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March 2005
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May 2005

Christian Peacemaker Teams: committed to reducing violence by "Getting in the way."

Christian_peacemakers What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?

Supposing all the folks who have those yellow magnetic "Support The Troops" ribbons on their cars had "Support The Christian Peacemaking Teams" instead?

Where is the religious right on this? They profess to have been "born again" and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and yet they support violence, military action and behavior instead of what Jesus taught which was nonviolent loving response towards one's enemies.

It seems to me that there are many false prophets among us. Jesus said that by their fruit you shall know them.

My money is on the Christian Peacemakers not the so called "religious right" crowd.

Check out the Christian Peacemaker Teams. Click on the link to their web site below.

Link: Christian Peacemaker Teams: committed to reducing violence by "Getting in the way.".


Big changes coming around the world and right in your town.

I am not into conspiracy theories, and apocalyptic nonsense. I am not a survivalist who is hoarding canned food and moving to the mountains.

But I have started reading James Howard Kunstler's book, The Long Emergency, and he is pointing out in this book that our society and world as we know it is on the brink of some drastic, radical, and extremely significant changes because of the exhaustion of fossil fuels.

What are the implications of the increasing expense and unavailability of fossil fuels for the civilization which we have created? The consequences are enormous with our suburban sprawl, reliance on the automobile, and move from an agriculture society to one where the very daily food we eat must be transported to us from distant places on vehicles relying almost exclusively on fossil fuel for their energy.

In the last few months, I have seen gasoline in my area go up over 50 cents a gallon. In my daily paper, there are articles where the farmers (the primary industry in Genesee County, NY is farming) are talking about how they are worried that they will not be able to make any money this growing season because of the high cost of fuel to power their tractors and other farm equipment and get their produce to market. The independent truckers are complaining that they are being run out of business because they cannot afford diesel fuel.

The United States has only about 3% of the known fossil fuel reserves in the world while it consumes over 25% of the world's fossil fuel resources. The amount of fossil fuel is finite. When we humans use it up, it is gone. What will we do?

We will have to make huge adjustments in our life styles and our ways of doing business with one another. What might some of these adjustments be? Already we are seeing huge economic problems beginning to develop. Without resources people cannot live where they used to live, do what they used to do, and take for granted the life style to which we have become accustomed.

Will these changes bring about bankruptcies, scarcity leading to disease, war, death, and more provincial, defensive local economies and communities?

We shall see. In the meantime, it is important for us to wake up from our taken for granted sleep, and think ahead to what life without fossil fuels might mean.

I recommend Mr. Kunstler's book if you are looking for some thought provoking reading. You can click on the link below for some immediate information about this issue on the Internet.

Link: DIE OFF - a population crash resource page.


Standing on Fishes, the film

Standing On Fishes, an independent film released in theaters in 1999 and on video in 2004 is the story about young adults in their late 20s trying to find their way in love, life, and work.

Caleb is a sculptor caught between making art and making a living. He has been living in a relationship for five years with his politically correct, precise, girlfriend, Erica, who seems to have a need to analyse and comment on everything. Caleb's best friend and employee, Jason, gets a girl pregnant in a one night stand, and after she has an abortion decides that his life has no meaning, and he has to find himself by going to Alaska to work on a fishing cannery vessel so he can have "new experiences".

Caleb rents his guest house to a dreamy, childlike, artist, Camille, who, while trying to comfort him by kissing and petting, is discovered by Erica who confronts Caleb about their relationship, and their frank discussion leads to Caleb finally telling Erica that he thinks they would be better friends than lovers.

I found the movie entertaining, thought provoking, and attempting to describe realities about life and love deeper than its more superficial gloss.

I liked this movie and recommend it.

Link: Standing on Fishes (1999).


People of conscience - It's time to object

Liberated_yet_1

James Hillman, a psychologist, wrote a book entitled, "A Terrible Love Of War". His thesis seems to be that human beings have always loved war as terrible as it is because it has been with us since Cain killed Able.

On the other hand, I think someone should write a book about our love for peace, for harmony, for appreciation that we humans can have for one another.

Every time I see one of those yellow ribbons on the side of a car that says "Support The Troops" I start to wonder about the psyche of people who buy these things and take this kind of public stand. It reminds me of people who buy and wear sports regalia, "Go Bills", "Go Cowboys". What is it about human nature that wants to maim, injure, kill, and subjugate an opponent into submission? Is this a healthy drive of human nature?

There are some people who love peace more than war to the point that they are willing to suffer and die for it. Jesus is our best and perhaps noblest example. You would never know this talking to most Christians, but Christians who get Jesus' message, and His gospel of good news know this, that Jesus was anti-military, anti-violence, even when it came to protecting His own life.

Non-violence will have a chance when people who believe in non-violence are willing to die for it. Gandhi was such a person as was Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are pockets of war resisters in the world and in the United States. One such group is the people at the Center for Conscience and War. The primary mission of the Center for Conscience and War is to extend and defend the rights of conscientious objectors to war and violence.

