Category Archives: Social writings

Co-addiction And Responding To Our Times #1

I’m starting a series of blog posts discussing my perspectives on finding peace and power while faced with my responses to the new governmental administration and other environmental and humanitarian issues. I have found it difficult, as I know others have, to find appropriate external, and internal, responses to actions which I see as destructive by the government, corporations, and fellow citizens. I have also felt pain, sadness,and helplessness regarding my personal inability to maintain control of my inner peace while faced with my responses to these events. 

My posts here are largely informed by my personal experiences in recovering from family addiction. This post, and following posts, are partially autobiographical and I lean on these experiences as mirrors to current challenges. I have also come to use the “disease model” of addiction and dysfunction to explain and respond to many of the circumstances that arise. 

I would like to mention that my angst existed prior to current events, but this is where I’ll start:

Before the election I found myself posting daily about the danger of a Trump administration and dedicating much of my emotional energy toward preventing its possible occurrence. Hearing support for him or seeing his campaign signs increased my heart rate and put me in a state of anger. He was a blatant personification of greed, self-centeredness, and exploitation of all that I saw as important. I found it incomprehensible how so many could have support for such a selfish destruction that I felt was so blatant. I was angry at him for being such a selfish and insensitive fool, and I was angry at his followers for standing behind him in such a blind and selfish way. It was eating at me constantly, and the day after the election it peaked. I was devestated and wanted to run around and shake people for being such idiots, as I saw them. I was split in two, half carried away with thoughts of vengeance and revenge, while the other part of me wanted to collapse and cry under the weight of powerlessness.

It was at this point I had a realization. It wasn’t an intellectual realization, but a gut level realization that I was in a place where I had been before. Many of my newer friends may not know this about me, but I grew up in a household of addiction. Both my father and my mother were alcoholics who blacked out at the dinner table almost each and every night. My father showed up stumbling drunk to our school functions, or my mom would disappear in the evenings to be found passed out on the front lawn. The fear was almost constant of what may go wrong. Nearly every day of my life I spent attempting to control the situation. There were times I yelled and screamed at them in attempt to shake them out of their insanity. I would push them and yell as they insisted on going down to the neighbors house, drunk, to resolve a dispute. I would pour out their bottles, write notes, hide their keys, or make suggestions that they don’t drink that night. For  nearly 15 years, every night, I held hope that tonight would be different, that if I just said the right thing, that if I played the cards just right, they wouldn’t drink.

The reason I share these things is to draw the parallel between growing up in an addictive home and living in a society which is at odds with what one feels is personally acceptable. One’s life can become consumed by responding to the seemingly unacceptable situations. 

What I didn’t realize though is that I was not dealing with a rational situation. I was dealing with a disease. I would also learn, years later, that through my engagement with it, I too had caught this disease. It turns out that the disease of alcoholism also has a mirror disease which effects those closest to the addict. Just as an addict’s life is largely consumed by his or her addiction, a co-addict’s life becomes nearly fully consumed by attempts to control the disease and consequences of addiction in another. The co-addict’s responses and behaviors actually become part of the problem and perpetuate the disease. So too can our own responses to the dysfunctional forces of our society perpetuate the dysfunction. As is stated in co-addiction recovery groups, the best thing we can do for the addict in our life is to focus on our own recovery. 

The day after the election I found myself at a bottom of powerlessness that felt nearly identical to what I felt in those moments before seeking help for family addiction.

In my family addiction situation, much like societal situations, one of the most difficult parts was that their actions were not only affecting me but were harming someone I cared about very deeply. My parents had recently adopted my young cousin who’s mom had recently died. This young person, who I saw as a little brother, after a very difficult life, was telling me stories that were beyond that which even I had experienced in the house. I was devastated and infuriated. My young and grieving brother was all alone while in a house with two adults. My dad, passed out at the table after shooting up pain pills, my mom equally as inebriated, and my cousin made to clean up the mess each morning. The injustice was intolerable. 

