A confluence of topics dealing with mental health, substance abuse, health, public health, Social Work, education, politics, the humanities, and spirituality at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In short, this blog is devoted to the improvment of the quality of life of human beings in the universe.
58,000 of my peers were killed in Viet Nam. Hundreds of thousands were injured and came home with PTSD. Millions of Viet Namese were killed, for what? Ostensibly, a domino theory that communism had to be stopped in Asia or it would come to the US. Americans were convinced by the politicians during the cold war that the bogey man was at large and threatened American security.
Bottom line it was good for business selling billions of dollars of weapons and drafting hundreds of thousands of poor baby boomers so they couldn't raise too much hell at home getting high, listening to seditious music like rock and roll, and marching for civil rights.
Viet Nam was another pre-emptive and immoral war which the US lost and should have lost because it was wrong. The plutocrats manipulated the public most of whom were too stupid to see through them and they elected Richard Nixon, of all people, to end the war which he had no intention of doing and it took him 6 years to finally get around to it amidst his paranoid criminal activities which lead to his resignation to avoid impeachment.
Whether it's the Red Menace or Terrorists it is interesting how easily the public is manipulated by politicians and corporations into perpetrating evil policies for economic reasons. Once again, when people tell you it's not the money, it's the principle of the thing, you can bet your last buck, its the money.
Mammon once again reigns as the American God. Greed rules and when in bed with the politicians human suffering and death ascend to horrific proportions. Another example of capitalism out of control.
"1953 - At the behest of the British government, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower approves a covert operation to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, Iran's democratically elected leader. Mosaddeq had been a driving force behind the nationalization of British oil holdings in Iran. With the help of British and American funds, along with direct CIA assistance, his government was replaced by the dictatorship of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlav, whose rule would last until the Islamic revolution of 1979."
The New Agers tell us that we can create our own reality.
What they mean is, as best as I can determine, that we can make our own meaning.
We usually cannot change the facts or the circumstances.
As the proverb says, "You have a right to your own opinion, but you do not have a right to your own facts."
As the bumper sticker says, "Reality is when it happens to you."
The facts can be tough sometimes. The truth can hurt. Shit happens.
In the United States we have lived though a delusional period in our national politics when policies were based on ideology not on reality. Many people are now calling for a reality based politics not an ideologically based politics.
In our personal lives, we probably function more effectively and efficiently, if not not more happily, when our decisions and choices are based on reality rather than fantasy.
If a 12 oz. can of soda has 6 oz. left it it, it is a fact that there are 6 oz. gone, but whether you choose to interpret this fact as the can being half empy or half full is up to you and the expectations of others for how they would like you to interpret the fact.
The events of your personal life and our national life roll on. These events are facts and indesputable, but you get to write the history and the history you write will influence how future events and facts are perceived.
As Bobby McFerrin sang in his great song, "Don't worry, be happy." Video lasts 3:43
Jon Stewart does a great job interviewing Scott McClellan about his book , What Happened. It is interesting to hear the administration's representatives say things like "this isn't the Scott we knew". Jon asks McClellan insightful questions about how the administration developed the strategy of obfuscation which they employed to lie to the American people.
If you are interested in the immoral behavior of our polticians as they go about their activities in pursuing their own agenda which is contradictory to the interests of the nation, and the world, Jon's interview is well worth watching.
People don't like facing up to the truth and we have become so accustomed to public relations, spin, hype, and let's say it plain, bull shit, that we The People don't know what the truth is any more. This realization has been the basis of comedy like Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, and Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert has even made up a word for it and he calls it "truthiness".
"Truthiness" is flirting with the truth. It is half lying, It is twisting things so they are more palatable. It is a sad day, when we The People are lied to, deceived, not told the truth.
It still is not clear why we have been engaged in a pre-emptive, immoral war in Iraq for over 5 years. It still is not clean why the governments response to Katrina was so slow and inept. It still is not clear why Tom Ridge, the head of Homeland Security, kept issuing color based terrorists threats. It still is not clear why Americans were told to obtain sheets of plastic and duct tape to seal their homes against anthrax. It still is not clear how a President can believe in Creationism and yet NASA is sending robots to Mars which is millions of years old.
As Stephen Colbert points out, people entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. It is a sad state of our democracy, that most Americans do not know the facts, and the fourth estate, the media, do not report them, and that it takes the fifth estate, fake news, to bring it to our attention.
