Global Awareness- A Growing Problem by Scott Hall

In the last few months, our nation and the global citizenry have seen several infractions of human rights, questionable behaviors and serious law and political goof ups; Image Credit:

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The Gong ~ Addiction and the sound it makes.

            ‘The times they are a changing’ and this author agrees whole heartedly.  Thanks in part to developments in just about every industry, things are indeed changing.  While the many changes we see are positive or have good effects, with them has come a new era of problems and addictions.  In my own community drugs like Heroin and Methamphetamine are nearing “serious problematic” levels and infiltrating our children’s schools and our communities. Addictions are not always slated to be chemical; they can be organic or even artificial and not as clear in their ill side effects as the ones we all know, such as drinking and driving or gambling.  I was sitting in my home, observing some of the things that teenagers do (my children’s circle of friends) and instead of turning up the TV to drown out teen chatter, I decided to listen and as I did, aside from the thousands of memories of my own that came flooding back, something came to mind that I shared with my children, saying specifically this, “Every addict has a gong inside them that only they can hear.” This being said in reference to some of the things I overheard about what was happening to others they know or friends they haven’t seen in a few years and had developed, including teen pregnancy or what I call babies having babies. This article will expand on those types of gongs, their potential effects and hopefully will bring about some conversations that lead to healing our poisoned minds and bodies.
            Merriam-Webster defines addiction as a compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (such as drugs or alcohols) characterized by tolerance and well defined symptoms upon withdrawal or more broadly: a persistent compulsive use of something by a user known to be harmful or cause harm to that user.  We are all familiar with the traits of drug and alcohol abuse, the behaviors, the broken families, the in depth reach the abuse has to not just the abuser, but friends and families as well, if not, you can watch less than a week’s worth of Dr. Phil or any sensationalized talk show and see it firsthand (if you aren’t already living with someone in that kind of trouble).  Let’s toss out the addiction to drugs or alcohol for a moment and look at the more broad definition of addiction, the persistent compulsive use of something known to be harmful to the person - if we apply this to say the video game addict, that person would likely think us nuts if we said, “Hey, we have a treatment facility for addicts like you, would you put down the controller and give it a shot?” or what about the social media addict, “Stop Tweeting, you’re hurting your family and we can help you to overcome that”.  Crazy? Perhaps, but nonetheless true and a part of our society today.
            To understand what may motivate this style of thought, we need also to look at the root word; Addict.  By definition (MW Defining again) to devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.  Within the two defined realms, lies a common core, the habit or more perfectly a habit that can be or is harmful.  Harmful meaning - one of a few things, not just physical harm; perhaps mental, emotional, and psychological – the list of possibilities is lengthy.  For example, the person who spends most of their day on a computer or playing their video game consoles may become resistant to change when told “get up, get a job”, expressing anger, disgust, protest and other items, it is because their habit (one that like all others develops over a set period of time) is being disrupted and they are in fact in some way “addicted” to that behavior, the harmful effect being no motivation to become productive, upstanding citizens (yes parents, I can see a few head nods in agreement).  Another example could be the person who tweets everything, news, food, personal thoughts, all of it, each day they just can’t seem to break away from their phones including when they eat or are just sitting outside, the device might as well have an implant on their hip and lord help them if their candy ever gets crushed the wrong way, the saving grace against a rage quit is a shattered phone is costly vs. a game controller.  If we were to ask them to go without it for a couple of days, they may just turn pale, sweat or breathe heavily and protest or may even say sure but 2 hours later come knocking on your door pleading for the devices return, admit it, you know someone like this.  This habit / addiction is harmful, it robs the user of real interaction, of real emotions, let’s face it, if we could hear tone through text like the audible sounds we hear in conversation, there may be a whole lot less anger on the web. 
            In short in our opening basic look, addict and addiction share common threads and regardless of whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or electronics, addictions can come in a variety of challenges and while treatments are necessary and difficult for the drug or alcohol addict, how much more is it for the non substance addict.  As I mentioned earlier in this article, I said every addict has a gong inside them that only they can hear and when it rings out, the harmful behavior either overtakes their minds or their bodies or causes them to act or think irrationally and they just cannot help themselves, until they become strong enough to block it out or ignore its calling.  I will use a real life example for our first gong example, I am a tobacco user, I have been for a few years, when I first started, I was told, the habit will get harder to break, the longer you go – they are correct.  My gongs: Wake up to drink coffee have a “wake up smoke”, eat breakfast, “have a meal smoke”, go to work, have a “cig for the ride, smoke” and so on and so on, each time the gong to go smoke rang, I answered the call with no second thought, the habit now had developed a way of telling me, “it’s time to go take care of this”, this gong is always around, so, now that I am enrolled in a cessation program, I am hearing this gong even when I don’t necessarily wish it to be, the habit’s gong hasn’t forgotten me or its own wants.  Another example: You just had a bad day and learned you owe some money to the IRS, get upset, the brain grabs the mallet and “bwang! You need a smoke” to which the common phrase is, “I need a smoke break” or “I’m going to go smoke a cig and do some thinking, I will be right back” the gong is real and applies to every addict and addiction out there.
            Addictions are sometimes characterized by compulsion or compulsive behavior but they can also be psychological or medically necessary (prescribed).  Among the many substance addictions, there are a few you may not know about, that are a part of modern medicine, in other words, what was created for a treatment became or is becoming something that creates or causes addiction, a partial list is as follows: Actiq (A cancer drug used for pain not relieved by other normal treatment medicines); Butalbital (A barbiturate which reduces anxiety and is mostly prescribed to treat tension headaches); Clonazepam (AKA Klonopin, A drug used to control seizures or to help with panic attacks, withdrawal symptoms are somewhat similar to Meth or Heroin, including shakiness, vomiting and sweating); The gongs are loud in these three items, each as helpful as they are harmful, for the patient a blessing, for the abuser, hell on wheels.  Each designed to help with the pains or problems in life such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse, the effects of carcinogenic components and help with uncontrolled anxiety, each “out there” in the black markets and neighborhoods where our children play and friends we know live and work, each answering the calls of the thousands of gongs ringing out for the euphoric high or escape they can bring.
            Some gongs simply cannot be helped, these are known as impulse disorders, the gong sounds and anytime the answerer has an opportunity to satisfy the calling, they will or do, some by any means necessary.  Among these types of gongs are gambling, pyromania and kleptomania.  I have never met someone who had an uncontrolled impulse to burn things, but I have known many who will spend their last dime on a “sure bet” rather than eat, and have known a few whom stole half their wardrobe by simple sleight of hand; again, a harmful effect as a result of answering the call of the gong within, including destroying relationships, jobs and a self destruction that may bring about feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to them, point them in the direction of help, and let them know they don’t have to answer the call every time it rings out.  Remember, addictions do not have to be chemical or substance abuse, they can be behavioral and may include what we would call “everyday items”. Things like being addicted to food, sex, pornography viewing, the internet, social media, working, exercising, cutting oneself and yes, even spiritual addiction (not religious devotion).  Let’s look back a moment, to the broader definition of addiction, we can see that it applies to nearly everything we as a human race can potentially be or are addicted to, the difference is we see some of these as “not as harmful” and tend to miscatergorize them or make fun of the people who have those addictions, to the point that we don’t give the addictions or their grip the credit or power they deserve.   To this point, we have seen many examples of the result, of the gong’s control and callings that addicts and addiction know all too well, but I have yet to explain the gong itself, although I am sure you may have an idea by now of what it implies.
            The “Gong” Signs: 1 – Someone you know is struggling mentally or physically with the behavior or item that has them in their grips as a result of not being able to stop (without help). 2 – Relationships, whether or not intimate, suffer as the person who is wrestling with the problem they have, allows it to grow out of control; sometimes this spills over into their job environment, they may seem down or not themselves and work becomes taxing or toxic.  3 – The person’s total environment breaks down due to consequences not seen by the initial addictions grip (example, time spent focusing on addiction robs from quality time in other areas) and results in extreme behaviors, items like “you’ve stopped spending time with me” or “why haven’t you been around” become a conversation.  4 – Regardless of how harsh the punishment or stiff the consequences, the person refuses to stop, they refuse to listen to reason and insist what they are doing is okay or without worry (they are willing to lose their home, jobs, etc to get what they want, a big part of # 3’s side effects, this includes a lack of interest in relationships or a willingness to lose the person they love as they are just “getting in the way”).
             The Gong’s sounds: “You’re only 1 level away from beating the game”; A focus on a digitized environment that robs the person from work, they may or may not be motivated and usually can be found at home nearly all the time, resistive to chores or anything social other than a headset and a bag of chips; “You’ve got mail”; Notification or personalization audio specific to a function or result of digitized applications or internet item, which causes the addict to check every time they hear it or worse, place on social media every inch of what they read or do including making sure they haven’t missed a moment, even if that moment is literally one minute apart; “I’ve had a bad day, I need a fix”, Depression, Anxiety or Stress that leads the person to seek out the euphoric escape of a high in the form of alcohol, drugs or other “outlets” some would say, “Comfortably Numb”; “Come on, everyone’s doing it” or “You need to chill out, try this” Peer pressures or wanted acceptance that leads to behaviors you wouldn’t normally do; such as smoke some marijuana or take a feel good pill just to fit in or “be cool”; “If I don’t have it, I will get sick” A heroine or methamphetamine user’s nightmare, to combat the body’s physical withdrawal, they ‘must’ have it, their minds and bodies convince the abuser that there is no other way to overcome the effects, which bring new ones themselves such as depression from not being able to resist it or actually stealing money from friends/family to gain the fix they seek out (see article Heroin or Hell).  These are only partial examples of the many sounds the gong makes, but each time it sounds, the addict, regardless of substance or outlet used, once hooked answers it without a second thought and usually doesn’t realize the mallet used to strike the gong, is in their hands to put down.  I’ve seen relationships destroyed by text, I’ve seen addicts think they are immortal until they overdose, I’ve seen thieves think they couldn’t be caught and wind up embarrassed at their job sites by arrest and I’ve lived the gong’s call on multiple levels, including: you need a smoke, you need a drink, with help I have overcame alcohol by a 25 year sobriety, tobacco, well it will take some time.  Will the road be difficult, yes, will the road have moments of temptation, yes, will that gong sound, yes but in order for me to not answer it, I have to learn to recognize when it calls that I don’t have to beckon to its needs or wants and if I cannot do it alone, realize there is help available (such as the cessation program I am currently enrolled in).  If you are addicted to anything that brings harm to yourself or others around you, go get help and overcome the grip it has before your mind customizes the sounds of the gong you carry within and never forget, the addiction doesn’t have to be alcohol, drugs or substance, it can be something as “simple” as your smart phone.  Don’t Text and Drive, Be alert, arrive unhurt.  Thank you for reading, good day to you all. ~ Scott~


