:  Either blindly, unquestioningly accepting the information they are handed by “the authorities” and adjusting their lives accordingly.  Or, some do feel, suspect, things really aren’t what they have been told they are, but the prospect of trying to peer into the darkness is too frightening.  These folks then continually seek other people and institutions which will reinforce the status quo and, at least temporarily, soothe the uneasiness which lies below the surface of their lives.

Then there are the people who don’t, can’t, fit into either of these groups.  People whose consciousness, whose intuitions about our world are persistently and relentlessly sending them alerts:  something doesn’t feel right, something doesn’t make sense when analyzed using all the available evidence.  These people often feel like the proverbial square peg in a round hole.  So these people read, watch documentaries, talk with others.  Not just the books, videos and others that will reinforce the information that is already being mass-produced and presented repeatedly on all the mainstream media.  These people welcome all the information they can get their hands on.  Including the material being presented on the six o’clock news and the front page. These folks welcome the alternative perspectives, the “outside the box” reasoning, and all the facts, all the evidence, they can find.  No matter where it may come from and, more importantly, no matter where it may lead.

It is important to note the critical distinction between  “welcoming” of information and “accepting” information. One, the welcoming, is the act of opening one’s senses, one’s mind, to input.  Accepting information is the act of internalizing, assimilating, the information as true and accurate. When we do this we are doing more than simply restructuring our mental, abstract concepts about whatever the information pertains to. We are actually directing our brain to arrange our neural connections in such a way that the information becomes “hardwired*” into our neural processing patterns. This is an organic process which requires time, energy and effort on the part of our body, our brain. Our brain is building an organic network of thought, reasoning patterns which become part and parcel of our conscious processes.  These concepts, true or false, become the matrix, the foundational fabric of our thinking processes.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

In between the “welcoming” and the “accepting” what should exist is a critical, analytical process of vetting the information.  What too often happens is that merely the fact that somebody in a position of culturally recognized “authority” spoke or wrote the words passes as vetting information.  Is it that millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are too complacent, to think, to research for themselves?  Or is there more to it than that?  People around the world are often required to expend such a large amount of their time and energy in just striving to keep themselves sheltered and fed that, maybe, there just isn’t enough energy to go around?  To look at this phenomenon from the perspective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we can’t do too much on the higher levels of our lives when we’re unsatisfied with and/or expending all our efforts on the lower levels of the Hierarchy.  However, no matter what the reason(s) may be, if we aren’t critically analyzing the important happenings in our world, some of our oversights are going to affect us more than others!

*Back to the “hardwiring” our brain is busily involved with.  This “hardwiring” is not immutable.  Just as these neural circuits were formed via our acceptance of, our assimilation of, information into our belief system; our working concept of reality can be reformed/reshaped in the same manner.  But it takes time.  Our brain’s neural network is not just a series of “off/on” switches.  It is a living organ and change requires time and energy.  When we construct complex concepts in our minds we are employing an army of neurons.  Some of them are carrying data more central to the concept, some are carrying data more peripheral.  Some are doing the work of associating one concept with another.  Our brain doesn’t operate like a military drill field where one central command can result in hundreds or thousands of soldiers making an instantaneous change of direction.  Our brain, our thought/neural constructs, change via many recursive visits to the subject.  Slowly, gradually, change begins to become pervasive throughout our neural network.  Sometimes it may take years, decades, for an intention for change to have thoroughly replaced the pre-existing concept(s).  To try to change too much, too quickly, can be a traumatic event for the organic neurology involved.  It can result in mental illness, and I am told, even death.

That’s why we don’t want to beat ourselves up when we find ourselves falling down on resolutions we make.  Our neurology just doesn’t respond in an instantaneous, pervasive manner.  It is also why we do not want to “program” ourselves or allow ourselves to be programmed with faulty, inaccurate, untrue information.  It is not in the best interests of our species to have to engage in major conceptual changes.  It takes a lot of time and energy away from being able to cope with the “here and now”.  It is profoundly better to have good information to begin with and to be able to build increasingly complex, increasingly sound conceptual networks over time. 

