The Damage Myths Cause For Our Planet & All Life

I am trying really hard to avoid this current election because it angers me.   The conservative Christian and other groups that we are being told want to discourage contraception or eliminate it completely due to their own person “moral” objections, and in doing so create more unwanted pregnancies to then force women to have to bear for nine months….WTF????  And then what?  What will happen to all those unwanted babies?  Will all these people against women controlling their own bodies line up and offer to adopt?  Or will we see more children stuck their whole first 18 years in foster care, moved from house to house, subjected to carrying their belongings in garbage bags and never knowing what it feels like (many of them) to be loved?

It just floors me that people can be soooo short sighted.   I don’t care if some people believe the myth that a god is going to destroy the earth when it all gets just too bad, then create a new earth, a new Jerusalem for Christians (only) to inhabit for a thousand years, or whatever it is they believe.  It is MY world too.  I would like to live the rest of my life without the prospect of developing worstening claustrophobia issues everywhere I go.  I would like to see the natural world be allowed to continue, and enough natural habitat for other life besides human beings, to be allowed to continue.

When I was in High School I read about a study they made on rats in a cage and overpopulation.  I remember reading, the denser the rat population, the more the rats wanted to kill each other.   Below I found the following, which explains this more.   Yes I do think human beings should wake up to the fact we are also animals.  And this increase in rage we feel on crowded roads and in long lines and over-crowded side-walks–there’s a really big reason for it.  Why do we see more and more school shootings and mall shootings and seemingly normal people suddenly turning on their families, killing their spouses and children?  Is it oh, I don’t know, SATAN????  Or could it be human beings are just as likely to behave as other animals do when conditions become too crowded?

I think religion is fine and well.  But I think just the oppressive doctrine that wants to control not only the members of that religion but EVERYONE, is causing not just women, but all of us, immense harm by hugely contributing to a very overpopulated world.

On Rats:   http://culturechange.org/issue19/overpop_terrorism.htm

Overpopulation & terrorism: rats in a cage

by John Omaha

Many people will find it difficult to compare human populations to rat populations. Many humans will suffer for that cognitive impairment. When a pair of reproductively competent rats are placed in a closed space and provided with sufficient food, they will reproduce and reproduce until the space is filled with rats. At a critical density, wars break out. Some rats, alpha males, claim territory and defend it. Others attack. Sound familiar? Only difference between rats and humans is the language-making capability of the human left brain. We humans give names to our territoriesó “World Trade Center” is one. The right brain, impelled by drives and emotions, is the fundamental force operating here. The left brain makes “reasons” for what the right brain is going to do anyway. Some of these “reasons” are: democracy, Islam, God, Allah, terrorist, Third World, globalization.

 What we are seeing is the result of an exponentially increasing population. This is population biology at work. Anthropologists and population biologists studied all the wars in history for which adequate data were available. They learned that war breaks out when the percentage of the population consisting of single males in the age range 16-26 exceeds a certain fraction of the total population. Whatever Osama bin Laden may call it, whatever Al Fatah, or the PLO, or Jonas Savimbi, or Mexican President Fox, or the Australians who refuse to allow the Indonesian refugees into their country, whatever the East Timorese may call it, the Afghanis, the Pakistanis orwhatever name it is given is not correct; the correct name is overpopulation.

 And this is just the beginning. World population stands at over 6 billion now. Projections differ on how high it will go. At one point it was projected to top out at 15 billion. Then it was reduced to 13 billion. The latest numbers I have seen are 9 billion. This will happen in the next 25 years. What happens after that? Mass die off. Itís a fact of population biology. Eventually the bacteria on the Petri dish use up all the resources and die. We live on a spherical Petri dish. As groups led by alpha males come into unavoidable contact with each other, conflict erupts. Osama bin Laden is an alpha male. Yasser Arafat is an alpha male. The clerics of the Taliban are alpha males. God help us, our alpha male is George W. Bush. The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever was going on in Pennsylvania are conflicts between population segments assembled behind alpha males in an overpopulated, confined space, in which the segments are seeking to expand into territory that is resource rich compared to their own.

 Unfortunately, all the players are thinking from inside the box. Bush tells us we wíll find the terrorists and punish them. The terrorists are only the proximate problem. The terrorists are the vanguard of the real problem: the surplus billions of people on this spherical Petri dish. Only when the true problem is identified and addressed will we escape the inevitable fate of our species–a mass die off that will sometimes look like terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and will at other times look like AIDS and at other times like “ethnic cleansing” in Serbia. 

Control of our species reproductive drive is the central survival issue our species must solve if Homo sapiens is to be a successful evolutionary experiment. Solving the issue will require the cooperation of all human beings. We are not doing very well.

 John Omaha, Ph.D., is with Chemotion Institute: Treatment, Education & Research for the Ingestive Disorders P.O. Box 528 Chico, CA 95927 530-899-7719 E-mail: jomaha@sunset.net 

 

On Everything Else:    http://www.overpopulation.org/faq.html

1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies. December 28, 1998   from the Germany World Population Fund doclink
If fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2.5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion. May 1998   Bill McKibben – Atlantic Monthly doclink

Population (in billions)   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Year   1804 1927 1959 1974 1987 1999 2011 2023
Elapsed   123 33 14 13 12 13 15+

doclink

At least 150 million couples throughout the world want, but do not have, access to reproductive Health Services doclink
For An Additional $1.63 Per U.S. Taxpayer Per Year, 11.7 Million More Couples Would Have Access to Modern Contraception doclink
By 2030, the world’s urban population is expected to reach 4.9 billion, while the rural population is expected to decrease by 28 million. September 2010   Population Reference Bureau doclink

  • 1983 Year that world grain production per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1985 Year that humanity’s demand for resources first exceeded supply(mec.ca)
  • 1989 Year that world fish catch per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1999 Year that the world population reached 6 billion (US Census Bureau)
  • 2012 Year that the world population will reach 7 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 2050 Year that the world population will reach 9.2 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 3 Days for the world population to increase by that of San Francisco
  • 6 Months for the world population to increase by that of California
  • 200,000 World population growth each day
  • 70 Years for population to double, in any country, at a 1% growth rate per year 2009   doclink

  • The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent.
  • Only 17% of the world’s population lives in industrialized countries
  • The average life expectancy is 61, up from 40 in just 50 years. The numbers of people 65 and older make up 10-15% of the world population today and is expected to increase to 20-30% by 2050. 2009   doclink

1) The use of contraception among couples in developing countries has increased from 10% in the early 1960’s to 60% today.2) During this period, the fertility rate fell from about six births per woman in the mid-1960’s to below three per woman in 2000.3) Global population growth has slowed to an annual rate of 1.35%, the lowest in decades.4) Uncountable numbers of women and children have lived instead of died. doclink

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that hunger is a daily concern for 13.8% of Americans
  • There will be 125 million births in the world this year. By the time this group is ready to start school, there will have been another 625 million births.
  • Every 20 minutes, the human population grows by about 3,000. At the same time another plant or animal becomes extinct (27,000 each year).
  • According to the U.N., if fertility were to stay constant at 1995-2000 levels, the world population would soar to 244 billion by 2150 and 134 trillion by 2300.
  • The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold. April 2004   US Census Bureau doclink
End of this page in “Factoids” section, pg 1 … Go to page 1.. 2 3 4 .. 4.6

Does It Matter to You?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on Overpopulation

February 26, 2012   WOA website1. What are the biggest issues that arise from overpopulation, and why are they so bad?

a. Food shortages and associated malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, stunted growth and stunted brain power, starvation b. Peak oil, which greatly impacts food supply. c. Per capita water shortage and poor water quality, which greatly impacts food supply and human health d Climate change which creates hotter, more hostile crop growing conditions and flooding, also hostile to crops. e. Shortage of nonrenewable resources, particularly fertilizer, necessary for crop production, but also other resources needed for manufacturing, without which our materialistic civilization will grind to a halt. f. Environmental damage caused by the quest for more fossil fuels and essential metals, destruction of animal habitat caused by urbanization.

2. In the future, do you foresee it getting worse or better, and to what degree?

Going by a. Food shortages alone, it will only get worse unless we quickly stabilize population and find some as-yet-discovered agricutural advancement. The Green Revolution has petered out.

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. Is there anything that you believe we can do to help lessen the effects of overpopulation on the environment and other animals?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, male involvement, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates. But these programs need more funding and we must push for that funding.

4. Why should people be concerned about overpopulation now, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more apparent?

Slowing population growth takes time unless we resort to drastic, ugly, highly unpopular solutions. We must increase funding for family planning now, because putting babies back in the womb, or even a worse alternative, is not an acceptable solution.

5. Why do you think so many people are ignorant on the topic of overpopulation and it’s effects?

a. Resistance to contraception and the belief that sex is only for procreation by certain Christian religions. b. Belief that population stabilization requires ‘population control’ – the One Child policy in China,for example. Not understanding that there are gentle solutions that will help people live a better life, and that people actually want, and that have been proven to work. c. Inability to connect the dots when 6 billion goes to 7 billion in 12 years and then to 8 billion in 13 years. Belief that ‘God will take care of it’. Cornucopian view of the world fostered by decades of technological advances and materialistic success has caused people to think that the world’s natural resources are unlimited. Forgetting that fossil fuels have allowed the West to advance technologically and live very comfortably, and therefore not really thinking to look at the dim future of fossil fuels.

6. Do you believe overpopulation, or the way we use resources is more of a problem, and why?

There is no doubt that, if the 2 billion people living very comfortably on this earth made sacrifices, then the 2 billion living on the edge could live more comfortably – IF (a very big if) it was practical to transfer the assets of the rich to the poor, and if the rich would willingly give up their comfortable life. Unfortunately many people use the excuse that consumption is a bigger part of the problem (they believe it is) to avoid dealing with population altogether.

Most frequently we hear about overconsumption in the West measured in terms of carbon emissions. However, we must remember that the critical path for humanity is the supply of food. Arable land is fast disappearing due to urbanization, soil erosion/overuse, and water shortages in both rich and poor countries. Both rich and poor countries will suffer, the poor first, but then the poor in the richer countries. Already the middle class is fast disappearing in the U.S., due to loss of jobs to overseas employees. So the U.S. is not immune to the impacts of food shortages.

Unfortunately, population is growing so fast that, whatever advances we make by providing more food to more people eventually ends up at a point where there is not enough food and starvation is nature’s way to equalize supply and demand.

7. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus is reputed to believe it would happen in the 1700s (that wasn’t actually what he said); Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

8. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

9. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

10. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

11. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow.

12. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

13. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources.

14. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

15. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

16. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

17. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

18. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

19. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

20. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

21. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

22. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

23. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

24. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students). You can hook up with the Sierra Club and join population activities there: http://www.sierraclub.org/population/

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

25. Why don’t we hear much about this issue on the news and such? It seems like something that should be dealt with immediately, yet i don’t see anyone in power taking action.

I come across over 20 articles a day on population, some of them in important places like the New York Times, the Economist, National Geographic, BBC, Scientific American, and so on. Today food and gas prices are rising, partly due to peak oil, partly due to climate change, partly due to seasonal fluctuation, but mostly due to a shortage of resources per person.

On the other hand, there are conservatives that do not believe in limited resources, overpopulation, “telling people what they should do in their private lives,” contraception, and abortion. Some of these people are in places of high influence, like the U.S. Congress, which has recently contemplated removing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, claiming the money is going for abortions, which it isn’t. The money goes for family planning services (not abortion) and reproductive health services. These same conservatives control various media such as Fox News.

The United States and other countries HAVE been taking action on this issue for many years. Programs are in place for voluntary family planning and reproductive health, among others that reduce fertility rates. These programs have been instrumental in bringing down world fertility rates, which are now around 2.5 children per woman. But every year there is a battle over how much funding should be put into these programs by the U.S. doclink

Karen Gaia says: any suggestions for these FAQs are welcome. Send to karen4329@karengaia.net

More Faqs

November 23, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

2. What do you believe is the worst effect of overpopulation? Why?

By far the worst effect is the inability to feed every one. Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. What has been done/is being done to slow overpopulation? What would you do to slow overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

4. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus thought it would happen in the 1700s; Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

5. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

6. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

7. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow. doclink

Questions on Food

November 21, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. How does overpopulation affect the food industry?

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

2. Are there any foods that are able to feed the world?

Grains are usually the staple used to feed the world: rice, wheat, and corn in particular. But new strains are needed to grow in hotter climates, less water, and/or poor soil. If these strains are not developed by technology, there will not be enough food to feed the world. Today there are 1 billion underfed people in the world. This number is likely to grow if population continues to grow and a solution is not found.

3. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

4. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources. doclink

Population Control?

September 26, 2011   WOA websiteThe world is headed for disaster. If we don’t do something, nature will do something for us. Shouldn’t we be doing some sort of population control like what China did? Maybe a two child or one child policy for the world? doclink

It appears that the three of us are in agreement about the impending consequences of overpopulation.But we must understand the solutions.Fertility rates have been coming down for many years. They are continuing to come down. We are experiencing population momentum, which means that reductions in population growth lag behind reductions in fertility rates. China’s population growth rate is only 0.47%, and its population expected to peak in 2030 at 1.4 billion, then decline.The UN population projections had low, medium, and high scenarios, with the difference between medium and high or low only half a child in fertility rates.So it is EXTREMELY important to sufficiently fund efforts to make contraception accessible to all women of child-bearing age, and at the same time to empower women to make health decisions for themselves, because reproductive health is very closely tied to contraceptive usage. The latter includes such measures as eliminating child marriages, girls education, micro credit, and male involvement.All of these things are being done, and have been done, worldwide, since the 1950s, and have been very successful, but have lacked sufficient funding, which is frequently blocked by conservatives in the U.S. administration and legislature. This year funding is again being attacked by our very conservative legislature.Some people argue that these contraceptives are being forced upon third world women, but in 1994 it was decided that all attempts to meet targets and all coersion would be stopped and women would be encouraged to choose their own family size. It works out because women, on average, do not want large families as long as they can be assured there will be enough children surviving to replacement. In developed countries many women seem to want even fewer than the replacement level number of children. Women in the U.S. are producing 2.09 children on average, just a tad below replacement level, while women in other developed countries considerably fewer. The overall world wide average is 2.52 and comes down every year. Replacement level for all but countries with very female death rates is 2.1

Why is Population Ignored by Human Rights Groups and Democrats?

August 28, 2011   WOA websiteRebecca wrote:

I agree with you about overpopulation. I have no children and have my animals spayed and eat no meat, pork or chicken, leave my car parked, keep lights off, don’t heat or air condition (live in So Cal so that is possible) and don’t buy products excessively, try not to buy products that were tested on animals, clean with baking soda, put groceries in canvas bags etc- so in addition to not adding to population try to be fair about reducing my portion of carbon footprint.

But whenever I bring up overpopulation at Democratic or Labor meetings (not abortion, birth control, which is a two-fer because it also helps prevent spread of STDs in many cases) I get a stunned silence and no one will discuss it thinking they must have a white supremist in their midsts…though the competition for air,water,food, jobs and land has become fierce and is beyond a political party problem, has to have an economic impact too due to “supply and demand”.

I have written to television stations and asked them not to feature “octomom”, “kate plus 8” “19 and counting” etc and they ignore me too.

Somehow the idea of caring for elderly (albeit healthy) persons in excess in the population is considered anethma though one would assume excess children in the population also are being cared for..and also no one seems to get it that if elderly persons were spending less on chidlren being raised during their working years they could save more to take care of themselves in ol d age…