We the People – Examination and Opinion

            Many persons, who will read the title of this article, will probably realize those words are from a document known as the Constitution of the United States of America, but what do those words imply, are they to be taken literally or is there something more?  In the presidential election, we the people, by majority of electorate vote, decided in a new and untouched direction, one that is leaving many trails of disbelief and wonderment as to what will ‘become’ of our USA and what should we do about it.  In this article, I hope to expand some critical thinking skills and maybe take a look at a perspective that may or may not get us talking, instead of fighting, hating, being afraid or perhaps nervously awaiting dooms day, I have plenty of extra truth glasses to go around, I ask only for a few moments of your time in your busy day, to stop and talk.
            We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
            The above in italics and bold, is the preamble to our Constitution; consider it like an opening statement in a court of law, it openly identifies goals and sets the stage for arguments in support of it’s worth, while allowing room for ‘proof positive’ that these things are true to the best of one’s knowledge and / or ability.  The first 7 words, address the interested parties (that’s us now as much as it was us, when it was written), the next 8 identify the goal and then followed by a how to and what we should at a minimum feel or know beyond the shadow of a doubt, what is to come from the aforementioned statements and then ratify it by establishing the document and of course, the rest is our rights, liberties, powers of branches of government, how they get to where they are, requirements and on and on.  The document known as our Constitution is very important, and it is important because of the opening words, We the People.
            As we grow up and gain our elementary knowledge’s about America, we learn about the many battles fought in the name of freedom and liberty, we know of the atrocities of global threats and what mad men (or women) can do in positions of power, we’ve seen the most corrupt ignored by a justice system and the least able criminal get decades for ignorance - and in all of it, we look to a figure head, an entity that only catches our attention when we turn on the evening news seeking out answers or proposed solutions to the problems that plague society.  Where are we the people at before these items become news or we seek out our leadership to change things, other than watching it unfold before our eyes and spewing out opinions across social media outlets, hoping it will make a change,  in fact it doesn’t. We are glued to our media outlets (like our phones, tablets, laptops and so on), glued as though we either cannot wait for the next horrifying item or hoping to make a comment against the ‘man’- so as a start, to our knowledge journey, we can safely say that “We the People” includes you, regardless of where you are in the United States of America, past, present and future.
            In the earliest of times in our country’s birth, there is little doubt there was debates about how best to grow and prosper.  Those leaders knew that the current system and the one they fought so hard to get away from were in dire need of work, which brings us to the next part of the pre-amble, “In order to form a more perfect union”.  A definitive goal, simply make it better than it was while building for a better tomorrow and yes - the signee’s of that document knew full well what was ahead and I am sure never dreamed of the future USA, which is currently suffering a few woes.  If we look around today, about half of the country thinks nope, things are worsening and the hope now lies upon the next President, Mr. Trump, to fix what is wrong.  The other half is nervously waiting to see what disasters will unfold and hurt their pocket books or their rights.  Not too much of a difference in worries from 200 plus years ago, just more modern thought, don’t forget the only wireless our colonial ancestors had was carrier pigeon.  All joking aside, the USA then: paying off war debts, set up financial system, create opportunities, protect the public, govern the people who elected you to do these things, make trades that help the land, don’t charge too much in tax to help pay for it – you get the picture.  In the time span in between then and now, much has changed; we have overcome obstacles of education, immunization, health, industry, housing, automobiles and more – women’s rights, desegregation, naturalization plus the enforcing the basics that were established 200 plus years ago.  All these things are markers of a nation that as it grows and works to form that more perfect union, includes the mistakes of judgments and guess who is ever present in this task, that’s right, “We the People”.
            Moving forward, we look at the next set of words: “Establish Justice” sounds simple enough; someone does something wrong, they get punished for it, but what exactly is the correct punishment for the particular crime committed and shouldn’t it be equally applied?  Rolling back the clock, we can all imagine the vast array of punishments available, such as: Stockade, Jail, and Hanging, Firing Squads - compared to now: Elaborate Prison systems, Electric Chairs, Gas Chambers, and Lethal Injections, Life sentences and in some parts depending on crime, Hangings and waiting on death row for several decades at the taxpayers’ expense.  What one person sees as ‘justice’ another may see as cruel and unnecessary, they are after all still human and have certain rights, even while incarcerated as is guaranteed by our Constitution, but don’t tell that to certain persons, they see criminals as criminals regardless of background, it’s like being branded “you messed up” the rest of your life and no matter how much “scar away” you apply, the blemish never goes away.  Along the way, in certain events, the accused gets to have a jury of their peers to listen to the accuser’s side and ‘their’ side, this while being presided over by a judge in a nice building…compared to perhaps waiting for weeks just to have a justice of the peace who covers a very large region, come by and decide based on what a sheriff or marshal has to say, which is based on what they saw or were told, yeah, that was fair.  To establish justice means working on making it better every chance we get so that equal levels of crime get equal punishments or at least we hope it will work that way, sounds good in theory, but doesn’t work well in practice, our present day is littered in crime and punishments that are far from equal and full of speculation that incites riots from the public, wonder what Benjamin Franklin would think of us now, compared to those persons of the past.
            Take for example a set of terms placed upon our nation at a young age, “The great American melting pot”, which symbolizes our open doors to the many nations who have people that long to live and have liberties that make their basic rights to live – while living here in freedoms, though these days, the citizen think free applies to those who aren’t worthy of help, little do they understand that our country was founded upon helping and has been ingrained in our soils starting on day 1.  Since those doors were opened, we have had attackers from all sorts of backgrounds. Spanish American war, World Wars I and II just to name a couple, we have even fought against ourselves in a “Civil” war, there have been emancipations, laws passed, standards set to reach out, help out and grow, but now we reject those same people and more for fear of them either “stealing our jobs” or having a desire to kill every last one of us in the name of martyrdom and sacrificing to their God let alone the mass shootings or killings taking place in areas all over the world.  Look at the debate about who should own what gun or why, while we bicker about who is not going to take our assault line of rifles, because our military isn’t enough to defend us we got to have guns at home that were used by the military or are still in use; are we ignoring the person with other ideas about those mass killings, who may have the right also to use it, but that means background checks, but no one wants that, do they, nor laws to be written to make the punishments equal the crime level for using those same guns shooting up a movie theater or worse, a school.  Establishing Justice, it takes work, it takes thought, it takes “we the people” over a long period of time, perfecting their mistakes and working to improve the system and indeed, includes forming a more perfect union by adapting to changing technologies and generations. Our justice system isn’t the best, nor is it the worst, but it does belong to all of us.
            If we take a good look at our USA as a whole, we got issues that need addressing besides the crumbling roadways and energy woes we combat now, we have violence, racial divide, barbarianism, shootings, drug wars while trying to legalize a select few, teenagers getting pregnant, a surge in alcoholism and more – in short, goodbye moral compass. Insuring domestic tranquility should have something to say about that, or is this wishful thinking in a nation now that seems so plagued by so many items.  How does one insure our domestic tranquility, isn’t that more usefully translated to “calm in our homeland”.  By definition, tranquility means the quality or state of being tranquil or calm.  This statement in our preamble opens our minds eye to a bunch of questions and more importantly, different views on what calm means to each person. To our founding leaders, keeping the calm I am sure meant insuring that no British influence would be around shooting at them, or perhaps that homes would be built for everyone who chose to live there at the time, perhaps food or a stable economy, in reality all they had was a piece of paper, the goods they either brought or created and for the most part, relied upon each other.  In a sense, the domestic tranquility was entirely up to the very people living in those areas and had someone to turn to when stuff got out of hand or serious questions that would arise, I think they call that a police force and court system, but I could be wrong all I know is those judges then wore some pretty fancy wigs.
