Search Words

Friday, June 28, 2013

Meth in the USA: Government Approved

In talking to some of my Russian friends, it has been widely suspected that the drug epidemic in the Russian Federation is part of a larger plan by Jihadists to destroy Russia with drugs.  Sound paranoid?

Well, just read this article about Methamphetamine in the US:

Then scroll down to this:

The Sinaloa Cartel, led by Mexican kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, accounts for 80% of the U.S. meth trade.

In Chicago, where Guzmán is Public Enemy No.1, Sinaloa is employing more than 100,000 gang members to sling meth (along with cocaine, marijuana and heroin) on the streets while cartel members blend in with the metro area's two million Hispanic residents.

It should be noted that there are allegations that Guzmán, who was on the Forbes' list of billionaires from 2009 to 2012, works with the U.S. government.

In court documents, a high-ranking member of Sinaloa currently in U.S. custody asserted that Guzmán is a U.S. informant, Sinaloa was "given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago," and Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the cartel in exchange for information used to take down its rivals.

The claims were corroborated by a Mexican foreign service officer who doubled as a confidential source for the U.S. security firm Stratfor when he alleged that the U.S. government works with Mexican cartels to traffic drugs into the U.S., and that in 2010 the U.S. sided with Sinaloa in an attempt to limit the violence in Mexico.

Yes, you read correctly: the drug flow into the US is being regulated by the US government's chosen cartel.  Now you know that there is a lot more to the story.

Is it possible that our world's drug problems are being exacerbated on purpose?  If you asked me that a year ago, I would have laughed.  Now, I won't. 

It appears the meth problem in the US is the price our federal government is willing to pay to arrest and kill some people, but not all, who are destabilizing Mexico.  You can also see why there is really such resistance to sealing the southern border.  The US government is willing to let its citizens become disabled and even flat-out die for the sake of its weird political intrigues.  

This is disgusting at face value, but a closer look shows that it is far more insidious.

The meth epidemic is destroying people, which is precisely what the 'powers that be' want: they want 'population control.'  They want to get rid of people.

Humans are difficult to manage.  The more people you have to manage, the harder and less predictable they are to herd.  This is why totalitarian regimes kill: it makes it easier to manage the survivors.

I have come to believe that drugs, in Russia and the USA, are being used to destroy people on purpose.  We are not in a fight for just 'sobriety,' we are in a struggle for survival.

Just remember, each addict loses the ability not only to care for himself, but to form a family and raise children.  It is just as effective as chemical castration.  The drugs don't have to flat-out kill you, they just have to eliminate your desire to build families and live a responsible life.

If you look at modern culture, drugs are doing their job just as intended.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dealing With the 'Legal Highs'

I found this article about the British struggling with their enormous addictions problem, particularly now with the addition of synthetic drugs:

It is funny how they are not quite clear on the whole matter.  The UK can't let go of the 'harm-reduction model' that assumes drug usage cannot be eliminate, so you instead try to make it 'safe.'  This ignores the underlying question of why people 'need' to get high to begin with.  It also assumes that you can use mind-altering substances in a controlled and harmless fashion.

Drug usage by its very nature is an escape from inhibition.   That means it is means to leave the boundaries of control.  What 'harm-reduction model' people are trying to do is tame a monster.  It won't work, because nobody wants to use a drug with a 'domesticated' effect.  People use drugs because they are 'wild' and 'untamed.'

So, they roll out a 'harm-reduction' program at an addiction conference... pretty funny, eh?  They want to  'educate' people about the dangers of the new drugs.  We all know that education does not stop an addict who wants to use.  

The problem of the demi-legal new synthetic drugs is far more disturbing.  After all, there are plenty of cheap and legal highs out there, especially alcohol.  But, young people are chasing down more intense experiences.  Why?

This is the question we are not asking, because we don't like the answer we know by intuition: our society has created a false condition called adolescence that is failing our humanity.  Rather than maturing in a rather brief period after the full onset of puberty, we are holding people in an ambiguous state from just before puberty all the way up until their 30s.

In the full onset of sexual fertility, we force young people not to marry and have children through our social expectations.  At the time when their minds are the most open to learning trades and skills, we keep them boxed up in repetitive schooling where their natural skills are repressed in favor of sitting.  

So, these 'kids' are left frustrated and bored, and they seek so way of handling the 'foot-binding' of modern education.  The answer: drugs.

Addicts are often not stupid.  They are underutilized.  They sense the world, and their own absence from it.  They are sensitive and acutely aware, which is why they so often need to deal with the pain of existence with some kind of substance that numbs the heart.

Society would rather deal with the natural consequences of repressed humanity than the fear of change.  So, the battle will continue until the modern world awakens to its real problem.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Real Freedom

The argument over being accepted in society is often couched in terms of 'freedom.'  We automatically assume that when one is accepted by society, then one benefits from the protection of society and one's rights are preserved.  Those who are rejected by society, on the other hand, have no such protection and are thus less free than those that are acceptable.

