Breaking the hold of social stigma on mental illness

character testToday, I was shown an article regarding miserable people which I uplift my voice against.  The article link can be found below as I do not value it’s contribution to humanity.  I do think that this article is a much exaggerated writing. To be honest, I find it highly OFFENSIVE as a clinical social worker and as a human being with awareness of how mental issues work. I, too, can be a miserable person who suffers from chronic severe pain, depression, and anxiety. I personally do not enjoy being miserable. In the times that I did not seek help for my issues, it was because of a demonstrated lack of trust in medical and psychological professionals rather than from an internal desire to be miserable. As a clinical social worker, I have seen many miserable people both in-clinic and on the streets. NOT ONE of them do I believe enjoyed being miserable. Many were struggling but fighting for freedom as much as they could in counseling. Some people had improved and some did not. What I find though is that most miserable people NEED long term and intensive counseling which is a battle with the insurance companies to obtain. People are not getting the quality of help that is necessary. What I have also found when assessing people was that their situation can be likened to a burning house and they are trapped inside. Imagine the deafening roar of the fire and the thick, smoky haze all around them. That is what depression, anxiety, and other mental struggles feel like. People caught in a burning house often can not hear the yells of a fireman who is standing at the entry door, let alone see him standing there. Often times, the smoke inhalation has caused them to pass out on the floor. A person who is in a mentally or emotionally burning house CANNOT hear, see, or respond well; let alone, find their way out to rescue. Thank goodness, that firemen are aware and willing to enter the flames of hell to rescue people out. My point in all of this is to say that people with moderate to severe mental struggles NEED firemen who are both aware and willing to run in after them and carry them to a safe place where help and healing can occur. This article was shamefully against the millions of human beings who struggle with such issues, and works towards increasing the stigma that our society holds regarding mental illness. It does not account for biological and environmental etiologies rather it makes a mockery of people who fight sometimes daily and sometimes EVERY MINUTE of their life to rise above these causal sources. Mystie, your point that you think they realize they are miserable is likely to be right on. Hence, the struggle with suicide is often one that miserable people go through. However, an awareness of one’s misery is NOT usually enough to reach out for help. There are SO many things affecting people in their burning houses that people without mental and psychiatric issues will NEVER know of. Healthy people will NEVER know what the dark night of the soul feels like until they actually experience it for self. Understanding that the author of the article is highly acclaimed is negated under the fact that she speaks as one who does not struggle with such nightmarish lives. If I repost this article, it is not to out of condoning it, but rather to bash it’s ugly head in. Be well and appreciate the strength and resilience of your houses because there are many living in hell right inside their very own homes, minds, and bodies.  If you truly want to help; dont criticize, make mockery of, or push forward the current stigma.  Rather, be as the firefighter who is fully geared up with safety measures and who is armed with intrinsic courage and strength to carry someone out of their burning house.

I am sure many of the points are commonly found in miserable people. I vomit regarding how she presented these. Rather than presenting in a kind, compassionate, helpful, and positive way – she presented them as having conscious thought to their issues and actions in that they willful do them and would plan to be that way, and in a SEVERELY negative and potentially harmful light which does not exactly coexist with the the psychologist or social work code of ethis. See http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/ primarily general principle A and E. This article, in my opinion, goes shamefully against these.

Furthermore, the National Social Work is not in alignment either.  Check out the Social Justice and Dignity and Worth of a Person portions by going here: https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

 

The article itself:

http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/14-habits-highly-miserable-people#.VrHrSWd3Euo.facebook

 

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That human being deserves… what?!

Today I saw a post on facebook from a friend of mine. The post said, “When a person does something wrong, don’t forget the things they have done right.” Besides the fact that I am in agreement with this statement, a friend of hers commented on it. His comment included ‘if a person is caught lying and doing disrespectful things to you then what they have done in the past has zero meaning’. Now, I do not know this person. However, I do believe that it is coming from one who has been judged quite harshly in life and suffered significant consequences during the process.

I encourage you to think back, perhaps, WAY back.  Was there ever a time in which you screwed up in some way?  Did you try to go and confess your blunder to the person?  How did this person respond to you?  Perchance the individual was kind rather than furious.  Maybe they were forgiving rather than aggressive.  Conceivably, the person smiled at you instead of pounded you into the pavement!  If so, you received both grace and mercy in that moment from another person who probably had every right to never speak to you again.  Didn’t it feel good?  Were you not relieved somewhere deep within you?

This post indirectly leads our spirit to a couple of words. Words that many people, whether conservative or liberal, fail to have in their vocabulary. They are GRACE and MERCY.

grace and mercy

Grace can be defined as “a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward. : a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving”. In other words, it means that we are given something which we do not deserve.  It can be used in our movements through our daily worlds. It can be given to anyone and everyone whom we have contact with. We can hold a banner of grace around folks from all religions, cultures, sexual preferences, and handicaps. We can hold such a banner even for the people to whom are closest to us and to whom we love the most. Unfortunately, it seems that these poor, doomed people closest to us often receive the least amount of grace we have.

Mercy can be defined as “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power”.  Wow!  That is really deep!!!  Mercy means we are not given something that we do deserve.  Like grace, the lucky people who can receive such a blessing are LIMITLESS!  Also bearing a likeness to grace, it is those we love and are close to that generally receive the least amount of mercy.

He made another statement and it is this one which brought some rather strong emotions to my surface. The statement was ‘I love the liberal thinkers, they are always the ones trying to get away with something under the guis of being understanding of others, until it happens to them, then they are not so understanding’.  Seriously?! Does this mindset REALLY have to be just a “liberal” thing? Or should it be more like a human thing?

