Gender Issues and Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues21 Nov 2016 02:34 pm

Ever since early adolescence I’ve been hormonally constituted to be fascinated, mesmerized, entranced, intoxicated, infatuated and enthralled with the female body. Yet, even before the onset of puberty I found myself drawn to girls in the arena of personal relationships and intimate connection.

When it came to the realm of physical activity comprised of running, jumping, tackling and working together as a team I totally preferred the company of boys. In adolescence, in terms of intellectual, scientific and philosophical discourse I once again preferred the company of men.

Yet, what mattered to me most was how to maximize the quality of personal experience through consistently deriving joy form both body and mind. The time and energy, care and devotion, women spent processing their thoughts and feelings regarding their relationship with others as well as themselves I found highly captivating and fulfilling. In many ways this processing of relationship became the core of my definition of intimacy, and intimacy became the center of both the way I lived in the world and how I found meaning and fulfillment in life.

My love affair with the female body and feminine personality were not relegated to a specific type or ideal. The female body and the many varied ways woman had of processing their thoughts and feelings I found endlessly stimulating and refreshing. They were the fruit that I longed to savor and desire whether they be peach, plum, watermelon, pomegranate, grape or berry.

Despite enjoying the cornucopia of the pleasures offered through their intimate company, I never had a problem being loyal and devoted to any woman willing to match my intensity and devotion to intimate sharing. Every visceral, sensual, emotional and intellectual experience of my life became richer and more fulfilling when shared with a partner. I always felt it a touching privilege to be included in the processing ritual that forms the basis of most feminine relationships.

In activities I preferred the company of men, and in conversation and relationships I preferred the company of women. Viewing and experiencing the female life style as having more options and freedoms I greatly envied the female role in society. In the early 60’s the women’s movement with its emphasis on improving the quality of life, consciousness raising, respect for all human life and maximizing one’s experience of love and intimate relationships filled me with hope. I felt that men were imprisoned by work and oppressed by bosses and gender expectations.

Life in the Sixties

I grew up in a town where the great majority of men worked in factories and/or held down two or more jobs in order to make ends meet allowing their wives to stay home and provide the children with a safe and loving environment. Though this wasn’t always the reality, it did fit most of the lower middle class and middle class homes with which I was familiar.

A man’s life, I was often told, and as it appeared to me, centered around three things, duty, sacrifice and alienation. Duty and sacrifice were often spoken of with a sense of pride and purpose. Alienation was talked about in pop psychology, talk shows, the theater and in political messages espoused by unions, marxist and socialist groups, the intelligentsia, and dramatic plays. Death of A Salesman was probably the most powerful play I saw on TV during my childhood, and my father’s frustration, anger and depression seemed to bore testament to his sense of alienation.

My dad was so often very absent and emotionally damaged by his war experience. He would occasionally wake up from nightmares wailing and speaking in Italian in very anxious tones. I have no memory of him speaking to me let alone doing an activity with me, and even when punishing us with belts and switches he never made physical contact with us.

My dad often worked two jobs during my developmental years. My mom, while a busy homemaker, was able to work according to her own schedule and found time to engage in joys during the day such as watching her favorite TV programs and visit neighborhood friends. When I was three and four years old and my brother and sister were at school I had my best times with my mother (who had her own volatility and mental health issues). I would listen to my mom talk to herself and to the TV programs, and I often accompanied her as she walked or traveled by bus to visit friends. My mom loved to cook and the aromas of childhood were dominated by the nurturing smells of food that lingered in the house for hours.

When I was eight my mom decided that she was no longer needed in the home full time and she began to work. My sister, then fourteen, was asked to help out with the cooking and cleaning. and my brother and I were expected to maintain our rooms and make our own breakfast and lunch. My dad’s only objection was that it would make him look incompetent and a failure at providing for his family. Yet, he quickly adjusted to having more free time and not having the entire financial burden placed upon himself.

Since the late 70’s and early 80’s it has been fashionable to focus on how reluctant men are to help out around the house when their spouse goes to work. While this was true in my dad’s case it was also true that when my dad worked two jobs my mom did not help out or take on any of the traditional male tasks. In addition to working anywhere from sixty to eighty hours a week, my dad took care of the lawn, cleaned the gutters, put up screens and storm windows, and did most of the strenuous outdoor activity. Though not good with his hands he fixed all broken items in the home, for we had no money to hire out for professional or trade services. In essence none of this division of labor changed no matter how many hours of work my dad did each week, or when my mom took on an outside job.

I was mot enamored with the male role which I not only experienced in my family but witnessed in pretty much every home in our factory town. While I often saw and talked to my friends mothers, their fathers were generally not present or when present they were busy doing some chore or task. It is true that the men went to clubs and belonged to social organizations, but they usually were dominated by drinking and for group protection and alliances in the labor, religious and political arenas. The handful of times I accompanied my dad to these functions I found them generally bereft of amy intimate conversation though at times there was bonding via humor, story telling and rallying against common enemies or concerns.

Intellectually stimulating conversation was difficult to come by in my youth, and I sought and established friendships with peers who were interested in and willing to engage in thoughtful and intimate conversation. Rarely was I present in a home in which the parents demonstrate a vested interest in their child’s and their child’s friends thought and feelings. The exception to this was my Jewish friends whose families engaged in interesting and thought provoking conversation.

Years of Social Change

I couldn’t relate to my mom’s sense of being bored and having too much free time which greatly influenced her decision to go to work. Shortly after my mom went to work the women’s movement became a part of the mainstream social discussion. I found the entire movement quite encouraging and it gave me hope that men, and not only women, would be able to seek a better quality of life. The early dialogue in the women’s movement focused on quality of life issues such as consciousness raising, intimate relationship, self-discovery and finding and engaging in activities which improved and fulfilled oneself infusing their life with a sense of joy and meaning.

In my junior high years a feminist mom of one of my classmates initiated monthly assemblies where we would listen and discuss important social issues such as the war, poverty, the good society, and how to find meaning in one’s life. I was convinced that the women’s movement was going to free both men and women by providing everyone with options and replacing labor and sacrifice with intimacy and personal growth.

Shortly before I graduated high school the focus of the women’s movement turned towards the economic freedom of having jobs and careers and turned away from quality of life issues. I felt betrayed as the movement abandoned self-actualization and intimacy and replaced by an obsession with joining the workforce and receive equal pay. I could not fathom why women would aspire to live in the world that so many men experienced as a repressive prison. Why would anyone who was seeking intimacy and a better quality of life make alienating labor its core goal?

In my eyes the humanist and feminist goal of creating a society fostering human fulfillment and self-actualization was being replaced by everyone being imprisoned by a life dominated by alienating and stifling labor.

Honoring Everyone’s Sexual Nature

In the fist couple of paragraphs I discussed how I was drawn to and desired to be intimate with the female body and value system. Data and conversations I had with my male friends amply demonstrated that I was not alone with this visceral, emotional and psychological attraction to women. The male sex drive is a powerful hormonal tempest that often dominates many men from puberty well on into adulthood. Sexual desire and the desire to have an intimate relationship with a woman is hard wired into the average heterosexual male.

We have come a long way in terms of understanding, accommodating and sometimes even celebrating the complex biological and hormonal feminine world. The bulk of men and women understand that the hormonal premenstrual changes in the average female influence mood, emotional tenor as well as sensual sensitivities and thought process. We also have begun to understand and accommodate the hormonal and emotional changes engendered during peri-menopause. Only a small portion of people would consider the emotional, physical and psychological changes to be a matter of choice, or a personal problem and handicap. While the hormonal changes are not experienced by everyone in the same manner and intensity, we would not say that they are fictitious or something a woman just needs to overcome.