            Suppose we apply some modern hopes now to that insuring domestic tranquility, do we need a department of homeland security, a cabinet for families and children or court system for paternity cases? I shudder to think where our country would be if instead of arrest and conviction, we just said, “eh, it’s gonna be okay, they’re just going through a phase” and let them run the streets, or perhaps build a prison state like escape from New York (The movie) and anyone accused was sent there with a good luck charm in hand. What domestic tranquility means to each of us, I just want to live my life in peace, get married, perhaps have a child, a nice home and car, a good cell phone, nice hair, great clothes…or should it be, live and let live. We should never forget this: “I am my brother’s keeper”; the problem here, we see the dealer, we see the crime, we know the person is doing wrong but we shelter them, hide evidence, we turn our head and refuse to get involved or become enablers to their extremities all while secretly praying they stop; Once again, we the people are in full control of that scenario and not this alone as ridiculous an example as it may seem, domestic tranquility rests on our shoulders and the sooner we speak up, the better our environment will become for our children, our families, our friends and ourselves.  This applies as much to domestic tranquility as it does providing for the common defense, an army of people, assigned to defend our land against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to secure the peace is to prepare for war and without the brave lives of those who are serving, have served, will serve “we the people” would be nothing but a pipe dream and knowing our enemies when they arrive are all about killing us, so domestic tranquility and a good defense, are somewhat married, one needs the other to work and yes, you do have the right to have arms in your home, our ancestors did and they did use them on one another, a big old war as I recall, but I also know there are no “gun police” that are going to come to my door and take them, again, it’s in our Constitution, the very document written by (you guessed it) we the people and ultimately we have the final say so on a lot of things, so, no worries about what you can buy, be more worried about what is being done to stop our home grown and abroad enemies from buying them as well, provide for your common defense.
            Did our founders want the citizens and settlers to succeed in this new country?  We can be relatively certain they did, as in the opening statement, they happened to include promoting the general welfare.  I wonder how many log homes were built with just one man’s hands, or how many horse and buggy breakdowns happened where tom couldn’t ask if harry for an extra cog or pin. Then we got to work, we improved the design, figured out the wrongs and made things better, we worked as a country, making friends out of strangers and establishing building blocks for a better day. Who remembers their parents saying “Go to the neighbor’s house and see if we can borrow a cup of milk or a few eggs” and usually was given out no problems or calling the police when we saw something not quite right happening at the neighbor’s house and then following up by calling them and checking on them, I think it was called being “neighborly” I will have to check my historical references.  Isn’t that promoting the general welfare and if so, why aren’t we trying to do more of it today, like, now?  In my own eyes, promoting the general welfare means reaching out and helping someone when we can, replace a flat tire, recommend a mechanic, load a truck or just asking if they need a ride to get a can of gas for their car, or if that isn’t your flavor, how about holding the door open for someone or simply buying that homeless person a cup of coffee.  In the days we live in now, in some regions and cities, if you are wearing the wrong clothes, could get you mugged or seriously injured, giving a lift could get you killed but yet we trust in an Uber driver, and rely on an internet driven company to insure they have hired the right people. We have police officers who use lethal force for fear of their own lives, while we have officers dying who happen to be sitting in their cars, because the community thugs hate them, they are cops who take their friends to jail and hate the color of their skin, and on and on and on, it is flooding our screens, our phones and our lives, raising questions (and hands in the air) and plaguing a nation full of despair and chaos mostly created by those who turn their heads or refuse to get involved, which is causing us to marvel at the hero’s who risk their lives to save someone they don’t know, we think and say, “I’d have done the same thing if it were me” or do we…we the people are not who we think we are, or so it is becoming a possibility, if not, then why do we have armed persons in our schools and metal detectors in our movie theaters.  We are growing, not just in people, but in ideas, possibilities and over the vast number of years of existence, we have figured out that we need clean water, air and we need vaccinations against disease, we need a police force that keeps the bad guys off the streets while establishing good ties to their communities, but we expect it to be done in an instant, we expect a certain behavior from the bad guys and the good guys…is this a movie or our USA; no, it’s we the people, not accepting responsibility for ourselves, not holding ourselves accountable which in turn would hold others to the same level of reasoning, maybe we should give paying it forward a try, who knows how far it could go.
            Wouldn’t it be easy to say, well what is happening now isn’t near what our founding fathers had in mind, it was a different time, they couldn’t have a clue as to what was to come.  Who knew that the right to bear arms, freedom of the press or the shrouds hovering over an election would be in the spotlight it is now and be under such close scrutiny, who would have expected an African American would be President or that a woman would have the same chance.  Our founding leaders did indeed have us in mind; we can see it clearly by simply examining the final look at our preamble (introduction) of our Constitution: “and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.  Posterity, by definition: All future generations. What Liberty is, much like an earlier example, is defined by the individual, but prescribed by our Constitution and upheld by “We the People”, whether it’s: the positive enjoyment of social, political or economic rights and privileges or the freedom from arbitrary or despotic control or from restraint or just the state of being free, we the people have created it, accepted it, worked to keep it safe, changed it and used it to form a more perfect union, free from oppression, created to allow us to help each other learn and grow while defending our families and communities, in short doing our best to each live their own versions of the American dream or even perhaps the world’s dream.  Free to worship God in whatever form we see fit, Free to speak our minds about the rights and wrongs in our country, Free to have the press report on the news of what is happening and be held highly accountable in their accuracies, Free to go hunting, fishing and enjoy the fruits of our lands, Free to choose who leads us in our overall well being in the status quo of the world while trusting that in the event someone wishes to bring us harm, that we the people will defend our land and Free to secure a future for our children, which includes all the same essential items everyone should have, water, clean air, less destruction of our planet’s resources and more replenishing of what we are taking for granted daily.
            In conclusion, looking only at the preamble to our Constitution, millions of lives over a couple of hundred years helped to shape the country we call the USA.  The founding fathers choices were not so much unlike that of our own now, with many of the same hopes and fears taking part in growth.  People, naturally fear change, but not just any change, the kind of change that promotes growth and personal adaptation.  Now, we can admit, we like the idea of having our health costs covered so that we can live fuller richer lives, we can also admit that we want security from groups of persons who wish to try and kill us and many of us were elated to learn that Osama Bin Laden was finally brought to justice, we are relentless in our established justice system when it comes to the bad guys. We want to know our kids will be safe, twice in two weeks two 15 year old kids were gunned down my own communities.  We want better pay, lower taxes all of the things that we all know, will keep America the greatest nation on Earth, a nation for the people, the American Dream, written and bound in our hearts, our minds and our founding Constitution.  Looking at our world, what we should do now, to move forward is easy, we should insure our tranquility, try our best to live in peace here on our homeland with one another, we should go after our enemies with renewed courage, we should reach out to help when we can, we should be, the shining nation we have always been, one that reflects, “We the People”.  Before I ask you to reflect on the things you have read in the article above, I want to state that it is okay to disagree with my perceptions, opinions or stated reasoning, I uphold your right to do so, and encourage feedback, not just on this article but in your own communities, look around and see what good you can do; that is truly what will make America great again, investment in ourselves, perhaps President Trump is on to something, by causing us to focus on ourselves, ultimately the people are the reason America IS great, as stated in the opening of our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.




