Saturday, December 11, 2010

Violation Cubed

The latest Wiki leak about the Pope taking an active part in blocking the investigation of the clergy in Ireland reveals a tragedy of immense proportions. I have personally experienced the profound effects of being sexually abused. Professionally I deal with this on a daily basis. It would take me hundreds of pages to begin to detail the devastating impact that sexual abuse has on victims. Depending on the age of the victim the act can cause physical damage but that is not the norm. The most prevalent outcome for a victim is a deeply felt sense of defect and shame. On the surface it takes the normal and natural maturational process of the victim's sexuality expression off the table. My purpose here is not to give a treatise on the causes and effects of sexual abuse. I guess I just want the vast majority of you to realize how fortunate you are that you don't know what I'm talking about or how profoundly it influences a victim's life.

Here's a brief example that I'm hoping will give you a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg of these negative effects. For most of us driving a car is a marvelous experience. We have at our disposal a marvelous vehicle that can take us wherever we want to go. When we are in this vehicle knowingly or unknowingly we experience an amazing sense of power and control. We can propel ourselves at wonderfully high speeds. And we can do this with a miniscule amount of effort. We have power steering and power brakes. Some of us now have GPS's that can talk to us and guide us to unknown places. We can listen to whatever music we like. We can even round out the experience with food, drink, the company of others, or our cell phones. We are the kings in our castle and the masters of our universe. That's all a normal and natural part of life in the Western industrialized countries. The environment that I have just described results in the individual knowingly or unknowingly experiencing a sense of freedom, power, capacity, and enjoyment.
Unfortunately some of us have the misfortune to one day be propelling ourselves in our castles when another vehicle smashes into us without our having any ability to stop it. Those of us who are lucky enough to survive the crash and heal our physical wounds quite frequently can't regain that sense of power, control, and safety that they once had prior to the accident. This posttraumatic stress results in anxiety about driving, flashbacks of the accident, and intense anxiety just upon seeing brake lights. These are but a few of the potential negative consequences of such a traumatic event that we are powerless to stop or control. A driver in such a horrific accident frequently can never regain that unblemished driving experience that they would have had if the accident had never taken place.

Now let's get a bit more specific about sexual abuse and the Pope. Just imagine if you had just found out that your sister's husband (or your family priest) has been sexually abusing your six-year-old son for the past three years. Take a moment to feel your guts as you read the last sentence. Notice all the sensations that get aroused with just the thought of it. You then learn that your sister (your Bishop) has known about the abuse and never told you. You then find out that your sister (or Bishop) has actually helped facilitate the abuse to take place. Now comes the icing on the cake. Whatever emotion, whatever fantasized course of action you'd like to take at that moment gets totally annihilated when you go to your father (the Pope) and you tell him about everything that has taken place and he prohibits you from taking any action or even from speaking about it. In fact your father even takes actions to protect your brother-in-law from any prosecution or negative consequences for his actions. Once again I would ask you to close your eyes and look into your guts to see what you might feel under such circumstances.

I am not here trying to single out the Catholic Church. At this point in my life I can easily consider that many other religious leaders would act in the same way. The pervasive decline in a sense of integrity, decency, or morality in our society lends itself not only to the commission of such acts but also the relative complacency of the population in general. Within the Hindu philosophy and religion it is believed that approximately every 10,000 years the universe reverts back to its primordial source only to be created once again. You can think of it as the ultimate recycling program. The older I get more I believe we are ready for a good flush.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thank You Bernie

If you missed today's 8 hour speech by Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont you missed a wonderful moment for decency, integrity, and truth. Senator Sanders in a very straight forward, unadulterated way, laid out the facts of what is going on in our country. Please check out the video sources on the net to hear him in action.

I wonder how our country would be different if we had real news being reported on the major networks and the average American had access to this news. The Vietnam War didn't end because the multinational corporations gave up their selfish interests or because our politicians thought it would be a good idea to end it. The war ended because of: the release of the Pentagon Papers, a vocal populace that had access to the reality of what was going on there, and there was a draft that forced people to go there.

