the human rights of our enemies

114081011_881df59177.jpg

in 2004, on the UN international day for the victims of torture, dubya stated that “America stands against and will not tolerate torture.” he further stated that “The United States also remains steadfastly committed to upholding the Geneva Conventions, which have been the bedrock of protection in armed conflict for more than 50 years.”

ok. that’s hilarious. a real load of steaming brown poop, considering what’s in the CIA’s bag of interrogation tricks. torture as an interrogation technique? yes, you will find the cold cell and water boarding among these so called acceptable techniques. interesting – since such interrogation techniques violate the geneva convention of which the president spoke so passionately in the above quotes.

so, in the wake of the absolute horror unveiled in abu ghraib and given dubya’s attempts to undermine the geneva convention and challenge the habeas corpus principal, i – josephine public – face some serious realities. at the very least, a betrayal of truth – for, such abuses are beyond my imagination and comprehension, given my social, cultural and geographic setting. but, i must transcend that outrage and focus on the facts presented, on what’s said and on what’s not said. and most of all, on what it represents in terms of the political tide that’s turning here.

114081157_c403157964.jpg

it disturbs me. mostly because of my visionary way of looking at people and events. i see behaviours and actions as manifestations of an individual’s motivations. motivations being rooted in values and human ethics. and, very telling of any society’s values, is the conditions with which it’s prepared to live. what do we think we can live with as a society? what does that tell us about the value we collectively attach to life? pride? power? humanity? THINK ON IT.

i don’t see occurences in isolation. rather, as a culmination of circumstances, conditions, behaviours and actions. my present results from my past. my interaction can alter its course. my apathy and complacence leaves it unaltered. and so it is for world affairs. we look to dark lesions in human history with disdain and politically correct outrage. we tell ourselves we can’t imagine what those german people were thinking, voting for a monster like hitler. really? i think it’s quite simple, when you consider the social, political and cultural forces at work in german society at that time.

the horror of it all lies in its insidious nature. they did not vote hitler in based upon a platform of annihilating 6 million jewish people. they voted for him based on his fervor and passion to lift a weak, confused and floundering germany to a strong and proud germany. he spoke so passionately the comforting rhetoric the german public longed to hear, needed to hear. and once hooked into a belief tract, one sees what one wants to see and hears what one wants to hear. and of course, since its dawn as an institution, government has always carefully controlled the flow of information to its citizens, with a carefully crafted spin.

213402584_66e9fc1182.jpg

considering the atrocities in our modern information era that went unnoticed as they unfolded – such as bosnia, abu ghraib, etc – it does not seem hard for me to imagine that a majority of the german public remained blissfully unaware of the ‘final solution.’ and then, consider the social and cultural climate of the time: rigid and intolerant to any deviations – a setting in which hatred and bigotry flourish.

the horror sinks to our own level even further, doesn’t it? for, don’t a goodly portion of people out there believe that all the abu ghraib torture fell upon deserving victims? ‘they’re the enemy! they don’t deserve human rights!’ sound like a familiar rhetoric? sound like the sort of rhetoric that gives rise to hatred and bigotry? it does to me …. chillingly so, in fact. isn’t that what underlies the american government’s assertion that terrorist will not receive ‘due process’ under the law?

and so … do you think america’s enemies deserve human rights? think, for a moment, before you answer. recall that hitler perceived the jewish people as his enemy, and, more importantly, as an enemy of the germany nation. whether you or i or the public at large agree or disagree is really beside the point. perception governs the direction of one’s action’s. that’s my point. which leads me to the conclusion that not much separates us, a 21st century society driven by fear, despair and rage, from that floundering and broken german society of 6 decades ago.

frightening, isn’t it?

images originally uploaded by pantufla and sataniod

11 Comments

Filed under historical analysis, human rights, ideology, politics, sociology, war on terror

298 reasons to hate the west

abu ghraib files

Leave a comment

Filed under human rights, humanity, middle east, politics, Uncategorized, war on terror

stress, a killer?

we’ve all heard that expression, right?
well its true.
stress will kill you
and scientific evidence exists
to prove this claim
and to question the science
behind the following claim

“smoking causes cancer.”