Somewhere in our lives, most of us have experienced an act of grace and/or mercy from another human being.  These occasions may be few and far between or they may seem to pop up everywhere!  Nonetheless, the odds are in favor of having at least one occurrence somewhere… sometime.  The completely awesome truth about this person is that when given the opportunity to be cold, revengeful, aggressive, and unforgiving; they chose to act with grace and mercy to you!  They may have known of your past -knowing that you were a doer of good things or they may not have been privy to this knowledge.  Better yet, for all one knows – you haven’t done hardly anything good in your whole life which would even warrant grace and mercy!

So, how then did you get it?  The universe smiled down at you that day through another human being… that’s how!  Who cares if the person was conservative or liberal.  Who cares if he/she was Muslim, Hindu, or Christian?  Who cares if the individual had a same-sex partner?  None of that matters!  Nor should anyone care to label grace and mercy as something that the “liberals” do, or any other group for that matter.  Every human bleeds, cries, gets angry, and struggles with something in their life.  Every human wants to be treated with grace and mercy when they screw up.  Every human wants others to view them in their wholeness of self and actions rather than only the latest mistake.  Come on, seriously… don’t you want these things?  Don’t you ask for a second chance?  Don’t you ask to be forgiven because it was truly a mistake and you will never do it again?

Of course you do!  Well then, each and every human being should be afforded with the same grace and mercy which you desire for yourself.  The law of the harvest says “you will reap what you sow”.  Therefore, if grace and mercy is what you desire to have then it is grace and mercy in which you should give… and give OFTEN!  Maybe not because they deserve it because in all rights, you may not have deserved it.  Instead, because they are human!  We are all human!

I want to quickly point out that this does not eliminate a potential need for consequences.  Truly, there are situations that come up in which the person must receive some sort of consequence for their action.  It is simply saying that; while deciding on whether consequences are necessary and to what degree, we should keep grace and mercy in mind.  We should consider their past actions.  If the person has done many good things then perhaps, some other factor outside the individual is the cause of the current offensive behaviors.  If you can only see past negative behaviors, then imaginably you could issue out grace and mercy instead of fury.

When people are given grace and mercy when they know that they don’t deserve it, likely their hearts and minds are impacted for the betterment of themselves and everyone else.  The people in our world are in critical need of these two forces being at work in their lives.  There is NOT enough going around.  However, YOU CAN BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THIS WORLD!

 

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Life lesson in nobility from the movie “Ironclad”

ironcladone130I have chosen this photo for the meaning it has in the actual picture and within the movie itself. It is taken from the movie “Ironclad” with James Purefoy. In the movie, an order was given which struck like an arrow into my grey matter. James’ character instructed a humble squire to guard the women and the children who were holed up in the deepest part of the Keep. The striking part was this: …and if the enemies break through, kill every woman and child – rather than letting them take them.

Now, this made me think. What a critical point. No, that does not mean go out and kill women and children to keep them safe from potential enemies which they may face. What it means to me is this: Women and children are the targets of many enemies in this world: evil and exploitive men, poverty, sex, abuse, etc. Many are defenseless and kept silent. This is catastrophic since without women or children, life cannot go on.

The point his character was making is that we will defend them to our deaths but if that is not enough then their death is better to die quickly then slowly by the enemy. It also speaks to the notion that we need to defend those who have been weakened through poverty and abuse. It also defines to what degree… with all we have, all our strength and efforts, and to our deaths!

We need to educate ourselves to the dire needs presenting women, single mothers, and children. We need to allow what we learn to change our mentality and focus. Furthermore, we need to switch our compassion from ourselves to them. Their enemies are very real. The strength of the enemy is indeed overpowering. BUT IF WE DEFEND TOGETHER, we can save and deliver them! As the picture shows, blood and sweat is noble in this cause. Eyes of compassion, which mirror the soul, turn the dirtiest and messiest situations and appearances into things of beauty.

I challenge you and urge you to take action. Many women and children in America and all over the world are holed up in the deepest part of the Keep. Let’s not wait for the enemies to breach it’s door to make a decision…

Marshall: Have you ever killed a man, squire? You will learn it is not a noble thing.
Guy the Squire: Not even when it is for freedom?
Marshall: Not even when it is for God! Is killing a noble thing?
Well, a life fought for others is a life worth living. That is a noble thing.”

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Prostitution: red flag or white flag

 

What is a country without its youth being strong, free, and healthy? My answer to this is: It is certainly a dying one. Child prostitution is at epidemic proportions across America.

Every state, city, and town has child prostitutes operating within it that have NOT chosen a life of prostitution. Something like 80% of child prostitutes are runaways. It also stated that approximately 90% of those have been abused including sexually. For one in such a situation, being homeless without food is a viable option to escape hell. I cannot blame them for making that choice, after all, our youth are human with a natural instinct to survive.

Then after being homeless and feeling stomach pangs all day, is it truly any wonder that when they are met with a false compassion and security thrown at them by exploiting pimps that they accept? Once they get to that point, under the control of a pimp for their very survival; all of their survival strictly depends on their obedience to horrific exploitation of their entire beings. None of this sounds like a real choice to me. Rather, it sounds like forced coercion; seemingly a personal choice but truly it’s not.

Prostitutes should not be prosecuted and incarcerated in America; child or adult. When a human being turns to prostitution or any similarly degrading activity, it is a red flag of desperation. Perhaps even, it is a white flag of surrender. Poverty creates broken people and families. No human wants to be broken for each of us has an innate concept of survival; but we can certainly sense when a state of brokenness is developing. Some wave the red flag of prostitution as a desperate cry for help to survive with even the basics. Others wave the white flag of prostitution as a final act to escape the systems and power structures which have proven to be too oppressive for too long.

Prostitutes are victims of the environments; whether it be economical or social. I disagree with the notion that they are not victims. If they were adults when they started, had a preexisting income which met the needs of the family, without addictions AND securely and humanely protected; only then might I not consider them a victim. However, I argue that most would not choose to risk disease, rape, torture, and death if all those criteria listed were present. Therefore, they are victims and should be treated as such.