However, a closer examination tells us that being part of a society means disposing of a great deal of one's personal choices.  You trade freedom for the security a society offers.

The honest truth is that you are no more free with society's acceptance than you are with its rejection, because a society that has a violent streak uses it on everyone, inside and out.

Take for example British society in the 19th century.  Many have pointed out the cruelties of English colonial rule.  But, have you looked at how the British treated their own people?  The upper classes lived in a stifling rigid social structure, and the lower classes scraped out an existence in horrid conditions.  They were rough on everyone.

That's the kicker: a society that treats its own members well is far less likely to be cruel and unjust to those outside of it.  Therefore, the benefits of social acceptance are a matter of small degrees.

What most people don't pick up on is that all societies perpetuate some kind of 'injustice,' even when they try not to.  An example of this is modern Sweden: the Swedes consider themselves very kind and gracious to their immigrants... who have been out in the streets rioting in protest of social injustices perpetrated by the Swedes!

There are many people who fight for 'social justice.'  They want a society that embraces everyone.  It simply is not possible: how can you embrace the cultural value of 'respecting women as equals' and yet not reject 'domestic violence?'  One stays and the other goes.  A society, by definition, excludes those who refuse to keep the common values.

This means that the members of the society must give up certain things.  At the same time, a society that overly-restricts its members will eventually explode.  So, a relief valve is put in place: some destructive behaviors are tolerated.  Certain types of hatred are permitted, so long as their expression does not interfere with the common narrative that the society is functional and beneficial.

Real freedom is not necessarily being accepted or rejected by society, but recognizing that there will always be injustice and evil whenever fallen human beings gather.  

Real freedom is liberation from the expectation that things must be perfect.

Real freedom is living in the truth.

Slavery and oppression are always about lies.  The lies are about how 'civilized' we are when we are, in fact, quite oppressive and boorish.

To be free, we must live with the reality of who we are, both good and bad.  No false praise and no excuses.  Real freedom is living in the truth.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Expecting the World to Accept You

On the flip side of accepting the world as it is is the rather naïve idea that somehow the world is going to accept us as Christians or sober addicts or just plain ole 'nice people.'  Stupid idea.

I don't know how many times I've dealt with a newcomer who is plastered in tattoos and decked out with a dozen piercings, all wrapped in the most outrageous clothing one can manage to purchase off-the-rack, who cries with full force at how people 'judge' him or her.  Sometimes I have to hurt myself to not laugh: what do you expect when you make yourself about as profoundly ostentatious as you possibly could?

The world is not obligated to accept us.  No one is.  People, either as individuals or societies, have the right to spurn us and reject us.  There is no moral obligation for people to accept us, because there is simply no moral way to force them to do it.  You can't make people love you.

The modern mind seems to think that we can force people to love us.  First, we do it by 'teaching' them about who we are.  When that doesn't work, they we outlaw every possible expression of their rejection.

Then, folks wonder why there is still alienation and dislike all around them.  Well, you've not only taken their freedom away, but you've also made them bandits.  Silly, isn't it?

Some will say, "A child is not born to hate.  Hate is taught."

Baloney.  We are all born with the capacity to hate just as much as we are born with the capacity to love.    If you believe that a person can overcome the hate they are taught, then you are also by extension admitting that this same person can choose to hate something else or hold onto that hate.  Yes, what to hate can be taught, but hating itself is so natural that those who often crow the loudest about tolerating one group of people are perfectly at home with hating those who disagree with them... another group of people! 

This means most calls for 'ending hate' are utterly self-serving.  It is just 'hatred reassignment.'

Remember that bumper-sticker, "Hate is not a Family Value."  It was used in the beginning of the big campaign to push for gay rights at the end of the last century.  If you went or go to a gay rights event and mention you might not agree with 'gay marriage,' you'll get plenty of hate.

If you don't accept their ideas, and they will see you as the enemy.  They will never, ever accept you.  Not just your opinions or thoughts, but you yourself for having such ideas.  This is why such movements ultimately become what they preach against.  The world considers humans and their opinions as completely inseparable.  Therefore, when you have a 'bad' thought or idea, you are a bad person.

When confronted with its hate, the world will deny it and put on dulcet tones sounding like a kindergarten teacher.  Don't be fooled.  The hate is still there because the human will, without God, only operates in two directions: desire and anxiety.  If you are not what people of the world want, you are a cause for their anxiety and they will not only not accept you, they will try to destroy you.  That is hate: the rejection and destruction of what causes anxiety.

You see, the world cannot separate us from our ideas because to do so means acknowledging that humans have the right to disagree.  The world does not want disagreement, but utter compliance.  Law and politics all seek compliance and harmony and obedience.  God seeks our compliance, but in a voluntary manner.  He does not force us to do anything, including those things that will save us from self-destruction.  Yet, humans do become totalitarian while trying to make the world a better and 'safer' place.