Life, it’s not just a magazine

Dedicated to the Memory, of my Nephew, the late - Michael Anthony Hathaway
            This article isn’t about periodicals, reading materials, magazines or waiting rooms that are filled with outdated copies of Sports Illustrated.  It’s about life and why we as a world, need to work harder on its preservation, rather than its destruction.  This article isn’t about saving the trees, protecting endangered species, saving the rainforest or making carbon emissions go away, it’s about living every chance we get.  In a previous article, Death, Loss and Hope, there were some pretty sensitive subjects mentioned and of course, the losses that come with it and death that is way too untimely.  When life get’s overwhelming, things happen, people cry, they go out, they get “hammered” and try and drown their worries away, or at least go numb for a bit, they seek out, in essence, themselves and look for deep answers in deeper waters and when a select few find that the water is too deep, sometimes the pressure is too much and life comes to a screeching halt.  When that happens, it creates questions, it creates hurt, it creates loss and then we must pick up what is remaining and work to try and somehow recover and move forward in life, which, as many know, is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially when riddled in emotional pains.  This time, the loss hit a little closer to home for me and just like so many others, the blanks, the brain locks, the emotional rollercoaster, gripped my family once again, twisting us all sorts of ways into sadness, anger, confusion and fear of the unknown and how to keep moving forward in the face of a loss.  I humbly, present to you, this article about “life”.
            From our earliest memories, comes what is considered the most precious moments of life itself, childhood.  Two things need to happen; Mom and Dad need “that moment” in life and then, Mom several weeks later, goes through the worst pain she will never forget and gives birth to new life.  Many moms and dad’s out there can attest to that “new baby” smell, the stillness of the world when they first hold them, feed them and of course the gag reflex on those first real full diaper changes that no parent will forget.  Suddenly, the wiggling, babbling and seemingly endless nights of crying to deal with, become crawling, walking, taking on tasks, laughing and growing, keeping the world in the front of their eyes and the bumps and bruises full of kisses and comfort, soon thereafter, speaking, saying “mommy” and “love you” and especially, “no” (giggles).  The first 5 years seem like a blur as we watch them grow into children where the personality develops like a blossoming flower and yes, the trials of the “terrible two’s” come with it, where patience is tested, but always followed up by love.  As time moves forward, bonding closer ties with mom and dad, family, friends, they start learning and then a time for new discovery with the hopes that no matter what they choose to become, they will be the absolute best at their task and hopefully make a successful living.
            We watch them struggle against peer pressures and future career decisions and do our best to help them with preparation for their adolescent and pre adult lives, never knowing what challenges they may face, but knowing that the support and love for them only grows stronger and that alone is enough to help propel them forward and encompassing a smile when they succeed.  Sometimes, distance can keep us from reaching out and holding them tightly, letting them know that things will be okay, the comfort is there, the voice that calls them on the phone, is there, but it’s the touch, the sight that matters and we settle within ourselves and take the joy that comes from all of it and cherish even more the times we are able to hug, the family bond becomes like concrete and steel, unbreakable; we blink and they are young adults, the world is theirs and we nervously stand by, waiting, watching and praying that no harm comes to them.
            Once in a while, we meet someone who catches our attention so well that we wish and long to spend the rest of our lives with them and though our lives seem singular at times, we find that someone who helps to make us feel more complete and they the same feeling about us.  Love, Relationship, Moving in, Matrimony and a host of other terms start to fill their lives and the parents become grandparents, and terms like uncle, aunt, cousin start to fill in the pages of memories.  As we age, we watch them grow, as they age, they watch their children grow and then start to fill the same shoes we once wore, taking on the challenges of teaching their children right from wrong, encouraging hope, endurance, individual thought while being there to provide kisses and hugs for the many bumps and bruises (known also as “boo-boo’s”) and probably hearing, “yep, you were right” and “I really sound a lot like you did huh”, the joke of mother’s curses, father’s baldness all of it, intertwine and we again hope that through it all, that our children are happy and never letting go of those memories that time has given us.  Jobs, homes, raising kids teaches us that the cycle of life is endless, and that individual life is precious and our journey’s should not be filled with hurt, but with compassion and care, the two ingredients needed for love. 
            With so much to do and so much to see, it’s a wonder we have time to learn and explore anything at all, but that is why God gives us children, so that as they grow, we can teach, learn and explore together, sharing every priceless moment with our closest friends, known as “family”.  It has been said that you cannot be a friend to your child, nor can you be a parent to them when they are grown, that you must find a natural balance in order to help them understand and learn without them feeling unwanted, unloved or otherwise disliked.  Family takes hold and those items go out the window, yes, we are disciplinarians when our kids are young, we make behavior corrections and hope they get the basics of life down pat, (like food in mouth, clean your room, brush your teeth), but then something special happens, we realize they are starting to show signs of independence and individualism, which makes the bonds of family a lot like having a best friend, one to confide in, share with, hang out with, watch television or just whatever happens and brings great moments or memories.  Our children make this possible and it is too cool, helps us to inspire, amaze and is the core reason that when pro athletes get their moment on camera they say, “Hi Mom” or “Hi Dad” along with the rest, they recognize the bond and hold it high. 
            From my earliest memories, Tony and I shared a bond that even though he was my nephew (and in actuality 2 years older than me) we were as close as brothers.  Yep, we got into scuffles as kids, but who among us that has siblings hasn’t had a spat or two with them, right?  In all of it, we never let any of it, stop us from forgiving and placing our bond above most others, in fact, anyone who knew him and he called friend, would attest to the same, he always provided some insight if he could and when he could not, he tried to understand, perhaps sometimes taking on a bit too much, but never complaining.  Then as his family grew, he moved away to the great state of Arizona, where he fell in love with the environment, making a quick study of the many cacti, minerals, sights, smells and easily making friends and finding a lady or two to share in some of those moments.  His “old Kentucky home” eventually called him back here, where several years had passed since I had last laid eyes on him, we were in the earlier stages of our teenage years.  At the time, not too many friends of my own, his presence seemed almost perfectly timed, we bonded even closer, getting into mischief and no doubt raising my own father’s blood pressure a few times, he loved my mom and dad deeply, they accepted him and did their best to teach and help him grow.