All this said, what should we do with them… one could say that pimps should be gone after legally. That would not be such a bad idea. Protect the prostitute and prosecute the pimp. However, as we get one pimp off the streets – more will come. The fight would be never ending. So, therefore, how do we end it? We end it by tackling poverty among all people. We end it by ridding families and homes of abuse. All the money and effort we spend on fixing the symptom (prostitution) needs to be redirected to fixing the problems (poverty, drugs and abuse). As a society, let’s crack down on those two things. Just imagine! Imagine what could happen if everyone had money to live with reasonably quality of life. Imagine if our youth were all tucked in safely and securely at home; free of danger. How productive and inspired could people truly be when they are not focused constantly on their very basic of needs? If one cannot answer this, how truly productive in life are you when you are focused on finding food to feed yourself or your child? Or when you are sleeping on a street bench or in a doorway, standing by a fire barrel burning garbage to stay warm?

This type of change would be lengthy in time, even if a plan was implemented this minute. In the meantime, young girls are being sold, raped, tortured, and dying. Judges have no positive alternative to help them other then incarceration. Honestly, after studying and viewing what a person endures and becomes while incarcerated… I am not sure this option is any better or any worse than the high risk of the street. Incarceration and streets contain similar cultures ruled by evolutionary means. By evolutionary, I refer to ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘everyone for himself’. Both locations offer damage and destruction to prostitution victims. In either case, mortal danger lurks nearby.

Therefore, as we work towards tackling the problems of poverty and abuse, there must be another option established. This option needs to include facilities where ALL the basic needs are met. Long term and secure shelter, food, education, therapy for mental-emotional-physical health, and support systems. Some ask where will we find the money to do this? It is out there being used for sometimes, senseless activities and ineffective symptom work.

More importantly, I believe that social mentality and attitude means everything. As the old adage goes, “where there is a will, there is a way”. When we as humans turn our attention and focus away from ourselves and on to survival needs of other human beings, we will find all the resources we need. Someone in constant fear (on the streets or in jail) will not achieve greatness, or even be pleasantly inspired. It seems to me that every human being should be protected from such things to the absolute best the rest of us are capable of… including prostitutes. After all, for most of us… prostitution is not or may not have been too far out of our thinking as we consider waving the red flag of desperation or our white flag of surrender.

 

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Crimes against women with respect to the social construction of gender roles: dispelling of myths

Sexual terrorism refers to the extreme reality of violence in the lives of all women. This type of terrorism operates on the notion that all women are inferior through propaganda and/or indiscriminate or amoral violence. Each of the crimes addressed in this writing: rape, domestic violence, stalking and prostitution, sustain patriarchal power by ensuring the women will comply with the wishes and demands of men. This compliance is accomplished through the good girl/bad girl dichotomy, mass media, and the support of those who hold contempt of women.
The crime of rape is related to the social construction of gender. Crimes of rape are motivated by power and control. The control of man over woman is the basic principle of the social construction of gender and patriarchal societies. When women are fearful, they are more willing to be subordinate. Man’s ability to intimidate and sexually punish women results in greater subordination; allowing for the continuation of sexual terrorism. Gender is dictated throughout generations of how one should be and act within that society in order to be included as proper citizens. In America, men are expected to be tough, powerful, and in control of their environments for the purpose of achieving jobs, wealth and status. Women are expected to be controlled and submissive within her environment for the purpose of being attractive, married, and protected by the men. Therefore social construction of gender has allowed rape to continue for the purpose of justifying and perpetuating man’s domination and sexual aggression towards women.
In a patriarchal society, men dominate and control women through various methods for selling or demeaning the sexuality of women. Methods such as law formation and condoning rape myths have proven to be rather efficient. Laws against rape have been on record for over four thousand years beginning with the Code of Hammarabi. Yet, rape has been depicted in historical and contemporary culture and art. The precise behaviors which were deemed criminal four thousand years ago are the very ones which have been glorified throughout media sources.
The differentiating factor between the act being criminal or noncriminal seems to be who the victim is in each situation. Rapes of married women were treated differently than ones against unmarried women often resulting in varying punishments, if considered to be a crime. Furthermore at one time, rape was not viewed as a violent sexual crime rather it was viewed as a property crime. Women were considered to be the property of their husbands and therefore, did not have ownership of their own bodies. Viewing women in this way, husbands could then continue to transgress against wives sexually with little to no punishment; resulting in the perpetuation of societal gender construction in aggressors and victims. As long as the perceived victim pool remains low and unchallenged, male sexual aggression is not seen as a major problem and goes unchanged.
Married women were not the only group of victims to be excluded from earlier laws. Homosexual partners only recently became legally considered to be sexual assault victims but not yet rape. As societal views become more accepting of homosexual relationships, criminal behaviors which occur within those relationships become increasingly recognized. Therefore, the social construction of gender becomes challenged as the number of reported rapes goes up.
This relationship can be discussed by addressing various rape myths. Rape myths allow a society to deny and to avoid confronting the realities of sexual assault by transferring the blame from aggressor to victim. One such myth is that the aggressor rapes out of uncontrollable sexual desire. In reality, rape is all about power and control over the victim. Otherwise, these offenders could simply seek out free sex. Another myth is that rapists are mentally incompetent or psychotic. Mentally incompetent and psychotic individuals perform actions which are spontaneous and unplanned. In actuality, many rapes are carefully planned and executed actions.
A third rape myth states that women ask to be raped by their actions and dress. Rape victims are found in all categories of people and walks of life. In reality, no one chooses to be abused and violated. Another rape myth is that if women did not drink then they would not be raped. This implies that the rape plan was well under way prior to alcohol consumption. In actuality, women were drunk already before the rapist targeted her.
Still another myth says that rape must be preceded by a physical struggle. Current rape laws state otherwise. In reality, most rapists avoid a physical struggle by incapacitating the victim with drugs and alcohol. A sixth myth is that rapists are usually strangers to the victims. In reality, most rapists know their victim as an acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, or partner. This proves to be more dangerous to potential victims if they have been prepared to deal with stranger rape and left wide open to be violated by someone whom they trust.
Finally, it is believed that most rapists are not serial rapists. However, rapists choose to repeat their criminal behaviors until they are caught and incapacitated.
Rape myths perpetuate the crime by how media depicts them. Television shows and movies reinforce or establish the rape myth themes within their audiences. This allows viewers to diminish sexual assault claims which fall out of the established narrow definition of rape. Rape myths help maintain a rape culture in which sexual terrorism against women is common, tolerated, and glorified.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence crimes are related to the social construction of gender because they are also mainly motivated by power and control. Over-entitled men use domestic violence as a means to establishing the ‘pecking order’ with the male on top. The relationship between domestic violence and social construction of gender can be seen through the fact that beating one’s wife was not considered a crime until 1871; before which violence within relationships occurred often and was considered to be normal behavior. Prior to 1871, the law provided men with the option of beating their ‘hysterical’ wives to ‘get them in line’ because they were considered to be property and property was to be dominated.
In a patriarchal society that believes in the superiority of men over women, little to no efforts will be done to prevent violence against women for doing so would weaken the power structure. The ability to intimidate and punish women through sexual terrorism ensures that patriarchal structures will remain. Court systems are reluctant to punish the aggressor but very quick in punishing women for fighting back in some form. For example, abusive men who kill serve typically two to six years in prison but the abused female who kills gets fifteen years. Furthermore, it was not until the 1960’s that men received significant penalties for domestic violence. With the civil rights and feminist movements progressing in America for various populations, finally the women have an opportunity to stand up and fight.
Once again, myths circling around society allows the crime of domestic violence to go unnoticed as being a large problem. In actuality, over 1.5 million women are either raped or physically abused each year. The second myth states that domestic violence is a solitary event when, in reality, domestic violence is recognized to be a consistent pattern of behaviors. The third myth says that domestic violence occurs only in the poor classes; but actually, people from all walks of life experience domestic violence.
The fourth myth is that children are not affected when the father abuses the mother. However, children are at significantly higher risk for running away, abuse and incest, and depression. The final one to be covered is that it is easy for women to get away or leave their abuser. Indeed it is not for a couple of reasons. One reason is that often the victim has been isolated from friends and family with all access to phones removed. Another reason is that the victim has a profound and rational fear to leaving. The majority of cases where a victim leaves results in stalking and potentially, murder.
Another major mechanism, which connects domestic violence to social construction of gender, is secrecy. People are discouraged to report situations because traditionally what happens in the family is within the rights of the husband. Therefore, people have not become involved. Secrecy still today powers domestic violence. The United States, in particular, does not air public service announcements often and there is no mandatory education regarding domestic violence. Until this secrecy is no longer taboo, domestic violence victims will continue to struggle with this crime.