This is why the more idealistic a people become, the more people they end up murdering.

Now, you can go ahead and reject the world back by tattooing yourself from head to toe and piercing yourself a thousand times, but don't expect the world to then embrace you.  Well, these days, you may very well get that hug, but not from everyone.

If you want peace, then you had better understand that no one is obligated to love you or appreciate you or even be polite.  You don't have the right to control another person's opinion of you.  You can only expect that they maintain the rule of law and not attempt to repress you.

Just remember, an ugly stare is not repression.  Repression means physical harm or restricting your lawful activities.  Just because someone wants to make faces or snide comments or hold bad opinions does not constitute 'violence.'

By allowing the other person to do those things and hold those opinions, you are affirming his and your own free wills.  He is allowed to be upset by you.  That is his misery.  Let him be miserable!

Do you want to be free?  They give others their freedom!  Give the world the freedom to reject you, and you will give yourself freedom from the approval and acceptance of others.  This is where real sobriety kicks in.

When you demand that others love you, you are depriving them of the freedom you seek.  When you hate others because of their beliefs, just remember that you are condemning yourself.  After all, the addict struggles to accept that his thoughts are not the sum total of who he is, and the true Christians rejects the idea that people are defined by their temptations.

You and I are not what we think.  We are what we are created to be by God.  This is true for everyone.  We must look past other people's thoughts and opinions to see them in the Image and Likeness of God.

The world cannot do this because the world does not see God, and so the world cannot see us for who we really are.  Don't expect the world to live in function of the Gospel or sobriety when the world knows nothing about either one.

Accept, but do not expect acceptance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Acceptance of the World

Do not be anxious to change the world.  Many people have tried, and look what has happened: you have the present, and almost nobody is happy with it.

When we dream about changing the world, we are expressing our own dissatisfaction with it, and thus our rejection and disdain for it.  Can you really change something you hate?  Not really.  What you really want to do is kill it.  We want to destroy the world to build one of our own liking.

But the world was made with love, even as badly as it has been distorted.  In fact, most of the evil we experience is based on some kind of loving thoughts, ones that embraced a better world and less suffering.  Popular revolutionaries and political activists often speak of a better world right before arresting the opposition and oppressing the non-compliant.  Many of the jaded professionals we encounter were once hopeful idealists.

So, the misguided love of the world... can our anger and intolerance fix it?  No.  The world needs love, and to love means to accept things as they are and to admit that the world, even the smallest bits of it apart from the self, are really out of reach.

A single school in a small town cannot guarantee that all of its students will master their subjects, yet you want everyone to understand and agree to your plans?

The best we can hope for is a little room for our ideas and perhaps a gentle nudge of society into a better direction, but great acts of social change cannot be controlled by a single human or even a well-organized cabal.  The cart quickly overturns.  We are seeing this now throughout the world as men seek to literally control every opinion and action.

To love is to accept things as they are, calling the good as good and the bad as bad, and not needing to change them in order to accept them.  The truth is you can only change yourself, and even there we have limits because we were all made in certain ways and some things were not made to change.

We must accept the world as it is and love it as it is and stop stirring up our dissatisfaction with it.  Love for the world does not mean following its direction, but rather having the freedom not only to be ourselves but to allow the world and those in it the freedom to do the same.  Sure, the world has plenty of problems, but so do I.  Who will fix my problems while I am busy fixing everyone else's?

If the world must repent, then I must repent first.  If the world must change, then I must change first.  I must be an example of what I desire for the world.  I must also embrace the idea that what I desire that is good is not forced upon me.  God does not compel me to follow Him, and He gives me plenty of opportunities to do my own thing.  Should we not likewise treat the world and those in it the same way?

We change the world with mercy for it.  We change the people in the world by loving them rather than forcing them to change or to fight with us.

When you demand change, then you have lost your peace.  And when you lose your peace, then you have lost everything because you are away from the King of Peace.  Instead of being dissatisfied and demanding change, have mercy and seek to heal those who ask for help.  The key here is to wait for the invitation.

The world may never ask you how to change.  Do not worry.  You will have lots to do working on just yourself.

The world must die, but to be reborn.  This means that only God can end it.  As well He should: it is a mess.  It cannot be fixed with plans and politics.  To repair the world only means to keep it limping along as a broken and dysfunctional existence.

Man cannot build paradise.  He never has.  He is good at building fortresses and prisons.  That is inevitably what we end up with when we try to fix our world.

The fallen man builds inner prisons and fortresses, those high walls of the soul that keep God out while defending against the pain of brokenness and sin.  This is what we should be concerned about.