in his book when the body says no, (click title for link to amazon.com) gabor mate (pronounced mat-eh) walks readers through the biochemistry behind the mind-body connection. fascinating stuff? anyone with a uterus will tell you that stress can toss the body’s delicate hormonal balance off kilter. so, then … take this one step further. a guy – british thoracic surgeon who calls himself Kissen – did take this further. he noticed, via his clinical practice, an intimate connection between emotionally repressive personality patterns and incidence of lung cancer. and then, a longitudinal study, conducted on a stable population in europe over a 10 year period, confirmed Kissen’s insights.

essentially, it all boils down to this:

smoking no more causes cancer than being thrown into deep water causes drowning … a combination of factors is necessary to cause drowning. fatal as immersion in deep water can be to the unprotected non-swimmer, for someone who swims well or is equipped with a life jacket, it poses little risk. it is the same with lung cancer. (p. 85)

so. what am i saying?

  1. repression of emotion, particularly anger, is the single greatest risk factor for death, esp, but not only, d/t cancer (emotional repression potentiates the effects of smoke and other carcinongens within the body)
  2. psychological influences create physiological changes in the body which contribute to the onset of malignant disease (science and clinical practice tell us that, at every level, a mind-body connection exisits)
  3. individual internal perceptions bear as much influence as external threats in development of disease , esp. cancer, in our bodies

lets expand no. 2, shall we?

  1. thru the HYPOTHALAMUS-PITUITARY-ADRENAL nexus (a pathway of glands in our bodies that govern metobolism and general bodily function), both physical and psychological stress influence our physiology — ie stress activates the HPA nexus, sending our delicate hormonal balance out of its equilibrium
  2. unmet emotional needs — ie uncertanty, lack of control, lack of information — strongly activate the HPA nexus
  3. consummatory behaviour (behaviour which removes the danger or relieves the tension cause by it), and restoring sense of control, each result in immediate supression of HPA activity
  4. emotional stress impairs the body’s built-in DNA and cellular repair mechanisms (i)habitual emotional repression leaves a person in a state of chronic stress, (ii)creating an unnatural biochemical environment in the body; (iii)the perpetually high levels of steroid hormones (we secrete hormones when we are stressed out) can interfere with normal programmed cell death
  5. depression (“a mental state in which repression of anger dominates emotional functioning”) potentiates the inhibitory effect of smoke on the natural killer cells (ie it compromises our body’s ability to fight off disease)
  6. disease is not a simple result of some external attack, but develops in hosts in whom the internal environment has become disordered
  7. the human endocrime system is an important mediator between the psyche and the tumor (a) a person’s emotional personality pattern plays a role in either facilitating tumor promotion or dampening or accentuating the impact of environmental stressors (b) tumors are hormonally dependent, arising in organs that interact hormonally
  8. social subordination activates the HPA
  9. the stresses that create the problems with self nurture are also the ones that predispose to disease
  10. for most cancers there is no identifed carcinogen. it is the internal environment that plays the major role in deciding whether the malignancy will flourish or be eliminated.
  11. key to fighting cancer is not just prevention and/or control of its spread … but understanding under what conditions existing dormant tumor deposits become malignant
  12. inability to express emotion, particularly anger, has shown up as the most consistently idenified risk factor for cancer in various studies

link to the book’s website here, in case you’re interested. simply put, this message in all this? that we can influence our health status simply by means of our response to life. our ability to process what we encounter. to stick to our convictions. to set our own limits. constructively express our own emotions. our friend ben writes: “life is change. life is energy. life is your chance to create yourself and your world as you wish them to be.” i think that’s what gabor mate means, too, thru his writings and work. we CAN make a difference. it sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it?

Leave a comment

Filed under disease, health, mind-body, stress

11/9 – a post about 9/11

ON THAT DAY
i recall vividly the moment i heard about the crash. 08:10 – it was a wednesday morning – we were driving under a bridge, on the perimeter highway – lupin driving me home after a 12 hour nite shift (my 2nd nite – my 2nd 12 hr shift in as many days). i did not sleep that day. we stared at the telly screen, dumbfounded. a colleague at work worried that his mother – who lived and worked in NYC – did not survive the crash. he had no news of his mother for a few days. each of those days we worked together, the anguish swirled in him. things turned out ok for that family … but i remember the anguish of those early days.