Anyway how do we get this idea across and make it “cool” like recycling to say “three is the new large family” and encourage people to stop at one or two?

~~~

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your thoughtful remarks and commend you on your lowered footprint.

Overpopulation has certainly acquired a dirty name, and I think due to lies spread by religious conservatives who believe sex is for procreation, contraceptives are abortifacient, and abstinence is the only good birth control. They think anyone who promotes family planning is evil and must be racist, and they make huge efforts to spread that opinion far and wide. On the other hand, the women of these same religions are using contraception, almost as much as the general population, so maybe we can push for a connect between these women and their priests and husbands.

So I always examine religious objections and detractors and am always looking for evidence to counter whatever misrepresentations they may put out.

In addition, most people do not see the big picture, or at least do not want to think about it. Peak oil and food shortages will affect us all, but people tend to think that their life is secure and nothing will happen to them, so we sound like we are Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.

Then there are those who blame the huge consumption of the Western world for the world’s problems, but in fact, even poor rural people’s lives are not sustainable unless some miracle of technology comes along (the Green Revolution is done what it can, mostly). And it isn’t a problem of distribution because a) it has been found that if you feed a population, that population grows some more (it is only sustainable if people can feed themselves), b) transporting food to famine areas is good for real emergencies, but because of peak oil, is not sustainable as a long term practice.

And where population is growing the fastest – in Sub-Saharan Africa for example, it can be seen that life is already unsustainable in many areas there and I print stories about that.

And I always find new and interesting articles on sustainability (there are plenty of them) that will help prove the point that humanity’s footprint is not sustainable.

I am happy to find so many news articles that reinforce the idea that we are indeed headed for trouble — I am not happy about the bad news, but glad that there are so much in the news.

I agree with you about the elderly. I am a senior myself, but longevity is part of the problem – it adds to the number of people on the planet. If people continue to live longer and longer, at some point we would have to give up having children altogether. Personally I would prefer to give up when I get past a certain point of decrepitude, and let some youngster take my place. We can’t afford to nurture young children and educate them in order to pass on our civilization (hopefully a less destructive one), if at the same time we taking care of so many old ones – I’m thinking of the large number of baby boomers the U.S. now has, compared to the number of working people.

I would not focus on the octomoms because the fertility rate is coming down in the world, and has been at replacement level for some time in the U.S. Instead I would work on the large numbers of unintended pregnancies and meeting the unmet need for contraception, and teen pregnancies, and child brides in the developing countries, and educational soap operas in areas where fertility rates are high due to cultural preferences, and male responsibility.

Fertility rates are coming down due to efforts starting back in the 1950s, and continuing today. Average today is 2.5. But funding has not been adequate and we now need to put about $12 billion towards the areas mentioned in the preceeding paragraph.

Karen Gaia doclink

On Expecting People to Have Fewer Children

May 16, 2011   WOA websiteI have been thinking a lot about population issues lately, and wanted to hear some advice from you. The single worst thing someone in America can do for the environment is to have a child. How can you reconcile talking about this with people without offending them and making them feel persecuted for having children? I feel like this issue really should be discussed more, but I am afraid to say something and hurt someone’s feelings.

I know you have done population activism for a while, so I was wondering if you might have any advice for discussing the subject without acrimony.

Thanks,

Autumn

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Hi Autumn,

The average fertility rate in this country is about at replacement level. Immigration is the biggest contributing factor to U.S. population, but that does not add anything to the worldwide population, except where it takes the pressure off the resources in Mexico and Central America, which leads to higher birth rates there. Also, immigrants soon assume consumption levels higher than where they come from, but it is difficult to fault people for wanting to achieve a ‘good’ life. If it were not for immigration, our growth rate would be zero, and our population stabilized.

It would be good if Americans dipped down to below replacement level, but this can best be done by addressing the unmet need for contraception. 1/3 of the births in the U.S. are unintended. The teen birth rate in the U.S. is the highest in the developed world. Concentrating on teen pregnancy and fighting the abstinence-only mentality, and using more role models (both good and bad – if done the right way) on television – this will go a long way towards reducing our birth rate.

I no longer get excited about people having 6 or 13 or so kids. They are in a very small minority. Many people have only 1 or even none. It averages out. Many developed countries have such a low birthrate (Spain has a fertility rate of 1.4) that there is concern that they will be sustainable economically. Some even fear that their country will become one of old people, with not enough young people to reproduce. This is a real concern.

In the U.S., our baby boomers are retiring. We will have a huge amount of resources going to old people, and maybe not enough going to the education of our future adults. But of course, having larger families to take care of all these seniors would be a disaster – a giant Ponzi scheme.

Recently attempts have been made to defund Planned Parenthood because some legislators think it does abortions on federal money. The federal program Title X grants money to Planned Parenthood to be used for family planning, but excluding abortions. Planned Parenthood gets less money from Title X than their costs for family planning (excluding abortions), so none of Title X money goes for abortions. There are many Catholic and Evangelical Christians who are against contraception. It is their hidden agenda to make contraception illegal.

So I think where we can do the best good in the U.S. is by making sure that there is sufficient funding for programs that provide contraception, family planning, sex ed, girls self esteem, and male responsibility, which is what Planned Parenthood does. Also social media role models, like televisions’ ’16 and Pregnant’, should continue.

The biggest population growth is in Africa and Central America. Africa’s population is expected to triple by 2100. This is where we need to concentrate with programs like the ones suggested for the U.S. above. Because they are developing countries we also need to add education for girls, raise the age of marriage, and provide microcredit for women.

These programs have already been successful for over 50 years, but funding is inadequate. We need about $2 billion a year for these programs, so little if you compare it to the $2 billion a week that we spend on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same kinds of people who stand in the way of contraception and sex ed in the U.S. are the ones who stand in the way of funding for international family planning.

Regarding reproductive health: when more women survive childbirth, they are less likely to think of themselves as baby machines. It gives them some respect getting health care, which saves many lives. Also, when a woman has her postnatal visit, the midwife asks if she wants to space her births, which she almost always does, so that’s when she receives contraception. In, fact, that is almost the same way I got started on contraception, after Rose was born and modern contraception was new.

Anyway, what we need is advocacy for funding – there are many opportunities if you are interested. doclink

Frequently Asked Questions

May 2011   WOA website – asked by Codey1. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

2. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

3. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

4. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

5. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

6. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

7. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

8. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

9. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

10. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

11. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students).

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

I hope I have been of help.

What do Bigots Dream?

Just thinking about orders or organizations like the KKK.  Just the fact that people of equal beliefs (in how the world SHOULD be according to their view) exist in numbers great enough to form whole organizations. That’s scary. That’s a lot of hate.

To the members of the KKK specifically I would ask… why?   Nursing hatred is an accurate term because hatred needs to be fed.  And you feed it from within.  It depletes you.  It needs energy and fuel, and it needs to grow to survive.  Where there is hate it is next to impossible for love to exist.  Tenderness.   Caring.  Compassion.  Because hate hardens the heart, and burns away every other feeling.

That said, I’m trying to imagine this glorious utopia that would exist if such a group had its way.  Seriously.  This is just what I’m imagining a bigot might want to make his country his own again, and of course in the below example my bigot is a white male because I’m imagining he is KKK.   As I hope most of us understand bigots can be either gender and come in any color.  But what I see of hate spam email I sometimes get….a lot of it expresses indignation by whites toward non whites or people of other ancestries/languages.

So ok, what would be the possible changes we might see if the KKK or people like them (skin-heads, the more extreme conservative Christians, etc.,) could have their way.

Well, all or most people who aren’t white enough would be kicked out of the country, for starters.  Doesn’t matter if your grandparents or even their grandparents were born here in the good old US.  Doesn’t matter if the only language you speak or have ever learned is English and you have a respectable job in a nice neighborhood and drive a nice car and your kids are straight A students in school.  You’d be out.  Sent packing.  Because your skin isn’t white.  Because you clearly are therefore UN-American.

Doesn’t matter if you or your mom or dad or their parents fought or maybe even died fighting for this country in a war, either.  You’d be pointed in the general direction of the country where your ancestors are assumed to have originated from and you’d be told to “go home.”  Most likely you’d be allowed to pack a few suitcases but, really, with the guys swarming around your yard in white cloaks and throwing bricks and burning crosses, and brandishing guns & threatening your children, how motivated would you be to abandon your stuff to save yourself?

That’s if you’re lucky.  Some might not be so lucky.  Some might be told they can only stay if they give up their right to person-hood, their right to consider themselves human beings.  They’d be told you can stay but you’ll live in only crappy neighborhoods, only allowed to earn under minimum wage (if that) and be limited to menial labor type jobs, and you’d only be permitted to breed in small numbers.  Your kids, if they are allowed to learn to read or write, would never make it past the six grade, and certainly any hope of college would be cease to be.   You of course would not be able to use the same doorways as white people, or drinking fountains, or even go into many restaurants you used to enjoy.

Again, that’s if you’re lucky.  Perhaps those guys in white cloaks would deny you even the chance to live in slums and live independently.  Perhaps instead you’d be reduced to being thought of as livestock and forced to work for free, facing the terrifying possibility of being whipped or beaten to death or lynched or burned or have your ears, fingers and genitals cut off if you should try to run away.

As for women, well ladies, forget being able to vote.  Why would we need to, anyway, right?  We have our husbands to do it for us.  Or at least the 50% of women in this country who happen to be married do.  I’m sure we’d lose our right to own property.  Perhaps we too would be denied a higher education.   Certainly we’d be denied enough right of person-hood to have any say over what happens to our bodies.  We’d be forced to carry babies whether we want to have a baby or not.  In that way we’d be breeding stock, and of course this is a good thing because it would mean more white babies in a world where white people are (horror of horrors) fast becoming a minority.

I’d say too there’d be no inter-racial marriage anymore–in fact anyone of any other color just looking at a white woman would probably meet with a terrible end.   But would there even BE people of other races allowed to live here anymore?  Possibly not.