If we were more concerned about those inner walls and sought to tear them down, then we would have more compassion for the world.  We would be able to love the people in the world and creation itself with the love that we have been shown by the God who loves us even in our rebellion and sin.

Acceptance means to love the truth about something.  And, all truth comes from God, who is Truth.

Do not hate the world or those who are in it.  Remember what they are intended to be and are becoming.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Helpful Web Site for Porn Addicts/Abusers

Someone recommended this site a while back, but I forgot to post a link.

There is a lot of helpful information there to understand the problem and get help.

My advice: do NOT use this or other sites to mash other people who are using porn and do not want to quit.  There is nothing more counterproductive to insight and recovery than a NAG!

Do not be a NAG.  Just set your boundaries and then act accordingly.  If your spouse or potential spouse is using, then tell him/her, "Give it up or you are gone."  Then, you had better follow through.  otherwise, you will have to put up with it until Mr. or Ms. Right has figured out how horrid it really is.  That may take a while.

If you NAG, then you are likely to get either lies or momentary 'abstinence,' which will be followed either by a replacement activity or relapse.  And, once you have trained your addict to ignore your threats, because you don't have the strength to leave, then the addict will happily take charge.

Nagging actually empowers the addict by demonstrating you are not serious.  Be serious, or be quiet.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Limits of Sympathy

I recently fielded a question from a priest that almost made me laugh out loud: "Do you think I am a sociopath?"

The conversation ended rather quickly after I told him that I thought he was 'spoiled,' which tends to lead down that path.  A bit offended, he countered with a second question, "What about you?"

To clarify, we were both using the wrong term.  I think the word we were looking for, as non-professionals in the field of psychology, is 'psychopath.'  We were using this to describe our occasional lack of sympathy or empathy for others in distress.  This may seem troubling to the reader who expects clergy to have boundless compassion and empathy, along with a constant expression of sympathy so as to never require the sufferer to get better.

According to Wikipedia, these are the main features of a psychopath:

Facet 1: Interpersonal
  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning/manipulative
Facet 2: Affective
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Emotionally shallow
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Facet 3: Lifestyle
  • Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsiveness
  • Irresponsibility
Facet 4: Antisocial
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Early behavioral problems
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Revocation of conditional release
  • Criminal versatility
Other Items
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior

To be honest, my friend has a long way to go before anyone would call him a psychopath.  Sure, he has a few of these characteristics, but I can see myself in many of these features as well.  The difference is that the true psychopath isn't bothers by these things, whereas my friend and I are.

As priests who deal with the suffering of others, we do have to cultivate an emotional barrier to not utterly empathize with the suffering people we deal with.  The reason is that empathy is a form of 'co-suffering.'  We experience our own hurt as we deal with the hurt of others.  To do this on occasion is healthy.  To do it every day can wear you down.

God can bear our pain, but we can barely handle our own.  Taking up another's suffering is a difficult and draining experience.  Just so we can get through the day, we often have to become purposefully shallow and glib.  It is a survival mechanism.

The danger for us who deal with so much suffering is that the defense mechanism, meant to be used on occasion to protect ourselves from being overwhelmed, becomes the 'default position.'  Many people have wondered why the idealistic and devoted seminarian of yesterday becomes the dodgy, shallow, materialistic pastor of today.  Sometimes, the pious act in school was just that... an act.  But, too often, the opposite is true: the pious man was really compassionate and caring, but he burned out along the way as the burdens of others broke him.

It is not so much a matter of "I-don't-care" but one of "I-can't-care."  This is particularly true when a vast majority of the suffering we are asked to cure requires changes that the sufferers reject and refuse.  This means they demand constant treatment for their pain, but no cure for its cause.  They are guaranteed to come back with new wounds needing 'emotional morphine.'

We think we are 'bad' when we finally say, "No, you can't have anymore."  People are shocked when a priest makes light of another person's torment and refuses to indulge in the social conventions of sympathetic emotions in the presence of suffering.  This demand that we must always respond with an affect of pity and sympathy any time a person expresses distress helps neither the sufferer nor us, yet we demand it.  We must never look 'cold.'

But, nobody is being healed with sympathy.  In fact, their victimhood is being reinforced.  I would go as far as to say that this unrestrained sympathy is ruining our culture and society as a whole.


Under present social conventions, anyone who expresses distress gets to demand whatever they want from the non-sufferer.  So, we make laws that restrict any form of behavior that makes another person 'uncomfortable,' and we make sure not to say anything about Islam so that Moslems in far away countries don't have riots.  

Soon, what we have is everyone demanding their share of victimhood, but no real solutions.  We give up being tolerant of others because we are so tired of having to accommodate  the constant demands placed on us by those who have so many grievances.  So, you go from wild extremes of politically-correct over-restriction in the workplace to wild debauchery in public entertainment.  Just look at the extremes of the modern bureaucracy and the demands of sexual harassment training, then go to a night club or concert or some other public event that employs women in bikinis.

