Sunday, March 27, 2005

Lady's Night

While watching the NAACP awards a couple nights ago, I couldn’t help but think “ What a heavy-handed and blatantly political Religious Right Rallying Cry they’re presenting tonight!” The endless barrage of gospel songs and Christian sentiment during the tribute to Oprah Winfrey was utterly unbelievable.

I have far too much respect and admiration for Oprah than to support this very limited and partisan presentation, which only served to diminish the impact of this great individual’s accomplishments. Oprah Winfrey is much more than merely a Christian. Furthermore, her greatness, I feel, has nothing to do with her choice of religious belief. She is a person of class, dignity, generosity and kindness. She is also a person of fame and power. She has used her hard-earned resources to help and inspire countless individuals upon their life journeys.

Shame on the NAACP for presenting this biased, limited view of one of our generation’s true heroines. I love Oprah and that has nothing to do with my feelings about Christianity or any other Right Hand Path religion.

To its credit, however, the live performance by Prince was Superlative. Cheers for that!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Breaking the Chains

An occurrence, which I found most annoying, happened recently and I must speak out.

I received a Chain Letter in my e-mail. This, I feel, is the very lowest form of electronic terrorism manifest in the world today and I am extremely disappointed in the person who was weak-minded enough to forward this garbage to me.

When I find one of these Monuments to Conformity in my Inbox, the horns of the Black Goat rise up and prepare to gore the perpetrator. Being a person who is not easily offended, I find this lack of consideration all the more disrespectful. Anyone who truly knows me would know how I feel about chain letters.

Chain letters promise prosperity, but only if you forward the letter on to others. If you choose not to do so, you are threatened with a curse. This is utterly despicable, immoral, rotten and mean-spirited. “Do what I say and you will have good fortune, but disobey and you will fall victim to bad luck.”

How different is this from the basic premise of Right Hand Path religions? Perhaps it is perpetuated by its adherents. If they can just get people to conform, perhaps they’ll convert.

When I think back on the past year I can think of many of these chain e-mails I’ve received. This is a disturbing thought. It smacks of blind obedience. Blind obedience for no reason, at that. There has been another time in our history when people were blindly obedient and the results were catastrophic. I refer to Nazi Germany.

While I do not seek to imply that chain e-mails are even close to being as dangerous as Nazi philosophy, I simply can’t help but wonder if it was this sort of tactic that paved the way for fascist infiltration to begin with.

I urge all freethinking, strong-minded, fearless individuals out there to boldly break the chains and rebel against these human cattle. Delete their e-mails without even opening them and put them on your “blocked senders” list.

Furthermore, I command a curse upon the originators of these chain e-mails. May they come to ever-increasing ruin with each chain letter they perpetuate! So shall it be! Hail!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ravenous?

Lately I’ve been finding it very difficult to control the portion size of my meals. I get no encouragement from any food source. I eat restaurant food very frequently and whether it’s Popeye’s or a fine dining restaurant, the portion size is enormous. Even at home way too much food is prepared at most meals. This is out of our American super-size-me habits, I’m sure. Certainly, one can choose to eat only a portion of the serving and save the rest for later, but the food (and thus, the temptation) is still there.

Another factor for me may be the time of year. Tax time is always very stressful and the winter desire to hibernate has still not worn off. In addition to this, perhaps my career advancement at my retail job is affecting my appetite. A promotion which includes more responsibilities is welcome, but may be adding to this desire to consume more.

Being slightly-to-moderately overweight I strive to control my food intake. It has been the best way I’ve found to keep my weight somewhat under control. I have been very successful at doing this until just recently, so I’m quite concerned. Any time I increase intake up to twice the amount I would normally eat at the same meal, I must take notice.

This whole situation brings to mind the larger picture. Our entire society practices the worst possible health habits on a daily basis. We eat way too much; sleep way too little; either work too hard or not at all in an effort to evade effort; those who do work often take no vacations and work more than one job; we consume too much alcohol and abuse all manner of drugs. All major media (t.v., radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards) feature an almost constant barrage of advertising for fast food chains. Is it any wonder obesity rages out of control in this country?

Let’s look at solutions to this weight problem. We’ve got Jenny Craig, Bally’s, Bowflex, the Gazelle. All to help you take off the weight you’ve gained from eating McDonald’s, Burger King, Sonic, etc.It all makes me wonder if they’re in cahoots. Eat and over-eat some more, then buy these products and services to take off the weight gained by over-eating. Once you’ve lost the weight, go back to your bad eating habits and gain again. All so you can come back to the gyms and supplements, and so on. Are the food industries and the weight loss industries keeping each other in business perpetually by maintaining this vicious cycle at the expense of the American people? You decide.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Epidemic

A few days ago I experienced the worst attack of depression I’ve had in about two years. It was triggered by a particularly difficult commute to work one morning. I was rather taken by surprise, as I hadn’t had a depressive episode of any kind for quite some time.

Many people I encounter seem to feel that depression is a weakness of character and can be overcome by simply “getting over it” or “snapping out of it.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not character. Many very strong-minded people suffer from this malady. It is not a whim to be dismissed by telling someone to “get over it.” It is a real problem and can have detrimental effects on the life of the depressed person and those with whom they must deal.

Depression is an experience that feels like being emotionally shattered inside. It makes one not care about his own well-being nor that of others. It is a dark cloud that can hang over one’s head all day, sometimes lasting several days or even weeks at a time. It can cause health problems, anxiety, irritability, and possibly, death.

When one is in the throes of depression he is sometimes unable to reach out for help or emotional support and cannot be reached. Those who love a depressed person would do well to exercise much patience and show great support during the ordeal. Trust me, it will be much appreciated.

Another ignored aspect of this illness is the fact that it can easily manifest as rage, if left unchecked. It could also start out as overwhelming sadness and discouragement and then turn into violent rage. I think this happens because the depressed person feels so frustrated he becomes angry and vents these feelings. With time one can learn to keep the rage under control, but this in no way defeats the depression.

According to a nine-part article released by the National Institute for Mental Health; “In any given 1-year period, 9.5 percent of the population, or about 18.8 million American adults, suffer from a depressive illness.” This is a pretty alarming statistic. To me, this seems to be something of an epidemic. (Click here to read the entire article). In thinking back over the last decade or so I can recall many people I’ve met who have shown some of the more severe symptoms of depression.

As for treatment options, few are very attractive. Medications tend to have horrible side effects, discouraging patients from their use. This fact alone is depressing. Mental institutions have long been portrayed (often accurately) as torture prisons. This can discourage patients from seeking psychotherapy, since there is a possibility they could end up in one of these. Also, quality counselors tend to be expensive.

As for myself the best way I know of preventing a depressive episode is to get sufficient, quality sleep and to moderate alcohol intake. This in conjunction with other good health habits, such as balanced, well-portioned diet and exercise go a long way toward preventing triggers.