ABOUT THAT DAY
for me, the anguish of that day swells, with each passing year. with each passing year, life tumbles past us, the way leaves glide upon gentle breezes. and moments pass. moments from which death has banished those dearly departed. they say time heals all wounds, but with time, the wound gapes ever wider.it feels as though, i think, with each year that passes, the dearly departed shrink further and further from our grasp. from our mind’s grasp.

when do we forget the sound of their voice? the way touching them made us feel? when do their images start to fade in our minds? and … we ask the question … why? for eternity — WHY? each joyful moment, forever after, has a bittersweet taste. can joy without our dearly departed truly feel like joy? or does it feel plastic and contrived? like, sort of surreal. for us – survivors left behind – a tomorrow exists. can we live with that?

AFTER THAT DAY
stunning photographs captured horrorific moments – remember these?

dest3.jpg

and the OUTRAGE

wtc-person-falling-07-orig.jpg

they caused?

ny_7.jpg

and … how soon, we never saw them anymore? well … LOOK. take a good LOOK.

SANITIZING?
do you ever ask yourself, why? why the desperate urge to sanitize these deaths? considering the extremely graphic and disturbing images seen at the liberation of the concetration camps after WW2, why did these pictures trigger such outrage? 11/9 IS. irrevocably. do we want to remember it? or are we going to have dinner with that big white elephant on the dining room table? i, for one, don’t care to dine with the big white elephant. been there, done that. i choose to live in brutal reality. death = life. the value of life lies in the eternity of death. (does that sound sort of too surreal, maybe?)

i had the wonderful privilege of seeing the north american premiere of this movie: the falling man. it traces the origin of the photo, from the photographer thru to the journalists who sought to identify the ‘falling man.’ but, more interesting that this, the movie speaks to the whole denial of death, despite the massive loss of life on 11/9.

its true – for the most part, we only wanted to see images of the rescue workers sifting thru the rubble. we desperately wanted to turn our heads away from the terror and ugliness and such a death. why? are not those who made a choice and resolved to plummet to their death … are not those people victims just the same as those who did not make that choice? do we honour their memory by denying the way they died? i think not.

i ask myself. what would i do? what would you do? would you make a phone call? who would you call? what would you say? what would course thru my mind moments before such a horrific death? we cannot begin to imagine having to make such a choice. death by fire or death by sudden deceleration? no escape. only escape to death. so — what of the falling man photo? when i look at it, i am stunned by the stark contrasts that converge there: the bright sun and a solitary, free falling figure, almost perfectly aligned with the vertical axis of the tower. and then reality – a person, falling to his death. and death, DEATH.

that feeling you have? that uncomfortable feeling?
its called humility
… because …
death is a most humbling experience.

what do you see in the falling man photo?

what do you see, in all this?

Leave a comment

Filed under historical analysis, humanity, middle east, politics, sociology, war on terror

raising our children

just got back from visiting my oldest and dearest girlfriend. she is a divorced, single mother of three kids: 15, 12 and 9 years old. her kids’ father has little involvement in their upbringing. it was interesting for us to see how someone else raises their kids. very interesting indeed. it made me wonder …

  • should children growing up learn proper manner?
  • should we really still be spanking our children to force their compliance?
  • when does a spanking stop and a beating begin?
  • and what of the way it makes a child feel?
  • does not this, in and of itself, make it wrong?

i remember being spanked
at 2 years old
with a wooden ruler
because i peed my pants.
my dad was angry.
and so i got spanked.
i never forgot
the way it made me feel —
ego crushed.

  • is that how we want to be remembered by our kids?
  • and what of setting limits?
  • is it not compassionate and necessary to teach them how to function in society?
  • should a 9 year old boy still be sleeping with his mother?
  • or screaming from the bed the second he awakes ‘mom i’m hungry!’
  • really? should he?

i’m not the mum of the century,
but my boy can function in society —
you know,
has manners,
and self-sufficient independence.
he would never dream
of showing off to visitors
how well he can fart or belch …
that IS rude, isn’t it?

it’s so easy to collect children – you know, they are a sort of status symbol – but how sad that few of us realize how very difficuly it is to raise them properly. it is so much easier to give in and let them have their way. how sad for those kids. how sad for the parents, too. that they have so little regard for their task as parents.

i would just like to add that the value of fathers is SOOOOOO under-rated. a child needs its father. especially a boy. to all you fathers out there … know that you absolutely do make a difference in the lives of your children. you are NOT just the banker or the sperm donor. those babies … ? they look up to you for so much more.