We also have come a long way in realizing that sexual orientation, identity and sexual appetites are less about choice and more about biochemistry and genetics. One does not choose to be gay anymore than one chooses to be heterosexual.

We have much data regarding the harms caused when one suppresses, denies, or resents their sexual identity and preferences. Depression and even suicide are common reactions to sexual repression, yet often it can also lead to perversion, aggression, and physically harming self and others. There are numerous biochemical and emotional benefits for those who live a healthy and rewarding sex life. The sense of joy and connection not only benefits one’s self-esteem, but also improves one’s personal health, psychological perspective and ability to feel and express compassion.

The heterosexual sex drive is just as biological and inherent as that of gays, lesbians and transgenders. It is just as vital for heterosexual men to have their biological imperatives honored. Similar emotional, psychological and social problems emerge when the male sex drive is repressed, prohibited, suppressed and demonized and when men are told to overcome and transcend their sex drive through will power.

There is a tendency in the feminist narrative to decry the male sex drive in a host of negative frames. The male sex drive objectifies females. The male sex drive is often equated with a male need for power and control. The unrefined (non repressed) male sex drive leads towards violence and aggression. The negative bias towards the male sex drive includes feelings that for a man to be sexually healthy he need to curb his sex drive and become in touch with his feminine side.

While we have acknowledged the ill effects of long term suppression, denial and repression of one’s sexual identify, desires and appetites with the LGBT populations we have generally ignored or at least minimized the effects of repression and rejection on the emotional and psychological health of the heterosexual male. It has been rather common knowledge that from the onset of puberty through a sizable portion of adulthood the average heterosexual male’s life is frequently dominated by sexual thoughts, desires, urges and fantasies. Decades of scientific research have identified many of the hormonal and biochemical processes which render sexual intercourse a biological imperative for a great portion of adolescents and men.

The average adolescent and young adult male’s life being dominated by sexual impulses is also dominated by feelings of rejection and repression in that the goal of their daily and hourly impulses are denied and rebuffed. Is it any wonder that many men who have spent the greater portion of their adolescent and adult life being rejected and often vilified for their “preoccupation” with sex have a hard time staying emotionally invested and engaged?

One’s sexuality and sexual nature is core to both one’s self-concept and satisfaction in life. One’s sense of joy, pleasure, intimacy and meaning is highly impacted by and structured in one’s sexual sensibilities. The appreciation, understanding, compassion for an individual’s sexuality and sexual identity is just as important for heterosexual males as it is for any other sexual preference and identity.

All people and genders are negatively impacted by repression and suppression in any arena including that of sex drive and identity. The list of ways in which these repressions and suppressions manifest themselves is quite lengthy and would include various forms of active and passive aggression, inhibitions, perversions, obsessions and compulsions. Accommodating and helping people’s sexual natures find healthy expression and satiatIon benefits all and leads to better mental and physical health.

I am particularly distressed by the growing feminist perspective that many men are being labeled misogynists. The hormonal biochemistry of the heterosexual male sex drive is not based on hatred, but on attraction, intimacy, desire, passion, connection and devotion. Anger, hatred, abuse and violence are more often the products of repression, suppression, rejection, denial and desperation.

The male sex drive has been the core of all that I cherish and gives meaning to my life. It it what propels me towards finding intimate relationships with others. The biochemistry of sexual fulfillment and orgasm, is central to my experience of pleasure, beauty, passion, empathy, joy and intimacy. Yet, these marvels of being human have often come from my ability to withstand the censure and negative bias of a repressive society that tries to have me deny or transcend my sexual desires. I look about me and do not find many other males who have been able to embrace their sexual natures in a personally fulfilling manner. The road to personal happiness and social harmony is best navigated by understanding and compassion and not with anger, prohibition, and intolerance. The male sex drive is in dire need of a bit of compassion and understanding, and the potential benefits in terms of social harmony are hard to overestimate.

 

Philosophy and Psychology10 Oct 2016 04:05 pm

Let’s begin by breaking down an experience into its simplest parts. All events are not experiences. The difference between an event and an experience is that an event needs to be accompanied by at least a modicum of awareness for it to become an experience. Therefore:

Event + Awareness = Experience

There are many levels and means of being aware. As humans we are not only aware of our environment but also possess a self-awareness. While there is emerging data that supports the fact we are not the only sentient beings with a nascent sense of themselves, it is generally accepted that our level of self-awareness is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Our complex and highly articulate use of language is the medium through which our heightened form of self-consciousness seems to most reside. Therefore, we could use this observation to modify our above formula of experience to:

Sensorial perception + Self-consciousness = Experience or

Sentience + Thought = Experience

Yet, even this expanded formula for experience leaves out an important element of human experience. While the definition of sentience involves both feeling and perceiving, the feeling aspect of sentience is usually more literal in that we sensorial feel things rather than emotionally feel things. Yet, for humans the emotional aspect of feeling is an important if not essential element of our experience. So, our expanded formula for human experience should be:

Sentience + Thought + Emotion/Feeling = Experience

You may wonder why I included feelings along with emotions, that is because I make a distinction between feelings and emotions. Feelings are often more a part of our sentient self falling below the level of awareness of the self-conscious ego. Feeling can be viewed as a general attitudinal background for our experiences. We may feel safe, calm, relaxed, agitated, irritated, or anxious without necessarily being consciously aware of this underlying state.

Emotions, on the other hand, are generally more conscious reactions to these underlying feelings or a reactive response to others or events in our environment. As an example someone who is feeling uncomfortable may be more susceptible to becoming angry or harsh with others. While feelings are what we viscerally feel, emotions are literally what we emote.

Each of the above elements of our experience equation provides some richness and fullness that the other lacks or cannot provide. A rich maximized experience would be more than a thought in our head, or an emotion of our heart but a total integration of body, heart and mind or as our equation states an integration of sentience (sensorial perception), thought and emotion.

Often when walk, drive a car or engage in any habitual activity we go on a form of auto-pilot in which we act and function without necessarily being self-consciously aware of what we are doing. We usually have enough awareness to not run into another car, or not fall or hurt ourselves as we make adjustments to minor changes in the terrain such as curbs, tree roots, parking meters as we mindlessly walk along a new or unfamiliar landscape.

Yet, functioning on remote control, while functional, is far from maximizing our experience. Likewise, if I’m absorbed in petty thoughts regarding a huge list of things I plan on doing in the future while at that moment being disconnected from the food I’m eating or the scenery I’m walking along, I am once again far from engaging in my experience in a rich and fulfilling manner. Even deep and challenging thoughts can be a little thin in the experience department if not accompanied by poignant feelings and sensorial context.

It would seem obvious that fulfilling experience is more likely when it integrates all elements of human experience, and does so with each element open full throttle. The old image of an engine maximizing its speed potential by using all of it cylinders seems apt. So does the image of filling the bathtub through fully opening up all three faucets of sentience, thought and emotion.

It is important to keep in mind that more isn’t alway better. While full use of one’s thoughts, senses and perception, and feelings and emotions increases our potential for personal fulfillment and rich experience, it does not necessarily maximize our experience or produce lasting joy. Such cellular joy comes when one acts in a life affirming manner and remains sensitive to one’s personal wants and needs.