STALKING
Traditional stalking is a behavioral pattern which places the victim in fear. This crime is related to social construction of gender because like rape and domestic violence, stalking is motivated by power and control. The relationship exists because mostly women are stalked by the same husbands who have previously controlled their wives through domestic violence. Stalking places intense fear on the victim which tends to result in the female inhibiting her free movement within her environment. Social construction of gender seeks to motivate and control females behaviors in order to perpetuate the mentality needed for its own survival. Stalking is a heavily gendered crime with well over a million women targeted as compared to 370,990 men annually.
Alongside rape and domestic violence, stalking is powered by a whole series of myths. One such myth is that stalking will eventually end. This myth presents extreme danger for victims. Without intervention, violence will probably increase and the victim may become part of the 54% of reported cases which end in homicide. A seemingly silly myth regarding stalking is that it only happens to celebrities. In actuality, 1.4 million people are stalked each year most of whom are not celebrities. That figure quickly dispels any silliness one may have thought.
The third stalking myth says that stalking is not dangerous. Statistics have said that approximately 75% of murdered women had been previously stalked. Another myth believed by some is that stalking is not illegal. On the contrary, all fifty states have passed anti-stalking laws. Some think that stalking cannot occur while presently dating. However, any time that a partner follows or tracks another person which causes the victim to become uncomfortable or fearful is still stalking and illegal. Furthermore, it is believed that modern surveillance equipment is too costly or complicated for most common people to use. In reality, it is quite inexpensive and stalkers can track every computer made by the victim with ease.
A particularly dangerous myth believed by some victims and support people is that the stalking will end once the stalker is confronted. What is not realized is that stalkers are obsessed with power and control which causes them to become unpredictable. Confrontation and reason can result in agitated levels of violence including murder. Another equally dangerous myth is that stalkers are mostly harmless. As stated, stalkers are unpredictable which results in stalking patterns being highly variable. Stalking of a victim may be short or extensive covering a period of several years. Murder can happen suddenly or not at all. Second guessing should never be done and intervention must be made to protect any victim of stalking. Furthermore, intervention and protection should be enforced regardless of the presence of a threat or not. Many believe that if the aggressor has not actually threatened the victim then there is probably no danger. Again, unpredictability within the aggressor plays a critical role.
Stalking is a huge problem on college campuses where 25 to 33% of women have been victimized regardless of the myth that says it is not a problem. The final myth to be discussed is that stalking does not have serious impact on the victim. About one quarter of all stalking victims seek psychological counseling to help them deal with their experience and 20% of victims move to other homes out of fear.
Stalking myths must be disbanded. It is these wrong beliefs that enable judges to hand out light sentences to aggressors. These myths assist professionals in disregarding a victim’s dire situation and withholding assistance until it is too late. Further, it is these myths which cause restraining orders to go unenforced. Until society releases their reliance on such myths and it’s social construction of gender, the numbers of victims will continue to be dangerously high.