Addicts use their addictions to create their own psychopathic environment to deal with their pain and the pain of others.  The glibness and callousness of the addict is a construct.  We drink and use so that we go not feel our own pain or empathy for others.

That is the hardest part of recovery: learning to feel.  We also have to learn to properly 'not feel' and not allow ourselves to collapse under the weight of other people's pain.

We must learn our limits, otherwise we will be crushed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Making the Intolerable Tolerable is Impossible

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Yes, that is the Serenity Prayer.  How true it is.

If you cannot change your world (you can run away from certain circumstances, but not the entire world... nor yourself), then you had better realize that the world and the things that you cannot change will change you.  Stress from conflict with our environment will change us if we don't change ourselves.

The addict tries to avoid the change, i.e. tolerate it, by numbing the pain from his breakdown under stress.  As the environmental stress wears him down, he uses to escape his suffering.  The only problem is that he becomes distorted and does not really tolerate his circumstances.

Tolerable conditions are ones we can resist.  Intolerable conditions change us no matter how hard we try to not be changed.

So, you have a choice: either leave, or learn to steer the stress in such a way that you can come away better for it.

For example, if you are unjustly imprisoned, there is nothing you can do about it.  The stress will destroy you, up until you realize that you cannot change the walls or the guards, and must work on yourself.  Successful prisoners do this and become amazing people because they stop trying to make the intolerable  conditions of pointless prison torture and confinement into tolerable ones, and so the intolerable conditions become opportunities for spiritual and personal growth.  They accept that prison is intolerable and that they will be changed by the experience.

Then they go about guiding the change.

It is like a rough piece of metal being forced into a grinding wheel.  If you cannot avoid being pushed into the wheel, what you can do is turn it this way and that and control the places where the wheel grinds, so that then the force finally subsides, the metal is evenly and smoothly shaped.  However, if you refuse to move the metal, all you get is a big flat spot and a lot of heat because, so long as the metal is moving, the wheel actually touches only the raised spots on the metal.

There are changes you cannot avoid, and there are many situations in life that are supposed to be intolerable.  That is because humans are designed to change.  We are made to grow and grow and grow. For us, to be without growth is an intolerable condition, and that is how many people become addicts, because the addiction helps temporarily endure the pain of not growing.  We cannot tolerate our own needs to grow and change.

When  you are stressed, stop and think: do I really need to be in this situation?  The answer may surprise you.  Most of the time, you can either walk away from the stressful condition, or learn to steer the stress in such a way that it helps you knock off some rough spots that you actually have wanted to change but never had the motivation to accomplish.

Don't just try to tolerate the intolerable.  because, if you do, you will never grow.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Stop Trying to Fix Others

I get this kind of email every month.  These emails drive me crazy, but I try to be patient and kind while driving home the point.  Here is my 'composite' email, which I'm writing just to pull in the usual elements:

Dear Fr. George,

I really like your blog and get so much out of it. [insert further ego strokes here]

My boyfriend/girlfriend is really great, and we are totally in love, but he/she has a problem with [insert immoral activity here].  He/she does not believe in God the way I do, and he/she says that he/she does not think there is anything wrong with it.

[insert description of immoral activity and writer's futile attempts to fix the situation here]

Since I can't use religious materials or persuasion, can you provide me with something else so I can get he/she to stop?

After I stop banging my head against the desk, I try to compose myself and remember that most folks have no idea about what the real problem is.

The real problem is with the writer himself/herself.  He/she is trying to 'fix' another person, and this is not only a hugely ego-maniacal decision, it is immoral, unfair, selfish, and futile... and those are the more acceptable aspects of it.

No, I will not help you dominate another person because you have strong feelings for him/her.  This person does not believe in God, and it is his/her right to do so.  It is also his/her right to defile himself/herself in any manner he/she sees fit.  He/she has no obligation to believe in God or get better just because you are attracted to someone who is an atheist and a bit of a pervert to boot.

Let's get real: Perversion is calling what is bad 'good.'  Addiction is a perversion when the addict says he likes his addiction and there is nothing wrong with it.  This is abnormal.  You are a pervert if you think getting stoned or drunk or debauched is a good thing.  It ceases to be a perversion when you reject it and start the recovery process. 

Why would a perfectly 'normal' guy or gal want a pervert in his or her life?  Beats me.  I have a hard enough time with all the normal people around me.

Why would you say you are a Christian and love God more than anything, but then get hung up with someone who thinks that this is rubbish?  Oh, no, he/she doesn't mind if I believe.  Yeah, we are allowed to have different 'opinions.'

Is your faith just an opinion, or is it your reality?  I would not date a person who thinks the sky normally purple.  I would not date a person who thinks the earth is made out of cheese.  After all, if this person is willing to part with obvious realities, then I am going to have real problems in the future when it comes to making decisions together when we can't even decide who's 'reality' we are going to operate under.