Let’s see.  What about the pros to living in this country once all the UN-Americans are driven out or taken control of?  There’d be less people here for one.  A lot less people.  Your opinion would again be the voice of the majority.  You could decide who gets to be successful and who does not.  Male only clubs would thrive once again and women would be denied the chance to play most sports.  White males would have their land of opportunity for ALL back but for only themselves to enjoy again.   Everyone else would be put in their place.   Children would address adult men as “sir,” and little girls would only be allowed to wear dresses and only cross their ankles.

As for gays, sorry guys and gals, but you’d be out too.  But in a much more permanent way, I’m afraid.  Because, you see, you are an abomination in the eyes of God, so you’d be perfectly okay to slaughter on sight–in fact they might put a bounty on you to encourage your demise until you return to hiding in closets and pretending with all your might to be something else.

Witches too, I’m thinking, would be in danger, or really anyone with a faith that isn’t the national religion, which of course would be Christianity in its most conservative form.  The bible would be taken literally.  Women would not be allowed to speak in church or instruct or have any authority over men (sorry Sarah Palin).   Women who committed adultery (or raped without crying out in a city) would be killed or severely punished, while the men could do whatever they please….

Hmmm.   Have I left anything out?

Of course I’m exaggerating here.  But by how much?  What do bigots dream?  If this country is so not right to them, what would they change about it?   What would they want to keep the same?  How far back in time would our society plummet?   What would be required to make them content?  I’m pretty sure i can safely bet that English would become THE only language permitted.   Of course if you’re lucky you might still be allowed to speak your native tongue in the privacy of your own home.  I’m also pretty sure discrimination would be okay to openly demonstrate/practice again.  Women would go back to having lower wage secretarial type jobs.  And as I said above, minorities would find their rights greatly diminished–assuming they’re even allowed to still live in this country.

So ok, this is getting long.  I was just in the mood to have a rant this morning and now I have.  Yes, I am white and yes, I also sometimes find having to hear Spanish and other languages being spoken around me rather annoying.  But nothing in this world remains the same.  It’s too bad that it can’t be the way it was–back in the day when immigrants came to the United States to become Americans rather than be whatever nationality they are, here.   Used to be immigrants would gradually learn the national language and become, well, Americans.

Perhaps this newest wave will too, eventually. At one point when Europeans first came here, Irish, Norwegian, German, etc., they too spoke their own language and were discriminated against by others who did not.  How many generations passed before they were mostly speaking English too?   I like to think that the great melting pot is still what it is, and we just happen to be seeing a new wave of first generation immigrants coming into our country.   Do we open our arms to them and adapt, which is what America has been tooting its horn about that this is what our nation stands for?  Hoping they too will make some effort to adapt to us rather than try to replace us which may be how it also seemed when the first non-English speaking Europeans came here?   Yes, our country will change.  Nothing stays the same, ever.  We have new cultures now pouring into the mix.  But this is America.   Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and the equal chance to pursue happiness for all.

Or I would like to hope.

Two Kinds of Human???

I’m not going to bore people with long paragraphs copied and pasted from other websites written by people who actually know what they’re talking about.  For me it’s an interesting subject and so I’ve read up a little.  If you want facts rather than my just throwing out thoughts of things I’ve read, there’s this thing called GOOGLE.  You can Google the various words for one kind of human.  They range from psychopath, sociopath, antisocial personality disorder.  If you want the facts, and why the terms referring to the same personality type have changed over the years, you can read about it too, like I did.

So here are my thoughts about the two kinds of human that exist.   Most of us know there are two kinds.  We don’t need some psycho-babble label for it.   There are givers and takers.  I think we’d all agree on that–I’m sure every human being has met both.  So what makes a taker a taker and a giver a giver?  And what about users?  Are they just like takers, or…something else?

Not to say being a giver is always a good thing.  A lot of givers give in order to get, whether it be a thing, or a feeling, or attention, or love, or shelter or security, or children, or whatever.  A lot of people with low self esteems are givers–perhaps because they feel they have to compensate for not being enough.  I do that myself, and have done for years, making me a prime target for…that other kind of human.   But I digress.  Some people feel they have to give to fulfill their part of a contract or agreement.  For example. say I’m married to you so we have sex (or at least early on we do until I tire of it), even though I don’t like sex and could live the rest of my life without it.  Yes believe it or not, some people, men and women alike, don’t like sex.  But they want to be married, they want love, they want a family and all the joys that come from having a family and companionship, so…they put up with the sex.  They learn to enjoy things about it like…being close to the person they love.  But the act itself…they could take or leave.

That’s a giver giving because he or she believes it’s part of the arrangement.  Part of getting what they want means giving what the other person wants.  The bad thing about this kind of giving is eventually the giver gets tired–and then perhaps that happy situation starts falling apart.

There are also those really wonderful noble people who truly love to give purely for the joy of giving and not to get anything back or achieve any agenda.  This is a rare type of giver.  Most people who give, if they are going to be completely honest with themselves, are giving hoping for something, whether it be a closer friendship with someone, or to show someone they care, or to repay someone for a kindness given…something.  Most people give for some kind of reason, and some are very good reasons.  Giving to the poor or less fortunate.  In cases like this what do you get?  You get the happy feeling that comes from knowing you helped someone.  Same thing when you find a hurt animal and rush it to the vet.   You’re not going to get anything for the act of kindness…you might even have to pay a hefty vet bill for an animal that isn’t even yours.  But you get that feeling, and to some of us that feeling is a wonderful reward.

So what are takers?   I think the line between giver and taker is rather blurred.  A giver can also be a taker, if my above thoughts are correct.   Any time I give hoping to receive or achieve something, in that way I’m passively being a taker.  I think all of us are takers to some degree, just like I think all takers can also be givers.

So are there two kinds of human, or are we all capable of being both at any given time? Well, I do think we’re all capable, but I also think from what I’ve read, there are significant differences between the person with (most modern term for it) antisocial personality disorder, and well, the rest of us.

In the cetacean family there are two types of killer whale.  The Orca, which is the whale you see mostly along the Puget Sound here in Washington State, or at Sea World, unfortunately, where these massive creatures will hopefully teach our young to appreciate the beauty and value of other life forms.  But there is also the Sentient Killer Whale…and I’m hoping I have the term right.  It’s been a long time since I took that cetacean class at the UW.  Again I digress.   Sentient killer whales travel in pods that are more like wolf packs.  Or they might also hunt alone. They prey on larger baleen whales, and on seals or sea lions.  Red meat is part of their diet.  Whales of this sub-group of Killer Whale, again if my memory serves me, swim virtually silent in their pods, whereas the Orca pods like what you see in Free Willy communicate back and forth as they travel along.

Are there predatory people and people who unwittingly transmit signals they are easy prey?  I believe so.  From what I read of persons with antisocial personality disorder (and there are different levels to this from mild to extreme), they are either lacking in a conscience or are deaf to it.   When I say conscience I mean that little inner voice that tells us something is right or wrong, and makes us feel badly after we unwittingly or deliberately hurt or wrong someone.

An extreme example of someone without a conscience–Albert Fish the cannibal from the early 20’s who preyed on and ate little children.  He is what inspired the Hannibal Lector character in Silence of the Lambs.  Add to this list any person who goes around brutally killing or raping people…likely this is a person who sees weaker people as prey or mere objects to use or manipulate, or enjoys feeling power over another person.  This is the classic psychopathic personality people think of when they hear the word psychopath, and why the term has been changed because, probably 90% or more of people with antisocial personality disorder live next door, or work on your same floor, or ride in your carpool, or go with you on hunting trips, or drive your Taxi cab or style your hair or meet you at the bar to play pool.   Sociopaths, or the more recent term antisocial personality disorder, are users, as opposed to just takers.  We’re all takers, just as we’re all hopefully givers, even if sometimes for self serving reasons.  But users?  People who prey on the gullibility of others, take advantage of the desire to help that some of us have, or do good to prove our worth…these are the psychopaths who live among us every day.  They are con artists.  They are parasites who find lonely women (or men) to befriend and let care for them, buy for them, do for them.  They are people who marry the older wealthy widower or widow for the money and then somehow manage to walk away with their pockets full.

A great example of a lesser sociopath, and by lesser I mean one who isn’t a serial killer, read or watch “The Stoning of Soraya M.”  If you can stomach it, that is, and it’s a movie I watched that I will never watch again.  Soraya’s husband is a monster.  Literally.  If there is a word for the slime around the base of toilets, that would be him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stoning_of_Soraya_M.

There are lots of examples of users.   The guy who gets a girl drunk (or visa versa) and then works for an hour to guilt trip him or her into having sex, or the person who convinces you to take him or her home and then you wake up in the morning and find your apartment’s cleaned out.   Users like what you have and want it, so they pretend to be your friend.  They let you assume what isn’t true, and let you come to trust what shouldn’t be trusted, and then they walk away laughing, leaving you feeling like a fool.

And they don’t feel guilt.  You can cry and try to make them see what it’s done to you, their actions, and they feel nothing.  They don’t understand, quite honestly, what the big fuss is, or why you’re upset.  Their conscience is clear–because they don’t have one.

So that’s my little thing about the two kinds of human.  I don’t know if really there are two kinds.  But I do know I read that something like one in every three men tend to have some degree of antisocial personality disorder and one in every five women.  So the people like myself with low self esteems wanting to please please please in order to have friendship, caring, love…really need to ask ourselves what signals we are putting out there.  Do we walk around with a big SCREW ME OVER neon sign on our foreheads?  How much using do we have to endure before we realize that it sucks to be someone’s prey and it’s better to be a little less trusting–a little more lonely.  Sometimes lonely is better than giving your trust to a sociopath.  Yes, really.

Can Heathens Have Integrity?

Let’s see.  Definition of Integrity:  1. Strict adherence to a standard of value or conduct.  2.  Personal honesty and independence.  3.  Completeness: unity   4.  Soundness

Can someone like myself who does not believe in supernatural beings have a standard of value or conduct?   I think so.  Long before the religions we know of today existed there was knowledge or a sense of right and wrong–the idea of what Christians call the golden rule.   You knew it when something upset you or hurt you.  You knew how it felt to be hurt.  So you had that as your guide how to treat with others.  Everyone knew what a fair trade looked like. People knew even without religion when to hold back the whole truth to spare someone’s feelings.  Native Americans running through the woods with their bows had friendships with each other, would fight and die to protect someone they cared about, or to protect their land, their way of life, or the harmony they revered with nature that sadly doesn’t exist anymore.  Even as far back as the Neanderthal there is evidence to show early human beings cared for their elderly, wounded and/or sick.

So yes, I do think the godless can have a standard of value or conduct.  I do not spit in the faces of people who displease me.  I do not run through the streets with a sword hacking at people.  I do not steal and I try really hard not to take advantage of or use people.  I try to be kind.  I try to treat others as I would like to be treated.  This is not difficult for me.  For me it’s merely doing what feels right.  So yes, I think, heathen though I be, I do possess some integrity according to this definition.

