Monday, July 20, 2009
“Addictions…What Ever Happened to Cleary?”
by John Alexander Madison
July 20, 2009
What do Arlo Guthrie; Joan Baez; Richie Havens; Ravi Shankar; Santana; Grateful Dead; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Sly and the Family Stone; The Who; Jefferson Airplane; Joe Cocker; Country Joe and the Fish; The Band; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and Sha-Na-Na have in common? If you are under the age of 30 you may not have any idea. But older generations know these musical legends participated in the largest and, in retrospect, surely the greatest rock concert of all time in Bethel, New York from August 15-18, 1969.
On the 40th anniversary of Woodstock we are reminded of the untimely deaths of two other big names to perform that weekend, Janice Joplin and Jimmy Hendricks. And what did Elvis Pressley, Michael Jackson, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Sigmund Freud, Len Bias, Lenny Bruce¸ Kurt Cobain, Freddy Mercury, Judy Garland, Margaux Hemingway, Christina Onassis, Freddie Prinze, Ike Turner, Hank Williams, and Howard Hughes have in common with Joplin and Hendricks? Each died from suspected complications from drug abuse or a drug overdose. They lost control of their own lives through drug addiction and left an enduring legacy which will, forever, diminished their otherwise great accomplishments.
There are other types of addictions also known to be hazards to your health. In 1966, Congress mandated the following message be included on every pack of cigarettes "CAUTION: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health" and was replaced in 1970 by one saying "WARNING: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health." And yet, forty-three years later it is estimated there are 45 million adult American smokers, 70% of whom want to quit. So quit!
To paraphrase a rather well-known quote from 16th century English farmer and writer Thomas Tusser (1524-1580) ‘A fool and his money are soon parted…and after mindlessly wasting money on an addiction one is soon parted from this life!’ Isn’t it pretty clear that nearly all additions or abuses- primarily personal choices- will lead to a certain and untimely death.
Therefore, in order to take care of the growing number of citizens who make irresponsible choices every day to destroy their health I propose we create a universal health care program to take care of them. A universal health care program supported by and run by the government, of course. That sounds reasonable and fair. Reasonable until we realize the government has no money and they have to take the hard-earned money from most Americans who make better lifestyle choices, in order to take care of those who don’t. Wait a minute…that makes no sense at all. Whose dumb idea was that?
Last week, the 44th President of the United States indicated he wanted to make something perfectly clear, and “make no mistake about it, we will have a national health care program.” Mr. President, let me make one thing perfectly clear: we don’t want a national health care program administered by the U.S. government…the same government which is in the process of nationalizing the automobile industry, our banking system and more. You are destroying our country.
Or do you remember Hillary Rodham’s book “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us”? In the book Mrs. Clinton promotes a society in which all of a child’s needs should be met by individuals and groups outside the family. Really? The title of the book stirred immediate opposition. In 1996, Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole said "... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” Amen, Senator Dole.
In his 1989 State of the Union address President G.H.W. Bush (#41) referred to a ‘thousand points of light’ reflecting the dominant theme of conservatism in the '80's. Problems, he said, weren't going to be solved by a central government. Problems were going to be solved by the thousands of individuals doing the right thing. He and Senator Dole were talking about personal responsibility. What a concept!
On life, some believe in destiny, that everything is predetermined, and they must play the hand they’ve been dealt. Many deal with it gracefully. Others say “Woe is me, this isn’t fair, why me?” They believe society’s problems are the government’s problems. While these problems may have been caused by the government do we really want the government to solve them? If you think you have it bad I have a cure for you: visit a Veteran’s hospital.
Others believe you create your own destiny. To an extent that is certainly true. Throughout life we have many choices to make (free will) and some make far wiser choices than others. We’ve all met people who literally make themselves sick, through worry, self-induced stress, bad habits, or other means.
So it follows that we have another choice…to have a more positive attitude and to deal directly with issues as they present themselves to us? Is it possible that there is a direct relationship between one’s physical and mental well-being? I am living proof that this is absolutely true.
Another who felt very strongly about that was prominent political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate Norman Cousins (1915-1990). His most riveting writing was about mind over illness.
Two of his writings were:
• Anatomy of an illness as perceived by the patient : reflections on healing (1979), and
• Head first : the biology of hope and the healing power of the human spirit (1989)
Cousins also served as Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he did research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the key to human beings’ success in fighting illness. Battling heart disease and told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating mega doses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.
Regarding celebrities and rock stars we glorify and, in some cases, deify them. At the same time we choose to ignore their lifestyles or song lyrics which directly impact the behaviors and future choices of our children. It is high time to redefine qualifications for the celebrity status we confer on so many who, quite simply, do not deserve the honor.
So, are you looking for a new role model, a new hero? How about anyone who has worn the uniform of our country in service to what is still, far and away, the greatest nation on Earth?
Who is Cleary? I have never met anyone by the name of Cleary…but don’t you think there is someone named Cleary at this very moment, yet another fool, who is parting with his or his family’s money, who is wasting his life, and who will most assuredly suffer a premature death due to drug abuse? If you are out there Cleary, stop your foolishness right now, stop your senseless and selfish extracurricular and illegal activity and turn your life around now. It’s probably too late...but maybe not. And that goes for anyone else who is in the process of self-destruction. Why? Because I don’t want to pay for your healthcare.