Yes, it is that simple: people who reject God are rejecting reality.  In the 12 Steps, the addict returns to God as reality.  That's it.  Very simple.

If someone wants to reject reality, I don't fight with them, but I also don't get my life enmeshed in his or hers because it will never work.  There will always be conflict.

Now, for me to assume that I can 'fix' this person is already a nutty idea.  Frankly, I have convinced very few people of anything that they were not first interested in changing their minds about.  Humans are notoriously hard to force into a change of opinions.  Even torture does not work once the red-hot pokers are put away.

You have to have a real ego problem to assume that you are so beloved and so special that someone is going to give up his or her addiction... just for you.

No, they won't.  Plus, you are doing it because you want the jackpot: you want the person you 'fixed' all to yourself.  Think about it.

Would you go to a counselor who fixes patients so he/she can 'have' them?  You would find that creepy and immoral (well, you should).  Yet, the writer wants to play the 'superior' and 'counsel' his/her mate into sobriety so that he/she can benefit from 'having' this other person more completely!

Yes, sometime I do feel like this when people miss how really insane their requests seem to me.  But, I try to remember that most people have not had the displeasure of plunging into the absurd regions that these types of dysfunctions lead to, and so I have to be the one to break the bad news:

You can't fix anyone.

You should not fix someone that you plan to benefit from.

You should not get involved with someone who is broken and happy with it.

Am I telling you to dump your addicted or even just plain ole atheist girlfriend/boyfriend?  Yes, I am... since you asked.  But, if you want to keep him/her, then it is your problem and not mine.

Now, if you dump him/her, and he/she goes and gets help or converts, and then comes back and asks to take up the relationship, should you take him/her back?  Yes, if you want to... since you asked.  Again, it is your decision.

If your perspective mate is willing to explore your faith with a sincere open mind, then I think it is worthy to explore that possibility.  However, if he/she has entrenched opinions, you must be willing to accept that person as he/she is and not how you'd like him/her to be.

People are not 'fixer-uppers.'  Stop treating your mate like car with a cracked radiator.

If you are going to have any kind of relationship, it must be one of mutual respect.  You can't 'fix' one another without looking down on one another.  Don't get involved with someone you look down on, because eventually the other person will figure that out and hate you for it.

If you are scared that you can't do better, then you need to work more on your Faith in God.  With God, all things are possible.  If someone as ugly and obnoxious as me can 'marry up,' then you have plenty of hope.  Don't sell yourself that short.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Addiction: the Lotus Flower of Modernity

Modern society is manufacturing addicts at an alarming rate.  We are also seeing an explosion in addictive behaviors, far more than at any other time in history.

Addiction is the crowning achievement of the disorganization of humanity.  It is the 'flower' of all that is wrong with modern life.  Our modern commercialism delivers to us a series of messages that, once completely internalized, become addiction.

I took a 'yoga' chart to demonstrate what these messages are, starting from the foundation of Atheism:  

With Atheism and the notion that man is by himself, man's will is released from whatever Supreme Will reigns over reality.  This 'frees' man to do what he wants, so long as he can get away with it.

The first thing man does is indulge his all of his desires, natural and unnatural, without restraint.  This is Hedonism.  When man rejects God, he is often rejecting the restraints that religion teaches.  The problem is that religion does not teach these restraints for God's benefit, but for man.  No matter.  Those who reject God want to do what they want to do, foremost is the indulging of the self.

When man enters into Hedonism, the experience of its pleasures cut him off from others.  Those who know what hypnotic ecstasy is know that it is a 'solo flight.'  The sensual pleasures may involve others, but only to the extent that they are useful in one's search for pleasure.  It's not altruistic or giving.

Yes, one can experience pleasure in a giving manner, but that involves restraint.  One naturally must exercise restraint in respect of the other person.  Hedonism knows no boundaries.  It is Selfishness.

Wrapped up in his desires, man demands freedom from even the restraints of time.  He wants it all now.  He embraces Impatience as a virtue, because waiting is self-denial, which he has rejected.  There can be no waiting.

The Selfishness of the modern man, where everyone else is only either an enabler or an obstacle to his pursuit of pleasure eventually leads man hate those that inconvenience him.  He lives for his unrestrained impulses and desires, and so he hates those who deprive him of instant gratification.

So, his hatred of others and their impediment of his instant pleasures leads man to Intolerance of his fellows.  After all, other people become competing wills which resist him.  They become heirs to the God he rejected, trying to push him off of the throne that God 'vacated' in the imagination of the atheistic man.

Man then finds himself looking rather distorted and feeling deprived.  His expectations of constant pleasure are not being met despite his best efforts.  he must excuse his pitiable estate.  So, he indulges in Intellectualism and the crafting of excuses for his predicament.

