Issue 25 – 21 June 2017 – rattuos
I tried to delete all the posts here yesterday and start again as I sometimes do but to concentrate entirely on healing, which may seem strange for someone on their last legs literally. Anyway I pressed all the buttons but the stuff is still here which I take as fated for now.
Today a look at addiction. It happens at many levels with many behaviours and substances. In nature we see it – perhaps the tiger that becomes a man eater or the sparrows and finches that come each morning to my bird feeders. Some creatures even get addicted to the antifreeze in cars. Humans we know more about. Some try to stop it but usually only after much damage is done. That does not always convince their nearest and dearest who have had to suffer, often telling themselves and others it is the ’drinking’ not the person, or the ’gambling’. Then when the addicted attend their sessions they tell others of all the terrible things they have had to do and how powerless they were in the face of their addictions. It should though be stated that you have to be very selfish to get to that stage and I suggest that it is selfishness that is often at the heart of this, often disguised as generosity. I recall a conversation with a deserted wife recently who told me her husband would buy strangers a drink, lend anyone in the pub money, but was extremely mean with his family. Odd isn’t it – until we look at what might be called the higher levels of addiction.
Strictly speaking addiction is seen in neural activity in the brain. Substances are difficult to get away from as they exact a toll on withdrawal, but behaviours area bit different. Gambling, OCD etc are however highly addictive and almost impossible habits to break without help. But that old adage ‘as above so below’ can be found in so many activities. In my opinion political parties, organisations, corporations, small businesses, sports, governments etc can all become addicted. When they do something once and get away with it, and if they perceive some reward from it -say a football player dives and is awarded a vital penalty – the brain’s tendency seems to be to repeat the act. Here is the real problem for us. The process is really intended to enable us to do repetitively what is required to survive. An apple a day is no bad thing. A lifetime’s habit of rising early to feed the animals before breakfast. However our brains also perceive benefits from anti-social acts and even self harming where the damage is not noticeable until very late in then day by which time the process is established.
We know from training our children that we can programme the brain about some actions by making it aware they cause problems and will not be tolerated. That is the real purpose of law and punishment. But if we are afraid to point our the problem, for example because a bully is too big to challenge and is able to get away with abuse. If we rush to the baby every time it cries and pick it up. If we blame an abusive husband’s behaviour on circumstances outside his control – then these actions become embedded. The results are overwhelming for humanity. We now have an obesity epidemic in the west, vast levels of domestic violence and crime, serial killers, substance abuse, sexual slavery, child slavery, cuts in essential public services, propaganda – you name it. Behind almost all anti-social actions on the planet is an embedded addiction which is almost impossible to break.
If we look at one addiction – alcohol – we find a number of treatments available. There are groups like Alcoholics Anonymous which see the addiction as a lifetime problem that can be managed but never cured. There is rehab where the drinker is separated from his drink and helped in various ways to get through his withdrawal pain. There is education about the damage alcohol does when taken in large quantities – both to health and to relationships. There are laws, taxes on the substance, limited hours for buying it etc. But it seems that these do little more than stop it growing exponentially. They do not cure the addiction.
So there we have the underlying cause of most of the human’s problems and ill health. Tackling the underlying problem is impossible if it is not seen as addiction which is to say that the addict has to come to terms with the behaviour having a very undesirable effect. Let me give an example of why this is so hard.
Many of our world’s pristine forests are being destroyed and the problem is one for the planet and all its species. Some of this is due to logging by corporations that make profits, pay local wages and are never held to account for the environmental costs. But some of it is what is called slash and burn. This is where farmers cut down the trees, burn them and use the fertile soil for crops. However it will only sustain crops for a very limited time – one or two years and then becomes sterile. So they move on to the next bit of forest and leave behind a vast barren landscape which took centuries to become forest and habitat. Many gold miners pollute rivers and ground water. The addiction is to a form of survival whether it is to earn a living, feed a family or make a profit every year. But the undesirable cost is not shared or comprehended so the process continues. Poachers kill the rhino for their horn, the elephant for tusks, the tiger for its skin and bones.
