Friendship

friendsship

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.   .John 15:13.

Over 60 years ago, my mother told me that you can count your real friends on one hand.

I didn’t appreciate her wisdom for a long time, but it’s pretty accurate based on my own experience.  And now studies show exactly that: five is the magic number..

Of all the things in life that are underrated, I think forming a deep friendship with another person is high on the list. I’ve written posts on how to choose friends, the value of friends and even what real friends do for one another.

C.S. Lewis even commented on the need for friends:

The safest road to hell is the gradual one . . . the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. This is why it’s so dangerous to do life alone.” 

Smartphones burst on the scene with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. After 12 years, we are now getting a look at what havoc it has caused to our relationships. Not surprising (to me, anyway), there has been a decline in true friendships in the past decade.

A recent study showed that social media has made most people’s friendships superficial and shallow. Another study of 3,000 adults concurred.  High social media use affected both the quantity and quality of friendships.

It turns out that our brain limits us as to the number of friends we can digest. The number is 150, including family, according to R.I.M. Dunbar, a Psychologist at the University of Oxford.

To have true connection with your closest five, you need to spend time connecting at least once a week. That takes time, which is another limit on relationships. If you love someone or are married, the number drops to 4.

For the next 15, you need to connect at least once every month, and once a year for the rest of the 150. Interesting stuff. The takeaway is that the more your spend time on a relationship, the stronger it becomes.

Social media doesn’t increase our capacity for friends, and the number stays at 150.  While getting “likes” is gratifying, it doesn’t replace face-to-face conversation.

In other words, if you have more than 150 “friends” on social media, the number above 150 is meaningless.  They are just acquaintances. They are not your friends.

Connecting means some kind of back and forth conversation which takes time. Fast forward to today where WhatsApp, Snapchat, texting, Instagram and Facebook have become platforms for interpersonal communication.

Jean Twenge,  who has researched this area,  has noted that FOMO  and increased use of social media has resulted in less time hanging out with friends. The result: increased loneliness and isolation.

The next generation (18-34) spends upwards of 43% of their digital use on apps, and adults in general spend over half their day interacting with media.  For the next generation, that’s 8 hours a day.

But what is it getting them? Shallower relationships, superficial friends and often loneliness and depression. Certainly not a friend willing to lay down his life for them.

A friend of mine went through a tough patch in his life. He did some pretty bad things which caught up to him.  I spent time with him in the aftermath.  I told him that the good news was that he would really find out who his real friends were.

Those who were shallow would distance themselves and abandon him.  He later came to me and said: “You were right; I now know which friends I can count on.”

This morning, I chatted with a friend, Steve Noble, who has started meeting with some from the next generation. He asked them a couple of questions. The answers didn’t surprise me.

None of them had a close friend that they felt they could call on in need, and none of them ever connected in any meaningful way with someone older.

In a challenging article in Christianity Today, Jen Thorn describes the 6 costs of real friendship:

Time, personal convenience, intimacy, comfort, love and prayer. This is a biblical view of what real friends do for each other. Lest I forget, every study I’ve seen reports that those who have close friendships tend to be happier in life. Nuff said.

I’ve had the good fortune to have close friends, but it has taken effort and intentionality. I’ve met with 2 other men for over 25 years weekly, and we share life together.

Proverbs tells us to seek wise counsel, and we have provided each other with invaluable support, direction and feedback through the years. I count my group as a peer mentor group, although we never gave it that label.

The challenge here is that the next generation is missing out by not having real friends. They need someone to come alongside and help them understand the importance of friends in their life. Real friends are the people who stick by you in the good times and the bad.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  In your interaction with your mentee, find out who his friends are (or aren’t), and encourage him to develop close relationships. It may be the best advice you can give him.

FURTHER READING:

Statistics on Cell Phone Usage/Addiction (2018)

More than a third of people can’t Live without smartphones:

How Social Media is Ruining Relationships

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  Jean Twenge (Atlantic)

6 Costs of Real FriendshipChristianity Today

Social Media Addicts Struggle To Make New Friends, Keep Old Ones In Real Life StudyFinds

 WORSHIP:  Listen to What a Friend by Matt Maher

COMMENT I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

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Amelia

blonde

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Amelia has blue eyes and blond hair.  You might have spoken to her on the phone. She is smart: she speaks 20 languages and handle thousands of phone calls simultaneously. Amelia works for insurance and telecom providers, healthcare firms and 20 of the world’s largest banks and handles customer-service calls.

