From the crises in the Middle East to mass shootings in U.S. schools to the reckless striving for wealth and world domination, there is one overarching theme that almost never gets media coverage—the sense of insignificance that drives destructive acts. As a depth psychologist with many years of experience, I can say emphatically that the sense of being crushed, humiliated and existentially unimportant are the main factors behind so much that we call psychopathology.
Why would it not follow that the same factors are at play in social and cultural upheavals? The emerging science of “terror management theory” shows convincingly that when people feel unimportant they equate those feelings with dying—and they will do everything they can, including becoming extreme and destructive themselves to avoid that feeling.
The sense of insignificance and death anxiety have been shown to play a key role in everything from terrorism to mass shootings to extremist religious and political ideologies to obsessions with materialism and wealth. Just about all that is violent and corrupt in our world seems connected to it.
Editor’s Note: The recent botched executions of three death row inmates – Joseph R.Wood III in Arizona in mid-July, Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April and Dennis McGuire in Ohio in January – have brought the death penalty issue under intense scrutiny once again. Wood reportedly gasped for air some 600 times over the course of two hours after being injected. Longtime anti-death penalty crusaderSister Helen Prejean, author ofDead Man Walking,has been a spiritual adviser to many death row inmates in her home state of Louisiana. She shared her thoughts on the latest executions with NAM health editor Viji Sundaram.
“The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.”
- Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
Credit: Creative Commons
We can add “Justice” Samuel Alito, “Justice” Anthony Kennedy, “Justice” John Roberts, “Justice” Clarence Thomas, and last, but certainly not least, “Justice” Antonin Scalia to the oxymoron list since this Supreme Court decision amounted to anything but justice. The five men voting in the majority denied the rights of women, most particularly working-class women employees at “closely-held” (family owned with a limited number of shareholders) for-profit corporations, which actually includes most U.S. corporations, control over their reproductive freedoms generally extended to women at other companies.
Going green is about more than buying all the gluten-free quinoa you can fit in your Prius. It’s about community organizing against corporate polluters and challenging environmental racism — and then enjoying your quinoa.
That’s the message from my good friend, the “Greenest Man in America.” If you haven’t met him yet, you’re in luck!
And no, he’s not Al Gore…
SACRAMENTO – Irma Montoya, 53, had to wait for three years to get her hip replaced. Her severe pain finally triumphed over her fear of deportation and prompted her to seek the medical care she needed.
Montoya still needs access to health care because she has been diagnosed with diabetes and cancer, but she’ll have to wait for treatment because the hospital has placed her on a waiting list, said her son, Alessandro Negrete.
“I can’t wait to see the bill passed,” said Negrete, 31. “The first thing I’ll do when it happens is get my mom checked for everything and get myself a physical, too. I haven’t had a proper doctor’s visit since I was seven years old.”
Negrete was speaking about a bill introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, which will allow California to fund an expansion of health care to cover its low-income residents who are living here without documents.
Know any physicians or other health care professionals who might want A New Bottom Line in Medicine – one that is more about love, caring and recognition of the humanity of those whom they treat? If so, introduce them to The Network of Spiritual Progressives’ Transformative Medicine Taskforce. Here I offer an idea of what Transformative Medicine could be about. So send this to any doctors you know, post this on your Facebook or other social media, and invite docs (including chiropractors etc.) to contact Cat@spiritualprogressives.org if they are in agreement and want to work with our Transformative Medicine.
There are two dimensions of medicine and health care that will be transformed when the New Bottom Line of the NSP–Network of Spiritual Progressives– becomes the guiding principle for our society: how medical services are distributed and what the content of a spiritually informed medicine will be (that is, how we sustain and repair health).
Sarah Palin has done a terrible injustice to humane, caring, and coordinated health care. Palliative care is a medical specialty which provides coordinated, comprehensive care to reduce pain and suffering, while trying to heal or cure anyone who is given a life-threatening or life altering diagnosis. Sadly, without any factual or medical knowledge of palliative care, Mrs. Palin called this essential medical care “death panels.” Because of her, and some others, palliative care was removed as a covered benefit from the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Diane Meier, Director of CAPC (The Center to Advance Palliative Care)at Mt Sinai, spent a year in DC trying to get palliative care into the Affordable Care Act; however, at the last minute it was removed as a covered benefit because of the fear created by Palin and others calling it”death panels.”
Sadly, Mrs. Palin is back on the scene and is continuing to make remarks about “death panels,” reinforcing this idea in her latest video. Unfortunately surveys indicate that many Americans believe still believe this. I have written this Open Letter to Mrs. Palin to help educate people and try to undo some of the harm she and others have done. It is my hope that people will learn about this essential care, ask for it if/when it is needed, and contact their elected officials to ensure that palliative care is part of the Affordable Care Act or any bill that provides health care.
Lately it’s become a little easier to answer questions about why my family decided to move from the United States to Germany. While Obama battles the Tea Party and struggles to keep the government functioning, Angela Merkel enjoys soaring popularity after Germany’s recent national elections. The mood in Berlin feels calm and optimistic while the rhetoric of brinksmanship continues in Washington.
I like the blend of capitalism and democracy found in Germany and other parts of Europe, not to mention the cafes and bakeries and amazing public transit systems.
Two years ago the members of my family became German citizens under a law that allows families who were persecuted by the Nazis to have their citizenship restored. Hundreds of German Jews from the diaspora apply to the German government each year to regain their citizenship. Once they become citizens, they can live in Germany without having to give up their original citizenship. As my husband and I thought about our future, we asked ourselves which country offers better prospects for a good standard of living now and in the future.
“If ‘picking and choosing’ where to practice Radical Decency is ‘doomed to failure’ does that mean only saints can succeed? How does one incrementally improve?”
“If Radical Decency is doomed to failure unless applied at all times to everything, must I be a Buddhist monk or the equivalent?”
(Credit: Creative Commons)
How this Mindset Traps and Defeats Us
Radical Decency seeks to diverge from the culture’s wildly out of balance emphasis on competitive, win/lose values, advocating a decisive shift in priority toward a more humane set of values. That is its central purpose.
With this in mind, notice the extent to which this self-judgmental approach replicates the very values the philosophy seeks to replace. Tally up the evidence and make a judgment: Have I succeeded in being radically decent – or not? Am I a saint – or a failure?