Despite the apparent obviousness that an exhaustive use of our mind, heart and body is better able to produce rich and full experience, this expansive approach towards happiness and fulfillment runs counter to millennia of human experience. A great deal of human history focused on reduction rather than expansion and the vestiges of that tendency still dominate modern society and its methods to live a meaningful and happy life.

The expansionist and reductionist ways of dealing with human experience both seem to be present in the life of early man. Earliest records show that man often did not feel to be the author of his own thoughts and feelings. More often than not even the most basic thought and feeling was considered to be a gift or curse of the gods. Early man often desired to flee this fragile sense of self by partaking in ceremonies and rituals whose goal was to achieve ecstasy, which literally meant to get beyond oneself. Despite this goal the ceremonies themselves were often expansive and integrative. One reached the ecstatic state, through chanting, dance, and participating in or observing emotionally and meaning laden operatic parts. While the participants routinely testified to reaching a unified state beyond individuality, they did retain enough awareness to experience this supposed state of fusion.

Yet, the tendency towards reducing experience was also present in the desire to make a distinction between the sacred and the profane, or the exceptional and the mundane. According to this viewpoint life was inherently meaningless or even sinful, and one’s only hope of finding solace and significance was through making contact with the holy or the sacred.

This need to transcend suffering, uncover the great mysteries of life, and create order out of chaos became the central goal of the majority of cultures and societies. Through time it became increasingly necessary to divorce oneself from some aspects or elements of human experience in order to uncover eternal truths, avoid sin, or obtain salvation or eternal life.

Many of our disciplines became very disparaging and mistrustful of our body and its sensory perceptions and emotions. Plato viewed physical and perceptual life as a deceptive illusion feeling that truth and perfection were found instead in ideas, ideals and concepts. Science likewise felt subjectivity and naive perception were obstacles to the acquiring of the underlying mathematically perfect laws that house absolute Truth. Scientific objectivity was acquired by reducing, stripping away, and isolating variables. Religion, spiritualism and mysticism likewise rejected the tangible and the beauty of human experience replacing it with transcendence, essence, spirit and alternate realities. Even the classical arts sought to find the skeleton of truth by reducing our experience to the mathematics of pure form and attempting to find the true laws of idyllic beauty.

This is not to say that the above reductionist tendency was a complete mistake or itself an illusion. Yet, the negative attitude towards integrated human experience, was often unnecessary and has had many unfortunate consequences. The important fact that each time the scientific method found human perception to be illusionary or false, it was corrected by another human perception is often missed. What was gained by objectivity and reductionism was somewhat nullified by the danger of our disrespecting and vilifying our emotional and sensorial world. When spirit and mathematical Truth is all that matters than it become increasingly less important to not poison the air, water and land, or where war, torture, rape and the quality of life of each sentient being becomes inconsequential or the means by which the good defeats evil.

Knowledge, wisdom and intimacy all involve the ability to see and feel things from a multitude of perspectives. We learn much when we reduce and focus our vision when using a microscope and we also often benefit by expanding our vision telescopically to see the big picture. Yet, joy is an expansive experience, and maximizing one’s experience is best accomplished by savoring and integrating all the elements of human experience. The human body is no less a marvel than the mind, and feelings are the spice of life without which joy is impossible. The body feels pleasure, the heart feels joy and the mind feels wonder, such is the incredible beauty of being human and the expansive full range of human experience.

Jim Guido

Art and Music and Relationships13 Aug 2016 09:28 am

Album Release and The Art of Living:

People attain a sense of meaning and purpose in their life through a variety of means. An abbreviated list of ways would include: tasks and accomplishments, thought and ideas, experience and emotions, faith and belief, and events and adventures. The way we derive meaning, joy and satisfaction from our lives could be referred to as the Art of Living.

I advocate for an approach which attempts to maximize the moment by integrating sensorial, visceral, emotional, conceptual and psychological elements as often as possible. Both experience and logic seem to verify that such well rounded and comprehensiveness provides our lives with much depth, richness and satisfaction.

While everyone is free to find what best works for them I must admit a sense of wariness and fear when people employ methods that emphasize mind, spirit and consciousness at the expense of dismissing, ignoring, devaluing and sometimes demonizing the body and sensorial life.

If we lived in a global community that was life affirming all personal preferences would be safe and acceptable. Yet, when our and all of organic life’s continued existence is threatened through war, intolerance, etc. the respect for and valuing of physical organic life becomes essential. The less one values and appreciates our bodies and tangible organic life, the more likely it becomes that we will engage in or tolerate actions which harm and destroy organic life. The more the body and the world is a burden, obstacle, temptation, illusion or thing to transcend the less likely we are vigilantly insure its survival.

My music and lyrics are a major way in which I personally grow and find meaning in life. It is also the means by which I try to have a positive impact on the quality of life of others as well as have a life affirming influence on the world as a whole. I, therefore, greatly appreciate your taking the time to listen to my songs, and ask that you introduce and share it with others.

So, here are 2 songs from my latest release Go!
Below for those who are interested is a little insight into how I create music and write songs.
Just tap on links immediately below and enjoy!

 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/feelin…
 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/carniv…

To read lyrics and listen to songs from all currently released albums go to:

 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/music

Just tap on any album cover and go from there.

Me and my music

Occasionally when writing a song I’ll start with an image, or a phrase and then find a couple of chords which fit. Yet, the vast majority of the time I start with a totally clean slate and play chords on the guitar (or piano) until they create a distinct emotional environment.

Out of this musical mood/environment a tentative vocal line emerges. After singing nonsense words for hours over a number of days, the song usually coalesces into a few distinct musical sections with their own chord patterns. Then the dance between actual words and melody lines begins to happen which shapes the length and order of each section, verse and refrain,

My entire songwriting process is extremely organic and as reflexive as speech or driving a car. I usually enter a kind of emotional trance state trusting that words will come to me which elicit and evoke what I’m feeling. In many ways I experience the bulk of the process as me listening and paying attention to my emotional and sentient body. While my ego does help in the decision process by and large my ego spends its time trying to listen and portray what I’m feeling.

Songwriting is a form of personal therapy in which I learn about me as I create. I often find that the longer I sit with my original lyrics the more comfortable I become with them making it unnecessary to make many changes or alterations. While words serve many purposes in my lyrics I find a certain hierarchy of preferences. I most often use words to evoke and elicit an experience or mood, next I prefer words that express, after that comes words that articulate and my least favorite lyrics are those that explain.
I would learn little about myself if I all that I created was managed or filtered through my self-conscious ego. The learning of myself comes after a songs completion when i reflect on and savor what I’ve created.

Ironically, I find that my music is easiest for people to enjoy if they start first by reading the lyrics and my liner notes. In this way most people find a way to appreciate the mood and intensity of the music. Most modern music is a consumable, while my songs are more art than easily digestible sound.

I seldom find music that moves me more than that which arises out of me. I feel that my music speaks and shares many aspects of myself in an intimate and powerful fashion. I invite you to viscerally enter my world and inspires you to further explore yours and maybe even motivates you to share with me some of your reactions and experiences.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Philosophy and Social Issues20 Apr 2016 09:28 am

Here are a few themes from early philosophy, science and religion which continue to influence our beliefs, attitudes and assumptions regarding truth, meaning and the nature of human existence.