 Human kind is probably the only species on Earth in which adults of the species will knowingly lie to their young.  Of course, sometimes the adults who are transmitting false, inaccurate information to their young aren’t doing it intentionally.  They are doing it because they themselves have accepted false, inaccurate information.  Information which was handed to them by an “authority” sometime, someplace during their lives.  This false, inaccurate information might be thought of as parasites which have been introduced to the family, dressed up, and have taken up residence, attempting to influence successive generations.  Kind of like a horror movie.

When we’re under the influence of false, inaccurate information one can think of it as living at the bottom of a rabbit hole: in the dark.  

For decades the American public has been living under the influence of lies.  Lies coming from the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress.  Lies being regurgitated by much of the media.  The lies have gotten so deep, going back decades;  so much has been built on top of those lies, those in power must cringe at the thought of the public ever widely knowing the truth.  As George H.W. Bush said to Sarah McLendon, a Texas journalist:   “Sarah, if the American people ever find out what we have done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us.”  That was in 1992.  The corruption, lies and abuses, the darkness being cast over our understanding of our world, have only gotten deeper since then.  The Kennedy assassinations, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Oklahoma City bombing, MK Ultra, 9/11, these heinous actions, actions which the American people have been lied to regularly and repeatedly about, are only the tip of the iceberg.  Financial abuses, wars, economic disparity, the list of ways the American public has suffered as a result of the lies is long and grievous.  Because I live in the U.S., events in the U.S. are what I am most aware of. However, corruption and abuse of the public by those in high office is by no means limited to the U.S.

So, in reality, those seeking the truth about these things aren’t frivolously going down the proverbial rabbit hole, they’re determinedly trying to climb out of one.

 

 

 

 

 

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”

We Need a Culture That Can Care For Body and Soul

img_0502-2What are our natural resources?  Essentially they are the inherent qualities of the planet we live upon.  None of us created them or contributed to their existence.  However, as we know, many if not all of them are necessary for our lives.  Without the air, water, food, shelter, medicinal substances, that our provided by our natural resources we would die.  Without the beauty and recreational opportunities inherent in our natural resources our lives would be much less enjoyable, if even tolerable.

Natural resources include the plants that grow and the animals that inhabit the Earth.  Natural resources are the source of all the raw materials that all products are made from.  Even what scientists require in order to create “synthetics”.  Without the naturally occurring  base materials there would be no synthetics.  We come to the Earth with nothing and everything we have while we’re here has essentially been provided to us by forces beyond our control.  Everything.  That makes the naturally occurring resources of our planet (and others) pretty valuable, doesn’t it?

It is true that humans very often take a natural resource, add some ingenuity and work, and thereby create something more useful to human life than the raw material alone.  Clothing, houses, automobiles, medicines, works of art, musical instruments, books, computers, jewelry, beer, wine!  Humans have bred some plants to produce more or better food products than they did previously.

However, it’s worked the other way with plants also, nutritional value has been reduced in some strains.  And similar claims can also be made for about every natural resource.  At some time one or more human beings have tried to create something with one or the other natural resources which has ended up being of less value than the raw material.  Trial and error, we humans seem to do a lot of that.

Somewhere along the line some people decided that because of some arbitrary situation in their life they actually own one or more natural resources.  Maybe they were born into a “royal” family with a longstanding (but never the less arbitrary) claim.  Or maybe they had friends within one or more governments that were ready and willing to pass laws that proclaimed they now have ownership of certain natural resources.  In any and all of these cases, assertions of ownership have only worked because there were sufficient other people ready to support that assertion.  All such assertions are arbitrary in that they are devised and implemented solely out of the volition of the human beings involved.  In other words, if I say I now own New York, and if I can get enough people in positions of power and a sufficient army to support the claim, then I own New York.  That’s how it works.  We all came with nothing, everything that is, every single solitary natural resource on Earth, has been provided to us freely by forces beyond our control.  Every product that exists is produced from these resources.

