Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance
Russell Brand rips on the opiod crisis in America (but he’s British). More Americans are dying from opioid overdose than have died from gun deaths, car crashes and HIV/AIDS. As we showed in “Deaths of Despair”, while mortality from disease has gone down in all age groups, deaths from alcoholism, addiction and suicide have gone back up for older adults, but it’s particularly high for working class whites aged 45-54. While drug deaths are going up in all age groups, the greatest increase in drug overdose and suicide deaths is in older adults aged 45 to 64. That’s why my primary service work as a Buddhist is to people who struggle with addiction and mental illness, people like me. Russell looks at the cultural causes of opioid addiction and asks: why are people in so much pain?
I like the part where he laughs at the news reaction to the crisis hitting the life expectancies of ‘white Americans’. It is pretty funny. The world is being engulfed right before our eyes by the pandemic of consumer corporate capitalism, destroying pretty much all sustaining systems (psychological, sociological, ecological) in its path. Somehow the newsworthy symptoms though are these eruptions of addiction. Never mind the world-destroying lifestyles and destitute isolated selves operating as the ‘successful’ middle-class.
True, but I think what Russ was trying to do was actually broaden the understanding of both the roots of addiction (consumerism and capitalist achievement) and its damaging effects, as society-wide phenomena, and not just about addicts. I think perhaps he didn’t make a broad enough connection here, but I have seen other videos he’s done where that becomes more explicit. What I like about Russ’ perspective on addiction is that he models addiction as a ‘spectrum’ and that all people are somewhere on the spectrum of addictive behaviour and adversely affected by it.
Agree entirely, and I probably expressed myself clumsily. The psychological and lifestyle defences of the ‘successful’ middle classes seem to me to be just more expressions of the same underlying social pathologies that give rise to addiction. That is we’re all addicts to some degree, and how could we not be, given how the world is?
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I do Tai Chi with Paul Read, the Teapot Monk, @ 21st Century Tai Chi Academy https://www.21stcenturytaichi.com/academy/89szm
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