For the sake of transparency: This post is being written to the request of a younger friend seeking my (freely admitted contra-social, admittedly proto-geezer philosopher) perspective on the sad and complicated subject of the (as it is called by those of dubious motives) opioid epidemic. She has been a good friend, has on more than one occasion provided me with wisdom drawn from her perspectives, I hope I’ll be able to provide something of wisdom in return.
Gentle reader, allow me to say this in the beginning: I hate working on the symptoms of a problem and leaving the driving source of said problem intact and active to re-appear in some new and potentially more damaging form later. What will follow is written with compassion for all involved. I am not young, I have not lived a sheltered life and like the old song said “…I’ve seen the needle and the damage done…”
That said the title of this post is “to hold a line” and the line I’d like to put before the world’s eyes, what I believe is the key thought to cracking this complicated problem to allow a lasting resolution is this: There is no substance known to man that can ease the pain of a broken heart or a broken dream.
Am I saying I think the entire issue is of a psychosomatic nature? No, I am not. But I will assert, and defend my assertion, that the turbulence muddying the social waters to facilitate the spread of the affliction of addiction are indeed the result of what is implied in the paragraph above, which is of a psychological nature.
This is a complicated problem, but it can be divided out into related parts and pieces for easier handling. The simplest division is to simply say there are victims, and there are villains. In this matter it is not uncommon to find one individual who is, in fact, a member of both groups, and entire groups which fall into one category or the other.
The ultimate victims of this are those where fate has burdened their life with some malady, some illness or un-healable injury resulting in continuous pain. Their quality of life is dependent upon controlling the access that pain signal has on their conscious perception. For them the opium poppy and all of its’ derivatives, both natural and synthetic, are truly a gift of God and Goddess alike. Used with wisdom and good judgment that little flower has saved a great many more lives than it has taken, there is no computing the number of life-hours it has allowed as worth living when otherwise mercy would have demanded some loved one provide a clean ending. There is no debate in this, it is a matter of fact.
To treat with the rampant problem of opioid addiction in a simplistic manner by saying “shut down the supply” is to threaten those ultimate victim’s very existence, more than their existence it is to threaten condemning them, for no crime of theirs, to endure a life not worth living. It is cruelty taken to an apogee of barbarism, such a stance is not an acceptable answer in any culture to be called civilized. Any who would embrace and internalize such a stance place themselves well within the domain of another piece of wisdom found in several people’s scriptures. To wit? Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.
That is the simplest element of the situation, easily perceived. But spinning away from that simple point are the convoluted swirls of the social (which are the sum of the equally complex individual psychologies) where words like “epidemic” and “crisis” are valid markers for the current and rapidly degrading situation.
We’ve identified the ultimate victims of this situation, so what is to be said of the ultimate villains? Is it even possible to identify such villains so that a line may be drawn villain to victim and a scale of responsibility established?
My answer to that is yes, it can be done, but not without the services of a concept not commonly understood. That concept is the collective entity*. There are definable villains to be seen, villains callous and greedy and well beyond the reach of justice, in many if not most cases the law supports their agendas. But these villains have neither face nor form for where they are comprised of, mounted on, human lives they are not themselves of a human nature. They are collective entities within the culture.
*(For those new to my writings I will thumbnail a collective entity in this manner: a collective entity may be thought of as a social momentum so accepted, and coalesced into, the common psyche as to have become a foundation belief of many people’s existence upon which their personality is based; a force so consistent within the culture as to be objectively observed as the actions of a single individual competing for survival within a society of such forces. The concept is illuminated in the ThirdReality of Man series for any who might be interested in perceiving the true power players of our times.)
It is my considered opinion the core of the current addiction problem, the headwater source of the problem, the point where any successful intervention must begin is found in the consequences of the very young entity cePsychology (less than two hundred years) competing for validity among other collective entities of its’ kind. This explanation is not a simple one, it seems counterintuitive at first, but please hear me out because the line of reasoning coming down from this point fully encloses the problem from every angle I’ve found by which to approach.