Leave a comment

Filed under child-rearing, family, sociology

what is religion?

can we define it?

here’s what the oxford dictionary, 9th edition, says about religion.

1 the belief in a superhuman controlling power, esp. in a personal god or gods entitled to obedience and worship. 2 the expression of this in worship. 3 a particular system of faith and worship. 4 life under monastic vows (the way of religion). 5 a thing that one is devoted to (football is their religion) (p 1161)

so? does this definition capture the essence of religion? of what it means to the devout, the doubters, and the atheists? religion affects us all deeply. even those of us who choose to regard it as a mere construct to facilitate social survival.

you know that, more than three decades after my initial indoctrination, i still have a running ticker tape of the apostles’ creed in my head? how these things got drilled into our heads as kids! what i really didn’t get, though, was being told i had to stay hungry and thirsty going to church so i could be ‘pure’ to receive holy communion.

does a 5 or 6 year old kid get that? and why should god care if i drank a glass of juice 20 minutes before mass started? does that really make me bad? too impure to receive god? a disobedient little one? (just so you know … i am not making this up). and yet, i had to go hungry or thirsty because that’s what god wanted. anyway, that’s what i remember about god. about religion. as a kid. the feeling that we are never good enough. for god. and never will be. the notion that suffering has some sort of redeeming, cleansing function.

ok.
i digress.
back on track.
religion – how to define it?
well, depending on your perspective,
there are 3 possibilities.

1. religion as a social construct

  • a manifestation of some psychological or moral pathology?
  • a pernicious and deliberate falsehood, spread and encouraged by rulers and clerics in their own interests, in an effort exercise control over others?
  • seeing religions as marginally useful constructs which encode instructions or habits useful for survival in a society
  • seeing religion as ‘the opium of the masses’

2. religion as progressing toward a higher truth

  • reflections of an essential truth?
  • seeing religious truth as relative, due to its varied cultural application and/or expression
  • seeing prophets as messengers of god — individuals given to extraordinary spiritual insight during periods of social decay and acting as purveyors of balance and social survival.
  • seeing religion as evolving over time in a thesis-antithesis-synthesis-great awakening paradigm

3. religion as absolute truth

  • the exclusivist view
  • one belief system … one holy book … one supreme being
  • seeing all things and individuals incongruent with the one belief system as ignorant, devious, false, misguided
  • a sort of arrogant view of truth (“our view is the RIGHT view, all others are wrong”)
  • providing an unwavering perspective that requires individuals to conform to its truth

so….? where do you fit in? before you answer, though … consider this: it’s clear, isn’t it — that intimate connection between your philosophical view of truth and your chosen religious view?
whatever religious perspective you weave into your cultural matrix speaks to your larger view of truth, the universe, humanity, and how we got here.

regardless which point of the star you are coming from …
its profound stuff, ain’t it? 

Leave a comment

Filed under humanity, religion, sociology

israeli recovery?

read in a recent news item, shimon peres quoted as saying israelis have not yet recovered from the holocaust. ok. at the risk of being labelled … i will ask what others may be afraid to … WTF??? one wonders … really, really wonders … when does the world get to hear about the OTHER holocausts that have taken place since WWII? or are we just supposed to keep whining about something that happened over 60 years ago at the expense of everyone else?

the irony is … for a people that are heard saying ‘never again’ … they sure seem so guilty of breaking that vow. just sayin’ is all. (don’t lynch me, ok? last time i checked it was a free country and so … this is what i think. so deal with it!) and … well, i guess we’re not supposed to think of bosnia … rwanda … all those places where mass genocide has occured.

it really is true … the more things change the more they stay the same. how sad. how truly sad. i think our children are hearing the phrase ‘never again’ … but these seem hollow words … with no actions to back them up.

the word hypocrit comes to mind …

Leave a comment

Filed under humanity, middle east, politics