She is part of a world called “globotics.”.  She is a version of a white-collar robot, a part of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence).  She is designed to replace humans.

Amelia might not be as good as a human, but she is cheaper and never complains – she doesn’t get a salary or need medical coverage, child care or even a vacation. And she doesn’t get sick.  Nor does she pay taxes or fund welfare programs like Social Security.

Until recently, robots didn’t have human cognitive capability. Computers couldn’t think so the edge went to humans. No more. A form of A.I. has created computers with skills at reading, writing and speaking and even the ability to recognize subtle patterns such as cues on the emotional state of the person she is talking to.

Amelia isn’t alone. Her counterpart at Bank of America is Erica. Capital One Bank has one called Eno. If Amelia can’t answer a question, she will refer you to a real human and then listen in on the conversation so that she might be able to answer it the next time the question is asked.

Amelia has friends in the journalism industry, too. They are named Cyborg, Bertie and Heliograph. They work for the Washington Post, Forbes, AP (Associated Press) and Bloomberg. One third of Bloomberg’s financial articles are written by Cyborg using A.I. technology.

Scientists have gotten to the point they can create a robot brain that has its own self-awareness. Think of a baby in a crib that is figuring out its surroundings and what he can do/not do. Now robots can do it by themselves instead of being programmed by a human.

DARPA (the Pentagon agency in charge of emerging technologies) is studying insect brains (no, that’s not a misprint) because they are miniaturized yet have the ability to have a “consciousness.” They consider it to be the first step to training neural networks. Who knew that bugs are the next step in A.I.?

A caution is raised in creating a self-aware robot: “It’s a powerful technology, but it should be handled with care.” Essentially, robots are taught to think about thinking without being programmed.

Wrapping your head around these advances is a little hard, even for my friend, Ralph Ennis.  A futurist, he has been very concerned about the dangers of creating a thinking level of A.I. without building in a moral compass or biblical worldview. I agree with him.

I used to think that mostly blue-collar jobs would be impacted by robots: those with a high degree of repetitiveness which didn’t involve a lot of mental heavy lifting. Think of jobs such as someone taking orders at a fast-food restaurant.

I recently wrote in Humanics that new jobs competing with robots in the new economy will involve doing things only humans can do.  Now, I’m not so sure, because the more “human” capabilities that are being invented, the more jobs that might be made irrelevant.

Professions like medicine, accounting and even law will be impacted. Ralph thinks the medicine may be most affected, particularly in the area of diagnosis.

There are wide estimates of what the impact A.I will have on human jobs. Estimates range from 7% loss of all jobs to  1 in 5 jobs  2030. Some technology futurists go farther and predict robots will outstrip mankind in 50 years.

While A.I. may not take over journalists or editors jobs yet, one CEO  familiar with technology, Marc Zionts, advised his daughter, a journalist, to get acquainted with the latest technology:

If you are a non-learning, non-adaptive person — I don’t care what business you’re in — you will have a challenging career.”

Many jobs today that are considered so human as to be “safe” may not be that way tomorrow.  I believe Zionts advice is sound for the next generation.

The challenge is that A.I. technology is here to stay.  It may be disruptive to our culture and society. The next generation needs to stay on top of it and adjust the course of their careers to the changes.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors need to encourage the next generation to continue learning about A.I. technology and be willing to adapt to resulting changes.

FURTHER READINGTeaching Empathy to Machines in WSJ.

White Collar Robots are Coming for Jobs in WSJ.

How Computers Could Make Your Customer-Service Calls More Human in WSJ.

DARPA wants to Turn Insect Brains Into Robot Brainsin Popular Science

Creating a Self-Aware Robot  TechExplore.

Robots that Can Think for Itself from Scratch

If 1 in 5 Jobs are Being Displaced, what does that Mean for HR.  Forbes, 2018

A System Will Warn You if Your Partner is in an Argumentative Mood.

Scientists Create a Robot that Operates on Its Own and can Repair Itself.

