Separation of Ideas

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It appears that many people in this day and age are unable to separate complex issues from one another. Various issues, thoughts about them, and ideas of how the world should be are all lumped into one overall generalized category and tucked safely within one’s mind.  To separate issues of complexity and reflect on them from different perspectives can drastically improve one’s decision making skills.

Recently, there has been much talk and debate over American football players’ decision to kneel during the American National Anthem before the game in order to bring attention to social injustice or racial issues. They are well within their right to kneel during the anthem; but has this been a good decision made?  Some will say yes and others will say no, but let’s look at this issue from both perspectives.

From the angle of the players, kneeling in support of another will bring attention to the issue of racial injustice. Their kneeling during the anthem has done just that, people have taken notice and the issue is being talked about. However, this decision has also brought about criticism from those who believe that their kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the country and those who died fighting for it.

So what next, where does this issue go from here? The football players have gathered added support for the cause of social injustice, but have also alienated patriotic fans and non-fans who believe that the kneeling overshadows their cause of support. In order to keep their cause alive and bring their issue to the forefront there must be a compromise made, more decisions to make; if not then there will be a stalemate.

Human emotion comes into play when dealing with issues of complexity and decisions made when dealing with them. People naturally have core beliefs and put one issue over another without thinking of the issues in a rational way from various perspectives. These core beliefs are what pit people against one another when sides must be taken. They may agree with one another, but believe one issue is more important than the other.

From the perspective of those who disagree with the football players’ protest, a vast majority believe that there is a different time and place to bring attention to the issue of social injustice. Their core beliefs have them believe that the nation and American flag are being disrespected when the players kneel while it is being played. To them, this issue is more important than the issue of protesting for racial or social injustice.

So who is right and who is wrong? We are not perfect people and all make poor decisions at times, and that is okay; it is human nature. When we are caught in such a situation with two parties pitted against one another, there must be compromise so each can get what they want. The people against the football players want respect for the flag and football, while the players want their issue recognized and addressed.

Being able to process emotions will help them reach a conclusion and compromise on the issues at hand, it does not matter which side one is on. The players have every right to protest, and others have every right to be against the way the protest is carried out. The realization is that both sides want their needs and ideas to be conformed to. The question is, how do they come to a conclusion where both sides are satisfied?

 

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Ex Spousal Abuse

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In the state of Louisiana, the rights of many people are continually violated on a daily basis; especially fathers dealing with the family court system here. I will hopefully have this matter taken care of next week as our court date is upon us.

I must tell what has happened to me recently that has saddened me deeply. However, with the support of friends in my hometown, as well as friends I have made on social media, I have learned to stay positive and keep moving forward until this is through and my children are back in my life.

I am the first to admit that I am not a perfect person, but none of us are; I am just open and honest about it as expressing myself through writing helps me cope and I see it as true life art in the making. Others choose to portray themselves as perfect in public and on social media by putting on a mask when people see them, but take the mask off when in private.

Last week, I waited outside of my son’s school in order to see him and talk to him as I miss him dearly; both he and my daughter. It has been 5 months since I have seen or talked to them. This has had a significant toll on me as I have always been a loving father, there for them since day one.

Parked in my vehicle outside of the school gates I see my son on the sidewalk making his way home. I pulled up near him and rolled down the window to tell him hello and that I miss and love him dearly. As I did so, he barely glanced at me with a painful look on his face and said my mom told me I can’t talk to you because it is illegal. This was a blow to my gut that hurt so bad hearing come from my son.

I tried to tell him it was not, but he continued walking away saying it again. This is an absolute lie that my ex etched into his head, influence that amounts to psychological abuse. I have never been arrested or put my children in danger, ever. Through false allegations and no proof, this is how a good father in Louisiana is treated, and I am sure I am not the only one. I drove off back home with tears in my eyes wondering why a mother would turn her children against their father.

This had happened on a Tuesday, and by Friday it was my daughter’s school’s first football game at home where she is a varsity cheerleader who became captain of the squad this year; her senior year. Of course I had to find out by seeking the school’s football schedule online. I decided I would go to the game and see her cheer.