Personal honesty and independence?  What a strange combination, those two words.  What does honesty have to do with independence?  And what does independence have to do with honesty?

Ever…ignore what you really feel strongly about inside…and instead stand in agreement of something you know is wrong?   Join your friends in some activity you don’t feel right about, but you do it anyway because you want them to like you and you want to fit in?  I think that has to do with having personal dishonesty with yourself, and giving up your own independence–what you know in your heart is right–for the sake of some dependency you feel on having friends or keeping friends.  Someone with integrity will step away from the crowd holding stones ready to execute someone, and that person will say no, this is wrong. I’m not going to do this.  Even if it means the crowd suddenly hates him.  Even if it means it might cost him his own life.

That is honesty.  Being honest.  Not being afraid to be honest.  Putting who you are and what you really feel you stand for ahead of being something you’re not or being something less than who you are to fit in, not attract negative attention, etc.   That’s how I think the two words honesty and independence stand together to mean integrity.   You have to have independence to be that one who doesn’t follow the herd.  To be the one who says I’m taking a different road in order to be honest with who I am and what I have in my heart.

Can a heathen (and when I say heathen I mean specifically a person who has no religion or little to no belief in the supernatural (because many Native American tribes accused of being “heathen” were in fact very spiritual), have this combination of honesty and independence?  Yes, I think so.   Is it hard to achieve?  Yes it is–for both the godly and ungodly (ever wonder what godly means  from the examples we are given?).  Really, who wants to step in front of an angry blood-thirsty mob and risk being pelted to death with stones to make a stand–just to say something isn’t right?  How many of us, heathen or otherwise, have that kind of courage to achieve that level of integrity?   I won’t claim I could.  Oh yes, maybe if it was a dear friend or my child or someone I loved or a relative.  But put my life in jeopardy to save a stranger just for the sake of standing up for what I believe in?  I would certainly hope I could do it, but honestly–such an act would be exceedingly difficult for anyone with a strong instinct of self-preservation.  And what that means, I think; some definitions of integrity are harder to possess than others.

Completeness.   Another interesting word.  What is it to be complete?  Is a religious person any more complete than a non-religious person?  I’d like to say I’m complete, but I really think as long as I am wanting or needing anything I don’t already have, I’m not complete.  I should be happy with what I have.  Obviously it’s enough because here I am successfully surviving.  So why do I look around for more?  Why do I wish I had a garage for my car or a better floor in my kitchen, or a guy friend who isn’t romantically interested that I can just be myself with and be one of the guys with?

To be completely satisfied with everything and to no longer have any wants, needs, wishes, goals or destinations you’re trying to reach or accomplish, is to become stagnant and stop moving forward.   So in a way I think completeness is not altogether a good thing.  What is completeness?   Do I need to be married to be complete?  Do I need to have a child?  Do I need closeness with a supernatural being?

How do we define it?  Completeness?   I think the definition is bound to be different for every person.   I think completeness comes when you’re comfortable in your own skin.  You no longer care what other people think.  You’re happy with your life and what you have and you don’t feel you have to compete with Bob your neighbor or have such and such car to create the right image.  You don’t need outer trappings to give impressions, real or false.  You don’t need that kind of crutch.   You don’t need to go to church just so others will see or believe you’re a good person.  You don’t have to do or say things all the time to prove to others or yourself that you are.  You just are, and you’re happy in your existence and in the world.   You do still have desires, but you can be happy with or without them.  Take or leave them.  You have goals but you have a plan B or even a plan C if plan A doesn’t pan out.   Life happens and you enjoy the ride.  You enjoy what you are and are true to who you are.  That I feel, is completeness.  Whatever it takes to get you there.  If you need that special someone.  If you need a child.  If you need religion…that’s because you’ve decided those things are very important to you and you need them to feel happy and complete.  Do you really?  Only you can know and no one else.   So yes, I think the godless can reach the point where they feel completeness or completed.  I think anyone can.  And that is, according to my Webster II dictionary, another definition of integrity.  I also think it’s another one perhaps very elusive–very difficult for many of us to achieve, find, or possess.

Unity?   I’m going to skip over that one. I think unity and completeness are similar enough in their definition that the above thoughts I just tried to write, applies equally to both.

Soundness.   Ah yes, the most interesting definition of all, i think.  What is soundness?  I hear that word and I think of horses.   A sound horse is strong in his bones, tendons and muscles.  He carries his weight evenly and steadily on all four feet.  He can jump, land squarely, carry weight, pull a load, go the distance, endure.  He is not weak.  He is not going to be sore or fall lame from a day of being worked.  He is in shape.  He is fit.  He is reliable and dependable to perform the tasks put to him.  He is sound.

Applying this idea to human beings, I think for a person to be “sound” you would have to be someone who is reliable, there for friends or family in times of need, dependable, a shoulder to lean on.  A fair weather friend would not meet this definition.  A person who is a friend because he or she wants something from you…wouldn’t fit that definition either because he or she would vanish the moment their agenda is achieved.  Someone who is there even when it takes work, even when it’s inconvenient, even when it’s uncomfortable….   That friend who cares for you when you’re sick, or takes you to the hospital so you can have surgery when you have no one else who can drive you….   The friend who doesn’t stumble, who doesn’t turn away when adversity comes, but who after a rest now and then (because soundness is only maintained if this person first and foremost takes care of him/herself!), keeps coming back, keeping his feet, his balance and being true to who he is, and those who come to trust in him.

Again, I think any one regardless of their religious beliefs or non beliefs, can be “sound.”   There are other definitions of soundness as well, yes, but this is getting long and my fingers are cramping up.  I maintain however, that any other definition of soundness, if written down and scrutinized, would result in a same or similar conclusion that anyone can be sound–again supporting my theory that anyone can have integrity, regardless of what they believe or don’t believe.

Bigotry–Being Uncomfortable About Someone Different.

Bigot   “One fanatically devoted to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and intolerant of those who differ.”  Such is the definition of the word in my badly abused and taped together Webster’s II dictionary.

Pretty much we all know what a bigot is, or what bigotry looks like.  But I had a friend yesterday point out something to me–bigotry I am experiencing personally in my life, toward me.

When I think of a bigot I think of someone intolerant of someone of a different race, or religion or sexual preference.  People tend to shun, avoid, stereotype, etc., people who look or think or act differently.   Differences they don’t understand make people uncomfortable, and rather than feel uncomfortable which is often unpleasant, people try to avoid contact altogether with that person or persons, rather than try to understand, and in working to understand, learn tolerance or maybe even appreciation for what is different.

People who are depressed are different.  We don’t think the same, or react the same.  We behave irratically or are overly emotional sometimes.  We might blow things out of proportion, or just seem whiny or petulant or childish.  We might be high maintenance or act like drama queens.  We might be needy or fearful or paranoid or laugh at the wrong times, or cry at the wrong times.  Because depression is a chemical imbalance–it alters how efficiently our brain processes thoughts and feelings.

Meds do help.  Talking over our problems help.  But this is a physical illness, not a series of bad days or just not loving ourselves enough.   We can’t wave a magic wand and say ok I”m normal now.   Some people with depression have to battle it all their life.  For others it comes and goes–people have episodes.   Not everyone knows it when they have depression.  In fact sometimes the ill person is the very last to know.  All they might know is, it’s harder to get out of bed.  It’s harder to deal with social situations.  It’s harder to multi-task.  It’s harder to care about one’s appearance or eating healthy food, or going to the dentist twice a  year, or keeping the house clean.  It’s harder to smile.  It’s harder to look someone in the eye.  It’s harder to believe you are likable.  It’s harder to believe you have any worth.

Little things happen that add to this belief about self too, and the self esteem does, over time, slowly collapse.   The person perceives they are different–they perceive that others around them are being treated differently than they are.  They start to understand they are not someone people want to talk to, or be close to.  They are being avoided.  They are being shunned.  No one seems to like them.  What friends they did have, don’t want to deal with them anymore.  

All these things only add to the problem, create more unbearable hurt on a person already in pain.   This process of being avoided by others–being seen as different because your demeanor is not the same–isn’t this a form of bigotry?  The person with depression experiencing bigotry for making people uncomfortable because of being sick?

Bigotry hurts, in all it’s forms.  No one asks to be sick and everyone who is sick is trying very hard, every day, to feel better.  A society that shuns the ill because they make the healthy uncomfortable…all that does is make it harder to be ill, and harder to get better.   Depression is an illness and it’s one that’s unfortunately here to stay.  There are some really wonderful, loving people in the world that suffer from this illness.  People with good things to offer.  People with something to say and plenty of love to give.   By shunning anyone for being different, we are, as a society, not only making the hurt so much worse for the person or persons, we are cheating ourselves of the potential, the treasure that might be lurking just under the surface–if only we offered a hand instead of turning our backs.   In every garden a seed has the potential to grow or die–and that potential is up to the gardener.   Not all gardens are blessed with healthy soil.  Some seeds are sown in rocky soil, or sandy soil, where the ability to flourish is harder.  Do we give up on those gardens?  Pull those plants that have to struggle more to bloom, or let the weeds choke them to death?  Or do we give a little more work, a little more love–sprinkle on a little more fertilizer so that garden too might bloom and bring smiles to those who see it?

Our society is a garden.  We can help it grow or let it die.  Whatever we decide, starts with how we tend the flowers.

Growing Up Plain

I have a friend (guy) who helped open my eyes to how people are asssigned value in this culture.   He is average, however he decided one day in college he’d hang out more with beautiful people.  He told me about a girl-friend he had in college whom he broke up with.  I asked him why and his response was, “I thought I could do better.”

Better.   As in…better looking, I presume?   And better-looking = better, apparently?

I read a statistic once that ugly or not-so-cute babies are held less and fussed over less than cute ones are.  I believe this.  I believe from birth to death, people born with the disadvantage of not having the best genes, suffer a lot more hurts than the people who are deemed “better.”

I used to think it was because I was tall.   I watched one man I had a crush on, go out of his way to comfort a cute, petite woman after her boyfriend dumped her.  Rather than hang out with the rest of our group after a show, he went to sit with her in a car for, oh I don’t know, over a half hour.  Being concerned.  Holding her hand, perhaps, or just giving her the comfort of his presence.  She wasn’t interested in him, but he was attracted to her, and oh boy, could he be caring.

This same guy, once he learned I had developed feelings for him, started living with me 24/7 even though he had his own apartment down the street.  This was right after his cat died and at first I thought he just needed comforting, which I was very ready to give.  He slept on my couch and stayed in my home to cat-sit my cats when I was away.  Because he started doing this right after he learned I had feelings for him, I thought it meant he reciprocated in some small way.  Perhaps he was wanting to get to know me.  Perhaps he cared.  Definitely I assumed from this behavior I had made a friend in this man.

After about 8 months of this I came home one day from work in tears.  I had just learned at work that my mom had a stage 4 cancer near her colon and would need to have surgery and chemo.  I sat on the couch with tears running down my face.  He was lying on the floor facing the television.  I told him in a choked voice what I had learned from a phone call at work about my mom.  He shot over his shoulder, without looking away from the TV, “oh, that’s too bad.” 