I responded just like many of us are compelled to respond toward the injustices against our environment and the vulnerable among us. I sought to use anything in my power to fix the situation. I told them how selfish they were. I held my love for ransom and said that I no longer viewed them as my parents. I even, myself being only 18, researched how I could take custody of my young cousin. I also stoked my anger constantly, for this was necessary to maintain the fight. 

It was also, luckily, at this time, that I sought help. I went to a support group that I thought would help me change the behaviors of the alcoholics. This, in fact, was not what I found. What I learned was that my responses were not only compromising any hopes for personal peace, but were actually working against resolution of the problem. I also came to see clearly that I was dealing with a disease, a disease which I co-created when I engaged with it, and the solution was not in fighting it, but addressing the disease which now lived in me. This became one of the largest gifts I ever could have received. 

Please subscribe or revisit my blog over the following months if you would like to hear more. I plan to regularly post about the tools and experiences I found over five years of recovering from family addiction and speak on, how I believe, they can be used to find peace and power in our current times. 

Matt Hunter

The Choice

I’m voting for Hillary this election. Yes, I would rather have Jill Stein. Yes, I would rather have Bernie Sanders. Yes, the system is broken, neither candidate supports the people, the government protects corporations, and we use war as a lever for capitalistic dominance.  These are all true, and I don’t think Hillary is going to change any of them. I don’t think any leader will change these things, not right now. I believe that, for better or for worse, the entirety of this responsibility has fallen to us. Another thing I believe is that our main tools for creating change at this point are unarmed protest, civil disobedience, sabotage of destructive corporate projects, and independent/social media. We have to act with our hearts so honorably and peacefully that the paid guards of industry refuse to shoot us, the jurors refuse to convict us, and the judges refuse to sentence us. We can’t fight our own policing forces, their weapons are too strong.

Reporters for pipeline protests are already being charged with acts of conspiracy against the state. Semi-trucks with digital phone interceptors and internet/cell phone data jammers are being parked outside reservations and protest areas to block organizing/publicizing. We’re at a point where policy and law does not protect the environment and future generations, but the corporations who’s actions will destroy us. Furthermore, we do not have the power to change these policies through the avenues legally provided us. We must force them, not with violence, but by leveraging every bit of power we have in a peaceful manner.

Policy will not be shifted from within, by any president, to the extent necessary.  How do I think each candidate would respond to the organizing which is necessary? I think Hillary, acknowledging that global warming is a major problem, would try to maintain the image of cooperation. Our militarized police forces, national guard, and private security companies that stand off with protesters would be encouraged to use non-lethal force and show restraint. Liberal supreme court justices would be chosen for office who understand civil rights issues and environmental concerns. Quite simply, we will be shown at least some level of civility.

How will a Trump administration react? First, Trump does not require the support of liberal minded citizens. His base is joined together on the notions of law and order, support of corporate enterprise, and protection from terrorists and traitors. Trump believes global warming is a hoax and says that the environment is good and all, but we can’t stifle business. We’ve also seen how he deals with protesters at his earlier rallies. I believe that Trump, from day one, would begin further investigating and isolating groups and people that are organizing against the civil rights and environmental injustices of government and industry. I believe he would begin, wholeheartedly, creating a dialog and culture of domestic witch-hunting. He would continue to spin the story of protest into a story of riot and disobedience. Protesters would be made examples of, state of emergencies would be declared as a matter of course, and heavy-handed and lethal force would be used.

Politicians side with corporations for personal gain. Neither candidate is outside of this influence. Trump, however will do it with a passion and maniacal fervor that only he could pull off.

Here’s my recommendation. Take 15 minutes out of your day and go vote for Hillary. As soon as you leave the booth go donate $100 to Bernie sanders, the Green Party, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, or any other cause. Join an action group. Find people that are creating the change you want to see and join them. Spend the next four years advocating for a third party. Let’s vote today and dive head first into the revolution tomorrow.

Native Protests and Repatriation of the Land

Protests such as these will not directly stop the installation of destructive infrastructure such as the Dakota Access pipeline, though the courageous and honorable actions of these protesting tribes is the most valuable statement I could imagine. Our destructive practices have hundreds of years of inertia spawning from a culture of unrestrained consumption and unapologetic destruction of any group in its way. The fangs and claws of this culture, through the will and guns of US founders, reached bloodily from it’s body in Great Britain, across an ocean, and into the flesh of this land and it’s native people.