            Together, we did our fair share of raising hell, getting into things, going to parties together and his natural charm and intelligence again drew in a circle of friends that to this day, still remember and still talk about the man they knew and know.  So many adventures that he gave to us all, I myself have plenty of memories where among the compassion he showed to those he knew was insuring they were well fed and if he had extra cash on hand, would gladly spend it to make sure his friends were all set and many times over, was a blessing that we may not have known then, but certainly know now.  Back in our youth, when things went wrong or went a bit screwy, his philosophy of “well, ya know, shit happens” just seemed to smooth the roughest of roads, I learned of his many interests and as much as he would encourage me to learn the great game of chess, no matter my study, strategy or attempt, I just couldn’t match his deep thought nor his skill.
            As time passed and he up and got married, I felt sick to my stomach, I thought, “damn, well, now who am I gonna hang with” even with my own circle of friends, his presence was needed sometimes and he never let that go, we never lost contact with each other and in fact, called upon one another many times over, to help out, hang out, be fed or just take care of business and I looked forward to each time I could go and hang with my long time brother/nephew, it genuinely made me happy.  His children were indeed the gleam in his soul’s eyes.  He placed a lot of effort on letting them be themselves while laughing at some of their antics as they grew.  That effort was rewarded with plenty of challenges, but more laughter and wisdom that helped them to shape into outstanding people and though his son grew up and moved to another state becoming a success and his daughter grew up and moved away and became her own success, he never stopped talking about them nor trying to help them, just as his parents did for him, the core value of care, passed on to the next generation.  He absolutely was an awesome chef, the same insights he used on the chess board, he applied to food and the many artistic things that could be done, including explosive flavors that made anyone who tried his food, look at all the restaurants around them and wonder how they couldn’t do the same.  When he was working for the prestigious Marriot, he again, shared his benefits with me, this time, the benefit of a free round of golf.  I was all for it.  We had a couple of beers and the game began, we started out with a dozen balls and by the time we finished, we had 1 each, I shot a 104, him, a 96.  Around the 10th or 11th hole, we hear, “Hey, get off the damn green!” I realized that I had been driving the golf cart on the course instead of the track provided, I was so embarrassed, he laughed his ass off the whole thing was awesome, we had a blast.
            I could literally write a book of memories of the many adventures we shared, I will sum up with this sentence, “Dude, you should have been there.”  My heart aches for this loss nearly as badly as it did when my parents passed away and the circumstances surrounding it, will forever hold questions for me, a vacuum covering a hole in my heart, a piece of my soul, now missing until we meet again on the other side and trust this, I can’t wait to hear what he has been into, I look forward to that whole moment, right after I kiss the feet of Jesus Christ for being a part of my life and always having my back, I am certain the many animals that Tony had - have met him at the rainbow bridge and are escorting him home to Heaven.  Never have I known someone as mentally tough or as optimistic, but something happened to change that person inside and Tony, rarely let it show, especially to those he loved, that was his way.  Many years ago, realizing and monitoring his own health, the stresses of time, attention, physical challenges took their toll; his body was slowly wearing out and Father Time was applying pressures that are and were unreal.  The very core, the essence of him, was being tested like never before, causing him to fight hard just to breathe, to see, to move or live day by day.  Though he had pain, he rarely cried out in agony, though he struggled to catch his breath, he continued to walk and move about, though his career had met a retirement, he took to the forest, creating beautiful things from Mother Nature’s own beautiful things and yet, he himself was just tired in general.  Tired of being treated less than human by his many physicians, tired of struggling against a mountain that even his own inner strength was drained against its generosity, tired of being reminded that he could no longer do what was the core of him and tired of reaching out to find help only to be shunned by many, some including those he thought were reliable.  The last thing, Tony said to me, in a phone call, “Unc, this is the last conversation we are going to have, I love you, I’m sorry, Goodbye.”  The sinking feeling set in on me immediately, I knew this was NOT the man I knew, I immediately called him back …. No answer.  I called his daughter who also tried to reach him….no answer.  I raced to his house, some 70 miles away, calling the local law enforcement as I sped down the highway and repeatedly called his house….no answer, then, just two miles from his home, the call that shattered the lives of so many people, “Mr. Hall, we regret to inform you that he is no longer with us.”
            I stopped my truck and a void set in, I was in instant denial, I floored the gas pedal and raced to meet with an officer who confirmed what I was told.  I sat in my truck, bawling, to have that same officer give me a hug and express deep condolences, I cried for an hour straight while waiting for his wife to arrive.  The rest is a blur, the coroner arrived before his wife and removed him from the scene and now, my nephew, my brother, my friend is gone and my life will never be the same.  No parent should EVER have to bury their child and having to convey the tragedy and sorrow to my sister, was the most terrible thing I have ever had to do in my life, God Bless her and his wife, who lost so much in one person and to be left with so many questions and voids, even in my own pain and hurt, I cannot imagine how much more they have upon their own hearts.  The man I knew, the person he was, the lives he touched and the things he taught, will forever be etched in history.  Here’s to you, Tony, you have never had a thing to be sorry for, you have never deserved anything that came to your door and as generous as your heart was, you should never have had to worry about who would show up, cause I, your brother and uncle, from day one, never did and knowing that as morbid as this is and was, that you shared a final moment with me and others that loved you, will always be held close to my heart, in honor of you.  Rest in Peace, I love you.