Intellectualism is thought without practicality.  It is divorced from cause-and-effect.  Intellectuals like to think and work with theories, but not dirty their hands with actually testing their ideas.  They are 'half-thinkers' who weave brilliant excuses but produce nothing that endures beyond their thoughts.

Man employs his intellectual talents to excuse his depravity.  Even the wet-brained drunk has an elaborate story to explain his self-destructive behavior.  Addicts all have long, unnecessarily complex reasonings for their disease.

Modernity, through advertising and politics, has brought us these messages and blessed them.  Of course, they have always been with us, but it is only when society utterly falls apart that these messages become acceptable as they are in an unvarnished and undisguised state.

The recovery of the addict means that all of these things must go.

By cutting off the root of Atheism, the flower and its attendant conditions wither.  This is what the 12 Steps are about: by beginning with the belief in God and the exposure of these conditions as undesirable, then addiction is destroyed.

Our problem is moving from Atheism to belief is not easy.  It takes time, especially when everything opposed to it is our daily fare.  This is why the disease dies slowly, and treatment is a life-long commitment.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Theory on the Human Will

After a stressful day, modern man has often reached for the bottle to 'calm his nerves.'  A wake is often marked with bouts of drinking.  Soldiers suffering from combat exhaustion in the 20th century were often sedated with barbiturates and ether as part of their treatment.


Well, I've been reading a lot lately on torture and other attempts by men to overcome the human will.  After all, addiction is a problem of man's loss of control over his will, so the question becomes how a man can control his will at all, and if he loses control, can someone else step in and take over.

The answer, in short terms and to the extent that I have presently studied (these are fancy words for 'hypothesis' rather than a 'fact') is that a 'will' does not exist in its own right.  It is an adjective describing a function or a collection of attributes.

Please allow me to explain: a will to do something or not to do something depends on a lot of other factors.  So, to 'will' something means everything has to be in the right order.  I'm still mulling over the necessary elements of the will.  This is all very new to me, but it is clear that we assume that the will is secondary because we intuitively take actions to take control over our own wills.

After all, if the 'will' is the core decision-making faculty of a human, how could he 'do' something 'against his own will'?

Even Jesus Christ struggled with His human will, but using what?  The Gospels are silent, but the implication has always been that He struggled as a human and did not use His divine will.

We struggle all the time with our wills.  So, what do we call the other partner in this dance?

This is the partner who knows enough to pick up the bottle and take a drink after a stress-filled work day.  This is the decision-maker that lights the joint so that you can relax your wound-up will.

I hope you don't mind, but I've made some crude drawings to demonstrate where this is going:

The three circles represent human awareness.  We are 'imprinted' with three characteristics (the borders of the circles): self-preservation, desires, and anxieties.  The Will encompasses the territory within self-preservation, but also those desires and anxieties which are compatible with self-preservation.  Areas which are yellow represent awareness of things which we have neither desire for or anxiety against.

The Will represents the natural movement of decisions within self-preservation which are about either desire, anxiety, or ambivalence.

So, the anxieties and desires outside the circle of self-preservation are the things which we inherently are afraid of or desire, but know that acting on them goes against self-preservation.  For example, you may have a desire to eat in excess, but self-preservation kicks in and cuts off the influence of that desire, so you stop (hopefully).  You may have a fear of falling off your bike, but self-preservation kicks in and cuts off that influence so that you can attain the needed social bonds of being a bike rider.

When torture or external suffering come to bear down on the person, it starts to look like this:

Anxiety crowds the territory of self-preservation.  Fewer things become ambivalent.  However, desire does not necessarily give up its natural space, and so severe oppression eventually creates this confusion between desire and anxiety.  In my addiction charts, this is when the 'gear shift' becomes inverted and the person loses his ability to choose, yet still retains knowledge of good and bad.

You see, the 'colors' never leave the awareness, but they can become confused when it comes to their role in self-preservation.  In addition, things that we would be afraid to do we lose the 'fear' of doing because of the stresses placed on the person.  We can be pushed to do things that we normally would not for the sake of self-preservation.

Once the pressure a released, the circles return to their original positions, hence the person can say that he was forced to do something 'against his will' or normative definitions of desire and anxiety, because all of this is still going on within his awareness, which looks down on all the circles and what is happening to them.

This is one of the horrors of torture, as the person watches his 'will' being distorted by the crowding of anxiety into the circle of self-preservation.

So, what do alcohol and drugs do in this process?  Largely, they slow down the human awareness and the pace of decision-making so that time can kick in and the circles return to normal.  They keep the system from self-aggravating the stresses by creating more stressful situations.

Again, this is all theoretical.  You can email me or post a comment if you see problems with this hypothesis.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Hope (well, one of them)

I have a number of hopes attached to this blog.  I hope people are reading it.  And, I hope they are getting some benefit from it.