PROSTITUTION
The crime of prostitution in America finds its foundation in the social construction of gender. Through the social construction of gender, women have been viewed with the Mary/Eve dichotomy or the Madonna/whore. They were either upper class, white females considered to be ‘pure’ or lower class or ethnically diverse females considered to be evil and worthless for anything other than sexual favors and exploitation.
Prostitution exists because of the poverty and inequality of women which allows for men to exploit females sexually and without recourse. This is exemplified through the fact that, in many countries where prostitution is criminalized, the women are sanctioned and the pimps or traffickers remain untouched. Extreme poverty of women additionally benefits the social construction of gender. Based on the previous statements presented on the power of sexual terrorism, it is possible to infer that poverty furthers the stability of the patriarchal systems by entrenching women to be submissive, controlled and violated by men through sex work. Demonstrative of this inference is the fact that much of sex work is run and controlled by Western and Japanese businessmen who earn billions of dollars each year and provide a significant contribution to their country’s gross national product. The money to be brought in by prostitution and human trafficking helps the patriarchal power structures to stay financially strong and therefore, harder to break down. Sex still sells to men, women still need to support themselves and families, and society still socializes women into sexual gender roles. Perhaps prostitution offers the perceived opportunity to some women to escape the overwhelming control and domination of the patriarchal society. However, perhaps this perception is misguided thinking by women who desperately seek to survive.
Prostitution is utilized in the continuance of the social construction of gender by the use of myths. The first myth is that prostitution is an expression of sexuality and a necessity. The reality is that prostitutes are dehumanized and damaged by what the customer demands; furthermore, the actions are not congruent between worker and customer. These actions may be perverted expressions of the male’s sexuality but not that of the sex worker.
A second myth is that prostitution is considered to be a victimless crime. Prostitution results in child sexual abuse, assault, or exploitation with the sex worker being the victim in each case. Prostitution provides the environment in which crimes can cause these people to suffer mentally and physically and yet be condoned as industry.
The next two myths are combined and state that juveniles freely choose prostitution through informed and educated decisions. These two myths are dispelled with the fact that many women who have become prostitutes have grown up in abusive and sexually exploitative homes. Such an environment likely results in significantly lower levels of self esteem. Low self esteem combined with poverty may indicate to a female there is no other way other than prostitution.
The fifth myth is that prostitution provides sex workers with wealth. Sex workers are highly controlled by either pimps or brothel madams. Their finances and living arrangements are often controlled to such a degree that one is unable to save up towards independence.
The sixth myth is that prostitutes have power and control over their lives while within the system of prostitution. In actuality, prostitutes have very little control over anything in their lives. The customer makes demands on the actions provided which include beatings, being relocated to deserted areas or being stranded. Pimps control the fees charged. The prostitute does not even have full control over recourse from harm done as she often will not report because of possible legal backlash.
The final primary myth to be discussed is that there are laws to control prostitution. Laws have been unequal in the past. For example, certain counties in Nevada allow prostitution while other counties do not. Furthermore, customers and pimps were generally not arrested until recently in an effort to control prostitution. It usually was the prostitute who would be arrested and jailed over night to be released the next day. This does nothing to control prostitution because it does not help the prostitute make a living other than prostitution. It only serves to keep her from working that night and forces her to work extra hard to make up for customers and money lost.
Prostitution will continue until the economic disparity which women face for survival is sufficiently addressed. The economic disparity will likely not be addressed anytime soon because as stated it would disrupt the patriarchal power structures. Therefore, prostitution along with the other crimes mentioned will likely only receive minor attention, if any at all, until a time after the patriarchal power system is dealt with.

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Matters of Religion and Spirituality: How good people can do Really bad things.

Religious beliefs may be perverted or misinterpreted to fulfill the ambitions of an individual or a group where their ethnocentric beliefs are paramount. The Mountain Meadow Massacre of 1857 is one such occasion. Between September 7 and 11 of 1857, an emigrant wagon train was attacked . At the end of the attack, 120 were killed, sparing only 17 children considered too young to talk about it (Andregg, 2011). This historical event is only one example out of thousands throughout the world where such perversions have led to religious terrorism. The awareness of how religious beliefs can be perverted to fulfill personal or group ambitions is necessary in order to prevent religious violence in the future.

Intellectual humility is a factor in beliefs being perverted into violence. Dogmatics is an unfolding, communal, and historically situated attempt at rightly articulating available sources of knowledge into religious categories (Baldwin, 2012). Religious dogma has been stated by atheists and anti-religion activists as a cause of religious violence. However, it is the combination of beliefs with low levels of intellectual humility that causes conflict (Hopkin, Hoyle, & Toner, 2014). This makes sense considering there is a multitude of individuals who hold strong religious beliefs who are fully against the harming of other humans. In all three Abraham-mic religions, people can be relatively organized into two groups. The first being the fundamentalist or radical folks who have a tendency towards intolerance of others. The second group consisting of those who recognize that dogmatic religious belief should be held in a spirit of moral and intellectual humility and that religiously dogmatic persons aim to be humble, teachable and open to correction (Baldwin, 2012). The latter group avoids the naive assumption that they have the whole truth. A study of the Abraham-mic religions had a finding that suggests deficits in at least one component of intellectual humility (manifesting as a desire to convince others) works to create more polarized opinions in religious people. Thus, the aspect of intellectual humility that is seemingly most lacking in many religious leaders and media pundits–whose livelihood depends on sharing their beliefs with others–is also the component most likely to create polarization (Hopkin et al., 2014). Furthermore, Hopkin et al. state that studies have shown that honesty-humility is negatively correlated with vengeful acts and intentions (2014). Therefore, violence may be preventable with the addition of humility into religious activities and worship.