Whether by design or default, currently we are allowing individuals or small groups of individuals to claim ownership of massive amounts of the Earth’s natural resources.  Is this really how we want to conduct ourselves?  This type of practice, among other things, leads to competition among the individuals and groups vying for ownership.  It has led to wars and will undoubtedly lead to more if the practice is continued.  It leads to inflationary, greed based pricing of the resources and works toward the impoverishment of the general population.  The psycho/emotional effects of a competition/greed based culture in general are to be seen within populations around the world:  fear, anxiety, disenfranchisement, depression, or vanity, narcissism.

When enough people wake up to the reality that private ownership of natural resources, and all similar cultural structures, can only exist with the cooperation of the general population, then we will see significant change within systems take place.  In the past this has often just meant that the group controlling the resources changes and the same greed/competition model stays in place.  We need something better.  We need to realize that as a species that our fates are inextricably intertwined.  We need to realize the mutuality of our plight and then to act upon that realization.  We need to utilize, to apply the magnificent body of knowledge that already exists within the disciplines of psychology, physiology, sociology, medicine, anthropology, ethics, and spiritual studies in the design and maintenance of our social and industrial systems.  Economically we don’t need socialism, communism or capitalism.  We need a hybrid born in knowledge and reason with the well-being of all of humanity as a goal!

A key foundational piece of wisdom comes when we realize that, in general, looking at the basics of our biology and spirituality, what is good for one person’s body and spirit provides us with a model of what is good for the body and spirit of humanity as a whole.  

Don’t Play The Victim To Circumstances You Created

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

“Don’t play the victim to circumstances you created.”  I saw that statement on Facebook and it hit me like cold shower.  Wow.  So simple yet so profound.  I would alter it some to read;  “Don’t play the victim to circumstances that you helped to create.”  The latter statement sums up what is going on with the issue of illegal immigration to the U.S.  The U.S., as a nation, is experiencing the consequences of decades of supporting tyrants and greed in Mexico, Central and South America and elsewhere.  Everyone who believes it is too much trouble to  pay attention to politics needs to wake up, politics can and will affect your life!

What do we expect when the U.S. government, and U.S. corporations, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars supporting leaders and methods which render countries unlivable for vast numbers of the populations of those countries?  

We cannot as a people continue to ignore a simple reality;  we need to be working to build a culture which is supportive and nurturing of whole and healthful human life.  And we need to support such efforts elsewhere.  What we are doing now, as a matter of national policy and culture is worshiping the “bottom line”.  It’s all about the money.  We have become a species in which too much of what we, as a species, are engaged in seems hellbent in destroying our environment…and ourselves.  Often or always in the name of corporate and/or personal “profit”.  It seems human kind these days has narrowly defined “profit” to include only monetary or material gain.  This is proving to be a very costly error in reasoning.

In order to correct things one thing is certain, there needs to be balance brought back into our economic reality.  There is an absolute need for us, as a species, to recognize our mutuality and keep each other’s well-being in mind.

Why focus on something so mundane as money rather than lofty sentiments about love and/or spirituality?  Because what is happening with the material wealth we possess is a visible measure of what is happening with our spiritual reality.  No matter all the high platitudes being written and spoken, the truth of our internal state is apparent in our external state.

We usually think of external/worldly change happening as a result of an internal change, however, the reverse can also be true.  Sometimes when we realize the absolute need for an external/worldly change, and act upon that realization, the dynamics precipitate a fulfillment of the change within our psycho-emotional make-up.

So, as we look around at the increasing poverty and suffering of the many on one side of the scale and the extravagant, inordinate wealth of the few on the other, isn’t it obvious what needs to be done?   The only question is how is it going to happen?  Because when things get too far out of balance, the natural tendency toward a viable balance will assert itself, that’s as inherent a reality as gravity.  (As above so below, as below so above.) Will it happen in a caring, thoughtful manner or in a chaotic, traumatic series of events?  Like so much else that happens in this world, it’s all up to us.

July 2017: I need to add that the predatory exploitation of developing and/or “third-world” countries has not been limited to the United States or corporations headquartered in the U.S.  Also, the problem of refugees and immigrants is not limited to the United States.