This first injustice was a grand one, and in the unconscious of the nation will continue to live on as a blind hubris in our actions. This hubris displays itself as a haughty declaration of our right to ownership of anything within our reach.
The protest of the natives of this land is characterized by long suffering, deep loss an unbelievable strength of heart, and dedication to the land. They have continued, through broken treaty after broken treaty, fighting to preserve their multi-thousand year old cultures through lost battles, endless fights for redemptive policy, and protest.

The hundreds of tribes which existed on this land, before their slaughter, had highly developed and nuanced governing processes, conflict resolution abilities, land management practices, and developed crops. Some of this culture, despite US efforts, is still preserved within the existing members of native communities.

In November of 1969 an alliance known as Indians of All Tribes seized and occupied what is now known as Alcatraz Island for a period of 18 months. This alliance was initialized by Native American students and community members living on the West Coast. They built a thriving village on the island that drew Native American pilgrimages from around the nation.

With humor, but also sincerity, the alliance proclaimed that, “We, the Native Americans, reclaim the land known as Alcatraz island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery. We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land and hereby offer the following treaty, ‘We will purchase said Alcatraz island for $24 in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of the land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian’s government and the Bureau of Caucasian Affairs to hold in perpetuity for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea. We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, and our life ways in order to help them achieve our level of civilization to raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the golden gate, would first see Indian land and be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny Island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by the nobel Indians.”

Despite the undertone of satire, this group made actual demands for the use of this island. They called for five institutions to be established on the land: a center for Native American studies, an American Indian Spiritual Center, an Indian Center of Ecology (to do scientific research on the reversal of pollution of water and air), a great Indian training school, and a memorial as a reminder that the prison had been established initially to incarcerate and execute California Indian resisters to US assault on their nations.
All indigenous residents, by the Nixon administration, were forced to evacuate the island in June of 1971.
Their request was declined, but their vision was not.

Beginning in 1971, the Sioux Indians began occupying the Black Hills, the current location of Mount Rushmore. Their demand was the return of the Black Hills to the natives. After 10 years of protest and occupation , in 1980, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills had been taken illegally and that remuneration equal to the original offering price plus interest, nearly 106 six million dollars, be paid. The Sioux refused the reward and demanded the return of the Black Hills. The money remained in an interest bearing account, and by 2010 totalled over 750 million dollars.
The Sioux Nation is noted to be one of the most difficult places to live in the United States. Males, on average, live to just 48 years old, females to 52. Despite their suffering they will not be bought.

Thought has been put into what the de-colonization and repatriatization of the land to the Natives would look like. It would come as the natural progression of a genuine apology. It would start out by admitting that we were deeply wrong and be followed up by the heartfelt question of what we can do to make it right. We would then make ourselves of service to their requests to the best of our ability. To this end I would consider myself a patriot, until then I will likely be a critic of US culture, patriotism, and it’s persistent self-destruction.

Dr. Martin Luther King

My theme for this week is inherent bias – that voice within, that if left unchallenged, will serve only to defend our current belief system, and given that its Martin Luther King Day, there’s no better time than now to listen to an audio reading of a letter he wrote while being held in Birmingham jail. Many of the points raised in this letter are timeless and can help all of us to challenge our inherent bias.

The voice within, which will bring you into linearity with the progressing connection culture, is the voice of understanding.

This understanding arises when opinion is held off, for just a little while longer.

If holding off on judgement is not something you are interested in doing for moral advancement, then do it for professionalism.

A professional does not engage. I professional collects data and takes action that is most effective in accomplishing the means desired. The professional sees no advantage in venting the byproducts of emotional response, unless it’s seen fit.

Speaking while female

While reading a New York Times article on why women often stay more quite at work, I was reminded about a construct which exists in all of us.

