Without anger you cannot protect yourself or others. Anger stands you up tall and straight. It’s a clarifying, vertical emotion. A beautiful thing when taking a stand on behalf of others. Rage is the proper reaction to the soul being so insulted that an explosion is necessary to maintain being. But we’re shamed for having the proper reaction. In taming our anger we’re losing the ability to say, “I need this” and “Stop that!” If we can’t be angry in a healthy sense we have big holes in our boundaries that people notice immediately; Especially perpetrators who see holes in those they recognize cannot protect themselves. Predators zone in on the weak and ignore the rest. Anger is a heated awareness that says: “I’m here and I’ m staying!” What warriors learn is how to carry the anger as art; martial art. And they never go to war because they learn how to adjust the emotion into an art. It is a practice to be able to experience an angry state but explain your perspectives calmly to others.
To err is human. To forgive is divine. But many of us are too hard on ourselves and don’t apply the same principle to own lives. Everyone has something inside they don’t like about themselves, and those aspects actively attack us in the form of everyone we’re at odds with in the world. If we stop and analyze what really makes us angry, we discover that we’re generally guilty of the very same behaviors. If we weren’t we wouldn’t notice. We’re just noticing those unfamiliar aspects of ourselves. Instead of hating those aspects by torturing the people around us that manifest the same projections we dislike in ourselves, forgive those aspects, learn to love them, and see what happens. It’ll shift a bit because the world is a mirror and people respond to vibes. Fear the universe it’ll snarl and attack, but love the universe it’ll roll over and reveal it’s belly. Enter the world with love in your heart and people will notice and you’re going to alter the world around you.
Old Europe Catholic orthodoxy once deterred people against suicide through the declaration of divine edict. The Enlightenment would later rail against piety as a suicide deterrent, insisting instead that dominion over one’s own body includes the right to end one’s own life. Today, author Jennifer Michael Hect makes a communal plea based in the philosophical traditions, that there are communal reasons to stay alive; that we owe it to other people as well as to our future selves to stay alive; that if you think you’re a burden, your suicide will be an exponentially greater burden. She’s collected a vast toolbox of mental hacks to help us weather the storm when things get to their darkest point. As physical barriers on bridges prevent many suicides, Jennifer’s work raises helpful conceptual barriers with the aim of making suicide awareness a part of our cultural dialogue. And she reminds us that first and foremost we do not start by solving the problem; we start by seeing the problem.
Of all the contributing factors to suicide, financial despair seems one of the most universal. Half of the American population can no longer afford basic amenities without incurring ever-increasing levels of debt that will never be repaid because what few jobs still exist are minimum wage, part-time, and without benefits. It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society that spends trillions bombing innocent children in far away lands but refuses to feed the hungry, clothe the naked or heal the sick right here at home. If the deadliest form of violence is poverty, the American economic system now employs structural genocide to turn it’s profits. If we’re ever to reverse this trend, we must face how bleak it is without letting the despair cripple us. Because if you who understand the totality of the truth decide to depart prematurely, that only adds to the doom that further guarantees even more crippling political paralysis for everyone else.
Sleep isn’t the third tier of health alongside diet and exercise, but the foundation upon which diet and exercise sit. Matthew Walker calls sleep the “Swiss Army Knife of your health” because of the way it governs all other vital system indicators. Upon research, the phrase “You can sleep when you’re dead” turns out to be mortally unsound advice. Sleep Deprivation impairs cognition and leads to serious individual and societal consequences, one of which is suicide. Since technologically developed societies lend themselves to insomnia, exhausted workers running between the gears of the industrialized world show us every spring how susceptible our bodies are to sleep deprivation when the annual observance of Daylight Saving Time causes significant spikes in heart attacks and suicides. Today the so-called digitalization of the bedroom threatens to shift us even further away from our circadian rhythms, further out of balance with nature, and in-turn, further away from optimal health.