Substituting a desirable behaviour, reward or substance for an undesirable one is a good starting point along with education. In Glasgow they give heroin addicts methadone and even medical grade heroin – free. But methadone is just as disabling as heroin. Just as addictive. The reason it is given free is to prevent the crime associated with addicts needing money urgently for their drug. It is also to prevent contaminated drugs leading to severe illness and death. It is a limited response to a vast problem – 50,000 addicts at least in the city. The brains of the addicts turn from one drug to the other and perceive an even greater benefit. Perhaps it is already too late but the numbers are growing and young people are falling for the addiction every day. So what is driving that? Only then can we begin to counter its attraction.
Corruption is a collective term as is organised crime and war. We think we know what they mean but we never actually know much about them at all. So we may think we know why a war starts but seldom do. Do we even know what starts a neighbour dispute? Why people start hoarding? Why someone starts acting in a curious way leading to them losing their job and family? We think we do but that thinking might include forensic analysis, witness statements, suspicions, outright lies, religious, cultural and social prejudice and even thoughts about karma and divine retribution. They talk about addictive personalities these days, that some are more prone than others genetically. That is an additional layer and complication from individual to nation to world. Not all have the same compulsions but the addict does not learn from the non addicted it seems.
Even a cursory look at organised crime will tell us that it is protected on many levels and that the kingpins, the ultimate beneficiaries are seldom apprehended. Also that the world’s financial centres depend on it. The same is as true about war. And poverty. I do not think that any economist would seriously question that poverty is used to create wealth, that it is thought to be essential in fact to a thriving economy. It keeps wages down, profits up and a pool of workers competing for every job.
However for most of us we live our somewhat removed from all of this. We do our job, our shopping, cook the supper and put the kids to bed in our safe houses. We may have concerns about the wider picture, be shocked when some things happen and are reported to us by the TV but our first priority is to look after ourselves and our family. This is as true for the poor as the rich.
This is of course our dilemma. We live under an illusion which makes it possible to live a normal life and I would say this illusion is all that keeps us from chaos and disaster but it carries an enormous cost. It is this. If we do something terrible to enable something wonderful where do we stand?
The first rule of healing is therefore to avoid behaviours that damage us – at any level particularly our global level as this is where so much harm comes from. Pollution, war and corruption. But that is all very well to write the reality is that there are addictions that govern this so our second rule is tackling these – our habits and self harm.
The Alcoholics Anonymous and various other groups within that umbrella consider that the addict must receive help from something higher.
“ The 12 steps of AA are as follows:
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. …
Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. …
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
This does not stop people from going back to their addiction but is an interesting notion. I would suggest that we individuals need the help and governance of our ka and that spirit that will testify against us when we die. And as far as governments are concerned they should be looking at what they have in this respect. The author of Revelations at the end of the bible mentions the angels of principalities and dominions which we might consider in this light. The real powers behind the thrones and ones who are not amused at politicians abusing their position of authority, selling out to lobbies if you like.
Still easier said than done but I must point out again that before any of this is possible there has to be a recognition that our behaviour is dangerous to us and that we risk losing everything if we do not change it. It is all very well telling ourselves this is not the case. That is exactly what the addict does and why the addicts surround themselves with those who allow this, even encourage and support it. Our media carries a huge responsibility for this whether at the level of advertising unsafe products, glorifying antisocial activities or propaganda which hides the reality of the suffering imposed on the poor and innocent – on the planet and its many species. So I suppose you could say that first we need AWARENESS. In my view that requires the enlightened being able to show us the problems, to encourage a gradual change and to delicately tackle the illusions that prevent this. Many of us are dying with cancer because of environmental pollution. We need to be aware of this and to find a way to change it, to provide the polluters with an alternative to profiting from it. Give them the money to change is what I would urge and for those who seek confrontation and world war give them some incentive too – money is almost certainly underpinning this manic behaviour that threatens us all. Pay them to change and make peace.