I made it to the game and casually took a seat at the top of the stadium where I could watch the game and of course see her as captain. Everything was good and her school was winning by half time. During the halftime break I made my way to the concession stand to get some water and a slice of pizza, and then made it back to my seat.

About 10 minutes later, I see my ex wife standing up towards the bottom of the stadium taking pictures of me from afar. I didn’t even know she was there, and didn’t care anyway. I then see her find a Lafayette city policeman nearby a approach him. By this point I was wondering what she was doing. She then hands him some papers.

The police officer makes his way up to me and asks my name to verify my identity. He then tells me that I have a temporary restraining order on me initiated by my ex wife and that I had to leave, and served me right there. In front of my daughter’s school and the stadium, the nice police officer kindly escorted me out as my ex continued taking pictures of this.

With tears in my eyes I made my way back home. Once home I start to read what this temporary restraining order is for. The reason she initiated it is because on a daily basis I text her to ask about our children, although she never responds and I can’t ask the kids as they have been instructed to block my calls.

She stated on this order that I was harassing her by texting her and sending letters to the children in order to communicate with them. She also mentioned in the order about me attempting to speak to my son outside of school. If wanting to know how your children are is a crime, then I am guilty. I was never told that I could not communicate with my children, so how she is getting away with this comes down to the words unethical attorney.

Pawns of a Parent

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Divorce is a very painful process, especially when children are involved. With 50% of married Americans getting a divorce we must put the children and their wellbeing first. Not all parents in the midst of a divorce see it this way and some only put their selfish vindictive needs before the children. In some cases, the initial process of divorce is rough, but smooths out as time goes by.

However, a parent’s nastiness can stay hidden for years and come out to bite when least expected.  Children are delicate humans being molded into what they will become as adults. They should never be used as a game piece at any time by either parent. Sadly, one or both parents sometimes see them as a pawn, as fair game to wage war against the other without thinking about the child and how he or she will be affected.

Using various tactics, such as ‘trash-talking’ the other parent in front of a child does not go unnoticed. Children are like sponges and absorb all this negativity being spewed about their mother or father. Afterall, it is their parent being talked about, one they love; of course this bad talk will influence the way they look at that parent. Said enough, the child will come to believe what is being said as the other parent cannot defend against it.

This amounts to psychological abuse and brainwashing of a child. It is easier for the selfish parent to get away with doing this if they also alienate the child from spending time with or even talking to their mother or father being targeted. The abusive parent is trying to sabotage the good relationship that the child may have with the other parent so power can be held or obtained.

While family courts are necessary for a certain amount of intervention in cases of divorce and custody, it has become a broken procedural system that can further harm the children. These family courts do not actually care about the well-being of children, it seems that money has become the court’s top concern. Instead of looking forward to a bright future, these issues are stretched out;  dragging the children along unnecessarily.

When all is said and done, much time has passed by. The children grow older, now resenting both parents for the pain caused. The selfish parent is still the same, selfish; and the other parent has missed valuable time with the growing child, they are broken and left to pick up the pieces while nursing the wounds of battle.

Marijuana use for Opioid Withdrawal

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With regards to therapeutic marijuana use, there is mounting evidence that cannabis eases withdrawal symptoms of opioid dependent patients. In states where marijuana is legal, the number of opioid related overdoses has decreased. This is very good news as this number has been increasing yearly over the past 10 years. The bad news is that not every person in America has access to legal cannabis whether it be medically prescribed or legal for recreational purposes.

I am in no way endorsing any drug use, but we must look at this from a logical and scientific point of view. If alcohol is legal and we can drink ourselves to death, we should be able to use marijuana for medical problems as well as recreationally. Marijuana has not directly killed one person in recorded history, but alcohol is responsible for a high number of deaths every year; directly and indirectly. In my view, if marijuana remains illegal at the federal level then alcohol should be made illegal again in our country.