While we observe the 100 year anniversary of the cease-fire that ended the First World War this November 11th, the US Imperial military actively wages war in 7 countries. With military professionals in charge it’s our hope that America’s wars conclude quickly and successfully, with peace the result. But as long as some individuals and institutions actually benefit from perpetual armed conflict with profits, jobs, and campaign contributions, decisions to police the world will be made by non-elected agencies, further shedding the blood of soldiers and draining the treasure of the country ad infinitum. While non-serving citizens are encouraged to “support the troops” we avoid stipulating how this civic function is to be performed. Perhaps the only meaningful way to honor veterans is to stop producing them. To do that, we must find a way to take the profit out of war. Then maybe we wouldn’t create veterans who return unable to deal with the painful memories of war’s hideous face.
The story we’ve been told about depression treats people as if they’re machines with broken parts, when they’re really human beings with unmet needs. Depression and anxiety aren’t a pathology in the individual, but meaningful signals that our culture has gone wrong. It’s no measure of good health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society. We’re told in subtle but constant ways that we must destroy the earth, remain at war, tighten our belts and exploit the poor, but must not feel the emotional consequences of doing so, lest we put a halt to the process. We’re encouraged to medicate ups-and-downs away and continue marching in-step with the toxic corporate metastasis, when the proper reaction should be outrage. Anger is a proper reaction to outrageous situations, but we’ve been shamed for the proper reaction, and in taming our anger we’re losing the ability to express ourselves and articulate our needs. So we turn our anger inward, which is exactly how Freud defined depression.
Modern secular society largely dismisses formerly powerful religious institutions, and millions of Americans believe in no supreme being, yet our culture’s only systematic argument against suicide relates to God. Atheists obviously won’t be dissuaded from suicide by divine prescription, but you don’t need a theologian to see that suicide measurably harms the community in significant ways. Generally we ask people not to do it for their own sake, but we don’t say they “must not” do it. We have no secular, logical, anti-suicide consensus. Outside the idea that God forbids it, our society today has no coherent argument against suicide. Instead, many self-described, open-minded, rationalist, sophisticated thinkers, emphatically defend people’s right to do it. How did the secular, philosophical worldview come to claim people’s right to suicide? How do those in the modern world, who fight death so fiercely elsewhere, come to accept (or at least leave unchallenged) an ideology that kills?
The Catholic institution’s draconian punishments of suicides, which included public desecration of the deceased, eventually created an inevitable secular backlash. But medieval punishment for suicide was even crueler under Protestantism. Religion’s proscriptions of suicide surely saved lives, but punishment of not only if those who attempted suicide, but even the survivors of suicide, struck many as unfair. As the Stoics and Rationalists threw off the shackles of religion, they tended to also throw out the baby with the bathwater. For their lofty ideals often included a shocking defense and admiration of suicide. At the start of the 17th century, as people were beginning to question religious intolerance of suicide, Shakespeare produced one of the most famous meditations on self slaughter ever written. Expressing the growing uncertainty about suicide, the Hamlet graveyard monologue stands as among the most beautiful, sad, and intellectually quixotic passages in the English language.
No one is useless to the community, even if they think they are. Even a person who thinks they have nothing left to offer can offer the example of courage and patience. Everyone requires of us certain duties from which we may not exempt ourselves on our own. Suicide is not only a rejection of one’s role and responsibilities in society, but also an act without regard to the harm inflicted on our children, our friends, and society at large. It may even influence others to likewise die. Think not only what the world would miss from your own absence, but also what it would miss if, because of your own suicide, someone else died. We owe it to one another to stay alive because life is difficult and we all need each other. So you must not abandon your post. We all experience troubles and pain, and for some it is excruciating. The best thing to do is to wait, but whatever we do, we must not give into impatience. It is possible to be suicidal at times and yet stick with living.
After ten weeks of “To Be, Or Not To Be” we now take a halftime break to rest our ears, rekindle our souls, and return to the fundamentals of what is ultimately important; connecting with others to consider the oneness of all life through the perfection of generosity. In this episode we return once again to our annual observation of the revolutionary activism of the Church of Stop Shopping, led by Reverend Billy, vis-a-vis their seminal documentary film, What Would Jesus Buy? We also revisit our conversation from the Reverend himself via telephone to talk about the new book and perform an on-air credit card exorcism! Why not get your family together and do something wildly different this December. If we try buying absolutely nothing, we might experience the most joyous holiday season we’ve ever had and remember everything that was here before their products began circling us with ballooning eyes like the Macy’s parade. Buy nothing. Experience everything. Earthalujah baby!