The Big Secret of AgeWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
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The only time veneer of personal exemption is cracked is when we are diagnosed with a terminal illness or undergo a life-threatening event such as a heart attack or stroke. The response is one of disbelief: this happens to other people, not to me. As long as we feel relatively healthy and can get around independently, we fail to internalize danger in which we now live, convinced that we will be one to beat odds.
If only someone had "come clean" with truth, we would have known as children what we know so clearly now: mentally stable individual (versus those who live with recurrent dream of supposed peace of suicide) is never "ready to die." It doesn't matter how old we've grown nor how debilitated our bodies have become. Our spirit, our mental processes, our "soul," if you will, burns unswervingly bright. We may have lapses of memory or prefer to spend our time in recollections of past glory, but we are still us. It is that belief in permanency of our core that sets us apart from all other species on our planet. Our unwillingness to accept that we will ever cease to be leads us to religions that codify belief into comforts of resurrection or reincarnation. We stare at void and fail to accept that it is our personal fate. We toss on our deathbed and echo words of English Queen, Elizabeth I: "All my possessions for a moment of time."
We can reach out to children in our lives and expose secret we have at long last discovered. They may nod in agreement but they really don't believe it. The idea of immortality is highly personal: death happens to other people. It may cause us grief but we are untouchable. Now that we know truth, we can live comfortably on, as long as possible we expect, and death, when it comes, will carry only an immense astonishment: this cannot be happening to me.
Virginia Bola is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of an interactive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://www.drvirginiabola.blogspot.com
A Cultural Change We Desperately NeedWritten by Terry Mitchell
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We should view theft as being almost as bad as violence and then treat it that way. Our new view of it would result in theft becoming more stigmatized. At that point, we would likely institute more of a zero-tolerance policy toward it, with thieves being punished more severely than they are today. Then, perhaps, theft would become more of an anomaly and less of an expectation. Foul language has become a mainstay of modern dialogue. While I don't agree with cultural conservatives' efforts to censor various forms of media, I do agree with their perception that our culture has become coarsened. One of major manifestations of this coarsening is our increased use of profane and vulgar language. In fact, our language has become outright callous and is quickly headed toward becoming atrocious. On top of that, habitual use of foul language makes us seem collectively boorish. When I was growing up, back in 1960's and 1970's, I believed that certain "bad" words had just recently been invented. I was wrong, of course. They've been around for centuries. However, they weren't used in polite society or mixed company. They were mainly confined to locker rooms, sports fields, bars, dance halls, smoke-filled back rooms, battlefields, etc. They weren't used in many other venues because people viewed them as inappropriate. Fast forward to early 21st century and we can't escape foul language, no matter where we go, except maybe for our houses of worship. It's on TV, it's in movies, it's at our work place, it's in classroom, it's at social events, it's in "music" being blared out by driver next to us at stoplight, etc. Things have gotten to point where some people literally can't verbally communicate without use of profanity or vulgarity in every other sentence. What happened? We let our guard down and started accepting this kind of language without blushing or raising an eyebrow. We stopped correcting and punishing children for using it. We eventually became indifferent to it. We need to shrug off our indifference and start looking at foul language as both unnecessary and extremely rude. Once this attitude change becomes prevalent, we could well be on our way to a more gentile society. Another problem that plagues modern American culture is that we have become a nation of blame-shifters. Far too many of us are constantly looking for someone (or something) else to blame for our own actions. In addition, we often hold one person (ex., child who got his bike stolen) accountable for deliberate and illegal actions of someone else (ex., person who stole it). We also expect government and or our fellow citizens to bail us out or relieve us of consequences stemming from our illegal and/or unwise behavior. When they fail to do so, we act as if we have been wronged. The root cause of these attitudes is that we have a distorted view of role of personal responsibility. We need to amend our view of personal responsibility in such a way that we: (1) require that any natural consequences resulting from a person's behavior, both private and public, be borne solely by that person and (2) hold people entirely responsible for their own actions and entirely blameless for everyone else's. Accordingly, we would rightly blame person who actually does crime, not one who (although negligently) might make it easier for him or her to do it. A person would not be allowed to blame "hate speech" for his or her violent actions. Criminals would not be permitted to use excuse that their parents abused them as children. Poverty would not be a valid excuse either. The victims of shootings and/or their families would be blocked from suing gun stores. Rapists could not pin blame for their actions on pornography or indecency in media. Whoever commits a crime would do time. We would rid ourselves of scapegoat mentality that says someone else could be prosecuted or sued for it. If perpetrator could not be caught, no one would be punished (criminally or civilly). We desperately need a cultural change affecting all of areas that I have described. Without it, we'll soon find ourselves in wastebasket of history.
Terry Mitchell is a software engineer, freelance writer, and trivia buff from Hopewell, VA. He also serves as a political columnist for American Daily and operates his own website - http://www.commenterry.com - on which he posts commentaries on various subjects such as politics, technology, religion, health and well-being, personal finance, and sports. His commentaries offer a unique point of view that is not often found in mainstream media.