Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Case for Mercy

We forget so easily the struggles of our past, and how much time it took us to mature. Time has a dopplar effect. We don't remember every time we had a meal, we don't have to. We just have to remember the important things. How to survive, how to advance and aquire, how to make ourselves and others secure so that we may enjoy life and love. We forget the generations it took and the suffering, and the luck required to be successful. The true story of the past is reduced to history. We leave out the boring bits, we gloss over the pain and the loss, and we focus on the happy ending or the trauma. The former begets motivation to overcome obsticles and reach for a brighter future. The latter begets a cruel system of might makes right, also known as the Laws of Beasts.

I will be the first to admit I have a pidgeon brain. Success is actually not the best teacher. When we're too lucky, we begin to think the magic dance we're doing makes the magic food pellet fall from the sky god. If we can't see the scientist with the food pellet dispenser set to go off at a random interval, we think it's magic. Oh look what a good job I did! No, silly, you were born at the right time to catch a wave of opportunity that you then surfed into the future. that doesn't mean you weren't also lucky to have escpaed the razor sharp rocks below the surface that have claimed others.

We forget we came into this world screaming, and that it took time to learn how to address our own needs. We take for granted the work of previous generations. We forget how long it took us to figure out how to stand on two feet. We forget how many times we skinned our knees learning how to run. We remember how to soothe our wounds. We forget how uncomfortable it was while we healed. We remember that when we put this into our bodies it made us feel better. We remember that when we get a good night's sleep, we wake refreshed. But when we're unable to heal, when we're unable to eat, and we're unable to get a good night's sleep, what happens? We turn into canky babies again.

When living in harsh conditions, one must be harsh to survive. It's school-yard ethics: the bully gets to takesmaller kids lunch money, and people will attach themselves to a bully as a survival mechanism to not be victims themselves. That's a goon squad, and it's co pletely natural and totally inhumane. That's why we train our children out of that behavior. Most of the time.

In times of trauma, our minds switch off and instincts kick in. Your brain goes into hyper-awarness-crisis-mode. Reflexes are sped up, time seems to slow, but only because we're going faster than normal and are able to process more visual stimulii than normal. If we're lucky, there's a hard-wired circuit where we encountered this before and survived. If so, we act seemingly without thinking. That's because our general reflexive thought processes (our awareness of our awareness) is redundant and slow. Second-guessing costs valuable time in a crisis— time which could spell the difference between surviving and dying.

This is why the ability to self-soothe is so important. All children have a fear of the dark at somepoint in their lives. Heck, many adults have it. And that's completely natural, probably permanently hard-wired in our genetic code. That noise you just heard coming from the place you can't see... Was that floor-bords creaking as someone rolls over in bed? Or is that the big scary monster that's coming to eat you? Guess wrong and it's your life. It takes years to learn how to sleep alone, because to our cavemen-child minds we know it's just not safe.

Civilization is a very thin veneer over millenia of animal wiring. And our boogeymen and our need to punish wrong-doers even at sacrifice to ourselves is how life is for most. What animals fight for territory, mating rights, and resources? All of them, down to the microscopic. Reason is the luxury of a safe and fulfilled body. Self-soothing is vital to recovery after a crisis. If you lack those skills, or if you were never taught those skills, or if you are just unable to meet your body's demands, your reasonable mind shuts off and your fight or flight instincts kick in.

And if you are trapped in your suffering, you scream and flail. Flight is no longer possible, so fight kicks in. Animals do this— any vet will tell you that chronic pain in animals often results in aggression. Dementia patients do the same, and why wouldn't they? What's more humane: chaining them up as we do to animals, or easing their distress so they don't harm themselves or others? That's your choice: treat people as intelligent beings capable of being reasonable, or watch them behave like animals and then treat them like animals because you wouldn't be reasonable?

On the Today's Show today the mentioned that 2 million are addicted to pain pills and 500,000 are addicted to heroin. But those number are a drop in the bucket compared to the 63,800,000 who are crippled by chronic pain. For every two addicts we address, we punish fifty-one people in chronic pain. We are destroying ourselves over trying to control a few when the masses are crying out in pain. Do you know how much money we would save every year if we got rid of the stupid assertion that adults are children and cannot be trusted not to touch the poison?

Addicts in open recovery, such as comedian Russel Brand have confessed never once did they think: I musn't do drugs because drugs are illegal! and if we just taught all doormen how to do the sobriety test at the bar, you could direct them to the sobering up area and release them when their safe to drive (the "follow my finger" neurology test is impossible to do when you're drunk, and possible when you're sober, no matter how much of an alcoholic you are). But there's a whole lot of money and very little paperwork in prosecuting drunk drivers. Real criminals are difficult and cost a lot of money and the jail makes the money.

But we will willingly destroy ourselves to punish "evil-doers." Never once realizing that "evil" is completely relative based on tradition, superstition, animal brains, and a planet that can shake us like a cold. It is us who are fragile. we don't understand the world by a long-shot. We're writing laws based on a morality code that is only going to change with time. The laws still live, enforced by a generation who weren't there to experience why we made that decision then, and whether or not it's still applicable now! Times change and what offends grandma and grandpa we're not so uptight about.

Can we not give up this silly crusade called the War on Drugs? Can we take back some of our dignity as adults and show some mercy on people struggling? Pleasure-seeking is not a sin, nor is pain avoiding. We all do things to ease our bodies and our minds, and we have been taught by generations and our own biology to do so. We have 52 people suffering for every two that use the same substance for psychological pain rather than medical pain. Either way it's someone suffering who needs compassion and mercy, not control, gatekeepers, and punishment.

End the Shadow War on Patients.

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