NY Times: The Rise of the Robot Reporter

WORSHIP: Listen to Christ Tomlin sing: I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

Redux

casablanca-3328692_1920

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. Proverbs 11:14 (MSG) 

I spent three days at an airport hotel near Casablanca, Morocco, recently.  While there, I kept thinking about the classic 1932 movie as we toured the city. I wondered where Rick’s Café Americain  made famous by the movie was located.

The most famous, yet often misquoted, line from the movie Casablanca is:  “Play   it Again Sam”.  Ergo the title: Redux.  Redux or something that is brought back which provides an update to previous posts.

This will be like different flavors of popcorn – just take a bite if you want. Each has a link to the original post.

EQ. This post discussed the importance of Emotional Intelligence and empathy which is often lacking by the next generation because they are too focused on themselves. They may have a high IQ, but their interpersonal skills are lacking. Andrew McPeak recently wrote a post on 3 ways to help Generation Z with EQ.

This is more important now that employers are beginning to vet their job seekers on their EQ, not just their academic achievements. One McPeak’s suggestion that is worth noting:  he suggests that adults learn to talk with Gen Z, but not “at them”. Good stuff.

Marijuana  covered the untold mental health risks of marijuana (including violence) which has been portrayed as a harmless substance.  Recently, a New York café recently added drinks laced with CBD (another shorthand for cannabis).

The result:  more than half of the sales of coffee and other drinks now contain CBD. There is no research on the effects of CBD. None, although there is anecdotal evidence of its calming effect.

And then there was the WSJ story titled “Weed Versus Greed on Wall Street” which chronicles the interest that large investors are taking to the large demand for growing marijuana. The profit motive trumps all health concerns.

Finally, the State Prosecutor in Baltimore announced that she would cease prosecuting crimes involving possession of marijuana. Her reasons? Among them was that it wasted police time in a city that has one of the lowest rates of solving homicides in the nation.

She also stated that there is no connection between crime (i.e. violence) and marijuana. She hasn’t read the research which points to the opposite conclusion.

Digital Addiction  describes the addictive quality of digital environment, including severe withdrawal symptoms of children who are suddenly denied their video games or cellphones. A recent article shows the unintended consequences of the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple which makes the iPhone, is now onrecord that his vision for smartphone use envisioned it as a completely different tool, rather than a constant companion.

Internet addiction is not yet recognized as a mental condition, yet U.S. rehabs are filling up treating  teens “driven to distress by their phones.” It’s only a matter of time that the medical community will treat it as a disorder and a disease.

Vision covered the adverse effects of excessive digital use on your eyesight. In it, I quoted a friend incorrectly about what it is like to live in your later years without good health. He actually said:  “Being wealthy and not healthy is poverty.” His words better captured the idea than mine.

  Younger Next Year encouraged all to take care of their health by staying active and it refers to a book by the same title. Millennials, however are still so young that they feel invincible. So much so, that they are ditching having a doctor according to a new study.

The danger? Well, they aren’t getting their vision checked, or getting their vaccinations or other simple routine checks on their physical and mental health.

FIRE, which stands for Financial Independence Retire Early, discusses the millennial obsession to leading an ultra-frugal life and saving as much as possible so one can retire early. Buying brown bananas is a common practice.

While I am all for frugality, a FIRE-minded millennial might save 50% of their income and lead an almost ascetic life for decades to achieve their goals. A recent article notes that for most people, “it is a terrible idea” for lots of reasons.

One of them: long life is not guaranteed, and one can sacrifice his youthful years only to incur a medical issue that ruins their lifestyle they so wanted to achieve in retirement.

I would add that life is better lived by smelling the roses along the way. The journey is as important as the destination.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee needs input on a variety of topics. I think it is important for mentors to learn about new trends in order to speak into their lives with relevance.

FURTHER STUDY:  Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy until you are 80.  is available at Amazon.

Rick’s Café was recreated in 2004 in Casablanca by a group known as The Usual Suspects, SA.

Watch Steve Jobsspeechwhen he introduced the iPhone in 2007.

A WSJ article about FIRE as not being such a good idea.

WORSHIP: Listen to Chris Tomlin sing God of the City which tells us that greater things are yet to be done in this city.