Scott Hall


Death, Loss and Hope

Dedicated in memorandum of my deceased nephew, Tristan Ray Thompson
            Life is perplexing at times, not just the everyday hustle and bustle of dealing with paying the bills, raising kids, figuring out where our next meal is or who is going to cook it, but, life itself is a mystery. We accept the face we see in our mirrors as our own, but without a mirror, we don’t see anything except what is in front of us and when someone dies, our minds and hearts respond.  Death is the one thing guaranteed to us all, including animals, fish, plants, the list is long and when a business or restaurant dies, the metaphor speaks but the thought doesn’t, when someone we know dies, the thought speaks loudly and sometimes, depending upon our years, could make us reflect on our own mortality. A few days ago, my nephew, Tristan Ray Thompson at a very young age died as a result of life’s hardest lessons, what not to do. A few people will look upon his past and if slated, may say, “Knew it was going to happen” or “Gone too soon” and the well wishes will flow and yes, there is an outpouring of love and compassion upon his mother, who just lost her husband not long ago to one of life’s other hard lessons, Cancer.  In this article, there will be many things that will raise an eyebrow or two, put on your Truth Glasses, this one might take a while, but will teach us all something important about ourselves, just how human we really are.
            The first questions I will address is, is there an afterlife or are we just bones and remnants of a species on a planet.  Don’t worry, this won’t take long.  If your own thoughts of an eternal peace, living in a spirit form and lasting forever where the most heinous are eternally punished and the forgiven are assembled, if your own thoughts include being reincarnated back into another form to roam again and experience life from a different view, if you don’t know but are waiting for some physical proof before your own body gives out, or if you follow the scientific, logical or any other personal belief, then continue to do so.  Do what brings you the most peace, happiness, joy and least amount of troubles and a sense of purpose. In short, be yourself but be open to listen and share rather than defend, debate or crucify someone else because they don’t see what you see, keep in mind, we are a species with all sorts of diversity, thought and individual desires. There, now that is out of the way and we can move on, I will not debate on any level what my own beliefs are, which is Jesus Christ died to provide us a new entry into Heaven and that no one is perfect, but because of an action by a God who loves us, we get that chance.  In our world right now, Ten Commandments leading the way, none of us would make it, period. Now, let’s move on.
            When the physical body dies, several things take place, among the many facets is a cooling that is the direct result of uncirculated blood flow; we cool off at about 1.5 to 2 degrees per hour so if a Coroner examines us upon death, depending on body temperature, they get a decent idea as to how long a person has been dead, whereas if one of us encounters it, we notice a cool and somewhat clam feel.  What they and ourselves don’t know, is, how - unless it is obvious, like a gunshot wound, car accident or God forbid, some other item, but thankfully, there are people in specific fields dedicated to finding out why someone may have passed away.  In this world, just to name a few items, we have our choice of death by way of: Insect, Reptile, Machine, Firearm, Natural Disaster, Drug, Fire, Weather, Water, Food, Illness and a whole lot more.  Most of us, will probably never know most of that list, some of us, will see others die as a result of one or maybe more of the items on that list and when we do, we grieve while we contemplate and seek out “why”.  Regardless of your own personal beliefs, when someone you care about is gone, you grieve, the human inside of you can’t help it and unless you are a cyborg created with no emotions, oh yeah, you will feel it.  For some, it brings tears and loss of words, for others, it brings defiance and a march to rectify a horrible wrong, to all, it brings questions and unfolds ugly hidden truths as well as deceit, though maybe not a deliberate effort, it happens.
            When a person passes on, we may experience one or more of several emotions while we attempt to cope with no longer hearing a voice or seeing a good friend, in this range of things comes a simple word, Denial.  You know it exists, “I was just speaking to them yesterday” or “Oh my God, what happened, they were so young” and includes, “I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew when I saw them”.  In an instant, our minds go into shock, this of course does not include the blood thirsty killer who gets off on the kills, but the families affected; the people they knew; yep, I’m talking to you.  Denial is natural; believe it or not, this is where we muster the interior courage to survive the loss.  Thoughts of “I just can’t go on” and “How am I going to make it through this day” and “I’m so lonely” flood our minds, things become blurry, time is lost and sometimes our work environment is just not where we want to be, but, in this we fight to get through our day, we move one step at a time and for many, years aren’t enough to cope, but they don’t realize years is how far they have gone ahead and pushed forward to live. Which once our minds realize the loss, and try to cope with it, then comes any of several emotions from frustration, stress, worry, violent outbursts of tears, anger and deep depression.
            What we do next is crucial, do we allow ourselves during the loss to live in seclusion, or do we work to get stronger, trying to forget the loss or possibly none of the above we just float along living on without a purpose, without hope.  The time frame for this to happen has its own limits, there is no magical period of normalcy, there is only living on until we can finally move forward without the weight of the deceased on our minds.  I have known persons who have died as a result of natural causes, I have also known persons who have died as a result of alcohol poisoning, cancer, drugs and many other causes and what I saw from all of it, persons trying to understand why or what and many times over, this brings about anger, which we all know in itself is a destructive force, it kills families in times of death and during this time of heavy emotion, it is not the right path to succumb against, it can and will be futile as more hurt will erupt from its grasp once seated.
            Right now, even today, as the body of my nephew lay in wait for burial, there are many things circulating in speculation about the life he lead, the mistakes he made, the things that happened and in truth, none of it necessary because the deceased cannot defend themselves and none of it matters, let the finality of his death be the closing of all items as it should be when anyone dies, in short, let them rest in peace.  In our list from above, in one of the many ways we can die, this young man passed away as a result of a long term drug and alcohol abuse and in trying to seek out help in resolving this issue, ended up dying as a result of a drug that can kill a person, but more importantly, because of his own hand and actions.  While medical science has come a long way, they cannot prevent our own actions, they can give us all the advice, treatment or meds we want, but maintenance has to come from the patient, we don’t get better if we don’t put in the work and that includes the addict who is serious about their recovery, I’m not suggesting there won’t be moments of weakness or that the path will be hard enough to make them do a double take, but speaking for myself, a 25 year sober alcoholic, it can be accomplished if the addict truly desires change AND if they have the correct help available to them to recover. If in doubt, read my article entitled Heroin or Hell, you will gain some serious insight into addictions and the psychological impacts upon the addict, that struggle is very real (Thanks Bayer Company for the ‘wonder’ drug known as Heroin).
            Now here are some harder truths to swallow, from the time this young man was born, he experienced behavioral issues, along with Tourette syndrome, which made his mind misfire and become exceptionally impressionable while seeking out his own understanding in life’s game and relief from being told and reminded he had this handicap, he was exposed to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and LSD, while only having a small amount of focus on his own setbacks and medicine in those days that wasn’t correctly applied, a failure early on.  Being exposed to illicit drugs and alcohol, violence, irrational thoughts, emotional, physical abuse, being locked up for more than half of his life, exposed to all manner of prison, including Federal - over a 25 or so year span, costing this person his life in the end at an age of less than 40 years old.  Sounds horrible already doesn’t it, probably causing you to ask, why didn’t anyone help him, here is why and you may want to shield young eyes from this unless you are teaching them direct about life and death and the consequences of it.
            From an early age, this young man saw terrible arguments, drug use, alcohol use and a host of other items and never paid attention to the consequences of them, because in his eyes this was a normal thing and no one around him seemed to be suffering much from what they were doing, other than the compassion he may have felt for his own mother and her for him, the support structure that should have been built was breaking apart at every turn until he was left with one final piece, his mom. He experienced life’s setbacks and victories with friends, family, the prisoners he had to share borders with and became entranced in the mystery and allure of it all, seeking spirituality but not able to break the hold that all of the items he had ingested over all those years - in search of and for the relief his mind needed. He had an extensive criminal record; including drug, alcohol, violence, theft and others offenses that spanned over half his life, starting even before his adult record, his juvenile record reflected on the lifelong reckless path he would fall into. Among his earliest legal woes - discharging a firearm in a rural area, his final one, a Federal offense; about now, that horrible thought you had earlier seems as though it was inevitable for this to happen, indeed, it was at the rate his own body and mind needed to release the “happy” endorphins so life would be good, reaching out to the world’s plague: Drug abuse.