I am a strong advocate for medical marijuana being used during opioid withdrawal as it saved me from opioid dependence and subsequent withdrawal effects of the medication Suboxone. Suboxone is a synthetic opioid consisting of buprenorphine and naloxone, and is primarily used to wean patients off of other opioids. The problem is that a person will become dependent on the Suboxone too. Even though I was not abusing Suboxone, but taking it as prescribed my body could not miss a day without it.

After being prescribed Suboxone for 8 long years I wanted to be free from it and its numbing effects of the human condition. Fear of the side effects and withdrawal symptoms is what kept me taking it for so long, not to mention the unethical doctor looking to feed his family. Suboxone has a long half-life, which means it leaves the body slowly and withdrawal symptoms last much longer. I did not know this when I was put on the medication, and really would not have cared as I was in an addicted state of mind.

It was on July 5th, 2016 when I took my last dose of Suboxone, which was only about a quarter of a milligram. I had tapered down over the past month, taking smaller and smaller daily doses. I had been prescribed and taking one 8mg strip per day the eight years before. The first 2 days after my last dose were not too bad as the long half-life helped to prevent immediate harsh withdrawal effects. The third day is when the full force of withdrawal came upon me.

It felt as if time slowed to almost a stop, with every second feeling like a minute and every minute an hour. My runny nose was almost like a faucet while my whole body began to ache. I was restless, my legs began to jerk involuntarily and sleep was impossible. I was so tired and wanted to sleep but I couldn’t, and that is a horrible feeling. My motivation was on empty as well as my stomach, but I could not think of eating; the growling of my stomach was an often reminder though.

At this point, about 4 days into withdrawal effects I could barely move or even think straight. I could not seem to collect my thoughts, and my body felt like a 98 year old ill man’s would feel.  I literally had to pick up my own legs from the couch and guide them to the floor to help myself get up. I was close to calling the doctor to get back on Suboxone, but I did not want to. Instead, I decided to see if marijuana would help me as I knew it may.

After acquiring some medical grade marijuana and using it I was able to eat, and think a bit clearly. By no means did it cure the withdrawal symptoms, but made them more manageable. After using it I was able to leave my house, sleep a bit and it kept the restless leg at bay. Without a doubt, it helped get me through the harsh withdrawal symptoms and associated side effects of Suboxone. I firmly believe that if I didn’t use marijuana during this time, I would have gone back to the doctor for more Suboxone.

Prescription Addiction

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It is no secret to society that there is a prescription addiction ‘problem’ in America. There are many different types of addiction to drugs, but addiction to prescription pills is an epidemic here that the majority continue to overlook. Many people are addicted to prescription medications and do not even realize it yet. A hard truth that will hit them in the near future.

A major contributor to the epidemic is unethical drug companies and physicians. Some doctors make their living by prescribing opioids for a living; with the education they hold it is known to them that they are getting and keeping persons addicted. These unethical doctors are legal drug dealers who know how to document and prescribe in such a way where they do not break any laws.

By no means am I laying full blame on doctors, but they are indeed part of the problem in this opioid epidemic. It should be fully understood that some people do require prescription pain medication for various injuries and illnesses. It is how most doctors manage their patients that contribute to this problem of addiction.

Several years ago I became addicted to prescription pain medication. In order to fight this addiction and free myself I was put on Suboxone. Suboxone is a synthetic opioid consisting of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is primarily used to wean patients off of other opioids, similar to methadone. This was a huge mistake that I now realize. I cannot change the past, but I can educate others from my experience.

Now that I reflect on this experience I have come to the conclusion that I was not that bad off before I was prescribed Suboxone. If I would have had the proper care, I could have been weaned off of the prescription opioids without needing the Suboxone, which I was on for 8 years. The Suboxone helped me, but it was a prolonged bandaid that limited my potential as a person.

I say this because I became dependent on the Suboxone, which was a substitute for the prescription pain medication I was abusing. I was able to work and function as a ‘normal’ person, but it was as if I was in handcuffs with the warden being the doctor I had to see in order to get the Suboxone prescription. Every month I had to go into the doctor, pay a fee and take a drug screen in order to get the prescription.