COMMENTI would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

Opioids

pain

Last March, I had a hip operation which required two days in the hospital. When I checked out, I was given a two-week dosage of OxyContin, an opioid.  I was wary of taking it because of anecdotal stories of possible addiction. Good move, it turns out.

What is bothersome is that I didn’t ask for pain medication. The reason I was handed it as I left? Well, the hospital makes a lot of money on drugs dispensed to patients.

When I looked at my hospital bill later on, the drug portion was almost $2,000.  I get that; they are out to make a profit.  But what I don’t get is that there was no effort to caution me on the possible addictive effects of OxyContin.

Last week, my dear friend, Paula Rinehart published an article in the Federalist titled The Opiate Epidemic is Coming to a Suburb Near You. It struck a nerve because Paula is not one to write about that kind of topic. She is a trained therapist who has seen the ravages of the epidemic in her own practice in the past year.

Her article reviews a book she describes as groundbreaking titled Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, by Beth Macy.  The book chronicles how this crisis came about in 1996 when the FDA approved the sale of OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma.

An internal Justice Department report shows that Purdue Pharma knew its opioids were being widely abused. They knew it and concealed it, much as cigarette manufacturers concealed the evidence of a link between smoking and cancer for years.

No surprise that Purdue Pharma and members of its founding family are being sued by 38 states.

If that was not enough, a recent article linked payments by drugs companies to doctors. From 2013 to 2015, drug companies made 435,000 payments to 67,500 doctors in 2,200 counties totaling $39 million. The payments weren’t for research, but were for consulting, travel and meals.

In the counties where these payments were directed, deaths from opioids were nearly 18% higher than others. The data also showed that payments by drug companies targeted “counties with more high school graduates, greater unemployment, lower poverty, higher median household income, and lower income inequality.”

The drug industry has falsely marketed a two-week supply of OxyContin as “not addictive”.  Unfortunately, that’s wrong. It shocked me to learn that the pain medicine handed to me when I left the hospital was easily sufficient to cause addiction. I feel lucky, in hindsight, for not taking it.

I am willing to bet that most of the people who read this post know of someone in their sphere who has died of an overdose of an opioid. The brother-in-law of our worship leader – a 29-year-old young vibrant man with a bright future ahead of him – recently died of an overdose.

Statistics bear all this out. Almost 122,000 people a year die of opioid overdose. In the U.S., the number was 72,000 in 2015, up from 49,000 in 2015.  Over half died from prescription opioids. The rest were from heroin or fentanyl.

As Paula notes, the drug companies promoted their product as “safe” with an addiction rate of 1%. Unfortunately, unbiased studies show the addiction rate is closer to 57%.

This epidemic is no longer an urban phenomenon. It is in the suburbs – small towns rather than large. That’s where the younger generation has money to spend, and Christian families are not immune.

As Paula says: “Those in the know claim that suburbs are where you find the best heroin now”, including her own neighborhood where a police SWAT team recently surrounded a house of a neighbor who had a thriving mail order business selling fentanyl and Xanax.

One other thing she notes: Withdrawal from addiction can be ugly. Recovery can take 5 years and relapses are common, even when using a medication which suppresses the withdrawal symptoms such as methadone.

The issue is not just in North America, by the way. Western Africa, Europe and Asia also have problems according to the World Drug Report for 2018 by the UN. The Report also notes that the most vulnerable population is the next generation:

“Most research suggests that early (12-14 years) to late (15-17 years) adolescence is a critical risk period for the initiation of substance use and may peak among young people (aged 18-25 years).”

One other note: according to the UN report, those aged 50 and higher are one of the fastest growing demographics to be affected by this epidemic. Mentors and parents are not exempt.

One tangible step for everyone reading this is to go clean out your medicine cabinet of any pain medication. This might seem simple, but the fact remains that it doesn’t take a lot of OxyContin to cause addiction.

This is an issue affecting the next generation, and it is important to understand how it happens and how to deal with it.  It is a crisis, and, as Paula notes, it’s in your neighborhood whether you know it or not.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors should educate themselves on opioids and their addictive qualities. This is happening everywhere, even possibly to your mentee who is in the most vulnerable group.

FURTHER STUDY:  The Opiate Epidemic is Coming to a Suburb Near You. Paula Rinehart in The Federalist.

The link between payments by drug companies to doctors and deaths from Opioids.