            Through those years, his mother tried her best to understand what was happening to her son, why was this grip so strong, why wouldn’t he just stop abusing things, get help, stay out of prison, live and be a man who comes by and says, “Hey mom, let’s go to lunch”, instead, she cried, spent tons of money, allowed self medication, became an enabler without knowledge of what the future would hold and in the hopes of just trying to give her son’s mind a much needed rest and defending his right to it and him all the way into his death.  While a few of you would applaud this, many of you now are saying, that itself isn’t right, an addict with an open pharmacy is never a good idea, you are correct – all of you.  There are circumstances that exceed logical thought in our world, circumstances where you do your best to prevent by controlling an outcome using what you hope are known parameters, sadly, this is rarely successful, and to an addict, could be read as something acceptable and even lead to requiring it or becoming angry, sad, depressed when not provided.  Trust this, if an addict wants their fix bad enough, they will find a way to get it, regardless of how or who they hurt and affect.
            Now, over the years of his life, his criminal actions, mis-wired brain and impulsive actions caused quite the split in opinion about Tristan, the person. In his family resume, that is, in actions, he has robbed from family, threatened family, partied with family, laughed with family, became a fear with family (as to his whereabouts), was knocked unconscious by his father, kicked out more than once, has helped move family members and worked with family and does have a child from a relationship at the time, like many of his others, volatile.  Is this starting to paint a picture of someone who fits a typical addict’s profile? Let’s throw you a curve ball, how about, through all of it, in and out of the jail system, asking for medical help, for all sorts of reasons, including his own recognition of his addiction levels (by the way, a couple of years ago, he almost overdosed on street drugs).
            In those days, he, his mother and occasionally his father would reach out to family and ask for help in coping with this unfolding disaster and with the best of intentions, none of it helped, though he did have his favorite people who he drew inspiration from and loved very much, he even told his dad he understood why the knock out happened, admitting fault and recognizing that too much of anything does destroy things, alcohol and drugs are no exception.  At the end days of his life, he learned that he had contracted Hepatitis C and tried to seek out medical help for that, thanks Obama, your structured program told him he would have to be near death in order for them to help him and get the coverage for the treatment.  Let’s stop a moment to reflect: Addict of Alcohol and Drugs. Extended Prison life, family turmoil, rejection from family, society, even a few police departments who asked for help, more than a dozen times, refused treatment for a life threatening disease, now deceased as a result of a Methadone Clinic treatment.
            If in fact, he was administered the drug Methadone or any “treatment” drug used to help addicts, then that staff had to have informed him of the risks associated with the treatment, or at least, that is what we would expect especially if given a drug that has, shallow breathing and slowed heart rate as one of the side effects, take too much = death.  According to what is known, Methadone Toxicity is the presumed cause of death and as one could expect, this caused a bit of an outcry over the amount of deaths that happen as a result of this and other treatment drugs, this stage, is known as anger.  We get angry that the death is just wrong, too soon, could have been prevented a host of stuff.  This is also normal and sometimes justified, wrongful death lawsuits all over the country, including O.J. Simpson speak for themselves and we all remember the anger then.  Suppressing this anger is harmful, just as harmful as misdirecting it or using it to falsely accuse the very persons who over the years actually tried to help, again a destructive force, but entirely necessary.  The more you release that anger, the more it dissipates and allows you to heal from the hurt and pain of the loss.  In my time as an author for this outlet, I have created a couple of video’s about anger and the issues around it and as with all the other times I have witnessed the end result of death, anger is common.  Words are misspoken, we start looking for someone or something to blame to assert some sort of dominance over the situation, in reality, we drive wedges between people and say things that promote hurt rather than heal, death causes this and more, not just the loss of the person.
            Remember the mention of how his mother defied most everything and defended him all the way to the end, in a small way, this is a bit like trying to bargain with life, even more so if we are relatively certain about what the end path will be, as much as we wish, we plead, we beg, they don’t respond and the people who surround that person, they themselves begin to close up, especially if it’s a parent trying to stop a path of destruction in their kids.  Thoughts of “What if” or perhaps, “If only I “start to flow through our minds, seeking reasoning; In a drug addicts world, there is no reasoning, there is only, get the fix, even if it means guilt tripping the ones we love, forcing them to enable the addict to get what they need. A scenario: Wake up, get high, eat breakfast, get high, get high, eat lunch, get high, get high, eat dinner, get high, get high go to bed, asking God to let you live another day and you won’t do it again, next morning, repeat cycle and do this endlessly - it will catch up to you. We beg for not letting someone die horribly or in pain, we beg keep them alive longer than me, we ask for time to extend longer, in many cases, time comes to a screeching halt and then we bargain with ourselves, “why did I let it happen”, “If only I had done something”, do not let this emotion overwhelm your sense of self, though the losses are tough, time doesn’t heal the wounds, it does afford us new days to move forward and cope.
            Earlier in our range of emotions, Depression was mentioned and the blues over a death sometimes feel so heavy, we ourselves wish it happened to us, rather than to those we love, this is the time we draw from the energy of our supporters, I said this in a post on Facebook not long ago, “even the most evil or heinous of persons who have died, have had persons to mourn them” and yes, that even includes Hitler, Richard Ramirez, and will include Charles Manson when his time comes.  While chronic depression is a mental illness, the depression we feel during a loss isn’t as much.  We feel empty, alone, at a loss; we wonder about how to fill that part of our lives or who will we call for a laugh or two.  Make no mistake, if allowed to last over months, weeks or years, the depression is harmful to us, it restricts who we are and those around us trying to help that person snap out of it, need to keep in mind, tough love and loving through tough times go hand in hand, same as the person suffering, I and others know you are hurting, confused and grieving but that also means you must not lash out at them for reaching out to you, even if what you think is something insulting, know that all of it are people looking for answers about that same loss and how to help you, if your depression is out of control, seek help and know that you have to put in the work with it and not just succumb to the medicines, try and when you fail, try again.
            Remember my nephew, Tristan from above, his mind may not have been working at one hundred percent, his body’s cravings may have had a hold on him to the point of the – can’t help it and long criminal records – but the cause of his death was his own hands, he had many things he wrestled with, many torturous thoughts, but he also had access to the treatment and knew the risks.  He faced the same questions anyone fighting to live would ask, is it worth it, how long do I suffer, when do I throw in the towel and how do I say no to what is so easy to get vs. what isn’t so easy to be prescribed.  Make no error, he had those choices many years ago and when the addiction wasn’t as dominant, still took the street vendor’s word for it.  How many who read this and knew him, partied with him, bought him or gave him anything feel like that right now, you in his short life, did in fact contribute to this long journey?  How many of us can throw stones in his glass house and hope not to break a window or two giving in to desires, physical, mental, emotional that at one time made us grab a beer, take a shot, smoke a joint or something else? Those who he made his criminal victim, they won’t forget it, a few will never forgive it.  Those he made his friend, will never forget him and forgive him.  Do you see this struggle every day? Do you have someone like his own mother trying her best to cope and calm and fight over 39 years of he own life, how many parents out there would do that now? Do you have family who hates each other who won’t speak to one another due to an addict in their family and the actions from it?  Death, Loss and Hope are all players in this game of life.  We hope we don’t lose someone, we hope they will get better, we hope to each live a decently long life and when we drop our guards, Death becomes the final answer. 
In this life, we can help one another by learning to be more human and less hateful. By recognizing that a human is in every one of us and that Death will separate us in the end. ~Scott Hall
Rest In Peace my nephew, the torture, the addictions, the woes and inner hurt cannot touch you  but memory is something not even death can destroy.