Early philosophers such as Plato desired to anchor knowledge and meaning in the impermeable and eternal. While human experience was transitory and unstable ideas and concepts were true, fixed and universally valid. According to this view point ideas are real and valid while tangible objects are imperfect and relatively insignificant copies of reality.

The superiority of form and essence over the world of sensations and subjective perception was also found in the pure science of mathematics. Perfection, precision and universal law were revealed in the pure form of number and geometry. Certainty, truth, natural/universal law, and objective knowledge were attainable not through sensorial human experience but in revealing the underlying immutable form obtained through math.

All hard sciences from astronomy, to physics to medicine acquired objective knowledge and certainty in the realms of math and universal law which lay outside the subjective realms of sensation and perception. Truth, certainty and immutable fact were the sole property of pure form and essences garnered though math and objective experimentation, while human experience was deceptive at best if not entirely illusionary.

The belief that all human sensorial, emotional and perceptual experience was an illusion was fundamental to most spiritual practices such as Buddhism as well as a core tenet of the major salvation religions. All truth and certainty existed in the sacred and ideal space which lay underneath or beyond human experience. Pure knowledge, truth, certainty and universal law were acquired in the esoteric sacred worlds carved out by religion, philosophy and science.

Enlightenment, salvation and eternal life were attainable to only those brave, disciplined and clever enough to not become attached or deceived by the transitory sensorial world of mundane experience. The world of human experience was deemed an empty illusion bound to be dominated by physical and emotional pain and suffering haunted by the inevitability of death.

The denigration of human experience by making it an illusion, something to transcend or a necessary obstacle to gain access to truth, certainty and immortality carries with it many important ramifications and repercussions. The acquisition of certainty, truth and universal law through the creation of ideal and sacred space comes at a severe cost.

Through math and the scientific method we have satisfied our quest for certainty and truth by discovering and proving the immutable laws which govern our planet and the entire universe. These efficient laws of cause and effect determine that each and action and event have an opposite and equal reaction. So what might appear on the surface as novel or by chance is only an illusion fostered by our inability to see more than a sliver of reality. Yet, according to universal law there is no chance occurrence and every event is predetermined by the immutable laws of cause and effect.

When logically implemented this means that not only is every action I take just a link in the causal chain of the universe, but so is every thought I have or emotion that I experience since they are indeed events that occur inside of the universal frame work. In a world of universal law and cause and effect any perception of individual action, creation or choice is a complete subjective fiction.

The quest for certainty is just as strong in the realms of philosophy and religion as it is in the sciences. The idea of a perfect god or intelligent agent which created the universe is extremely common. It is the nature of a perfect god to create all that is good and perfect. Thus creation must to be perfect, immutable and follow a specific destiny.

It is, therefore, not surprising that most religions have the initial creation being perfect and ideal such as the garden of Eden. The one variable allowed in the realm of religion is that man was created with a free will. So while man was born in harmony with god, he had the ability think on his own. Yet, since god was all good the only way man was able to demonstrate his freedom was to willfully do other than god. Yet, if god is perfect any deviation from his ways would be imperfect and wrong and, therefore, a sin.

In essence the only way man could distinguish himself from god and exercise the gift of free will was to sin and be cast out of the perfect garden and live a live filled with suffering, pain and death. From that moment of original sin on, the entire goal of human existence was to try to seek god’s forgiveness and regain eternal life by subjugating himself to the will of god.

The quest for certainty, immortality and perfection is often born of man’s fear of death and the desire to escape pain and suffering. In philosophy and spirituality one is often guided to transcend the harsh reality of life and to take refuge into his underlying perfect essence. While one can’t prevent the body from pain, suffering and death one can transcend the illusion of the sensorial experience finding solace in enlightenment or place all their focus on their inner immutable and immortal essence, soul, mind or spirit.

While much of the above is no longer explicitly stated many of our beliefs, assumptions and attitudes towards ourselves and the world in general are highly influenced by the tacit vestiges of our need to find meaning in life through truth, certainty, and absolutes. Though for many of us human existence is no longer synonymous with pain and suffering, we still feel a need to find meaning and solace in transcendental realities and universal truths, which marginalize and often demonize our sensorial perceptual subjective experience.

No matter how comfortable and pleasurable our sensorial world, we still have a tendency to view it as an illusion or an empty seduction. The abstract immutable world of spirit, mind, consciousness and soul are still considered by most to be both separate from the body and immutable and immortal. This being the case we still place little value on the importance and significance of physical and sensorial pleasure, in comparison to that of ideals, beliefs, absolutes, concepts and transcendental realities.

This could at least partially explain why we show little regard for the physical, emotional, psychological welfare of those who do not believe as we do. The general disregard for the physical body also explains why we so readily pollute our water, air and land despite all the evidence of its harm on our health, quality of life and physical survival.

We are children of Plato when we revere and glorify ideas and abstract thought as more important and essential than the care and protection of the human body and all its sensorial experiences. Our obsession with mind, spirit and pure consciousness is very harmful when it is divorced from its connection to and dependence on the physical body.

An integrated view of human life finds joy and happiness in the perceptual, emotional, visceral and psychological realms of human experience. Rather than transcending the body we can delight in embracing our humanity. Rather than looking for immutable truth which renders life predestined and predetermined, we can enjoy the human potential to discover, invent, learn and process.

Eternal truth and universal law provide ultimate meaning and immortality at the expense of the value and richness of an individual whose choices and joys are truly real, valuable and self-determined. I do not find what is abstractly gained through Truth, Certainty and Universal Law to be greater than what it is lost by becoming a predestined creature whose every action is just the unfolding of a fated script written either by god’s will or the law of cause and effect.

The choice isn’t between Certainty and Chaos, or complete order and randomness. Our existence is an extremely nuanced blend of givens and possibilities. There are basic laws of nature expressed as limits and conditions such as my need for oxygen to breathe, or that I will die without food and water. We know that genetics as well as naturally occurring events can exert varying amounts of influence in our moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings and decisions.

Humanity’s current self-destructive path seems to be fueled by our blatant disregard of the importance, significance and beauty of sensorial/perceptual life. The more we accept the fact that matter matters, that our bodies and our environment are central to all our experiences of joy, pleasure, love and meaning, the more dedicated when can become to sustaining and improving the quality of life of all organic life.

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships17 Feb 2016 09:06 am

The following is the introduction from my book Exploring Intimacy which can be accessed by clicking on the words tab. The entire book is available for your perusal and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

INTRODUCTION

Throughout most of my life there has been an attitudinal thread running through me. All my thoughts, actions and feelings have come together to form one unified view of life. This unified view forms the basis of my theory of intimacy.

This theory tends to all the major questions of life including, what is love, where do I find meaning, how can I be happy, and how can I derive the most from my moment to moment experiences?

The basic views outlined in this book were initially formed as early as high school but began to take shape and become organized in my early twenties. Since then I have been pleasantly surprised to see how my earliest intuitions have been validated through all I have read and experienced throughout the years.

While other people I knew created their ideal world around religious beliefs, love, faith, or psychological/philosophical schools of thought, I instead found myself drawn to a very practical way of looking at and appreciating my experiences. This attitude soon found a name, that being intimacy.

In my life intimacy has been more than a catch word or a vague feeling, for me it is a basic orientation towards life. It is what motivates and propels me towards the future. This book is an introduction to the very program of my existence.

In a society as fast paced and media oriented as ours a word or idea can become popular very quickly. The term intimacy, seldom used before the late sixties, has become quite fashionable over the last few decades. Once the sole property of poets and a gentile substitute for more direct sexual descriptions, intimacy is now a term used by almost everyone.