One of my other hopes came up in an email exchange with someone I know who does addiction treatment in an Orthodox country.  He asked me this:

And what about your endeavors to make the American Orthodox Church more interested in the solution of the addiction problem? Hasn't your bishop decided yet to built a rehabilitation center?

My first response probably should have been, "Where is this American Orthodox Church that I may join it?"

The Orthodox Community here in the States are still divided up along ethnic lines based on the origins of the parish communities:

+ Patriarchate of Constantinople (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada, Albanian Orthodox Diocese)

+ Patriarchate of Antioch (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of Mexico and Central America)

+ Patriarchate of Moscow (Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Diocese, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR], the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America)

+ Patriarchate of Serbia (Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America)

+ Patriarchate of Romania (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas)

+ Patriarchate of Bulgaria (Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia)

+ Patriarchate of Georgia (Georgian Orthodox Patriarchal Diocese)

Between them, there are 69 bishops of various ranks and responsibilities.  Most of their territories overlap each other, so that a single city (like Los Angeles) will be claimed as 'home turf' by most of them.  If you take the total 1,200,00 people in the US, Canada & Mexico (oh, yes, I should add that the majority of Orthodox churches overseas look at the US, Canada & Mexico as an undifferentiated region with people who are all essentially the same in every way!) that identify as Orthodox Christians, then you factor in that a majority of them do not go to church on a regular basis, then the community starts looking top-heavy: in Russian or Romania, a single bishop (perhaps two or three in an outlying diocese) could manage this number of people.  We have 69.

Here's how it works: Romania has 16,300,000 Orthodox Christians in the country.  Number of Bishops... 41.

Of course, we are also very, veeeeeeery spread out.  That makes it difficult.

But, the truth is, our resources are so chopped up and spread out that it is difficult to organize anything at all.  Try getting 69 people in general to agree on anything at all, presuming that none of them comprise a majority culture.

Yes, it is like that.

I don't pretend to have the answer to fix this situation other than time.  Slowly, the Church here is becoming filled with Americans and American-born people who relate less and less to the overseas churches in terms of cultural identity.

My hope is that, one day, enough of these bishops will become interested in supporting a Church-wide effort to start addiction treatment facilities throughout the US.  I hope they will see that the real evangelization of this country will begin when we start ministering to the needs of those who are sick and broken, rather than trying to talk those who are 'well' into making a 'transition' from one membership to the next.

Standard addictions treatment isn't working here, and we are seeing an explosion in addictions because the civil authorities who define treatment through licensing and legislation cannot provide people with spirituality.  That's our job.

My hope is that we figure that out as a community.

So, here I am, slapping my keyboard and hoping that we can make a difference.  Perhaps, if we all pray together, something will change.

I know for sure that I cannot do it alone.  Only God can do it.  But, He is waiting for us to decide we will cooperate.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Patriarch Kirill and the Internet

We've talked about internet porn here before.  When this article came up, I thought it would be interesting to discuss:

Here's a quote:

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia reportedly described the Internet as a hotbed of sin and temptation, and said that monks who forsake worldly pleasures in real life should do likewise on the Internet.
However, speaking at the Zograf Monastery at Mount Athos, he also urged priests, who live in the community and are allowed to marry, to use the Internet more actively in the course of their holy mission, Russian media reported.
A later clarification was issued stating that the Patriarch was not implying that monks were watching porn.  What he was talking about was the bigger issue.
We tend to focus on the 'sin' of the internet in terms of just porn, but I think the problem is more significant.  The internet has been very helpful is playing into one of the major symptoms of addiction: impatience.
The internet makes everything available to us virtually instantaneously.  We have no time to think or to even process what we are seeing and reading.  I have watched internet religious forums explode with fire as people read too quickly and misunderstand what others wrote, only to turn a mole-hill into Mt. Everest.  I've even done it a few times myself.
We send an email and expect an instant response.  Smart-phones make this even worse.
Monks are supposed to slow down and examine their thoughts.  How can they when they get on the internet?
Yet, the Church needs to have an internet presence, because this is where the people are.  We married clergy are expected to dive into battles that monks cannot.  We usually assume that monks are superior in all ways to lay people.  Honest monks will tell you that this is far from the case: most monks will tell you that they can't handle the temptations that the average Christian struggles with.
It is not about who is better or more authentic.  It is about helping people.  Monks help people in their own way that is unique to them, and likewise for married clergy.
And, BOTH need to be careful with the internet.  The only real difference is that married clergy are already battling with the world and cannot avoid the internet as another 'front' in the campaign.  It is a fast-pitched fight here in the modern world.
Monks don't need to tear down their carefully-honed skills of patience.  In fact, they would do us all a favor by avoiding the internet so we can see what real patience looks like.  All of us must be cautious in discerning when we are operating out of impatience or merely trying to keep up with this fast-pace world.