Satire is the elixir to maintain our mental health as a nation. It is the court jester challenging the King's grasp of reality. As the saying goes, "You have to be a little crazy to keep from going insane."
"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
John F. Kennedy
With this epigram, Rick Shenkman opens the first chapter of his book, which I wanted to write, entitled, Just How Stupid Are We?
Shenkman writes, "Even after 9/11, when fresh thinking was needed most, we neglected as a society to confront the harsh truths about the limits of the public's wisdom. Busy spreading democracy around the world,we refused to reflect bravely on the defects of our own. Instead of admitting our flaws, we settled, somewhat defensively, on the myth that we a good and great people with noble aims." p. 12
Of course this is highly questionable. We had just elected two convicted drunk drivers to the highest offices in the land, President and Vice-President. That alone should give any thinking person pause in considering the wisdom and intelligence of the American people. We not only elected them, we re-elected them rejecting a decorated war hero for two leaders who avoided and dodged military service.
As Shenkman points out, when the American voters are faced with the truth or the myth they vote for the myth that gay marriage is bad, and that abortion is ruining our nation even when the bulk of the information from a public health perspective is the opposite. However, facing up the truths which fly in the face of fiercely held myths is not something the American public has proved itself good at, and disaster has occured and continues to develop as most Americans aren't smart enough to understand how they have been had by their politicians and the corporate media.
It is easy to blame the policticans for fear mongering, lying, manipulating, spinning, and being bought off by lobbyists, and it is easy to blame the corporate media for skewing the news in their desired directions and not asking the tough questions and digging for the real facts behind the public relations spin, but few people have questioned the myth of the wisdom of the American people. The fact of the matter is that the American public is stupid. We get what we deserve. Perhaps working together we can look at our myths and start questioning "authority" so that we can come to a functional and healthy understanding of our national and international situation.
The American peple are in denial as surely as the alcoholic and drug addict are in denial about the nature of their disease. When first confronted, the alcoholic says, "Screw you. I don't have a problem." But as more negative consequences occur, the alcoholic can't avoid and deny any more. Reality starts to set in as the alcoholic hits bottom. America is hitting bottom. The myth that we are fighting pre-emptive, immoral wars like Viet Nam and Iraq for freedom and democracy around the world because we are morally superior while we loose democratic freedoms at home, and working people become poorer as the rich become richer, is becoming contaminated.
As Shenkman points out, it is not the lies that harm the most, but the belief in the underlying myths which make the lies necessary to maintain order and compliance of a people who otherwise might object to the policies of those in power.
This is an essay I have wanted to write for some time, but have never felt confident that I had the words to accurately express my thoughts and feelings. I have looked for other authors who could state the ideas more clearly and succinctly than I can, but having found none, I have decided to take the risk and try to express the idea myself.
On this memorial day, I have a great deal of difficulty honoring and paying tribute to people who have engaged in immoral, unethical, and perhaps even criminal behavior. I am talking about soldiers who willingly and readily engaged in the killing in the immoral wars in Viet Nam and Iraq. Participating in the immoral wars of empire is not an honorable or moral activity. The defense that the soldier is “only doing their job”, and “just following orders” is the same as the German soldiers who transported the Jewish people and manned the crematoriums during the Holocaust. This defense was judged to be inadequate in the Nuremberg trials after World War II and it is not adequate for our soldiers immoral activity in a war of imperial conquest now.
There are courageous and heroic people who objected to the criminal activity and said “Hell no, I won’t go!”, and who rejected further service. I call these soldiers, “Soldiers of conscience” because they have reflected on the activities they were being ordered to participate in and judged them immoral and objectionable and at great personal sacrifice said so and refused to participate. They're people of conscience I admire, honor, and respect and yet the majority of Americans seem embarrassed by them because they force us as a nation to examine our nation’s policies and activities and we are conflicted and ashamed. It is another example of the classic case of the little boy saying to his mother, “The king has no clothes on!” and she tells her son to “Hush up!” because she fears the reprisal and retribution for his honesty.
As a therapist, I hypothesize that a great deal of what gets diagnosed as PTSD is a case of overwhelmingly guilty consciences at what was done, or what was seen done, and what was participated in, and yet there is no socially acceptable mechanism for individual soldiers and us, as a nation, to confess our sins, acknowledge our guilt, ask for forgiveness, and repent. This spiritually cleansing strategy has been labeled by the current Republicans and conservative pundits as “cut and run”. And yet it is much more psychological and spiritually healthy to call a spade a spade, take the bull by the horns, determine the nature and degree of harm done, and attempt to rectify and repair the harm.