References to intimacy are common in magazines, novels, and self-help books. Psychiatrists, psychologists and many other therapeutic professionals refer to human intimacy in almost everything they say. Radio and television talk shows donate entire programs to the discussion of the relative merits of intimacy. Instead of talking politics, or exchanging local gossip, friends now often evaluate the amount of intimacy in their lives, or discuss the “intimate” details of their latest relationship.

Intimacy is most often described as something desired and desirable. Many individuals and therapists make intimacy a goal, something to attain which will enrich one’s life. Yet, like many popular terms, the meaning of intimacy is taken for granted. We use the term like we all know what it means. Seldom does anyone ever define the term, and if so they usually do it in a demeaning way, (as if only an insensitive moron would not know the meaning of the word).

The lack of a clear definition is occasionally recognized as a problem. Yet, instead of providing a definition of what intimacy is, people generally choose to end the confusion by stating what it is not. A common example of this would be that sexual intimacy is not just having sex.

Sex, though a popular form of intimacy, is not the only recognized area of intimacy. One often hears of people “hiding their most intimate secrets”, or sharing their “most intimate dreams”. Desire, love, religious piety, personal beliefs and dreams are all viewed as being proper arenas of intimacy.

What is the beauty of intimacy which makes it such an attractive and desired element in our lives? Why are people who claim to have found and attained intimacy in their lives envied and doubted? Why and how has intimacy become a litmus test for personal happiness, and a pre-requisite for achieving self-fulfillment?

These questions lead us to reconsider our perceptions of intimacy, and our views of someone considered to be an intimate person. Though we function under no clear definition of intimacy we do have some pretty strong ideas of the type of people leading intimate lives.

An intimate person is viewed as being open, caring and sensitive, able to see and work on the shortcomings in himself, while recognizing and openly complimenting the strengths of others. An intimate person accepts and gives love without strings being attached and is devoted to those he loves. Women are generally viewed as being more inclined towards intimacy, and often complain about the boorish nature of men and their inability to even appreciate intimacy let alone live it.

The preceding sketchy outline of an intimate person may seem a bit narrow and idealized, but that is what happens when we do not define terms we use. Love, like intimacy, is a word we have trivialized and trampled to death. Yet, the short amount of time we have abused the term intimacy allows us an opportunity to restore the dignity the word deserves.

Intimacy, like love, is much more than a word like boat which names a specific object. Intimacy is a concept articulating an entire stance towards life. Also like love, it is a force we desire to engulf our lives, a worthy goal of the human spirit.

In Exploring Intimacy, we will not only define intimacy, but explore it. We will look at how our current views of intimacy were formed and how this view could shape and be altered by our future. Most importantly we will try to become intimate with intimacy itself, we will look at it, sniff it, and devour each tasty morsel it has to offer.
We will see how our desire to be intimate pervades every aspect of our lives and potentially influences each individual thought we have or action we take. Our investigation into intimacy will involve more than a discussion of sexual relationships, or even friendships in general. Our exploration will be into all relationships we have, including those we have with ourselves, nature, spirituality, art and knowledge.

Leading an intimate life is a never ending task, complex and challenging. No one person’s life is devoid of intimacy. Nor is anyone’s life unable to be made more intimate. The more we know about a specific subject or object the more intimate we can become with that person or thing. Intimacy is infinite because there is no limit to the number of ways we can view even the most mundane object. In this book intimacy will be found to be a pervasive force and an on-going approach at the very heart of human experience.

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues13 Oct 2015 07:14 pm

Wealth is not so much about how much money and assets you have but rather how much money and assets you have in comparison to others. In essence, wealth is about how big of a piece of the pie you possess.

The recent money printing mania of central banks has deeply distorted our concept of wealth. Over the last decade or so the size of the pie (money pool) has quintupled yet the majority of people’s wages and assets have stagnated or have grown at a moderate pace.

What this means is that if you’re personal wealth hasn’t ballooned by 500% over the last decade your relative wealth has decreased. If your savings have stayed pretty much the same it means that you are 1/5 as wealthy as you were a decade ago. Actually if one figures in the rise in inflation of food, energy, medical care and other necessities your wealth has plummeted even if your numerical wealth has doubled or even tripled.

Economic data suggests that as many as 20% of US citizens were experiencing expanding relative wealth in the early 80’s. Those treading water or enjoying a larger share of the pie fell to under 10% within a decade. The next decade saw the percentage of people’s wealth increasing drop to 5% and then down to 2%. Since the last financial crisis in 2008, the percentage of people enjoying a boost in relative wealth has gone from the infamous “one percent” to a fraction approaching 1/10 of one percent.

So even in the glory days of the middle class well over 50% of US citizens were experiencing a decline in relative wealth. Yet, due to advances in medicine and technology statistics supported the idea that the US and European middle class were experiencing a rise in their quality of life.

The standard of living and quality of life of a sizable percentage of people can actually rise even while their relative wealth declines. This can occur due to substantial improvements in technology and medicine along with the empire sharing the spoils with its citizens. The US shared the wealth it obtained through global dominance with its allies and citizens. Consumer based capitalism rewarded its citizens and foreign backers and participants with increased access to its riches, even as the percentage of wealth continued to shift into fewer and fewer hands.

Yet, over the last couple of decades and especially since the last financial crisis the tendency for the US government and financial elite to share the bounty is on the decline. A consumer based society needed a sizable portion of the populace to participate as consumers and producers of goods and services and also to function as soldiers to insure the continued expansion of global domination (both militarily and economically).

Recent economic events and technological advances have now lessened the need for a sizable portion of US citizens to be consumers, producers and soldiers. Our vaunted consumer based society is now being replaced by a financial instrument economy. Please read my previous post http://guidoworld.com/blog/the-post-indu… to gain a better understanding of the logistics of this new economy and how it frees the financial elite from its dependency on US citizens for its continued progress and success.

The US’s position as the reigning superpower is dependent on its retaining its financial and military domination. Any set back in its relative wealth is a threat to its privileged and dominating position. The US cannot just maintain its wealth to insure its dominance, but it must continue to increase its market share and piece of the global economic pie. Any drop in the percentage of global wealth it experiences results in a loss of global dominance. Wherever money and asset ownership exists, the US “cannot afford” not to participate and be a leader.

In order to remain the dominant superpower our government and its patrons must do everything in their power to maximize profits. One does not maximize profits through just tolerating and taxing lucrative illegal or immoral practices and markets. In order to maximize profits it is logically necessary to not only participate and establish a presence in economic boons such as black market trade, but to establish and maintain a commanding position. Likewise, one does not remain the dominant economic superpower by refusing to participate in the largest and most lucrative industries and marketplaces due to ethics and morals.

When one’s goal is an ever increasing state of wealth through maximizing profits and increasing market share it becomes imperative that you maintain access to “free markets” and that you dominate all lucrative marketplaces available. The bulk of our military actions make sense when viewed from this perspective. We go to war, use economic sanctions and intervene in the political world of other nations (regime change) all in an effort to gain access to potentially lucrative resources and markets or to establish a dominant position in an industry.

So while we trumpeted our defense of democracy and values such as freedom, in reality our privileged position was acquired and is maintained by the expanding acquisition and ownership of assets, resources and money. Britain in its heyday did not shy away from admitting that it went to war with China over the free trade of opium as well as other producing promising great profits.