I believe that people who are committed to making our world a better place like Jesus, Gandhi, and King should adopt nonviolent strategies to bring about this social change. It is the mentally healthy way to proceed, and is in the interest of  our public health.

Over 1,500 American soldiers have been killed so far in Iraq, over 38,000 American soldiers have been injured or disabled physically or mentally, and over 100,000 Iraqis have died during the current conflict. In addition, the cost of the war is bankrupting the United States which will take generations to pay off.

The governmental rationale for this war has shifted many times from fighting terrorism, to eliminating non-existent weapons of mass destruction, to regime change, to bringing democracy to the middle east. Rarely, has death, destruction, and mayhem been perpetrated for such flimsy and ephemeral reasons, and a whole nation, the most powerful on earth, has been led along like sheep to the slaughter by powers and reasons which no one seems to quite understand.

It is time for those of us who have been silent, or who have not been very active before to stand up as people of conscience and object. If you would like more information, click on the link below.

Link: Center on Conscience & War.


More Than 20 Million US Workers Lack Insurance

There is something seriously wrong in America. I just don't get it. We spend billions and billions of dollars on an immoral pre-emptive war in Iraq while millions of hard working Americans go without health insurance.

Reuters reported on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study that found that 20 million working Americans don't have health insurance.

"More than 20 million working Americans have no health insurance, with close to one in four employed people going without health care in some states, according to a report issued on Wednesday.

And 41 percent of these uninsured Americans report have trouble seeing a doctor when they need to, said the report from the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This compared with 9 percent of insured adults."

This lack of health care means that working people are delaying or not getting health care leading to increased suffering and premature death.

"The survey found that 56 percent of adults without health care coverage did not have a personal doctor or health care provider, compared with 16 percent of people with health insurance.

Looking at data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group found that 20 percent of uninsured adults described their health as fair or poor, compared with 12 percent of adults with health coverage.

"Too many families suffer, and too many lives are lost because our nation has not taken action to address this problem," said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation."

While the dithering idiots in Washington yam on and on about steroids in baseball, and the "nuclear option" for filibuster rules, the citizens in this country are in need of some basic services. Will you write or call your senator and congressperson today, and tell them you want them to address the uninsured health problem in our country?

Link: MedlinePlus: More Than 20 Million US Workers Lack Insurance.


Consumer Ads Boost Doctors' Scripts

Does direct drug marketing through pharmaceutical ads affect physicians prescribing patterns? Sure does according to a study reported in the April 27, 2005 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association according to a report by Reuters.

Educating patients is one thing. Turning physicians into shills for pharmaceutical companies is quite another.

The drug pusher in your neighborhood is not selling crack on the corner, it is the pharmaceutical company advertising on your TV and leaving samples in your doctor's office.

"Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs seems to increase the likelihood that physicians will prescribe those drugs, according to a study in the April 27th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. This can have mixed results in patient care, averting underuse in some cases and promoting overuse in others."

Unforturnately, I see this happen in my psychotherapy practice all the time. My clients tell me that their physician gave them samples of whatever the current antidepressant is. For a few years it was Paxil, and then Celexa, and now Effexor. I can tell from my therapist's chair what pharmaceutical reps have been to what doctor's offices just by what samples my clients tell me that their Primary Care Physician has given them.

Actually, if I was a mercenary, cyncial kind of guy, it might be a good way of choosing which pharmaceutical stocks to invest in, knowing what drugs are being pushed this year.

Link: MedlinePlus: Consumer Ads Boost Doctors' Scripts - Study.


The Safety of Objects, the film

The_safety_of_objects The Safety Of Objects, released in 2001, is the story about four families who, for various psychological and spiritual reasons, are unhappy.

This movie could only be about people in a first world country where all creature comforts have been met, because all of the four families appear to be doing OK financially. They live in comfortable houses, drive nice cars, have plenty to eat.

The problems these families deal with are more problems of the spirit.

"A series of overlapping stories about four suburban families dealing with different maladies. Esther Gold's (Close) life is consumed by caring for her comatose son; Jim Train (Mulroney) is sent into a tailspin when he's passed over for a promotion; Annette Jenning's (Clarkson) family is struggling in the wake of her divorce; Helen Christianson (Place) is determined to shake up her mundane life."

This movie reminded me of Mother Theresa's comment that while America may be the richest country on earth, spiritually it is the poorest.

This movie is edited so that the stories are interspersed and quickly shift from one family to another so the movie is engaging and moves fast. It kind of comes together in the end but is not very emotionally satisfying, and in keeping with the themes depicted in this movie, leaves the viewer thinking and feeling that neither is life.

If you like thought provoking drama's about the angst of middle class life in America, I recommend this movie to you.

Link: The Safety of Objects (2001).