The character of one’s leader is critical to the overall values adopted by an individual or group. Humility is a character trait which should go hand in hand with religious leadership, unfortunately, it is often overlooked. Humility is an ability to see the self and one’s place in the world clearly, with low self-focus, openness, an appreciation for the value of all things, and a willingness to admit mistakes (Hopkin et al., 2014). High levels of humility are not represented by self-absorbent actions or angry responses to criticism. The Mormon leadership at the time were exemplary of leaders with low levels of humility. John D. Lee believed all the Gentiles were to be killed as a war measure, and that the Mormons, as God’s chosen people, were to hold and inhabit the earth and rule and govern the globe (Andregg, 2011). Lee’s belief provides a clear case of group leadership in which there is no tolerance of others’ beliefs and low levels of humility towards all others. Furthermore, Lee stated that if he has sinned and violated the laws of his country, he has done so because he has blindly followed and obeyed the orders of the Church leaders (Andregg, 2011). He, among other leaders and non-leaders alike, were blindly following orders sent from higher channels.

Many religious organizations, including Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, consider any criticism of their leadership to be taboo. Obethence, or the quality of obedience, is seen as a quality of a ‘good’ religious person. This adherence is taught to outweigh rationality and to continue even when the authority is wrong. Obethence in Mormon culture remains ‘the first law of heaven, the cornerstone on which all righteousness and progression rest: demanding complete subjection to God and his commands. Moreover, this obethence is important to the possibility of violence (Andregg, 2011). Militant and/or radical religious groups draw from the concept of obethence as they attempt to convert others through force or coercion to their god and religion. When people blindly follow leaders, they potentially open themselves up to lacking humility (as their leaders do) and harming others under the guise of doing what’s right.

Lack of humility and obethence together present as a dangerously aggressive or violent combination when religion and politics overlap. Mormon devotion and a mix of politics and religion caused numerous conflicts with neighbors. The Saints regarded such opposition as persecution of their righteousness (Andregg, 2011). Brigham Young during this time functioned simultaneously as Utah’s territorial governor and the head of the Mormon church. Young virtually declared Mormon independence from U.S. authority, labeled any interference against the actions of the Mormons as constitutional violations, and secretly called for a gathering of arms to defend the church in Utah against its foes (Owens, 2012). This precise interaction between low humility, obethence, religion and politics has historically created a volatile atmosphere between populations at the hand of a perverted leader.

Besides this multivariate interaction being present, there likely exists a much larger factor leading to violence from religious believers. Most, if not all, humans including religious believers struggle with negative impulses such as murder, hatred and aggression. These impulses and their resultant energies can be merciless regardless if one is religious or not (Ulanov, 2002). Humanity’s struggle with impulses is a fundamental psychological concept provided for by individuals such as Jung and Freud. Impulsive energy will become action in some form or another since energy is neither created nor destroyed, only transformed.

There exists a gap between one’s personal image of God and the ultimate truth. For example, a Christian’s personal view or image of God looks like Jesus of the biblical New Testament: A Jewish person’s image of God looks like Yahweh of the Old Testament, a Muslim’s view looks like Allah of the Quran and a child’s image of God might look like a lamb. Believers who identify their personal image of God with the one of a particular religion will likely require others to convert or be considered infidels. Furthermore, if an entire religion or group identifies with an image which is entirely different from other groups religion becomes a weapon (Ulanov, 2002). Most religions recognize spiritual transcendence and the infinite transcendence of their higher power but people forget that this gap exists between their images of God and who their transcendental God truly is.

How impulsive energy develops within a person likely depends on procrastinating function of thought. Procrastinating function of thought stems from the awareness of the image gaps and can manifest itself by causing a believer to hesitate, meditate, and consult with others (Ulanov, 2002). When people operate from a procrastinating function of thought which causes a need to consult with others, they have almost a compulsion to seek out and receive a human king or leader. At times, this compulsion leads to one’s own detriment. For example, the Christian’s God Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 4:17 New King James Version). Other concepts taught by Jesus and mentioned in apocryphal writings is that the Kingdom of God is within the person. Jesus was known to speak in simple layman’s terms which the uneducated could easily understand; yet, so many believers with a procrastinating function of thought hesitate to take the lesson in its simplicity and willingly accept a leader’s perspective on the meaning.

Several factors of religious terrorism have been discussed. Any and all of them may work together to bring about perversion and misinterpretation among religious leaders and their followers. The final idea to mention is the concept of Zion. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all maintain the notion of Zion being a special place for the chosen ones. The Mormon religion recognizes a Zion, as well. The goal was to fulfill Old Testament prophecy by establishing the Kingdom of God on earth and doing so within the Great Basin of Utah and no one who left unless they were sent would have his approbation; an action perilous to their eternal spiritual future (Owens, 2012). Further, the valleys of Utah were taught to be the ‘chambers of the Lord’ and existed for his people. A religion’s belief in a special reserved place can present conflicts with other populations residing in the same area according to game theory.

Game theory emphasizes cautions related to various groups, particularly religious ones. Humans are warned of ‘last move’ scenarios which exist under ‘end times’ or apocalyptic thinking; situations and bad actions which ordinarily people would not do (Andregg, 2011). Other individuals may use the term “end game” actions. In a world saturated with people, populations are tempted to fight over land and resources for the establishing of and maintenance of their special Zions. Leaders lacking a cloak of humility and armed with religious or political obethence can blindly lead people down paths dedicated to the dominating and/or demolishing of other people and their beliefs. Whether or not one maintains apocalyptic thinking, the fact is that all people great and small need to recognize their human fallibility and clothe themselves in intellectual humility towards all of humanity. The populations of the world depend on it.

Andregg, M. (2011). The mountain meadows massacre of 1857: A civilizational encounter with lessons for us all. Comparative Civilizations Review, 64(38).