The Economist:  West Africa’s Opioid Crisis.

Statistics on drug use by the UN: World Drug Report 2018.

Beth Macy’s book Dopesick is available at Amazon.

WORSHIP: Listen to Enoughby Passion which has the lyric is All I have in You is More than Enough for Me.

COMMENTI would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

Vision

vision

 Where there is no vision, the people perish.  Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

I often get asked where I get ideas for writing this blog. I guess the best answer is everywhere and anywhere. I am constantly looking for ideas or trends which might impact the mentoring of the next generation.

This idea came out of the blue from a conversation with a woman at our small group last night. She was describing the digital generation as having poor peripheral vision because they have focused their eyes on the screens of their iPads, computers or smartphones.

She was right. I researched the impact of the digital world on eyesight and found that loss of peripheral vision is just one of many vision problems caused by overuse of digital devices.

Peripheral vision is the ability of your eye to capture side vision when looking straight ahead.

Lack of peripheral vision can be a problem in a number of activities, including driving a car and most sports.  That’s a scary thought, particularly in a world where many drivers are already distracted by texting or using their phone.

The incidence of Glaucoma is increasing, although the connection with the digital world has not been made (yet).  It is an eye disease that produces tunnel vision.

Studies show that 40% of millennials spend an average of 9 hours a day watching a digital device. Generation Z is slightly less with 30%, while only 25% of Baby Boomers spend that amount of time per day.

Add to that the fact that most in the next generation feel invincible. I know I did at that age. They are not thinking about what digital usage will do to their eyes 20 or 30 years from now.

The only analogy I can think of is that my generation was oblivious to the perils of getting sunburned. We did it all the time, mostly to have a good tan.

In my day, science hadn’t confirmed that excess exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer.  There was no such thing as a suntan product with SPF that you could use to protect yourself from overexposure.

I can attest to that. I go to my dermatologist every 6 months to have him examine my body to see if there are any cancerous spots that need to be removed.  It is a rare visit when I don’t have something frozen off or removed surgically.

We didn’t know any better and were oblivious to the risks of sunburn. By the same token, the millennials aren’t thinking about long-term eye damage today. Studies now show that 70% of millennials have some level of eye strain.

Add to that increasing evidence that the blue light emitted by smartphones at night can cause retinal damage, possibly resulting in loss of eyesight.

There is now a name for this:  Computer Vision Syndrome (or CVS)  This is a broad term covering cases where patients complain of symptoms of irritation, eye redness, blurry vision and headaches resulting from a digital environment.

I have written about the impact of the digital world on the emotional, intellectual  and social well-being of the next generation. Now, it appears, there is a physical side effect:  damaged eyesight.

Going to a dermatologist frequently is a lesser price to pay for getting sunburned when young than becoming blind or having eyesight issues in later life. Some digital damage to millennial eyes can be permanent and irreversible.

As a friend of mine recently said: Being wealthy but not healthy is terrible. He wouldn’t exchange health for wealth. He spent his working years saving for retirement and now is dealing with medical issues that limit his enjoyment of life.

Reducing screen time has more benefits than just  emotional and mental well-being. This is not just a millennial problem, by the way. Recent research show that Americans  spend almost half of their waking hours looking at screens.

That same research reported that respondents had to take a break at least every 4 hours for “eye discomfort”. The research did not go mention that digital overuse can actually cause permanent damage to eyesight.

Our challenge is to alert digital natives that they are an “at-risk’ group for permanent and long-term eye damage. While they may not “perish” as suggested by Proverbs, they could find themselves living a life limited by damaged vision if corrective steps aren’t taken.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentees are generally unaware of the consequences of overuse of digital media on their eyes. Mentors can help educate them to the risks.

FURTHER RESEARCH:  Vision problems of the next generation.

Retinal damage due to blue light emissions.

Four Ways Millennials Unknowingly Increase Their Risk for Vision Loss.

https://www.studyfinds.org/survey-americans-spend-half-waking-hours-looking-screens/

WORSHIP:  Listen to a contemporary take on the Irish hymn: Be Thou My Vision.

COMMENTI would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

Mary Jane

marijuana-3364706_1920

I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23

 If you thought this was about a woman named Mary Jane, you are wrong. Mary Jane is a nickname for marijuana, which has been increasingly legalized in states around the country. In my lifetime, I have watched this drug move from illegal to legal.

