Friday, December 19, 2014

Tourists, new residents add to the negatives of racism in Hawaii

Pokai Bay on the Waianae Coast of Oahu
"Why are you moving?" a journalist asked an elderly couple when they said they were returning to the mainland.  "Too many dirty people," the wife responded.  "Dirty people?" they were asked, and the response tells much of the story about the negatives of racism in Hawaii

The Southern Poverty Law Center in 2009 examined the topic of prejudice in Hawaii and declared there are significant issues related to race in the paradise of the Pacific.  And there are stories about tourists being mistreated by locals on some beach, often in a rural area of the islands or the "kill haole day" often talked about as the targeting of mainland white young children and youth by their classmates.  On the other hand much of this problem emanates not just from the history of annexation and the takeover of Hawaii by the US government, that involved the imprisonment of the Queen.  The attitudes of new residents, residents who live apart in their own ethnic enclaves or tourists who refer to locals as "natives" fosters resentment from locals who refuse to be considered inferior or treated unequally.

As President Barack Obama prepares for his annual Christmas sojourn in Hawaii, one of the main issues has to do with how people on the mainland view Hawaii, as the State is more often in the news during the times the President visits his home state.  Many newcomers and tourists see Hawaii as someplace foreign and some maintain that attitude long past the time when they should have assimilated in the local culture.

The elderly couple returning to the mainland are typical of many people who stay in Hawaii a short time and maintain they "know" the culture well.

The wife, we can call Ann out of respect for the fact the woman lives in the same condo community as this journalist, continued with her assessment of Hawaii by saying: "You know, there are three groups of those people.  You know what they are, of course."

"No," I answered.  "What do you think they are?"

"Well, I KNOW what they are," she responded. "Two of those groups are dirty people.  They are the ones who hang out on the beach or in the trees mooching off the government.  And they are brown-skinned, so I know where they're from.  Then there is the other group, and they can be nice, or at least polite at the stores.  But you never know if they are being phony."

This appraisal of the Hawaiian people came from an individual who admitted to living in Hawaii less than two years and having no friends in the islands.  She complained people just were not friendly.

"Do you belong to any clubs or organizations here?" I asked.  "No," the woman said, "I'm just not interested.  We like to play golf, and they don't talk to us."

"Do you talk to them?" I inquired.  "Why should I?" she told me. "They ought to do it first.  But then we don't have anything in common with them."

A conversation with a former Hawaii resident of more than 30 years brings the response of how prejudiced the local people can be. The man had run for political office and lost.  He said, "I lost because I'm a Republican and white." He ran the year the City of Honolulu elected a Caucasian, white female, Eileen Anderson, as its mayor.  He left Hawaii at the time the State elected a white woman of Jewish background, Linda Lingle, as Governor.

Attitude is key to acceptance in almost any cultural setting. This journalist, after nearly 30 years of living in Hawaii, has many local friends. But it has meant appreciating the culture, loving the virtues of it, seeing Hawaii's beauty as more than its geographical landscape.  The people of Hawaii live with the concept of Ohana, or family; but it has to be earned.  Everyone of a certain age is treated with respect.  Yet an arrogant, prejudicial attitude can be easily discerned by local folks who have heard the words "dirty" or "different" or "natives" and resent being looked down upon by those of the same color and background who initiated the annexation, then the Statehood of Hawaii.

Racism is a problem everywhere there are people of different colors and where history has created issues that remain imprinted on the lands. But it is not a problem for those who see beauty in all the colors of the rainbow and the spirit of the Hawaiian people that infuses those colors with their charm and aloha.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dark day blues: How to get past seasonal affective disorder

Light box therapy for seasonal affective disorder
Winter often ushers in days when the weather is dark and gloomy, triggering for some people seasonal depression.  Add to this the issues that come with the holidays, bad memories or change that has brought about disconnections; and the problems created by dark days increase.  So here are some ways to keep that sunny mood that can be applied simply and make a difference.

 If you're someone who has dark day blues, you may be suffering from what doctors call seasonal affective disorder. This term is used to categorize the mood that comes when the season changes from light and sunny to cold, dark and gloomy. Most people might feel a little down during those times, but people with this disorder are more than a little glum. They are affected sometimes to the point of inertia. It is indeed a type of depression that can be hurtful, even as depression is described as a primary mental health problem.. So it can be debilitating to have a condition that can affect an individual several months of the year. Besides even people without the clinical disorder can benefit from tips on staying sunny when the days are not.

Light begets light.

Attracting light can be an important way of fighting darkness. Choose light colored drapes, furniture and accessories. They brighten up an environment during the whole year round and are especially helpful for those who have problems dealing with dark days. Soft, neutral colors on walls, warm sunny accents, plants, light colored sheers that are layered at the windows in back of venetian blinds as opposed to heavy drapes will allow light to pass through in streams.