It became a routine I hated as it took away from things I really wanted to do in life. In this time, the doctor and counselor never asked or came up with a plan to get me off. As long as I went in, paid the fee and passed the drug screen I had a Suboxone prescription in hand to fill. This added up to be a large sum of money for both the doctor and the makers of Suboxone over the 8 years I was on it.

I came to the point where I was sick and tired of being on this poison. I decided I would stop taking it and started my own plan of weaning myself off. The doctor tried to convince me that I needed to be on it for life, but I was not having it. After a month of taking low doses I came to the end of being on this medication.

It was the end of Suboxone for me, but the beginning of a 3 month trip to hell in dealing with the withdrawal and side-effects that nearly killed me. It has been a year now since I have been off of it and I am just starting to feel as I believe I always should have.

 

 

Women and Girls Deserve Better

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With today being World Day against Human Trafficking in Persons, we must focus on who is directly affected. According to the United Nations, women and girls account for 98% of the persons being trafficked, with most being used as sex slaves. 4.5 million of them are being exploited for sex across the world, with a total of 21 million persons used as forced labour.

I have personally witnessed the exploitation of women for sex while working in Southeast Asia. The women, mostly in their late teens and up are lured to countries like Singapore by traffickers promising them decent jobs and pay. A vast majority of these women are from the surrounding countries of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and so on.

Their home countries offer little hope for them as there are no decent jobs for women who come from impoverished families who are living hard already. The traffickers use charm and promises to make the ‘jobs’ sound attractive while using women and girls already in their grip to help reel them in. Once the women agree to go to work, they are told that the airfare and other small costs will be taken care of by an employer and that they can pay the sum back as they work.

With hopes high, the women and teens accept the offer and make their way to Singapore in hopes of a better life in order to begin to prosper and help their family back home. Once they arrive and get through customs the unknown downward spiral starts to swirl. The trafficker, who could be the employer has the woman or teen hand over their passport for safe keeping and are brought to a small one or two bedroom apartment they will share with twenty other females who met the same fate.

She then learns that the work she will do has been changed as the ‘cleaning jobs’ are no more at the moment. They explain to her that she will work in a pub, and all she must do is get men, mostly foreigners to buy her expensive drinks. The more she can get them to buy, the more money she will make. It starts off this way until she is drawn into the lifestyle where she can be comfortable selling her body. It is like a domino affect of peer pressure as the ones who have been there longer convince the new females that this is okay.

All the while, the employer or ‘master’ keeps adding to her tab the money she owes while holding her passport hostage. I know this story because I have helped a few young women get out of these situations and back home. Torn and battered, some lose a sense of self and are not the same again, or even worse they get sucked back in.

Art Speaks to all People

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When we as humans look at a painting, photos, sculptures, architecture, or anything considered worth staring at we can usually label these creations as artwork.  When thinking of art as just that, a beautiful, strange, or even unattractive piece the language is the same for all persons no matter the language they speak. Art and artwork is a universal language of humans as people who speak different languages often perceive that same feeling or a very similar feeling a piece emits when showed.

I remember in Rome, a woman and I were admiring a fresco within the catacombs beneath Rome when I noticed we were admiring a certain corner that still had its vivid green paint and detail. Without using words, we glanced at one another knowing that each were having the same awe inspiring moment with that beautiful corner of the catacomb fresco.

I came to the realization that artwork is a universal language that can bring two or more people in the same frame of mind simultaneously even if  the parties cannot verbally communicate effectively, a piece of art that sparks a feeling can and will talk to the human race who takes the time to appreciate these moments in time we call works of art.

It can be a magical experience and bring various cultures together, but we also see a negative side as seen with ISIL/Daesh destruction of priceless art due to their intolerance and ignorance. This example is rare, but happens throughout history which is why we must continue arts and humanities for our children.

Pond water reflection