Baldwin, E. (2012). Religious dogma without religious fundamentalism. Journal of Social Sciences, 8 (1). Retrieved from ProQuest. 13 June 2014. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1288079073?accountid=39473

Hopkin, C., Hoyle, R., & Toner, K. (2014). Intellectual humility and reactions to opinions about religious beliefs. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 42(1). Retrieved from Academic OneFile. Web. 13 June 2014.
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA366346813&v=2.1&u=lom_gvalleysu&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=15865ef58061d8faa3d91839d6ad48b5

Owens, K. (2012). Far from zion: the frayed ties between California’s gold rush saints and LDS president Brigham Young. California History, 89(4). Retrieved from Academic OneFile. Web. 13 June 2014. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA306094639&v=2.1&u=lom_gvalleysu&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=76e1cf7374fe668d2fe3e6eb54839987

Ulanov, A. (2002). Terrorism. Journal of Religion and Health, 41(1). Retrieved 13 June 2014. http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1015154021599

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Ethics and Terrorism

After reading Terrorism Today The Past, the Players, the Future (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013), I believe that the development of a strategy to win the War on Terrorism is both necessary and complex. Terrorism, through the ages, began as left winged revolutions to harsh and extreme domination from other countries or groups, and evolved into an inclusion of dominating others through right winged ideologies. The terrorists of today’s world are committed to either establishing a new government run by a new regime or one which is run by the perceived laws of a higher power such as Allah.

Any strategy to win the War on Terrorism should fundamentally address the deep rooted causes of terrorism (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013). A historical study of terrorism proves that when a group of people are oppressed, marginalized, and dominated inhumanely; this group will raise up a voice which will either be heard verbally or through acts of violence against their aggressors. This was seen in Ireland, Africa, and China, among many other regions of the world. Therefore, addressing and eliminating oppression and domination among all people would be attacking terrorism at its roots. There must be an applied discussion regarding ethics of man.

Eliminating oppression and domination requires that a hard look be taken as to the worth of all people. Determining the worth of man can be accomplished through virtue ethics, duty ethics, or consequentialism (Zach, 2006). Virtue ethics, under Plato, essentially says that virtue is an inherent quality to do the right thing in real life situations for the right reasons and in the right way. Various virtues of generosity and benevolence towards man are taught from childhood. Kant developed his theory of duty ethics with the statement that the only thing good in the world which needs no qualification is benevolence. Kant declared also that human beings were never to be treated as means to an end; rather as the ends. Consequentialists speak of the ultimate good as being what brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Although consequentialists can bring about positive consequences for human beings, the theory allows for negative consequences resulting in harm and pain to humans.

The cycle of violence present in modern day and historical terrorism seems to be geared around consequential ethics. Left wing groups create and accept negative consequences being issued out for the impoverished and oppressed masses. The right wing groups create and accept negative consequences for what they believe will bring the greatest happiness to a huge amount of people. Respondents to terrorism create and accept negative consequences in order to protect their own civilians or to further their own goals. It is critical for oppression and domination to end globally in order to prevent future attacks from occurring. This means that world powers need to stop violent or oppressive actions on other groups for their own benefit. Case in point is what happened in Iraq during the Gulf Wars. The intelligence on the threat of WMD in Iraq was not only incorrect, but no threat appeared to exist (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013). Therefore, the war which began supposedly over the threat of weapons of mass destruction being strongly present in Iraq could not possibly have been truly the case.

One needs to wonder how justified was the extent of damage done by coalition forces in Iraq at the time. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, subsequent international economic embargoes and military action by an international coalition in 1991, drastically changed its economic picture resulting in a devastated country willing to offer a food for oil deal in which it exported two billion dollars worth of oil for exchange of food and medicine (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013). The invasive actions of the United States and Britain regarding Iraq has been challenged. According to most scholars and and legal authorities, the actions were in violation to the United Nation’s Charter (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013). Furthermore, government principles and actions that result in harm to human beings or do not respect the value of human life require extensive justification (Zach, 2006). The invasion began with an airstrike on Baghdad and ended with intense levels of continued insurgency.

In developing an anti-terrorism strategy, I believe the reliance on consequential ethics needs overturned to halt the development of further insurgent groups. Terrorist groups such as Al Queda and other Islamic fundamentalist organizations consider their actions as a duty to their god and will stop at nothing until Western democratic societies are demolished: History has dictated that Al Queda responds to every U.S. Operation brought against it (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013). Osama Bin Laden made a Fatwa to all Muslims around the world motivating them to attack the United States and Western countries at all costs whenever they can. The first principle of natural law states that humans do not harm one another (Zach, 2006). These groups clearly set themselves apart from natural law as they believe that their actions are justified by a higher law requiring strict adherence to religious doctrines. Consequential thinking should be substituted with a combination of virtue and duty ethics. All of humanity needs to return to natural law of not bringing harm to one another. Humans need to return to the development of virtuous characters in children and adults; as well as, see all humans as being the ends rather than the means to the end. This shift in ethics calls for an increase in education and a mindset which emphasizes becoming connected with all human beings.

The masses need to be educated on several concepts. To begin with, from childhood, people should be trained on becoming of virtuous character. Applied education should be implemented for adult and older children where they walk out virtuosity. The masses should be aware of the cycle of terrorism, terrorist groups and their beliefs, and past lessons learned (Simonsen & Spindlove, 2013). Furthermore, they should be taught ways of protecting one’s own person in the constant threat of disaster (Zach, 2006). Under social contract theory, the masses rely on the government to protect them. However, in the reality of significant biological and chemical or suicidal bombing threats, the average person is not protected nor could be. This means that people must educate themselves to the enemy and their tactics. They must decide how they would like to die since death is inevitable and make choices accordingly (Zach, 2006).