To put some light in the tunnel? Contemplate what is promised by all of the social entities with which cePsychology competes, the value that is offered to the individuals: the promise of a happy (and included as part and parcel of the concept of happy the presumption of pain free… free of any kind of pain, physical or psychological ) life. How many modern social forces use that promise as part of their ‘sales pitch’ competing for individuals who will be loyal to their template?
The entity cePsychology has since the days of Siggy Freud been muscling its’ way into the pack, and I will defend the position that a great many of the modern social deformities (to hang a bucket definition label), including the current addiction crisis, are a result of what has been displaced and reshaped as it has been making headway. It is transparent obvious when the structures of a society suffer a deformation then there will be individuals within that society whose lives reflect and represent that deformity. A thousand, a million rationalizations, but all of them founded upon the miscarriage of the realistic, the rational, which is the essence of the social deformity. I give you the source of the addicts whose lives, compromised and diminished and degraded as they are, are being called an epidemic.
If this be true then it is equally transparent obvious that to cure the epidemic you must first cure the deformity that produced it or the mechanism of the deformity will outrun your best efforts at intervention, just as is being seen in the reality of today’s evening news. You cannot heal them as quickly as the deformity can seduce them into misery, and even if healed the consequences of the affliction linger in the unchangeable archive of history.
I give you the villains of this situation: the conflicted (in the psychological sense, conflicted) thoughts being bartered by the collective entities of modern society deformed by a rate of social evolution to rapid to allow those thoughts to have evolved stability.
How you might ask, how can so many lives be linked through one thought? How can any single thought have such power? The answer is that once a collective entity has struck a bargain with an individual, once that individual has accepted and internalized a thought offered by a collective entity of their society as a part and portion of his or her own internal definition of …self… then that individual will bend heaven around a hard on or hell around a saddle cinch if that is what is required to continue using that thought to define themselves… to themselves.
The degree to which this thought, what ever it might be, is the foundation of a personality? That degree becomes the exact same degree of deformation and self deception they will apply to every other element of their personal reality in order to maintain the structure built upon that thought. This is, ultimately, the degree of counterforce required ( from some other source or alliance of sources operating in the same ranges of self definition ) to allow them to change. When the thought internalized, when the bargain struck, involves the unrealistic promise of a pain free and happy life as a consequence of some single point of social conformity, social belief? You’re dealing with some very serious social power. Mishandle that power and the result is total calamity and disaster.
Is the situation hopeless? Can it be changed? No, it is not hopeless and yes, it can be changed. But to do so with deliberate intent demands that those who would attempt to make such a change actually understand the forces they propose to manipulate. Sadly, there are entities both discrete and collective evil enough to have no qualms about exploiting such vulnerability for power and profit, such an effort will not be unopposed and the opposition will have all of social convention from which to draw weaponry. Doubt this? Look at the life of Nelson Mandela, or Ghandi, or Jesus of Nazareth. There are many examples to choose from concerning how fiercely the collective entities will defend their host base, and how brutal they can and will be in that defense. It only makes sense, really. To them they are defending their very lives.
Which, emerging from the folded space of the tesseract which is the modern human dynamic, delivers us back to where this impromptu dive into the deeper depths began: how to deal with the explosion of addictions (of all kinds! Many addictions DO NOT involve any chemical compound at all!) that is threatening the very survival of modern civilization. What should be the first move to untie this multi-dimensional knot of misery?
I, Cyranos DeMet, a Lord of LaMancha and gunny sergeant in the Third Expeditionary SoulMarine (*chuckle* the Lords of LaMancha being the nickname of my unit of air cavalry in said fictional army), will put forth that when a majority of the population understands and internalizes the truth that there is no substance known to man that can ease the pain of a broken heart or a broken dream then a powerful blow will have been struck against the headwaters of the problems. This thought must become as ubiquitous as the air we breath, it must arrive from all directions supported by every good wisdom ever recorded, it must arrive gentle as a spring breeze that it creep unnoticed beneath the clamor and yammer of the social, the ever watchful eyes of the collective entities of society whose competitions will be deprived of a truly critical line of supply should that thought come to be a common understanding.
To one and all: thank you for your time. Semper Fi, SoulMarine. The fight is not lost yet.
To any might have a thought to add comments are welcomed.
To any might have a thought to add comments are welcomed.