Silence.  I continued to sit there.  I was feeling ripped apart because this was a mom I had hoped my whole life to bond with, had striven my whole life to be someone she could love, who had been my only parent growing up, and i was afraid she was dying.   Did this man get up to come sit by my side, hold my hand, say something to comfort me or give me a hug?  No.  He watched TV.  I finally said something about needing a hug–he mistranslated that as something else and made it clear there would never be anything physical between us.  Yes, like that had been on my mind right then.

I’m a big girl– 5’10”.  I’m also average looking.  I’m one of those people who if I really try, I can clean up nice, but I am not a beauty and I highly doubt I could ever be cute.   Once again, as I had discovered my whole life, it wasn’t bad for me to feel sad and cry.  It didn’t create feelings of concern or sympathy or compassion in this man I had opened my home to and allowed to stay with me who I had thought was my friend.   It was like I wasn’t even in the room.

This is the kind of thing I have lived with my whole life.  I had a crisis happen to me about two years ago and I thought my world was coming to an end.  I had this guy who told me he preferred to hang out with beautiful people in college, call me long distance and try to talk me out of killing myself–it was probably the worst day of my life.  He reassured me I hadn’t lost his friendship just because this bad very unfair thing had happened I had not asked for, and we’d still be in touch.  Long story short…the things he said didn’t happen.  He was too busy with his job and his life and his battles.  It was hard for me to have to accept the fact all my worst fears had been true.  I would not see this friend as much as before–I would not get to know him and his wife so much as before.

But then after a year of not seeing this friend because of this unfair thing that happened to me, there he is suddenly wanting to help out another friend of his–a beautiful woman who needed his help.  Suddenly he had the time, could walk side by side with her and be there for her.

It made me remember what he said about preferring beautiful women and it stirred up a lot of old hurt for me–made me fear I was an embarrassment to him; someone he didn’t want to be seen with.

All the times I grew up having to learn that for average or plain people it isn’t true–you can’t be anything you want if you put your mind to it.  You can’t be a cheerleader if you’re plain.  You can’t be in a beauty contest.  Your ability to become a lead singer of a rock band is less.  Your chance to act on stage and certainly your chances to be a leading lady, are less.  Do you have any hope of being a sports reporter if you’re a woman and plain, or overweight?  Doubtful.  Will there ever be a woman president, maybe.  But a plain woman president…doubtful.  Just look at all the attention that was given Palin for her looks.

Bottom line, our society prefers beautiful people.   Go to DisneyLand and ask one of their artists to draw your portrait in pastel colors–you will find your image deliberately doctored to make you look rather like you could fit in well with the Mickey Mouse Club.  My nose was suddenly little and perky.  Every flaw like my strong chin was softened.  I looked beautiful in that portrait.  It didn’t look like me.  So I asked the artist and she told me that’s how they are told to draw the pictures.  Because apparently the world according to Disney needs to be perfect and beautiful.  Go and watch the movie “War Horse” (terrible film in my opinion) and you’ll see more of this same attitude.  Every person in this film is physically beautiful.  Even the poor farmer doesn’t have dirt on his clothes.  

I remember once in grade school.  I was the poor kid in my class.  I had only one parent so I wore hand-me-downs and ugly coke bottle glasses.   I had crooked teeth, and a brother who was a bully and everyone knew it.   So I was not among the beautiful people.  I was one of several outcasts in my school.

One day we were in PE playing baseball on a hard field of red gravel.  I was running the bases and a pretty blonde girl named Melinda tripped me.  On my way to a crushing fall I side-swiped her with my shoulder and she went down as well.  I stood up crying, both knees bloody with red rock imbedded under the skin, and the same with the palms of my hands.  She stood up covered with red dust but no cuts, no bruises, no wounds.  The class gathered around her.  Even the PE teacher went to her.  She was escorted to the bathroom to clean up.  I walked behind them crying with blood running into my socks.  Not a single person so much as noticed me.  

That was the day I realized–it wasn’t just the cruelty of kids; even adults have more sympathy toward the fallen, possibly hurt beautiful little girl than the definitely hurt big and plain one. 

I also noticed growing up…when cute pretty girls cried….it generated hugs and sympathy and fussing over.  When big plain people cry, it’s just ugly.  It’s…annoying.  Or maybe funny.  Humorous.   Big girls shouldn’t cry.  Big girls should be stronger than that.  Big girls don’t need comforting.  They don’t need protecting.  And certainly big plain girls don’t.

This is what I learned very early in life.  “I learned the truth at 17.  That love was meant for beauty queens.  And High School girls with clear skinned smiles, who married young and then retired.”   That’s how the song goes.  Only for me I learned the truth at about age 8, and I have been living in it ever since.

At a bar one day I had a bartender accidentally spill a pint of beer into my lap.  I took it like a good sport.  Stood up and even tried to help them wipe the counter off (they did that before they thought to offer me a towel), and laughed at the blunder.  But then after about 20 minutes it became clear to me no one was going to apologize for the fact i had beer all over my velvet blouse and pants.  I said something to the head bartender.  He said “oh well, accidents happen.”

I had been at that bar waiting for a friend and now I smelled like a brewery.  I had to drive home and change and come back–about 20 miles round trip at a time gas was through the roof expensive.  Not a soul at that restaurant seemed to think this was a bad thing.  No one apologized.  Not even the manager when I went to him.  No one offered to cover my dry cleaning bill.  No one thought about the fact it cost of gas for me having to go home and change.

I have seen beautiful women or even just pretty women have something dumped on them.  Any one of the women around me at this bar in fact–had the same thing happened to them, people would have been falling all over themselves to apologize, to offer her a towel, to perhaps offer her a drink or meal on the house to make amends.  Something.   But that’s not how it happened for me.  Funny thing.

I used to think it had to do with the fact i’m tall, and big women don’t elicit the same kind of response as little cute women do.  But I have a friend who is very little–but plain.  One day she was carrying a big case of water bottles up a flight of stairs and a male friend of mine walked past her–said hello as he did, and kept going.   I watched this and thought, now if this same little person had been younger and cute or pretty, how different it would be.  This man would have stopped–in fact he would have hurried toward her to help her, take the heavy load from her arms and carried it for her.  But I think it was because she wasn’t young, and wasn’t pretty, that she did not inspire this kind of response.

I think it’s hurtful to be the one dumped because someone feels they can do better.  I think it’s hurtful to be ignored when one is hurting because one is not cute or pretty or little or whatever it is that deserves a caring response.   I never understand it when little women tell me they wish they were tall.  I look at them and think how lucky they are.  The only thing worse than being big is being plain and big–plain and big I think might be worse than being plain and little.  Especially if you’re a woman.

It’s really too bad people can’t see beyond physical appearance and see a person’s heart, see the beauty that isn’t skin deep, and the worth all of us have just as living breathing, unique human beings.  Beauty is in all of us.  Sometimes you have to look into someone’s eyes.   I met a woman at a restaurant where I work who had a rather profound disfigurement.  So profound I had to take a breath before I looked at her, so I could control the look on my face.  I found out something interesting about this woman.  After the initial contact, I found out she was truly a kind and sweet, nice person.  I found I saw beauty when I looked in her eyes.  And suddenly it wasn’t so hard to look at her.  Suddenly I didn’t see her disfigurement so much.  Instead I saw a person, and someone I could like.

What is the difference between being “better,” and being someone of quality?   Does someone who judges people’s value according to their age, size, looks, or how popular they are, have quality?   Is that a kind of person I would want to be.  No.

Depression & Addiction. Would Die To Make Them Stop.

Making it stop, making an end.  Every day that crosses my mind.    Being atheist removes the unnatural dread of death for me that religion creates.  i was hit on the head with ice-skates once and I remember how that was.  I fell, saw my older brother fall to try to avoid hitting me, his skate came up–darkness.  That was it.  I didn’t feel the cut of the blades across my forehead, leaving a -1 scar that would last for many years.   I don’t recall the throng of people who gathered around or my Aunt Eve placing my head in her lap.  What I do remember is waking with blood in my eyes and wondering where all the people had come from.

In that moment of black out, time stopped for me.  The time it took for those people to gather round, and for my Aunt who was an RN, to show up.   There was no pain from the blow, no fear or distress.  I was completely unaware.   And now I’m thinking, that is death.  Or that is how death is if in fact all the hopes in an afterlife we humans like to hold dear, are false.

Is that so bad?   One friend put it very well.   “I didn’t mind not existing all the millions of years before I was born, why should i mind not existing after I die?”  

Or if there’s an afterlife, and evidence doesn’t disprove it any more than it proves it, I really do think it’s a natural condition same as our physical life is a natural condition.  There are no hoops to jump through.  No holy rituals one must complete.  No giant man god in the sky who’s unending ego must be appeased.   It’s just something that comes after the darkness, after the body shuts down, when the energy leaves the body and who knows, perhaps takes with it a little echo of what we are.

Why do I sometimes wish to die?   Because I have depression, and because people with depression are subjected to a stigma.  Now if I had cancer, or heart disease or any other physical illness, I am quite sure my friends or the people who cared, would still be there for me.  But any form of mental illness, which, by the way, is just as much a physical illness people can’t help as cancer or heart disease or anything else, is not the same.   Having any sort of mental illness effects the way your brain works. It effects the way your thoughts come across in your head.   Mental illness distorts your thoughts, or makes your brain less efficient at processing them.   Little problems seem huge.   Or at least that’s how it is with depression and anxiety disorders.   The person with these illnesses, reacts differently than people without them.  And in doing so, drives friends away at the precise time encouragement, support, and kindess would help the most.

I used to love my life.  I used to laugh and look forward to new experiences.  I engaged in the world around me.   Since depression has cost me the few friends I have, and left me feeling outcast and unwanted at a time I could really use some support, I find myself with nothing to look forward to.  The friends i miss, do not miss me.  Because I was a burden to them.  I didn’t mean to be, but I was and people do get tired, even nice, well meaning people.   But unlike them I am unable to abandon myself, and so on I must plod mostly alone, understanding that my illness is punishing me by taking away my already small ability to have/keep friends. 

Or so it seems.    So every day I must fight to find reasons to get out of bed.  This is what depression is.   I find there are a lot of addictions in the world that hide behind labels calling them something else.  In addition to the known addictions like cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, there is also addiction to anything else that we might use as a crutch to get through our day.  Many people are addicted to work, and the feeling of success and worth it brings.  Or people can be addicted to people, which I was.  I was addicted to how wonderful it made me feel being around people who treated me like I was okay too, like I was wanted and liked and cared for.  I loved how that felt.  I loved how it made me feel.  I didn’t want to lose that, and when I did it tore me apart; what little I had left of happiness fell to pieces, and why is that?  Because I had a dependency on other people to give me that warm fuzzy feeling I loved so much.   I went years hoping to have the company of people I respected who seemed to actually like me and accept me flaws and all, and having people like that, knowing people like that, gave me happiness I hadn’t felt for a very long time, if ever.