The War on Terrorism goes on and those nations and groups who are defending what is right in the world will continue until all is made right. Many governments including our own have made positive steps towards protecting their citizens and should continue to track down and immobilize the terrorist industry. Understanding how we are connected to all other human beings and that our actions cause an equal reaction; combined with doing the right thing in the right way for all of humanity is likely to make great strides in the war on terrorism.

Simonsen, J. R. & Spindlove, C.E. (2013). Terrorism today: The past, the players, the future (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Zach, N. (2006). Philosophy and Disaster. Homeland Security Affairs, 2 (1). Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1266196725?accountid=39473

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The American Killing Fields

Reia's World

“Man Killed in Movie Theater for Texting” – npr.org, “Driver Wounded in Road Rage Shooting” – Chicago Tribune.

There once was a time when we as American citizens contained much more self-control.  I have to ask, “What is going on?”  It use to be when someone complained to an authority, the one being complained about would accept it or shrug it off.  Now, people throw popcorn all over the one who complained.  It use to be when someone threw something harmless at us, we notified an authority or shrugged it off.  Now, people pull out their concealed weapon and fatally shoot them.  It use to be if someone cut another off on the road, the annoyed individual being cut off would blow their horn at the driver.  Now people speed up, get up next to another driver, and shoot them.

Has the ability to own and carry a firearm replaced…

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Becoming a Superhero!

Superheroes are everywhere!   My favorite superhero I think is Superman.  What makes him my favorite superhero?  Well, let’s see.  Superman is a selfless person who can relate to humanity because he was raised by earthly parents.  His selflessness and compassion are character traits which each one of us humans could work on developing.  Then, there are his super powers!  We have all heard of them:  he runs faster than a speeding bullet, he is more powerful than a locomotive, he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and can heal from wounds quickly.  This causes my mind to wander to how his initial being is compassionate and loving, hence his selflessness.

Love has been said to be the most powerful force on earth.  What if all of his superpowers were charged and made possible due to his ability to think of others first before himself. We could then say that his selflessness, or love for others, allowed him to run faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, leap tall buildings with a single bound, and heal from his wounds quickly!  You say that he is only a superhero… a fictional character in a comic book or on the movie screen.

I say that the essence of Superman is possible in all of us.  We can all be the Superman of our worlds!  When we choose to love others before or as ourselves, this choice opens a whole world of possibilities which were never before but now are.  Love for another person enables us to step in between a bullet and that person.  Love for another person helps us to move powerful in their life.  We can be more powerful than a locomotive by giving them a hug, saying “you are special to me” and giving in their time of need (whatever it may be).  Love for another person helps us move uninhibitedly from being a bystander on the sidewalk to the top floor of a building someone is about to jump off of.  It helps us reach that person before they jump to end their life and direct them to a new and brighter life.   Finally, love for another person allows us to heal from our wounds more quickly.  Much of our hurt in our lives has originated from another person.  When we love that person, we are able to see where they have been hurt, misunderstood, lost, and damaged.  We are able to see that the hurt the person caused us is a result of their past hurts rather than a direct reflection of who we are in this world.  This helps us to heal more quickly from wounds that others give us.

Yes, Reia… but Superman has a weakness and it’s Kryptonite!  I would agree with you. The fact that he has a weakness shows that he is indeed human.  He is always mindful of staying far away from the object of his destruction.  This makes him even more of a plausible superhero for us to strive after!  Just like him, we all have a weakness somewhere.  It is our duty to find our weakness and steer away from what causes it in our life.  If you recall, Kryptonite was a substance which came from Superman’s home planet. There is something in our life comparable to Superman’s Kryptonite.  Chances are high that it goes back to our origins and beginnings, meaning it is found within our childhood somewhere.  Just like Superman, we can each be taken out if we are not careful in our daily lives. Therefore, we need to be mindful of our surroundings and the situations which we place ourselves in.

So, are you ready to be a superhero?  Are you ready to become the next Superman of your world?  First, ask yourself… what is your Kryptonite?  Identify it, and stay away from it.

Next, choose to become selfless in your daily life.  Look for opportunities to put others before yourself.  These could happen the next time you are in line at the grocery store, or playing at the park, or driving down the street.  Opportunities to be Superman are LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!  They are all around us if we would only look for them.

Third, see people in distress.  There are people in distress all over the world, but most importantly, right in our own backyards.  Look for the child who hangs his head everywhere he goes because of the bullying that he experiences at school.  Look for the female who is unable to look you in the eye when she speaks to you because of the abuse she is experiencing at home.  Look for the elderly person who needs assistance crossing that busy street of traffic.  Look for the child who always has a sad look in their eye because he or she has a parent who has abandoned them.  Once you begin to open your eyes to others in distress, you will see.

Fourthly, react quickly and accurately to the need.  Superman did not take long to analyze what he should do in a situation.  He just knew.  One way that you can react effectively to the person in distress is to place yourself in that person’s situation.  Then, ask yourself, “what would I need if that were me?”  This does not mean to be super-analyzers about it.  Honestly, we can analyze ourselves right out of helping another person.  Then we just move ourselves out of the superhero category to the super villain category!  Even though, super villains may seem to have the cool things in life, they die in the end 🙂

Lastly, deliver the person in distress out of the situation.  Remember, how you asked yourself what you would need if that were you?  Whatever your answer there was, deliver it to them.  Out of love, find a way… make the path… leap the building… catch the bullet.

You have what it takes to be a superhero!  Believe it, create it, LIVE IT!

 

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The Duality of Mankind

Mankind…  double crossed by our own duality.

Betrayal forever bodes in our midst.

What does your heart desire?

One moment, it seeks to be selfless.

The next, it is urged to be exploitive.

Such conflict haunts us every day.

Our hearts cannot run after that which we choose not.

Let our minds stand fast.

Overcome by our equality.

By:  Reia Cruz

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