A few more like Senator Sanders just might give people an opportunity to realize how to vote in their own best interests.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thank You Nanci

I have no idea what will become of today's events at the Democratic caucus and Nanci Pelosi's decision to not call for a vote on the President's "compromise tax proposal". But for just a brief moment something happened within our government that is just the right thing to do. It's so refreshing to see someone other than a screaming conservative or Tea Party member take a position and keep it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Running Out Of Time

Sometime during the last Presidential campaign Michelle Obama made the political "mistake" of speaking the truth when she stated that for the first time she was proud to be an American. On election night I felt a sense of pride in being an American that I hadn't felt in a very long time. That sense of pride is now gone. All successful leaders inspire their troops to be and do better. They get results that might have been viewed as impossible or highly unlikely by allowing people to have a vision that goes beyond their norm.

Mr. President, you are a most eloquent orator but you are no leader. As a 64 year old white male I know that I have no idea what it's like to be a Black man in our racist society. For all I know you face the possibility of death every day and I deeply respect and admire your bravery to put yourself in this position. But as my president and leader you have failed me and the greater good.

If your "landmark healthcare legislation" is anywhere close to being something of real significance you have failed to educate me about it. I am a healthcare provider and every day I deal with the rape of my patients by their insurance plans. Every provider knows that health insurance companies are in the business of not paying claims. I am so very fortunate to be able to afford my insurance premiums. Blue Cross has just informed me that my premium will go up $40 a month in January. I'm now paying $770 a month for an individual policy that is far from a Cadillac plan. Your abandoning the public option without a real fight or not getting us cheaper medication from Canada is just the tip of the iceberg of the causes that you don't have the will, desire, or guts to fight for.

World War II was preceded by European leaders capitulating and appeasing Hitler's evil intentions. Our media is now focusing on bullying in schools and on the net. Every male in the universe knows that one does not stop a bully with appeasement. There are now very powerful forces in our country that have taken over the media and political process to the point where it is obvious that their intention is to bleed most Americans dry. Most Americans now know more about Lindsey Lohan's drug use than how they have been repeatedly duped into voting against their own self interest. The transfer of wealth in America now rivals third world countries.

There is no justification for the unemployment rate to be near 10% and we add to the national debt by giving super rich people tax breaks. There is no justification for Wall Street to be getting bonuses so large that I don't know how many zeros to put after the numbers. There is no justification for a relatively small percentage of the population holding the rest of us hostage to their fundamentalist beliefs.

I have lived in Afghanistan. The Afghan people are no threat to me or my country. What you spend every day to kill these people could do so much real good back home. Osama bin Laden is winning his fight because while he sits somewhere in the world he watches you bankrupt our country with massive military expenditures. He doesn't need to attack. Dick Chaney made Halliburton and his other friends billions of dollars. You are doing the same.

How is it that you have the will and testosterone to bomb villagers and extend a war that you cannot win but don't have the ability to get on TV and merely state that you are ready to fight the real threats to our well being. I have far more to fear from lobbyists and multinational corporations than the Taliban. My children's quality of life will be far more destroyed by your passivity and pursuit of the illusion of "bipartisanship" than it will by terrorists.

Great leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. took a stand. They didn't say one thing in public and then agree to the opposite in private with their adversaries. They were willing to put their lives on the line for what they believed in. You politicians seek to gain political capital by praising the troops for their bravery but don't have the guts to speak the truth. I wonder how many wars we'd have if all wars were fought by the politicians and their children. You campaigned on ending don't ask don't tell. But not once have you actually done any arm twisting to get it done. You speak of global warming and the need for green jobs and yet have said nothing about this year's conference going on right now in Mexico. You are indeed failing my children on this front as well. I could go on with many other examples but there is no need to belabor the point.

Nero supposedly played the fiddle as Rome burned. I have nothing against you playing basketball. What I'd like to see is you on national television stating exactly what you stand for and what you are going to fight for. Show us where the line in the sand is. Get on national TV every day if necessary and lead. All I see you doing is paying for the rich to get better seats to watch the rest of us die a slow death.