This was a nice thing for me at the time, but it had a negative side.  Without knowing it, I became addicted to that.  I never developed any ability to make my happiness on my own.  I needed something on the outside to make it for me, other people to make it for me.   And people get tired of making happiness for someone else.  It’s hard enough learning how to make happiness just for yourself–but to have someone else dependent on you for their happiness–that gets very tiresome after awhile.

So that was my addiction, and it helped ease my depression having those people, and then when I lost the support of those people, I fell to pieces, just as much as any heroin addict or alcoholic would fall to pieces cut off from his/her drug.

Another addiction of course, is religion.   That crutch that people need to feel good about themselves.   Doesn’t matter if no one else likes me, Jesus is always there–he will never forsake me.   Or…I wouldn’t be such a loving person as I am if I didn’t have Jesus.  Because of Jesus I am saved, because of Jesus I am not an abomination in god’s eyes anymore–a sinner.  I am a new being, born again.  I am saved.

See, I had that addiction too, but losing the people in my life I thought cared for me because I developed this illness, made me realize or become aware that people are not reliable or dependable.  Sometimes they’re not even what they seem to be.  And learning this about people I had grown to care for very much, made me want to remove any other falsehoods I didn’t realize existed, from my life.   Any crutch I might turn to like so many alcoholics turn from one addiction–alcohol–to another–religion. 

But I am not writing about religion.  I am writing about dependency and how easy it is to fall to addiction and dependency when you have depression, because with depression you will do and try anything to feel good.  To have a reason to get out of bed.  To not step in front of a train once you discover how to get on the tracks.   To not OD or jump off bridges or in front of Metro buses. 

People think it’s selfish and cowardice to comit suicide.  I submit that no one does so lightly.   The people who kill themselves have very likely gotten tired of trying and failing all the time, tired of succeeding and having no one notice.  Because really, it’s only the failures people notice who want to find fault with you–see only the disappointments in us to justify their actions in turning their backs when we needed them most.   And it’s the aloneness people can’t bear.  The feeling like nothing they do will ever be enough or help enough.  Death is scary–thanks to threats of hellfire or the fear of not existing anymore or…whatever, and many religions even threaten mentally ill people who die because of their mental illness are going straight to hell, so….it takes a lot of desperation to make someone, esp. a religious someone, suicidal.  It’s only when life is scarier and the pain becomes so unbearable that people want to kill themselves–just to make it stop, nevermind whatever fears they have.

It is hard work to love and care for a depressed person.  But it’s even harder work being in our shoes.  Because depression isn’t like a lot of other illnesses.  Many people don’t understand they have it.  Many people who do, don’t know how to regain control of their thoughts they can’t seem to manage anymore.  Everything seems huge.  Overwhelming.  You walk around feeling like a shattered vase just barely holding itself together–and if a strong wind comes you’ll fly to pieces across the road.  That’s depression.  When you want and need a loving heart to hold you, help you glue the cracks so you don’t fall apart, so you can at least function again even if you’ll never again look brand new.

But it’s work to care for someone with depression, or any mental illness.  It’s work.  Because just like AIDS or Hepatitis C or cancer or heart disease, depression isn’t fun, and it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t easy.  It hurts, and it kills just as readily as these other illnesses, and the person inflicted is just as wanting to be cured, to feel well again, as any other sick person.  But they have to go every day completely alone, feeling completely like they will never measure up or be loved or wanted or accepted or cared for–that they’ll never be whole enough again for such things.

Sometimes death seems better.  Sometimes I wish for the black oblivion I felt when those ice skates hit my face.  Even non-existence would be a gentle peace and an ending to a hurt I often find unbearable.  

And I could deny it that I think of death.  I could deny it to keep my friends from having to worry.  But that would be a falsehood too.  So instead I say every day I have to struggle to get out of bed, find a reason.  My reasons are my animals.  I have little animals who need me to go to work so I can feed and shelter and care for them.  These are my reasons, and really my only reasons.  Because my animals love me even when I’m struggling.  Even when I’m in pain.  Even when I’m damaged and I don’t know yet how to make me better.  My animals do not turn their back or judge me, and they are always there.  I can’t disappoint them.  I can’t let them down.  And they, in turn, are honest with me.  They never give me false hopes, or false caring.  They simply are what they are, and they love me.

This is my reason–because of my little animals.  I do not put my hopes in some world yet to come.  I don’t believe there is such a place.  And I do not turn to Jesus to make me happy, because that’s just one more crutch, one more addiction, one more hoping for something outside myself to make my world right for me.

Happiness, real happiness, doesn’t depend on things, or imaginary friends, or other people, or such and such working out just right.  Happiness is a decision.  A choice we must learn to make.  Those thoughts that seem so big and terrible, that the depressed or anxious person must battle every single day just to get through from dawn to dusk–only we can decide which ones to believe and which ones to reject, which ones we want to attach to and let them control our mood, our emotions, our life, and which ones we decide aren’t worthy of us.

Everyone hates me.  No one loves me.  All my friends were fake.  I’m not worth anyone standing up for and supporting me.   These are the thoughts I get every day that make me want to shrivel up and die.  Every single day.  These are the foes I battle.  And don’t talk religion with me.  It’s because of religion I have many of these thoughts now.  This programming I can’t be whole and healthy and good without the help of some god.  See, that’s not true.  I was born beautiful, and good, and perfect, and exactly what nature meant me to be.  I am a happy and wonderful, loving and good person.  All I have to do is believe it about myself.  Really believe it.  And not look outside myself for other things to make my happiness for me.

That is the key to survival for me.  The key to finding reasons to get through each day.  The reasons must come from within, from myself.  Not from drugs.  Not from therapy.  Not from self help books.  But from me.  Every day I need to make the decision which forces inside I want to control me–which thoughts I want to take seriously and which ones I want to recognize are just the bullshit religion I was fed or the negative  messages I let myself believe all my life from my mother or the people I liked who couldn’t like me.

Bible Morality or…????

http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/74-barbara-g-walker/649-bible-morality-or-depravity.html

 

Found the below on “FreeThought Nation” website:

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 16:40 Barbara G. Walker Contributing Writers Barbara G. Walker
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(Following are biblical verses compiled by independent comparative religion scholar and Freethought Nation guestwriter Barbara G. Walker, concerning the supposed “morality” of the Bible. The paraphrases and commentary are Barbara’s, while the original verses are linked. For more of Barbara’s Bible investigations, see MAN MADE GOD, especially the section on Bible Studies.)

BIBLE MORALITY (King James Version)

Compiled by Barbara G. Walker, author of Man Made God, et al.

1. KILLING.  (As in “Thou shalt not”…???)

The biblical god personally kills a total of 371,186 people, not counting his slaughter of every living thing in Genesis 7. The biblical god also orders the killing of a total of 1,862,265.

Gen 22:2 – God accepts human sacrifices (including that of Jesus, later).
Ex 12:29 – God kills all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.
Ex 15:3 – God is a god of war.
Ex 21:15, 17 – Anyone who strikes or curses a parent must be killed.
Ex 22:18 – Every witch must be killed.
Ex 22:19, 20 – You must kill anyone who “lieth with a beast,” or who worships any god other than Yahweh.
Ex 31:15 – Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be killed.
Lev 20:10, 13, 27 – You must kill adulterers, homosexuals, wizards and spirit mediums.
Lev 21:9 – Any priest’s daughter who fornicates must be burned alive.
Lev 24:16 – Blasphemers must be killed.
Num 16:27-33 – God caused the whole tribe of Korah — men, women, and children — to be buried alive.
Num 21:3 – God caused the destruction of all the Canaanites.
Numbers 31: The slaugher of the MidianitesNum 31:7-35 – God orders Moses to kill the Midianites, making sure to slaughter not only the men but also the boys and females, except for the 32,000 virgin girls.
Deut 3:4 – God is pleased that his warriors destroyed 60 cities.
Deut 7:16 – You must kill all the people God delivers into your hands, and “thine eye shall have no pity upon them.”
Deut 13:5 – Any prophet or “dreamer of dreams,” who serves another god, must be killed.
Deut 13:6-9 – If your brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend tempts you to worship other gods, “thou shalt surely kill him.”
Deut 13:13-15 – If the people of any city worship other gods, you must slaughter them all, including their cattle.
Deut 17:5 – Any man or woman who worships other deities of sun, moon or stars must be stoned to death.
Deut 18:20 – False prophets must be killed.
Deut 20:16-17 – God commands complete destruction of all Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, and “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.”
Deut 22:21 – A bride found not to be a virgin must be stoned to death.
Deut 22:22 – Adulterers must be killed.
Deut 22:23-24 – A girl who is raped within city limits, and fails to cry out, must be killed.
Deut 28:22-28 – If you don’t obey God’s commandments, he will punish you with consumption, fever, extreme burning, blasting, mildew, hemorrhoids, the scab, the itch, the botch of Egypt, etc., as well as “madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.”
Josh 6:21 – God’s warriors destroyed Jericho and killed every man, woman, child, and domestic animal.
Josh 8:25 – God’s warriors killed 12,000 people in the city of Ai.
Josh 19:47 – The children of Dan wanted more room, so they destroyed the whole population of Leshen and took their territory.
Judges 1:17-18 – Judah and Simeon utterly destroyed the populations of Zephath, Gaza, Askelon and Ekron.
Judges 11:39 – In accord with God’s law, Jephthah was forced to burn his virgin daughter to death as a sacrifice.
Judges 15:15 – God enables Samson to kill 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass.
Judges 20:46 – At Gibeah, Benjamin’s men killed 25,000 people and burned every town.
1 Sam 6:19 – God kills 50,070 people for trying to peek into the Ark.
1 Sam 15:3 – God commands the destruction of Amalek: “Slay both men and women, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
2 Sam 6:7 – God kills Uzzah for touching the Ark, even though he was trying to save it from falling off its oxcart.
1 Kings 18:40 – God commands the slaughter of “prophets of Baal”.
1 Kings 20:36 –  Because a man didn’t “obey the voice of the Lord,” a lion was sent to kill him.
2 Kings 2:24 – God sent bears to tear apart 42 children for making fun of Elisha’s bald head.
2 Kings 10:25 – God commands the killing of a multitude in the temple of Baal.
2 Kings 19:35 – God’s angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in a single night.
1 Chron 21:14 – God kills 70,000 Israelites with a pestilence.
2 Chron 15:13 – Any man or woman who refuses to “seek the Lord God of Israel” must be killed.
Job 1:15-19 – God arranges the killing of Job’s children, servants and animals.
Isa 13:16 – God promises that all the Babylonians’ children will be “dashed to pieces before their eyes;” their wives will be raped.
Isa 45:7 – God says “I create evil.”
Jer 48:10 – Killing for God is mandatory; God curses anyone who “keepeth back his sword from blood.”
Jer 50:21 – God commands that the people of Merathaim and Pekod be “utterly destroyed.”
Ezek 9:5-7 – God calls for purging in Jerusalem: “let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women… fill the courts with the slain.”
Ezek 35:8 – God promises to fill the mountains, hills, valleys and rivers with slain men.
Hosea 13:16 – God promises to have Samaritan infants dashed to pieces, and pregnant women will have their bellies slashed open.
Nahum 1:2 – God is jealous, full of vengeance and wrath.
Zeph 1:3 – God threatens to destroy everything, man and beast, birds and fishes.
Zeph 1:18 – “The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.”
Zeph 3:6 – God brags that he has destroyed many nations.
Zech 13:3 – A false prophet must be killed by his father and mother.

2. RAPE

Ex 21:7-8 – A father may sell his daughter to be a “maidservant” (or sex slave) who must “please her master.”
Num 31:7, 18 – God orders his warriors to kill every living thing in a captured city, except the virgin girls, who are to be raped and turned into sex slaves.
Deut 21:11-12 – If a warrior likes the look of a female war captive, he can take her to be one of his “wives.”
Deut 22:28-29 – A man who rapes a virgin may take her for a wife if he pays her father 50 shekels of silver. (Yet, a bride found not to be a virgin must be stoned to death – Deut 22:20-21).
Judges 5:30 – The spoils of war include “a damsel or two” for every man.