Our current political climate and culture is too imbued with hubris to admit mistakes, take responsibility for immoral and illegal behavior, admit wrongs done, and apologize and make amends. So the iconic images and ideas of Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo, of extraordinary rendition, of deceit in justifying a pursuit to war, makes us as a nation hide our shame by sporting yellow “support the troops” magnetic ribbons on our cars and pretend that memorial day is a day to celebrate the heroic sacrifices of the activities of soldiers who have engaged in immoral, illegal, and unethical acts in our name.
We do no service to ourselves and to them when we lie and deceive ourselves and others about the horror we have inflicted on Iraq, Viet Nam, and other people’s around the world.
As Nuremberg trials concluded, at the end of the day, the individual conscience is supreme and to excuse one’s moral choices saying “ I was serving my country” or “I was following the orders of the Commander in Chief” is no defense.
When we look at the indicators of mental health among our soldiers: the rates of PTSD and other psychiatric problems, the suicide rates, the dysfunction among military families, I have to ask myself on Memorial Day, who is kidding who? If this activity is so grand and noble why the terrible psychic sequelae?
We have allowed ourselves as a nation to follow a delusional administration, and a dysfunctional congress into engaging in a pre-emptive, immoral, and illegal war. As Michael Moore pointed out on Larry King live over 100 million Americans, about 1/3 of the voting public knew the war was wrong. Millions more around the world knew the war was wrong. The United States essentially declared war alone with many more nations being unwilling than the touted few who were willing. The Pope and other major religious leaders around the world declared the war immoral. How can this be the occasion for honor and tribute? It will only make us crazier. It is better to call sin what it is – sin, and then go from there.
I honor the prophets, like the little boy who saw that the emperor had no clothes on, and thank them for their enlightened witnessing when those in power and the “moral majority” who support them have lost their way.
This Memorial Day should be a day of reflection and repentance. Let’s stop glorifying and honoring what is morally ugly. Let’s provide opportunities for truth and reconciliation instead of military jingoism and chauvanism. What many of our soldiers need is moral cleansing, along with our leaders, and then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary for them to kill themselves and go nuts.
Here is video with Darrell Anderson who is one veteran whom I admire and honor very much. The video lasts a little over 4 minutes and is worth every second.
Bill Moyers interviewed John Grisham on January 25, 2008 on his show, Bill Moyers Journal. I learned that John Grisham is a religious man and takes his faith seriously.
In Grisham's latest book, he tells the story of how corporate interests have corrupted our democratic elections to the point of being able to even stack the state Supreme Courts with judges sympathetic to corporate interests.
The story is about a huge award granted by a Mississippi court to a woman whose husband and son both died of cancer as the result of a chemical company dumping toxic waste which found its way into the city's drinking water. The chemical company pays millions of dollars to get a supreme court justice elected who will knock down the award upon appeal.
This book is important for every American to read who wants to understand how contemporary campaigning is designed and whose interests are being promoted and represented. This book should be assigned reading in every high school civics class in America. Before the kids read it, parents would be advised to read it first so parents know what the kids are talking about when they ask questions.
935 lies by Bush Administration lead U.S. to war according to the Center for Public Integrity. Is this evidence of war crimes and a basis for impeachment because of high crimes and misdemeanors? It is this kind of mystification that makes a whole nation crazy. When government is in bed with the corporate media and the military/industrial complex, fascism is real and present, and any sense that we live in a democracy becomes self delusional. Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow give an overview. Video lasts 6 minutes and every American should watch it.
This video clip shows American soldiers killing a wounded Iraqi man. It lasts about 30 seconds.
Another video of American soldiers killing unarmed, wounded, Iraqis. No wonder PTSD and mental health problems are so high when soldiers return to "normal life." These soldiers are acting in our name. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.
American "Air Support" kills people indiscriminately.
US Army Specialist Darrell Anderson explains Army policy in Iraq: "Anderson describes the escalation of violence against unarmed civilians: "In April, they told us, "In a crowded area, if one person shoots at you, kill everybody." Anderson explains the rationale from the officers: "They [members of the crowd of people] are letting them [the person or persons firing at the U.S. military] attack you. They're no longer innocent if they're there at the time of the crime..."