            The only reference you will find in this article, is the reference to real life events.


Personality Development: Influences of Personality Traits

English: Similarities between lower-order fact...
English: Similarities between lower-order factors for ‘psychoticism’ and the low-order factors ‘openness’, ‘agreeableness’ and ‘conscientiousness’ (Data from Matthews, Deary & Whiteman, 2003) Category:Personality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Elizabeth Hall
Personality theorists who believe in trait theory believe that there are genetic ties to personality development as noted by Cervone and Pervin (2010).  According to their broad school of thought people are born with traits that are inherently genetic that begin the basis of personality development. All trait theorists believed in the genetic aspect, the disagreement was in what traits seem important from the genetic standpoint and model utilized to treat and diagnose.  Benet-Martinez and Oishi (2006) maintain that personality expression and culture are closely intertwined because culture is defined as the societal rules that govern what behavior is acceptable for large groups of people, Americans for example.
Bouchard (1994) reports that findings indicate that roughly 40% of personality traits come from genetic ties with his work in twin studies.  Derryberry, Hershey, and Rothbart (2000) discuss the lifetime influence of stable temperament characteristics and what characteristics remain continual across time and situational experiences.  The most recognized of these diagnostic tools or scales in this field of psychology aimed at assessing personality traits is the five-factor model, openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (Srivastava, 2013).  In exploring the influence of personality traits we will discuss genes, the environment, culture, and the models of assessment including the five factor trait theory model, the biological model, and the temperament model and how inherited traits interact to form the individuality that makes us human. 
English: Leader Traits within Trait Category
English: Leader Traits within Trait Category (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bouchard (1994) conducts a study on twins which allows him to confirm among other things that the influence on personality happens roughly 40% at the genetic level, while also maintaining that environmental influence also affects people’s personality but just at a mere 7%.   The basic belief of theorists concerning the environment and personality influence remains that we are born with specific traits that may be affected as early as the womb by environmental factors such as stress on the mother during pregnancy. The influence of environmental factors continue as we grow to adulthood and shape the personality through negative or positive environmental influences.     
Personality Expression and Culture
Culture remains another factor that greatly influences behavior and personality expression (Benet-Martinez & Oishi, 2006).  Cultural influence comes from environmental influence, and refers to what large groups of people deem acceptable behavior by societal norms of the particular group considered, such as American culture.  Culture is what sets the framework for behavior as it guides our shared value system, setting the importance of how people of the groups act, think, and feel and what they believe.   An important aspect of culture stands that it is responsible for the perspective people take when experiencing environmental events (Benet-Martinez & Oishi, 2006). 
Twin Studies and Inheritability of Personality Traits
One of the ways that theorists can prove biological, causes and genetic traits comes through the study of both fraternal and identical twins says Bouchard (1994).  He goes on to report differences between earlier studies and more contemporary studies by roughly 10% due to the changes in study model due to the lack of measurability in earlier models of study. The effect of the environment on our personalities comes in at around 7%.  At the time of Bouchard’s (1994) study theorists concluded that genetics affect the personalities of people by 40%. 
Stable Temperament Characteristics- Lifetime Influence
Derryberry, Hershey, and Rothbart (2000) maintain that certain inherited traits remain persistent over the lifetime of a person.  These traits begin with the womb, changing over the course of a lifespan as humans react with physiological systems such as aging, and maturity, and at the same time react to environmental influences occurring in everyday life.  Carl Jung first envisioned this connection and theorized that humans have basic lifelong traits such as extroversion and introversion, and that they either fit into one or the other (Boeree, 2003).  Other sets of traits included sensitive or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.  Jung also saw these were traits consistent over time and situational contexts and judged temperament based on his research and where the subjects fell on the scale of traits.  Taking Jung’s theory a little further Myers and Briggs developed a test for personality that became the best known test for traits in the field (Boeree, 2003). 

Temperament, Biological Model, and Five Factor Trait Theory Adaptation
The temperament model of adaptation best exemplifies the work of Carl Jung and his first use of the temperament or trait set theory (Boeree, 2003).  It was his foresight that brought trait theory to the forefront of behavioral theory.  Another trait theorist using the biological model adaptation, Hans Eysenck expanded on theory by bringing science and math back to the problem (Boeree, 2003).  He used a statistical measure called factor analysis to determine what factors or sets of traits were the most influential to personality development.  He had introvert and extrovert, but also includes neuroticism, and psychoticism but unlike Jung, theorized that traits were dimensional and therefore people could fall into three categories, high, middle, and low.  These were the characteristics that Eysenck felt were consistent over time and situational events (Boeree, 2003).  The most current set of traits utilized, and considered stable in the field today are the five traits included in the five factor model consisting of extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientious, and neuroticism (Srivastava, 2013).
Srivastava (2013) ascertains that there are many tests using the five factor trait theory adaptation including the big five inventory, the international personality item pool, big five aspect scales, and the big five mini markers.  The big five inventory measures the five traits by using a self-report test in which the patient answers questions about their tendencies in relation to others including social, emotional, value based factors and how they generally react. In application this allows the researcher or clinician to decide the best course of treatment. The results according to Srivastava (2013) provide a map to syntax and where the personality falls within the five traits highest and lowest. 
Behavioral theorists after Freudian theory began to notice that humans have certain traits that represent their personalities over the course of a lifetime and persist through situational and time contexts.  Pioneers in the field such as Carl Jung, and Hans Eysenck proved scientifically that personality development begins in the womb with genetic traits and sets of traits that begin the basis of human personality. Contemporary behavioral theorists have come up with five sets of traits that are measurable and proven to last throughout the lifespan of a person. These include openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion and neuroticism and how a person typically reacts emotionally, mentally, and physically determine the basis of their personality type. 
Behavioral theorists recognize that genetic factors make up around 40% of traits that make us individuals and that environmental reaction plays into the equation around 7%.  The environmental factors build on the blocks the genetic traits start.  Cultural influences according to research does play a larger part than environmental influence, as these influences denote what behavior is acceptable by the groups we find ourselves associated in.  Further research into twin studies shows that previous attempts to define which traits genetically and environmentally influence personality were slightly inflated.  When mathematics became part of the process the research thanks to Eysenck, theorists were given statistical tools to measure trait frequency and tendencies more reliably.  Further research interests could hypothesize that the globalization of society and technology has changed the cultural influences to some extent.

Benet-Martinez, V., & Oishi, S., (2006).  Culture and Personality.  Retrieved From:
Boeree, C.G., Dr., (2003).  General Psychology: Trait Theories of Personality.  Retrieved From:
Bouchard, T.J., Jr., (1994).  Genes, Environment, and Personality.  Science, New Series, Vol. 264, Issue 5166, pp 1700-1701.
Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Personality Theory and Research (11th Ed.).  Hoboken, xcNJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Derryberry, D., Hershey, K., & Rothbart, M.K., (2000).  Temperament and Personality across the Lifespan.  Retrieved From:

Srivastava, S., (2013).  Measuring the Big Five Personality Factors.  Retrieved From:

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