Live near windows.

Maintain most activity near areas of the environment where there is light. Don't block windows with furniture. Maintain open spaces so that the light can fill space as opposed to large pieces of furniture that can make an area look crowded and dark.

Be active.

Get outside, even when it rains a little. Physical exercise helps elevate mood. Sunlight, even occasionally hidden by clouds, peeks out some parts of gloomy days and elevates the mood when it does.

Artificial light works.

 Special bright lights that bathe an area in bright light can help mood change from glum to cheery.

Wear color,

Dull colors can influence mood negatively.  Wear color, not browns and grays and blacks, unless they're splashed with color accessories that brighten up the person. What we wear has been shown to help lift mood.

Along with light, bright clothes, a little color on the face serves to help lift the spirit a little. The person with a tendency to depression on dark days can't afford to hang out with bare face and pajamas until noon. Sometimes the down-in-the-dumps mood is perpetuated and reinforced by what is worn, and people get caught in a vicious cycle. The person with seasonal affective disorder, or the dark mood on dark days, can't afford not to get up and get on with it because of the tendency of the body and the mind to reinforce each other because of that connection we often talk about.

Add Melatonin

Melatonin is an over-the-counter remedy to regulate sleep.  Another alternative to elevate mood is lavender scents at night and fruity smells in the daytime.

All of these special strategies translate into a total regimen for taking care of one's mental state and preparing to stay sunny in spite of the weather.

Now get up and get going just like Longfellow suggested in that poem long ago, "with a heart for any fate. And ascending and securing, learn to labor and to wait." Or something else in hope of the sunny times, as Scarlett said when she felt a little down in Gone with the Wind, "Tomorrow is another day."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christians defend torture with eye for eye quote despite Jesus condemning it, facing His own crucifixion

In spite of Christ's admonition against dealing with violence with violence in return, many people of faith continue to quote the Old Testament passage "an eye for an eye" that Jesus said was no longer the law.  It is this notion of revenge that Christ specifically examined in his Sermon, something virtually all Christians consider His finest words.

The United States is more than 83% Christian according to the surveys of faith memberships.  Yet 59% of the American people recently stated they approved the interrogation methods, described in infinite detail on news media recently and over many months prior to the revelations made in 2014.  Furthermore more than 45% maintain they would approve these methods being used again.

Torture tactics used by interrogators hired by members of America's elite leadership in many ways are little different than the slow starvation and psychological methods of torture used by the government of Syria to control its people. This makes it difficult for the US to condemn regimes that use torture as a method of power, control and revenge.

Some of the interrogation tactics included allowing a prisoner to freeze to death, keeping a detainee awake for more than six days, beating, kicking and punching prisoners while forcing them to stand on broken legs and waterboarding, which is described as simulated drowning. One might ask, in response to these tactics, if the idea of an eye for an eye was used to extract information, as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove reiterated was the case.  Furthermore it is a quote often used on Facebook as justification for the interrogation tactics.  "After all," one writer posted, "We have to remember 9/11.  They deserved it."

One of the most famous selections in the Bible is a passage where Jesus examined the old laws and responded to them while at the same time underlining His own mission and how he was ushering in a new path for believers to follow.  The famous passage in the Book of Matthew is referred to as The Sermon on the Mount.  One selection specifically examines how people should treat both friends and enemies.

"5:38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a
   tooth for a tooth:
   5:39 But I say unto you, That you resist not evil: but whosoever shall
   smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
   5:40 And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat,
   let him have your cloak also.
   5:41 And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.
   5:42 Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you
   turn you not away.
   5:43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your
   neighbor, and hate your enemy.
   5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
   do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use
   you, and persecute you;
   5:45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:
   for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends
   rain on the just and on the unjust."

The early Christians were tortured by Rome for their beliefs.  Many Christians today take pride in the fact that these early believers did not recant their belief in Christ and instead were tortured and killed.  Therefore the Romans were unsuccessful in their use of torture.
The Church, throughout much of its history, burned people at the stake and used all manner of methods to force them to admit to acts the Church considered heresy or that opposed some decisions made by the religious leadership of the time.  In the United States women were falsely accused of witchcraft, which they admitted under torture, despite the fact that the witnesses against them had lied.  So torture obtained false information and was therefore ineffective.

And religious individuals and groups used torture for many purposes with many examples of the ineffectiveness of it in securing information.  