Modern empires have used piracy, bullying, intimidation, manipulation and deception in order to acquire and maintain the monopolization of assets and resources. Nations which refused to participate were demonized, punished and often vanquished, whatever it took to increase market share and profits. The US has not deviated from this game plan, even if they try to hide this reality. When US leaders speak of taking aggressive actions against other nations to protect US interests, stakes and way of life it is far more accurate than when they say they are defending freedom and democracy. Unless, of course, they are referring to the freedom of gaining access and control of the assets and resources of others and that when they say democracy they mean capitalism (as our way of life).

We have generally opposed anyone who refused to participate in our exploitive profit based global economy or who wished to share the wealth with its citizenry. We labeled and demonized anyone behaving in this way as being a communist, socialist, terrorist, or as an evil and destructive zealot. A nation who nationalized its oil or attempted to use its resources to benefit its citizens while isolating itself from the US was sure to be invaded, attacked, have its government removed or have their assets frozen and be saddled with economic sanctions.

In general there are two basic national or cultural camps which resist or refuse to participate in “our (capitalistic) way of life” or prevent us from gaining access to their assets and resources. One camp would include any society promoting an egalitarianism such as socialists and communists. The second camp would be those who object to capitalism because of core values such as conservative religions and social activists. Most major religions have basic tenets which promote charity, succor and support to the less fortunate and are generally intolerant of exploitive and selfish economic practices. The very same practices which are often viewed as being inherent in the capitalistic free market system. A subset of these two camps would include entities such as human rights organizations, workers unions, and ecological watchdogs.

Luckily for the US many communists nations went the route of totalitarianism or were able to be guided in that direction which validated our aggressive actions as well as our claims of their being evil and our intentions as being noble. Yet, the social benefits of revolutionaries of the people such as Castro, Chavez and Gaddafi had to be ignored and vilified. Statistics which show great strides made in health care, education, access to technology, quality of life and quality of life are ignored, denied or described as meaningless is comparison to the suffering supposedly caused by these “evil tyrants”. Likewise the leaders of passive resistance and their themes of charity and non exploitation were undermined and labeled terrorists by our government (at least internally). This list would include Mandela, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King as well as many prominent women’s rights and peace advocates.

We have forced our way into every marketplace and resource. Where ever money is made we are there, and we must gain monetary control. We can’t let our morals, ideals and principles be our undoing. While we may deny it, more and more people accept the fact that we go to war to maintain our economic leadership in oil, natural gas and other vital and profitable areas regarding energy. Yet, how long would we stay the economic superpower if our morality and principles prevented us from the billions of dollars available through the selling of munitions, illegal arms and weapons of mass destruction.

Communist nations are by definition opposed to profit based capitalism. So, when a nation becomes communistic or socialistic they no longer conduct themselves in a manner befitting global trade maximizing profit. The US reacts to this non participation aggressively and will go to war, support a coup or try to assassinate leaders who are deemed responsible for this unacceptable economic stance.

Yet, China is currently an example of how even a communist nation can be acceptable to us as long as they keep the channels of commerce open and allow us to exploit their riches in an expanding fashion. Tensions arise whenever China makes a policy decision which jeopardizes are financial role or shows any signs of hoarding their wealth or resources.

During its heyday Britain could not pass on the opportunity to dominate the opium trade. Its status as reigning empire necessitated its gaining access and control of the opium trade. When China successfully intervened and squashed the drug trade and addiction rate in its country, Britain felt it war worthy to reestablish the opium trade.

Just as Britain went to war for opium, the reasons behind our wars and military interventions are economic in origin. As mentioned above, our position as global superpower is dependent on not only maintaining but increasing our market share and piece of the global economic pie. Wherever a sizable market exists we must not only participate in it, but be an increasingly major player.

Vietnam and the surrounding area was known as the “golden triangle” and was responsible for much of the global production of heroin and other illegal “recreational” drugs. When the communists took over the flow of drugs began to slow down, and moral and health concerns became more important than economic ones. The US war in Vietnam succeeded in reestablishing the global drug trade. So, from a strictly economic standpoint the war in Vietnam was a success.

It is fascinating to note that the two longest wars for the US, that being Vietnam and Afghanistan are both illegal drug havens. Over 90% of poppy production evaporated when the Taliban took over and gained control of the land. As soon as the US got involved the poppy production not only returned but went to record levels. The charts of US military presence in Afghanistan and poppy production appear to be the same. Whenever our presence increases so does poppy production and global heroin trade, and when we leave or lose territory to the Taliban the production is curtailed.

While both Vietnam and Afghanistan could just be coincidences it does seem unlikely. We are a capitalistic society that values money, wealth and power over everything else. It is only logical that our policies and behaviors would correspond to this paramount concern. If we didn’t act in this manner than what other explanation is there for how we successfully maintain and increase our economic position. Someone is making the billions of dollars available through illegal drugs, munitions, armaments, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, gambling, prostitution, human slave trade, ecologically destructive practices, etc. and if the US government and its corporate sponsors aren’t leading the way then how do we remain the world economic power?

One only need to look at how we have exploited Central America and “banana republics” to get a picture of how important it is to the US to become and stay dominant in every market place and economic space. I saw an article recently that went through every war the US has participated in since its inception. As it turns out we have been involved in a military conflict or war in over 93% of the time we have been a nation. We have initiated the vast majority of these wars and conflicts.

The above statistic clears demonstrates that the US is more than willing to go to war to “protect our interests”, or to provide us access to and control of global assets. Yet, war is not the only means by which the US accomplishes these goals. Another fruitful means has been through the installation of trading agreements and international pacts of commerce. Agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) have been very effective in terms of protecting the rights of major corporations and industries such as banking, pharmaceutical, insurance and oil while expanding their access to foreign markets and assets.

Another tool has been to provide monies in loans and aid to foreign nations in exchange for establishing a military presence and gaining access to industries. Oftentimes the debt on the substantial loans given to nations become unserviceable resulting in our government and corporations gaining ownership of assets in exchange for forgiveness of debt. Many of the US’s most dominant positions have been forged through this method. The US gains ownership of foreign land, oil, coffee, plantations, gold, diamonds and many other lucrative markets via the exchange of assets for debt. Recently the EU took ownership of many of Greece’s assets and land in this same way of debt forgiveness.

While the practice of overwhelming a nation with debt could be just financial incompetence by bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank its frequency and obvious benefits to the goal of maximizing profits suggest otherwise. As early as 2002 I started to become concerned that the methods of confiscating assets through the creation of unserviceable debt had become a domestic issue with the US middle class being the target audience. The quick growth in credit card, mortgage and student debt of the average US citizen was becoming large and conspicuous. Loans were being given out at an alarming rate, and from my seat a good portion seemed unserviceable or very vulnerable to an economic downturn (such as the housing bubble).

Please click on the following link to read my thoughts on this perspective which I published in August of 2008 http://guidoworld.com/blog/the-debt-endg…. This concern of mine has only grown and been validated through the passage of time. It only makes sense that the US government and its benefactors need for increased wealth and market share would finally demand their being predatory and confiscate what little wealth remains in the hands of its citizens. This blog along with the previous link above regarding the post industrial financial economy present a rather succinct outline of what might be in store for the US middle class, as well as the middle class in most post industrial societies.

The EU’s growing practice of negative interest rates and buy ins, as well as increased discussion regarding the need to construct a cashless society fit well into this unsavory vision of the immanent future (demise?) of the middle class. While the situation is far from hopeless one can’t solve a problem that one doesn’t recognize.

