by Tim Jones 4/17/17
And the Fear of Missing Out on all of the Fun. What Happens When Our Image-World Says Life Should be Pain-Free • Lately there’s been a great deal of media coverage of the opioid crisis that is going on in the country. I’ve been seeing these stories not just on the national newscasts but local ones as well. And the thing I keep hearing just as we do when there are reports on alcoholism and drug abuse is that these ‘addictions’ are diseases. This seems to be one of the most egregious examples of political correctness that disguises the real problem in the fog of a euphemism. Cancer is a disease, addiction is a spiritual problem. It is what happens when a society’s primary values are entertainment and pleasure rooted in materialism. And it represents the culmination of what secularism and liberalism have accomplished in its efforts to tear down all restraints to individual conscience by trying to destroy Christianity and biblical morality.
Conservatives believe that pain, suffering and the inherent ‘badness’ within every individual has always existed and that it will be so as long as humans walk the earth. If this weren’t the case, God would not have needed to send his only begotten son to be crucified and resurrected in order to expiate the sins of humanity.
Secularism and liberalism (they are basically interchangeable ideologies) try to rid the inherent ‘badness’ in all of us and the associated guilt of doing bad things by assuaging one’s conscience before and after the act of immoral behavior. So far these ideologies have been extremely successful not just in marginalizing Christian morality by getting society to accept wrongful behavior that used to be taboo such as the recreational use of drugs that long ago began with marijuana. (This is also the case with both abortion and homosexuality.)
Everyday people are bombarded on television and online with advertisements promoting the ‘good life’ – whether it’s a shiny new car, a sunny day on the beach or on a cruise liner somewhere in the Caribbean or partying watching the Super Bowl while imbibing lite beer and scarfing down chips. The messages are always clear: life is meant to be fun! And no pain or suffering allowed because it’s everyone’s right to be happy and free of pain and suffering. Work has come to mean drudgery where people live for weekends, another message that is constantly promoted via ‘feel good’ news stories and ads promoting “the good life” in a thousand different versions, always taking place outside the workplace.
From Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Ryszard Legutko:
“In today’s world entertainment is not just a pastime or a style, but a substance that permeates everything: schools and universities, upbringing of children, intellectual life, art, morality, and religion. It has become dear to the hearts of students, professors entrepreneurs, journalists, engineers, scientists, writers, even priests.”
Legutko goes on to say:
“The modern sense of entertainment increasingly resembles what Pascal long ago called divertissement, that is, an activity – as he wrote in Thoughts – that separates us from the seriousness of existence and fills this existence with false content … By escaping the questions of the ultimate meaning of our own lives, or of human life in general, our minds slowly get used to that fictitious reality, which we take for the real one, and are lured by its attractions.”
One can easily see how so many Americans who may have had a medical issue that required a pain killer prescription or the unemployed who are bored and alienated, succumb to the non-stop messages that life is meant to be fun and entertaining while the eradication of pain and suffering is the latest human right, then get hooked one or another of the various forms of opioids because they don’t want to be left behind and fear that they’re missing out on “the good life” that everyone else seems to be experiencing.
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, in his 1978 tour de force commencement address at Harvard, A World Split Apart, described clearly what was happening regarding the triumph of materialism over spiritualism that’s lead to the spiritual poverty of secular humanism:
“Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness — in the morally inferior sense of the word which has come into being during those same decades. In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to attain them imprint many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition fills all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development.
Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition … If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them.”
It’s easy to see how so many who are not achieving happiness leads to a ‘fear of missing out’, or to use the colloquial acronym, FOMO. So what to do when one is missing out on the happiness and pleasure that society tells them they should be experiencing? – create it artificially through opioid consumption, the ultimate ‘feel good’ experience.
Christopher Caldwell, national editor for the Weekly Standard, recently posted an article on FirstThings, American Carnage: The New Landscape of Opioid Addiction, where he goes into superb detail on how the origins of the opioid epidemic and its underlying reasons led to the crisis that it is today. One of the primary reasons is the acceptance of something that was once considered socially unacceptable and easily initiated since its use is a reflection of secular humanism in general:
“ …a person who would never have become a heroin addict in the old days of the opioid taboo could now become the equivalent of one, in a more antiseptic way. But a shocking number of people wound up with a classic heroin problem anyway. Relaxed taboos and ready supply created a much wider appetite for opioids.
“Addiction plays on our strengths, not just our failings. It simplifies things. It relieves us of certain responsibilities. It gives life a meaning. It is a ‘perversely clever copy of that transcendent peace of God.’”
“The deeper problem, however, is at once metaphysical and practical, and we’re going to have a very hard time confronting it. We in the sober world have, for about half a century, been renouncing our allegiance to anything that forbids or commands. Perhaps this is why, as this drug epidemic has spread, our efforts have been so unavailing and we have struggled even to describe it. Addicts, in their own short-circuited, reductive, and destructive way, are armed with a sense of purpose. We aren’t. It is not a coincidence that the claims of political correctness have found their way into the culture of addiction treatment just now. This sometimes appears to be the only grounds for compulsion that the non-addicted part of our culture has left.”
According to this New York Times article, Inside a Killer Drug Epidemic, A Look At America’s Opioid Crisis, there were 33,000 lethal casualties in 2015 from overdosing. That works out to just over 90 per day. It’s about time this addiction and all other addictions are recognized not as a disease but as a spiritual problem, one whose genesis is in the spiritual poverty of secularism. If the focus on finding a solution remains in curing addiction as a disease, don’t expect the problem to be alleviated any time soon and that it will continue to get worse for a very long time. You can’t expect to solve a problem when the problem is baked into the solution. • (915 views)