There are numerous examples in both secular and religious history that show that lengthy interrogations under stressful physical conditions did not often obtain truth from the accused.
While the nation debates the Constitutionality of using torture, whether the methods used to interrogate prisoners was actually torture and whether it served its purpose in getting prisoners to confess, this secular debate is just one side of the issue.  In America where "Under God" is in the country's Pledge of Allegiance and where the phrase God and country is often used as if both words meant an equivalent devotion, the spiritual view is likely reasonable, considering that the words of Jesus directly examine the treatment of enemies as loving and praying for them. 

The history of Christianity is rife with instances of torture, explained away as necessary to rid the church of evil.  Often that evil was defined as simply being in opposition to the church views at the time, which could be holding opinions different from the Biblical teachings in order to justify personal sin.  It allowed papal leadership to explain its own forms of torture.
Every Sunday, or Saturday for some groups of Christians, ministers take the pulpit to examine the Bible and to cite its passages, often reminding Christians that those passages represent the divine word of God.

Yet the words of Jesus the Christ, who is considered by Christians to be the very Son of God,  that are disregarded in the "eye for an eye" quote in defense of torture, something Jesus, whose birthday is celebrated in this month of December during the debate on how enemies should be treated.   Jesus gave the Sermon at a time he knew the authorities were watching him, and knowing how they would react, that He would be crucified, thus speaking against doing evil in the form of revenge even when faced with terrible personal calamity that history records as torture.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't say you're sorry for crying

Men do cry
That old advice of just get up and get on with it, and don't cry isn't really good advice, according to the experts. Crying had some benefit after getting a hug from your mother who let you cry for a little and then reminded you that you were going to be all right. Not crying when we're hurt will simply double back and bite you later, as research has shown about the impact of not expressing emotions that can be increasingly hurtful as the years go on.

In the past men were counseled not to cry. The education started early when boys were told not to cry when they felt bad, if they fell down, if they did not understand an idea or a problem.  These days psychologists warn that the fact men have more trouble expressing feelings through tears is one of the barriers toward their getting help when they need it. Learning to express feelings through tears early on is a way of guiding the child to the grown-up way of managing feelings through expressing them legitimately.

Know how you feel when you're all choked up and can't talk about your feelings because you think people will think you're silly if you cry? What we apologize for, however, is something that we shouldn't feel ashamed about. Crying allows us to keep healthy, so it's useful to know more about it and give our selves advice and consent to go ahead and cry when we need to because sometimes that's the best thing to do to discharge fear and feelings and allow you to move forward.

Therapists often recommend crying in self-help articles found in newspapers and magazines. Nevertheless, how many times do we still do it and hear other people doing the same. The "I'm sorry" for the sniffle, isn't necessary. My Mother told me "you're your friends don't need it and your enemies won't believe you anyway when it comes to that type of words and behavior." However, people still apologize for doing it. But tears have a biological benefit because tension is released when we cry. Crying also lubricates the eyes. In addition it provides a physical catharsis that allows the body to discharge certain toxins.

Think about your inner self as needing a bath just like your outer body. Crying bathes and cleanses that inner self, gets you emotionally clean, and can refresh your heart just like a bath refreshes your body.

Crying provides emotional benefit. You will be relaxed and relieved, which allows the muscles to relax and then the relief continues. In other words, there is a mind-body connection to crying. Crying also relieves stress and therefore has a positive effect on our mental and emotional health because it is a natural response for coping with grief and pain, both physical and emotion. During stress we accumulate chemicals and hormones that are released when we cry. That's one of the reasons that crying makes us feel better. The chemical called endorphins are released when we cry, that makes us happy. It's what makes us cry, then have the kind of relaxation and relief that might even allow us to laugh afterwards. Then we have the relief from both the laughter and the tears. As one expert reminds us, "Crying is coping."

Next time you fall down emotionally or physically, you don't have to apologize to anyone for crying. Let the tears come when you need to and allow yourself to discharge hurts before they accumulate and do harm. This will allow you to keep your stress down and maintain good

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dismissing lessons learned in kindergarten can lead to social and mental health problems

Kindergarten, where we learn the basics of how to treat one another
A famous saying hanging on the walls in many offices, especially those of caregivers, speaks of the lessons that teach us to care for one another and do the right thing in terms of concern for others as the type we learn in kindergarten, but these are sublimated or dismissed by those who live with socially and politically self-centered attitudes and behaviors. Here is how forgetting those lessons can also lead to mental health problems.