While writing this I agonized on how to present the above information in a manner which wouldn’t quickly be rejected by those on the right or the left, or thought of as just being a paranoid rant and over reactionary. Yet, I doubt if that is possible. I hope that those of you have shown the openness to read this to its conclusion have found the logic sound and the topic provocative.

United in Compassion

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues16 Jul 2015 02:22 pm

While greed and deception are accepted as practical business skills needed when one’s goal is to maximize profits, the majority of the populace feels that corporations and governments minimize these practices when it comes to advocating for the welfare of their citizens. There are those that understand that the profit of the few often comes at the expense of the many. Such individuals reach the logical conclusion that decisions made by governments are almost always based on pragmatic financial outcomes and seldom honor any ideals or concerns such as democracy, freedom or the quality of life of the masses. Those who do not expect the financial and political elite to sacrifice personal and national monetary wealth for the benefits of the general populace are generally considered cynical at best and more routinely labeled conspiracists.

Yet, the ability of the US to maintain its position of economic superiority would be difficult to accomplish if it spread the wealth around or had noble principles guide its actions. In order to remain the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on earth, they must make money wherever and however it is made.

The European Union, like all relatively sovereign entities, is struggling to keep from being entirely swallowed up by the US, or losing ground against the remaining competitors and major players in world finance.

Please read the link below for it is a rare and real look into the inner workings of international finance. It is a rather transparent peek behind the curtain of economic policy and its priorities. It shows how often the bullies of power force the vanquished into looking like the bad guys or to take credit for a heinous or unpopular position.

The attitude of the text and the annotated comments of the ex Greek finance minister depict a mandatory consensus, in which the people calling the shots demand those being bullied to agree to take full responsibility for the very actions they are opposed to implementing. Any mention of their concerns or the fact that they are not really the people implementing the harsh and unpopular measures would be considered a violation of the agreement and cause for additional and hasher measures to be taken. If the Greek government wants to be part of the European Union they must not only implement policies and measures which not only increase their debt problems and worsen unemployment and poverty, but they must speak and act as if it were their idea.

I am amazed at the level of care that the leaders of the European Union (namely Germany) put into the words they chose which artfully misrepresent their selfish and malevolent intentions. The only people who benefit from these measures are the creditors of the debt. The majority of which should not have purchased bonds since they were aware that the debt could never be paid off. The world would be quite a different place if our leaders put as much care and attention into working on our behalf, rather than trying to figure out ways to deceive and placate us.

In the modern world of politics consensus is acquired through those in power stubbornly dictating the terms forcing all others to quietly acquiesce or become an accomplice to their exploitative and inhumane policies and behavior.
A system that tolerates, encourages and at times even glorifies mechanisms of deceit and exploitation will always perform better and defeat systems that are fair, equitable and humane.

A person could always win the race when they are able to cheat and disable their competitors. A runner allowed to get a head start, take short cuts and have accomplices kick and grab the other runners could easily claim superiority. With this in mind it is easy to understand how a profit at all costs system of capitalism is able to “outperform” all other social systems.

 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-15…

Those who most benefit from the predatory system of competition and profit have convinced people that no other system would cultivate and utilize technology and the creative energies of man, despite the fact that there is ample evidence to the contrary. We do know that this system creates economic imbalances, is dependent on waste, and is rather blind to any long term variable producing harm. As we mentioned earlier, when one’s primary goal and concern is maximizing profit all other concerns take a back seat.

Documents which are designed to benefit the few by extricating the remaining wealth of the many are being written and made into law quite frequently. Excusing debt by taking over ownership of assets is the very definition of loan sharking, and has been a staple of greedy governments, individuals and institutions for centuries. The most admirable moments of human history have been when the masses have demanded that the quality of life and the standard of living for the many takes precedent over the greed and self-agrandizement of the few.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues15 Jul 2015 06:34 pm

The US continues to be the poster child for a profit based health care system. In such a system a person’s health takes a back seat to concerns regarding the bottom line. In fact, a healthy client often limits the ability for vested parties such as doctors, hospitals and insurance and pharmaceutical companies from making a profit. While “wellness” visits do generate a bit of income, the real money in a profit based system is made in the following ways:

Tests
Surgeries and procedures
Hospital Stays and emergency room visits
Prescriptions and medicines

Since the US is the most profit based health care system in the world, it is not surprising that we also lead the world in all four of the above services and interventions. Many tests, surgeries and procedures, hospital stays and medications are over used and misused. So while many people’s lives are prolonged and their quality of life improved by US medical care, these interventions are also a leading cause of death in the US.

Unnecessary tests and surgeries can often result in complications, harms and even death. Prescription medications and procedures are notorious for having deleterious and serious “side effects” which occur with a frequency superior to its resulting in a cure.

Doctors run tests on many ostensibly healthy patients in order to be “proactive” and possibly catch a serious disease such as cancer which has yet to manifest itself. Yet, many of the most popular tests used are often ineffective in their goal, while in some cases causing problems which would not have occurred otherwise.

The US profit based health care system is excellent for those who have serious and life threatening conditions, but can be extremely harmful to those who are generally healthy. A healthy patient who only goes to the doctor when ill, or for a physical every year or two is a drain on the profits of our health care system.

The health care system has a vested interest in making sure that tests and patient interviews reveal potential reasons for some lucrative or frequently reoccurring intervention to be administered. The pharmaceutical industry has made it near impossible for a citizen of the US to go through their lives without the need to take medications on a frequent basis.

The result of this obsession with making health care as profitable as possible is that Americans are the most medicated and over diagnosed populace. They have longer and more frequent hospital stays where exposure to drug resistant germs can result in serious illness and/or death. They are also badgered and bullied by an increasingly predatory health care system and threatened to be dropped by insurance providers if they resist to subject themselves to often unnecessary and potentially harmful tests and procedures whose sole goal is to detect the need for more tests or the ostensible existence of a serious illness such as cancer needing immediate and expensive attention.

The US health care system deserves a great deal of admiration for their ability to save those in the most dire of situations. Many grateful people owe their life and quality of life to their doctors and the modern technology it employs. Yet, many other people’s lives have been destroyed or prematurely terminated due to the health care system’s zealousness to generate substantial profits.

Statistics do not support the US health care systems boasts of being the best in the world. Other nations provide excellent health care at a fraction of the cost, and do not have any where near as many problems with drug resistant germs, life threatening side effects, and sizable portions of the populace incapable of receiving services. Our profit based health care system continues to plummet in its global standing in a number of important areas.

While the US probably leads the world in inaccurately representing its global standing in the realm of health care, its actual standing is falling preceptively on almost a yearly basis. The latest stats I’ve seen now ranks the US thirty-seventh in the world in terms of life expectancy and does not fare any better in terms of statistics geared to calculate quality of life from a health perspective.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology20 May 2015 10:55 am

The better people can predict and understand their surroundings the more likely their continued survival. This fact underlies our age old desire to answer the question why and propels our interest in science, religion and philosophy or any other inquiry increasing our knowledge of ourselves, others and nature. Our desire to survive and have a good life underpins our inclination to make sense of things and create societies providing justice, freedom and protection.