Judges 21:12-23 –  God’s warriors killed all the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead except for 400 virgin girls, who were taken as slaves. If there are not enough girls to go around, God’s warriors may raid neighboring towns for more to rape.

3. SLAVERY

Gen 9:25 – God cursed Ham, son of Noah, with perpetual slavery for the crime of seeing his father naked.  (Ham was formerly considered the ancestor of all “blacks.”)
Ex 21:4 – A male slave may marry and have children, and may go free after six years; but his family remains the property (or hostages?) of his master.
Ex 21:7 – A man may sell his daughter as a sex slave.
Ex 21:20-21 – A man may be punished for beating a male or female slave
to death, but if the victim survives the beating for a few days, then
there is no penalty.
Lev 19:20 – When a man has sex with a female slave (or “bondmaid”), SHE must be scourged.
Eph 6:5 – Paul says slaves must obey their masters “with fear and trembling.”
Titus 2:9 – Paul says slaves must obey and please their masters.
1 Tim 6:1 – Paul says slaves must “count their masters worthy of all honor.”

4. WAS JESUS ETHICAL?

Matt 5:28-32 – Jesus says marriage to a divorcee is adultery; and a man who ogles a woman has already committed adultery; and that you must cut off your hand or pluck out your eye if it offends.
Matt 6:19-34 – Jesus says don’t save any money and don’t plan ahead.
Matt 8:32 – Having no regard for private property, Jesus destroys a herd of someone else’s pigs.
Matt 10:34 – Jesus says he brings not peace on earth but “a sword.”
Matt 19:12 – Jesus says the best way for a man to be sure of getting into heaven is to have himself castrated.
Mark 11:13 – Jesus destroys a fig tree for not bearing figs out of season.
Mark 14:4-7 – Jesus says it is more important to anoint him with precious ointment than to give to the poor, who will always be here. (Why not just get rid of poverty?)
Mark 16:18 – Jesus says anyone who believes in him can play with venomous snakes or drink poison without harm. (This act has been often tried, with rather unsatisfactory results.)
Luke 12:47-48 – Jesus says it is permissible to whip slaves.
Luke 14:26 – Jesus says no man can be his disciple unless he hates his parents, siblings, wife, children, and himself as well.
Luke 19:27 – In telling a parable, Jesus insinuates that anyone who denies his rulership must be killed.
John 15:6 – Jesus says anyone who doesn’t believe in him must be burned.
Acts 5:5-10 –  Ananias and his wife Sapphira were killed for withholding money from the church.
2 John 1:10-11 – A Christian is forbidden to offer hospitality to a non-Christian, not even to wish him “Godspeed” on parting.

5. WOMEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

1 Cor 11:3-10 – Women are inferior “because man was not created for woman, but woman was created for man.”  Every woman “while praying or prophesying” must have her head covered “because of the angels,” meaning the spirits (it used to be believed that women’s hair attracts spirits).
1 Cor 14:34-35 – Women must not speak in church, which is a shame for them to do. If they want to ask questions, they must learn from their husbands at home.
Eph 5:22 – Wives must submit to their husbands as they would to God.
1 Tim 2:11-15 – A woman must not teach, or hold authority over a man, but must “learn in silence with all subjection,” because “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”  (So, being gullible is the original sin.)
1 Tim 5:9 – Paul says the only women acceptable by the council of elders are devout, monogamous women over the age of sixty.

6. SILLINESS

Gen 1:11-19 – God made all green plants on the third day of creation, but neglected to supply the sun (on which both plants and “days” depend) until the fourth day.
Gen 6:6-7 – Because a few people displeased him, God “repented” having made the world, and decided to destroy all life on earth.
Lev 11:5-6 – God thinks rabbits are cud-chewing animals.
Deut 22:5 – All cross-dressers, or women who wear pants, are “abominations.”
Deut 25:11-12 – A woman who seizes a man’s genitals, even to defend her husband from an attacker, must have her hand cut off.
Deut 33:17 – God believes in unicorns.
Matt 5:22 – Jesus says anyone who calls another “fool” will go to hell, but then he does it himself (Matt 23:17).
1 Tim 2:9 – Christian women are forbidden to braid their hair or wear jewelry.
James 5:14-15 – Prayer by the elders of the church is the only sure cure for sickness.  (Christian Science, anyone?)

Which version of the Ten Commandments do you prefer from God’s inerrant Word?  Exodus 20, Exodus 34, Deuteronomy 5 or Deuteronomy 27?

When Is Abuse Not Wrong?

I really think hell came to be invented by disgruntled people who had to watch abusive people (toward them) get away with abusive behavior.  What is that phrase “only the good die young?”  Sometimes it sure seems so.   And so for some of us who have been on the receiving end of what a user, taker, sociopath, narcissist, sadist, or whatever felt it was perfectly okay to dish out, sometimes all we have is hope in such things as karma, or some kind of day of reckoning after death. 

The trick for those of us who have to watch our lives fall to shambles because of the damage done by such people, is getting past the rage or resentment at the unfairness of it all.  Having to watch the person who directed abuse at us, go his or her merry way unscathed, and even often still liked or friended by people we thought cared for us.

It happens everywhere, I know but…for me it happened in Edmonds WA at a rather popular restaurant across from the Costco on Aurora.  Just head’s up from someone who learned the hard way.  If you are lonely, depressed, sad, scared, have a low self-esteem or whatever, do not stay late at any bar, do not confide in a bartender who says he’s your friend or believe it when they tell you that bartenders never repeat what you tell them in confidence to others, and in the case of this person who targeted me I suspect not wearing white lacy crocheted sweaters would be a good idea too.

I don’t know why sexual harassment or targeting of a customer at a bar is tolerated behavior.  I suppose for some restaurant or restaurant corporations it wouldn’t be, but certainly for the one I had the misfortune of being targeted at, it was.   I don’t know if it falls under the definition of sexual harassment or not, but as a bartender, and especially a head bartender, it’s that person’s job to monitor customers to prevent them from drinking too much.  It’s also important for bartenders to know the physical and mental condition of customers because alcohol can affect people with health or mental problems differently than healthy people.   In my view for a bartender to exploit someone with depression, which is what happened to me, and use his position as bartender to his own advantage to go after a customer, a regular paying customer and therefore someone just as deserving as anyone else of basic safety to their person, this is harmful predatory behavior and funny thing, because there’s no way to prove it, people shrug it off like it’s no big deal.   I reported what happened to the police, the Better Business Bureau (because it did cause me and still does cause me, financial and emotional damage), and The Washington State Human Rights Commission and no one really cared.  This happens all the time, I was told.   And you know what?  It does.

Why isn’t it a crime?  Why are there not surveillance cameras set up at bars for after hours–or even during hours?   Why isn’t there some law that requires two bartenders stay on the floor to close the restaurant, not just one that everyone trusts and assumes would never do harm to a lonely depressed customer?

What’s really frustrating…you can’t even report your horrible experience on places like YELP.   If you try they filter out your comment like ooooh, you can only say nice things about the restaurant that let such harm happen to you.  

Anyway, I just think it’s wrong that anyone could be so hurt and have it be no big deal, and I know it and much worse has happened to many others–it’s that kind of hurtful thing that people look at you and say, “well, that’s what you get for staying late at a bar,” or “that’s what you get for drinking too much.”  Like depressed or emotionally compromised women (or men) for some reason are permitted to be made uncomfortable, coerced or pressured into acts they really don’t want to do, just for trusting that a bartender would not wish them harm for confiding in them.  When really, sometimes, when the conditions are right and that particular bartender might not be happy in his (or her) life, they do.

The Bible & Seeing What You Want To See

Ever wonder what passages in the bible Hitler highlighted?   He was very serious about doing God’s work, and from what I read the German church regarded him as the embodiment of the holy spirit on Earth; they supported him.   So I suppose Hitler had a bible, and just like every other believer, went through and highlighted the verses he chose to believe as a way to justify it in his mind, he was doing God’s work.  Imagine his surprise when he died and found himself in hell.  For indeed if such a place did exist, he would be there, as would all people who did hurtful things to others and got away with it…which is probably why hell was dreamed up to begin with.

I had someone send me a link to some Christian website in response to my post where I listed a few contradictions of the bible.   Well, of course.  For every fifty verses I find describing wholesale slaughter and destruction ordered by or performed by God, the same few New Testament verses about how loving and merciful this god is, will be dredged up.   And that’s fine.  As someone else pointed out, it’s pointless and a waste of energy to try to argue or talk someone out of belief in myths.  I know it because for years people tried to point out the illogic to me.  I was only able to wake up to the non-highlighted bits in my bible, at my own time.  When my mind and heart were ready to see, I saw.

But it is interesting that the same book can contain verses commanding us to beat children with rods and stone our sons for being disobedient, can also create all these known interpretations of it like the Catholic interpretation, Presbyterian, Baptist, Protestant, Four Square, Lutheran, etc, etc., etc.   It just seems to me if God’s important message was so hugely important, it would be very clear, and only interpretable one way–the right way.  If our salvation was so important to God, why be so mysterious about it?   Why whisper it in our ears rather than thunder it across the skies?   Free will only works if we have choices, and I’m sorry but the vehicle God uses to get his good news across, is vague, contradictory, erroneous, misleading, and subject to being taken as a justification for good OR evil and everything in-between too.  If the message was so important to God that we hear it, if our salvation was so important to this loving God, I would think he’d make a point to be a lot clearer about it than this.  

Once upon a time hundreds of people died for daring to open the Ark of the Covenant.  Well, what about all these re-translated, mistranslated, translated into modern-speak versions of the bible from the original Hebrew?  God doesn’t mind his sacred word changed, deleted or rewritten?   And example– “the word interpreted as “virgin” in the bible is actually “young woman,” and yet everyone accepts the belief now that Mary was a virgin, and Jesus seeded in her womb by God.   In no place in the bible is Mary described as a virgin.  She’s described as a young woman.    This is a blunder that the church has been aware of for centuries and yet chooses to keep intact in the bible because so many people now accept this as part of the story as fact–conveniently used as evidence of Jesus’ heavenly origins.

Is the bible fact?  Did the disciples actually exist?   Did the disciples write the bible or some anonymous writers hired by the early Roman church and hiding behind fictionous pen names to give them credibility.   

I personally am amazed I dedicated thirty plus years of my life to something without first checking out how the book the whole religion is founded on, came to be.  In retrospect it seems it should have been my first undertaking.  Investigation.  Is it TRUE?   Before I dedicate my life to it.

 

 

Why do Jews Reject the Christian dogma of the


Virgin Birth?
(The Second Jewish Book Of Why)
(By Alfred Kolatch 1985)

    Based on Isaiah 7:14, Christians claim that the birth of Jesus was predicted long before the event. The verse reads, “Behold, the alma shall conceive and bear a son and shall call him Immanuel [literally, ‘God is with us’].” Although the Hebrew word alma literally means “young woman,” when the Gospel of Matthew (1:23) cites the verse from Isaiah, it translates Alma as “Virgin.” This translation is useful in supporting the contention that the miraculous birth of Jesus was predicted in the Old Testament.

   Jewish scholars reject the idea of the Virgin Birth because, they point out, in Isaiah 7:14 the word Alma is part of the Hebrew phrase ha-alma hara, meaning “the alma is pregnant.” Since the present tense is used, it is clear that the young woman was already pregnant and hence not a virgin. This being the case, the verse cannot be cited as a prediction of the future.

    Jewish scholars, supported by many Christian scholars, have also noted that the word alma in Isaiah 7:14 cannot mean “virgin” because elsewhere when the Bible wants to specify “virgin,” it uses the Hebrew word betula.

    When the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was issued in 1952, the words “young woman,” not the word “Virgin, were used for alma in its translation of Isaiah 7:14. This upset the Fundamentalist Christian community, which maintains that alma in Isaiah refers to the mother of Jesus, who conceived miraculously, without cohabitation with a man. These Fundamentalists expressed their vehement opposition to the new translation by holding burnings of the Revised Edition of the Bible.