In order to forget those things that seem to be almost common sense and simple enough for a kindergartner can create confusion and anger over time.  Having to offer one set of beliefs that counter the basic social beliefs one learns early in life creates the kind of stress that over time might lead to depression. Also forgetting those basics can, and has, lead to wars and to social and political problems throughout man's history

What is that favorite saying that offers us those kindergartner basics?
“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first workd you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
― Robert FulghumAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
Those who practice the trickle down notions or who believe in Ayn Rand's theory of each man or woman just taking care of himself or herself make compromises, especially when they know that the great amounts of money they hold don't trickle down to the needy.  Winning at any cost is no way to play fair.  Taking ideas and products from others is a too common activity, whether it is a piece of music or an idea for a business.  People create problems for themselves and others, then excuse them with "Mistakes were made," which offers no admission of guilt for doing something wrong and dismisses the idea of being sorry. These behaviors done by people who wield power over others can create widespread social problems.  They also create problems for the individual that can lead to poor mental and physical health.
Those personal health problems come from disregarding safety issues and not caring for the safety of others, by not taking time to meditate and enjoy the beauty of creation, or to remember that life is to be lived in the moment.  Not remembering that we are all alike in very simple ways, that we all need the necessities of life to grow and that we all need one another can lead to the wide discrepancies between rich and poor and the disregard of victims of war and violence.
Psychologists tell us there are many causes of depression.  But one of these has to do with conflict.  The conflict can be with others, causing anger, frustration, anxiety that result in depression.  Or it can be internal conflicts that come from having one set of standards in conflict with other standards.  To relieve the anxiety that comes from behaviors outside of what are those basics, both children and adults will act out.  They will display anger or turn that anger inside into depression.  The stress from internal conflicts is a major cause of depression.
Those lessons learned in kindergarten offer the basics that work for children and for adults.  Robert Fulghum, the author of the poem that offers these lessons summarizes the lessons for life as this:
“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Should alternative therapies be included in insured health care programs?

Cinnamon used to reduce sugar levels but with negligible results, if any, according to science
Carol Forsloff--Around 10 per cent of the money spent on health care in the United States is on alternative medicine and that percentage is growing rapidly.  How does this fit into the health care debate and should these alternative therapies be part of insurance costs and government sanctions?

If the new Congress overturns Obama's health care program, how will this impact what is accepted or not accepted in any new program that may be adopted?

These are some of the questions people seek to have answered, as they embrace an ever-increasing number of alternative remedies outside of traditional medicine.

Herbal remedies and other alternative therapies are used by a variety of people. Some take traditional medicine and add to it with alternatives. So people may have their family practitioner and a massage therapist for that bad shoulder and herbal remedies for sleep. That 10 per cent that people spend on alternatives goes for different things and for different reasons asBlack America Web pointed out in its lifestyle feature some years ago.

What research has found is that as the cost of traditional medicine has increased, people turn more and more to 
alternative therapies they find may be cheaper and some believe more efficient and accessible. These natural remedies lead some people to relying on alternatives because they can’t afford to see the doctor and turn to non traditional methods of healing as well. So why not rely on brother Bob up the street who teaches physical conditioning and sells herbal medications on the side along with his massage practice? That’s what some people consider when they have to make decisions these days.

But the question remains, in addition to costs, do alternative therapies work? 
KevinMD looks at the matter of alternative medicine to answer that question. Despite the bandwagon more and more people are leaping aboard, the doctor site maintains with respect to alternative therapies:

“Not only have they been shown not to work, the lack of FDA regulation surrounding supplements means that some of them may actually harm patients, or are laced with prescription drugs. In fact, the president of an independent lab that tests such products says, “one out of four supplements has a problem.
And worse, those who shun traditional medicine may be missing their last chance at treatment.”
Indeed there is that other side to the issue of alternative medicine.  Science has established that some alternatives can be helpful, but many therapies are not supported despite popular opinion.  For example, research has found that cinnamon, which is highly touted as a remedy for diabetes, has not been found to have any significant effect on factors related to diabetes, specifically reducing sugar levels.  Furthermore, because it inhibits clotting, in some European countries doctors counsel against taking it, as it has acts like warfarin and may be contraindicated especially when an individual is facing surgery.

Those who question the efficacy of alternative medicine caution people to be thoughtful and do their homework to find out about any specific alternative, as there are remedies that either do not work or that interfere with other treatments.  So while traditional medicine may have its drawbacks, there are also concerns about alternative remedies, as either not working or actually causing harm.  

What causes people to embrace alternatives in the modern era in opposition to traditional medicine?  Experts tell us the struggle between traditional and alternative therapies has gone on for centuries.  The increase in acceptance of alternatives appeared as religions began to accept new ways of thinking and orthodox principles began to be questioned.  What one expert maintains is moral relativism and political correctness has also been another reason why people will accept alternative remedies without question while voicing concern about traditional medicine.

So while the debate rages about health care, this side issue continues to be part of the consideration Americans make when they can’t afford health care. The question is how much and how far will this continue, given the issues before the political decision makers today and will people continue to turn to alternative therapies which haven’t been proven successful?