Humankind has spent a great deal of time and energy searching for ways to mentally and emotionally cope with and understand death, suffering, disease and physical harm. People have theorized many reasons why people die or endure great suffering and misfortune. In myth, religion and mysticism we find many roots of misfortune. Sometimes it was a form of punishment due to the breaking of a law, taboo or divine interdiction. At other times misfortune came to one due to a curse placed on oneself or one’s ancestors, or as a result of magic. At other times it was attributed to a stain or contamination that has occurred, often without one’s direct knowledge. Vestiges of such ancient explanations remain in modern times in theories and beliefs regarding of sin, karma and the existence of evil.

While death is hard to accept under any circumstance it was and is particularly difficult to deal with when it pertains to the young and innocent. Humankind has always struggled to explain and justify the death or disability of a young child or infant. Death may be inevitable, but suffering and misfortune do not happen to everyone, and man has often had a hard time justifying why bad things happen to good people.

The great majority of misfortune and suffering was observed to be beyond the powers of human control and intervention. Therefore, it was common to hand over the reasons and causes of death and calamity to beings with powers which greatly superseded the capabilities of humans.

People all over the globe formed belief systems on how best to protect oneself from the ill will of higher powers. Aligning oneself with, winning the favor of, appeasing, placating, or even sometimes fooling the powers or gods became the general means of insuring oneself a favorable fate and averting suffering and misfortune. Some cultures focused on making sacrifices to the gods, others on learning the ways of power and controlling them through magic and sorcery, others focused on the benefits of revering and begging the mercy of the powerful spirits.

While humankind as a whole was not able to completely overcome the capriciousness of ill fortune, individuals and sometimes entire tribes could engage in activities and rituals which brought them good fortune or averted suffering or “unnecessary” harm. Religion and spirituality are full of legends, stories, allegories and myths which describe events and strategies of heroes, gods and common people who have found the means of averting danger and soliciting good fortune.

The gods of greek and roman mythology shared many of the same traits and emotions as the humans that worshipped them. The apparent capriciousness and irrationality of fate was made understandable when controlled by beings that lusted, had pride, were vain and had a need to be revered and adored. The human quality of the gods, while making them less reliable and consistent, made it possible for the faithful to find ways to win their favor or have them intervene on their behalf. So, the myths of roman and greek gods both explained why fate was often so cruel and filled with suffering, and at the same time offered a means by which people could improve their lot in life through worship, heroes, and rites and rituals.

In monotheistic religions or those that focused on a sole creator the supreme power seldom retained any weaknesses, fallibilities or human personality traits. The creator God was all powerful, perfect and good. Many of the creation gods were also promised eternal life and salvation for all of the faithful that lived a good life. In this way the injustices of fate were often made tolerable by the fact that eternal life awaited those who remained devoted and faithful to God and his wishes. While prayer could occasionally result in divine intervention, even ill fortune and injustice suffered in this life would be rectified in the here after.

While an all good and perfect God may be both worthy of worship and the title of divinity, there are numerous drawbacks for the faithful. If God is perfect and all good, than anything wrong in the world in due to our fallible and sinful nature. A perfect god is incapable of capricious, petty or malicious behavior. Any perception on our part of injustice is either born of our ignorance or as just recompense for some offense we have committed.

If god is perfect, then so is his creation, and since we are the only creature bestowed with a free will, than all sin and fault is ours and ours alone. When God and his creation are perfect and good then the irony of having a free will is that the only way we can express our individuality is through doing something un-godlike and imperfect (sinful). If we put everything that we did, think and feel that differed from a perfect god into a bag, its contents would only consist of error, sin, stupidity, vanity and all other forms of imperfection and non-goodness. So, while we are told that we are made in God’s image, our entire individuality is expressed in the negative, in sin and in evil.

Belief systems involving a perfect God usually include a story of the fall of man in which evil entered the world and the idyllic relationship between God and man was severed. Often this severed relationship is when evil entered the world, and permanently stained all generations of man with this original sin.

I’m not saying that the above is explicitly stated by all religions and belief systems involving a perfect God. Yet, the conclusions reached are the logical ramifications and implications inherent in a perfect God of which I am not the first to recognize or state. In fact, the belief that man’s nature is basically sinful and base has often been expressed by prophets, sages, saints and holy men throughout the world as reason and need for us to obey and praise God as well explaining why we should never question him/her.

When accepting the existence if a perfect god there are only two answers to the question, “why do babies die?” One answer is that it is a mystery that far surpasses our feeble and imperfect understanding. The second answer is that it is our fault that babies die due to our natures and that all suffering and evil entered into the world through our thoughts, actions and feelings.

Our belief in a perfect god comes with a price to our own sense of worth and value. A child who is told by their parent that they are sinful and evil and that they have nothing to offer but obedience seldom ends up being a healthy, loving and productive adult. So how does our sinful view of ourselves induced by our revering a perfect god impact the way we live and feel about ourselves and our ability to solve social problems and live in harmony with others?

If we have a free will it should be viewed and exercised in a way in which we can be happy with ourselves and harmonious with our contemporaries and with nature. Our choice shouldn’t be between arrogant pride and self-degradation, or between conceit and subservience. Admitting that we are limited and fallible does not mean that we are incompetent or toxic, but only that we are vulnerable and are capable of making things worse as well as making things better.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Social Issues15 May 2015 06:35 pm

When putting together a list of the greatest inventions of humankind, the wheel is always near the top. The wheel is considered to be one the most versatile and important tools used in a host of settings. Along with the lever, the wheel is best known for its ability to assist us in getting work done. A fraction of the amount of work and effort is involved by wheeling things around as opposed to lifting and carrying. Almost every form of human transport whether it be used for work, commerce or battle involves machines utilizing the wheel. The wheel has deserved the title of being the most essential and basic tool in human labor and in our ability to do work, efficiently, safely and quickly.

While the wheel is the quintessential symbol of work, the ball is the most familiar and ubiquitous tool of play. We humans never tire of kicking, throwing, batting, dribbling, striking, hitting, paddling, spinning and rolling balls. Many games and sports involve contacting the ball directly while others hit the ball with an utensil specifically designed for the game or activity. While balls and spheres can be used for work as well as play, they are generally associated with play.

One could make a case for the ball being just as useful as the wheel, and just as prevalent in the lives of every person. Yet, the fact that the ball is equated with play as in “having a ball” or “take me out to the ball game”, and the wheel with work as in “have your shoulder to the wheel” makes the wheel seem more important. Our society has a tendency to glorify and value work while belittling play as being trite and superficial.

Yet, when one looks at the fight for survival in the animal kingdom play is just as important as work. Each predator and prey spends the bulk of their childhood learning their basic survival skill set through play. Human children too spend the bulk of their developmental years learning the basic skills of being human through play. Play dominates learning, growing and development in humans and animals. Play also is at the center of bonding and relationship building in all societies be they human or animal.

The typical ball is a sphere, a complete three-dimensional globe measuring 360 degrees. If you were to strip away a good portion of a ball leaving a narrow tread you would be left with a ball. In essence a wheel is just a mutilated ball with a relatively narrow tread. While a ball is able to go in any direction with complete ease, the wheel can only go backward and forward and needs specific steering mechanism to alter its course.

A wheel is linear and predictable and, therefore, ideal for work and repetitive tasks. A ball is omnidirectional and spontaneous and perfect for play and inventiveness. Our culture’s bias favoring work while viewing play as trivial or something one outgrows is what prevents the ball from being viewed as an important invention or human accomplishment. I for one think that work is overrated and that play is truly an essential ingredient in the quality of life and human fulfillment.

So stop being a fifth wheel, and start having a ball.

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