Inherent bias: It’s the reason more black officers are shot by other officers while undercover than white officers. It’s the reason women’s opinions and observation are often less heard and valued than men.

Oppression of others does not have to be overt.

One of the solutions is mindfulness. Without meditation and mindfulness we have a high risk of falling into reaction and of never fully turning the gaze of our awareness onto our own reality.

It takes a calm mind, which has the ability to sit through emotional fluctuations, to see truth in a situation.

In life, those who observe longest without falling into opinion acquire the most understanding.

The second we attain an opinion our judgement is immediately biased. Especially if we are sure that we have come to the correct conclusion.

Hold off just a little bit longer – just as a matter of professionalism. See what you might hear.

Inherent bias is the enemy. It clouds our vision. It takes our edge. Our emotions can become strings, which allow us to be played like an instrument by those who know the chords.

Seek truth or allow yourself to be the defender of someone else’s story.

That’s the true rebellion .

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/opinion/sunday/speaking-while-female.html?_r=0

Fluoride – Tooth Friend or Health Foe?

Fluoridation of public water supplies is a topic which I notice arise quite often in my circle, which mostly includes groups and individuals that I would loosely describe as naturalists, or, depending on the individual or occasion,  activists, liberals, non-conventionalist, hippies, and/or conspiracy theorists. In this mixed group of non-conventionally opinioned folk I have heard many arguments against the addition of fluoride to drinking water by public utilities. But, there is also the conflicting opinion which is held by the large group  of regulatory agencies and supporting bodies that not only say it’s safe, but say it’s beneficial for cavity prevention. This is demonstrated by the fact that, as reported by the Center for Disease Control, 74.6% of the U.S. population was receiving fluoridated water from their public utility in 2012 (CDC statistics page). So, what supports these two conflicting viewpoints?

It’s quite possible that many people aren’t aware that fluoride is added by most public utilities, often by law, to public water supplies. The reason given is that certain levels of daily fluoride intake have been shown to be beneficial in preventing tooth decay and cavities, so in turn, most cities have chosen to put it into the water supply to aid in this cause.

So, here’s the debate. Fluoride is considered to be a toxic chemical, but, like all toxic chemicals, toxicity is determined by dose. So, let’s look at the doses. The CDC recommends fluoridation at a level of 0.7–1.2 mg/L, so let’s use the top end to be safe, 1.2 mg/L. A terminal dose of fluoride is estimated to be from 32 – 64 mg/kg of body weight, so, once again, to be safe, let’s use the lower end, 32 mg/kg of body weight. This would mean that a 50 lb child would have to drink at least 480 L (127 gal.) of fluoridated water, in one sitting, to die.  So, obviously nobody is going to drink a terminal dose of “optimally” fluoridated water, so that’s not our concern here. The main concern of fluoridation opponents is the long-term, low-dose ingestion of fluoride over time.

fluoridosis_victims
Chronic effects of long-term, high-dose, fluoride ingestion
fluoride effects
Chronic effects of long-term, high-dose, fluoride ingestion

Fluoride is a compound that naturally exists in many water supplies throughout the world, and, depending on the level, can cause major human health concerns. Sever cases can be found in African, eastern, and middle eastern countries, and is seen as a major water sanitation and health issue by the World health Organization (World Health Organization).

The pictures shown above are sever examples of long-term, high-dose exposure to fluoride, possibly coupled with nutrient intake issues. Some water supplies studied have fluoride content levels over 9 mg/L, over seven times the CDC’s recommended levels.

Bone development issues and tooth enamel dotting and discoloration are well known symptoms of chronic high dose fluoride intake, but these are rarely the points that I have encountered through discussion with fluoridation opponents. The main point that have been brought up to me are the potentially adverse neurological and cognitive effects which may be caused by fluoride.

There has been activism and controversy since the original introduction of fluoride into water supplies beginning in 1945 that fluoride can cause decreases in cognitive development and functioning. This concern was elevated when the Harvard School of Public Health performed a study in which they state that they, “found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children” (Harvard Study). However, a study was done a few years later, by University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest university, in which they claimed to have far exceeded the scientific rigors of the Harvard study, and concluded that, “Our analysis showed no significant differences in IQ by fluoride exposure” (Otago study).

It is very much worth noting that the Harvard research involved reviewing former studies, mostly from China, where risks from fluoride are well established, so the availability of information on other possible contributing factors to IQ levels of test population was inherently limited. The Otago study on the other hand pulled from comprehensive data on a relatively controlled population of people within the city where the university is located. In the Otago study they were able to account for socioeconomic position, education of father, whether the subjects were breast fed, and any number of other possible contributing factors.  The other major difference in the two studies were the levels of fluoride to which the subjects were exposed.  The Harvard study focused on much higher dose exposure than the Otago study.

So, where are we at? Well, it seems that, at higher than recommended doses, according to Harvard study, there seems to be an inverse correlation between fluoride intake and IQ, though subject IQ also could have been effected by other socioeconomic issues and possible exposure of other toxins. It also seems that, from the Otago study, using more precise information, there seems to be no significant correlation between IQ and long-term, low-dose fluoride ingestion.

So now what? Well, there were also some other studies done which I found through the the Official Website of the European Union, here in section 3.4 of their informational page on fluoridation. I won’t go through all the studies individually, but the high points were two cited studies that surveyed across a range of long term fluoride exposure levels and were adjusted for relevant confounding  variables. Both of these studies showed significant correlation between fluoride intake and IQ with high-dose intake.

From these studies, I see reasonable cause for concern about long-term ingestion of fluoride in moderate to high doses. For me, it is worth noting, that IQ was the only test measure used in these studies, which it may have some effect on, depending on dose. This leads me to wonder what effects it may have on other, untested, cognitive function (intuition, motor skills, sense of well-being, social sense, etc) or any other subtle ways in which we interact with our surroundings.

Let’s get to a conclusion here. So, will I drink the fluoridated water here in Orlando, FL? If I’m thirsty enough, yeah, sure. Will I keep a jug of non-fluoridated water with me so I don’t have to make a habit of it? Yes, I will likely continue to do that, but keep in mind, I drink herbal infusions daily, eat nutrient dense superfoods, spend a half hour a day meditating, grow my own food, and the list goes on. Is any of this stuff necessary? Nope. I’ve seen people survive on McDonald’s value meals. The body is a badass – it can make do. I mean, depending on what you choose to do with your life, a little lowered cognitive function might help you get along with your boss better. For me though, I have to be at peak cognitive performance to keep up with the rockstars, so it’s not worth the risk, and that crap tastes like chlorine anyway. Peace out!!!

i-stopped-using-flouride-and-you-should-too

Support our troops?

As I drove around the final embankment of the rolling foothills leading into Summerville Georgia there stood a prominent billboard adorned with an American flag, a decorated soldier, and the words “Dedicated to a sense of honor.” This sign was followed up by two more similar military promotional billboards in that final one mile stretch leading into this small town in Northwest Georgia. I couldn’t help but to notice the words being associated with the proposed decision to join the military these signs were obviously promoting – “Service”, “Honor”, “respect”, “for us all”, and “freedom”.

As each Memorial Day has approached in these last many years I couldn’t help but notice a building awkwardness regarding the way in which I feel the need to support (or not support) the US military and/or our brothers and sisters who have chosen to join it.

It is obvious to me that I neither have all the information regarding the situations surrounding our military involvements throughout the world, nor would I likely know the solutions even if I did, but what I can say for certain is that I have some doubt’s about our motives, and that I would feel highly uncomfortable making the decision to kill, or support the killing, of other human beings based on my limited knowledge and existing doubt’s surrounding the situation. So, now comes the question, is it right for me to support a person in their decision to do this very thing? It seems possible that US citizens, in joining the military, may be inadvertantly working in opposition to the very values that these billboards are promoting. So, what are we to do with this internal conflict surrounding our support for our well intentioned brethren who have chosen to join a branch of the US military? We obviously are to have love and compassion for all who are involved in this sad state of human affairs, and undoubtedly we need to support them in any way possible upon their return, but how do we address our support, or non-support for their decisions and actions?