It started in the 1960’s, when America was in a rebellious stage. Flower children and free sex became commonplace, along with marijuana. I was in law school and married at the time. But for the fact that I didn’t have time to try it, I suppose I would have.

Somehow, just like cigarettes, I’ve had an intuitive sense of possible dangerous side-effects. Smoking anything can’t be good, and it doesn’t take a PhD in chemistry or a medical degree to realize that the chemical side effects of cannabis (or THC) are complex.

Like many of my era, I smoked cigarettes briefly in college. No one had connected the dots that smoking causes cancer at the time. I stopped early in my career when a secretary of mine,  a life-long smoker, got emphysema, a lung disease.  When she quit, I quit too.

Glad I did. Now cigarettes have this warning label on each pack telling you that smoking can cause cancer. In Europe, the label is a little more direct. In big bold letters on the side of a cartoon is the label: “SMOKING KILLS’.  Not too subtle.

Which brings me back to marijuana. Recent studies  show that more than half of the public favor legalization of marijuana.  Unfortunately, popular opinion often ignores science, which is now developing about the negative side effects of marijuana use.

Instead, much of the policy argument in favor of legalization is that they want to treat marijuana like alcohol which is a legal drug.

Legislators are complicit in their desire to legalize marijuana. Ito them, legal marijuana is source of revenue that they can achieve through taxing its sale. Never mind that it is dangerous as long as it brings in revenue.

Alcohol abuse has always been a problem, too. It is an addictive drug resulting in alcoholism. But the dangers of marijuana haven’t been in the headlines. Until recently, that is.

Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and author of 12 novels, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled Marijuana is More Dangerous Than You Think.  The article is an eye opener.

Berenson cites research going back 150 years that has linked marijuana to mental illness, much of which has been glossed over by the advocates for legalization. Current research shows a direct connection between marijuana use and violent crime.

The statistics are grim and getting worse. Murder rates in the few states that have approved the sale and use of marijuana have increased disproportionately over other states where it is not legal.

Yet,  the beat goes on by those in favor of legalization. It is often “sold” as a means to focus on really dangerous drugs like heroin or fentanyl.

But marijuana is “dangerous”, particularly if you are the object of violence. Marijuana use doubles the amount domestic violence by adolescents based on a 2012 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.  That’s not a small increase.

Even Motley Fool  has a new investing service called Marijuana Masters which provides “all you need to know to get invested in the marijuana boom.” It publishes the “Cannabis Investor Alert”, and it assumes (as do most others) that the negatives of using marijuana are benign.

Just as the early research on cigarettes started to highlight the health risks, it took years before the direct connection of smoking to cancer was confirmed. Most anecdotal evidence of the effects of cannabis and THC is based on experiences with a much less potent variety of marijuana than what is now being sold.

This is important to all, not to just the millennials who might assume that using marijuana is fine, and they only need to be worried about driving a car when they are high.

Because the legalization of marijuana is still is in its infancy, I suspect that we still don’t know the entire tale of how bad it really is.  The early evidence, however, is frightening, and the policy cost of higher mental health issues and violence are mounting.

Given the recent studies showing a skyrocketing increase of depression and suicide by the next generation, I view them as particularly vulnerable to the possible impact of marijuana on their life and mental condition.

As Paul notes in the above passage, we have freedom as believers, but not everything we can or might do is constructive or beneficial. Marijuana use is one of those things.

The challenge here is to make sure others know that marijuana use is not harmless, and it can lead to serious psychotic episodes and even violence.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Be sure your mentee, if he uses marijuana, knows of the negative side effects.  It is not a harmless substance that is being promoted by those wanting to legalize it.

FURTHER RESEARCH: Connection between Cannabis and mental disordersand schizophrenia.

Psychology Today:  Marijuana Use Increases Violent Behavior

Wall Street Journal:  Marijuana is More Dangerous Than you Think.

WORSHIPListen to Vertical Church Band play I’m Going Free (Jailbreak).

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

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PC

pc

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

 “PC” stands for “Politically Correct”.  It has gotten a lot of press, but rarely with a biblical worldview.

Millennials have been indoctrinated by an educational system where “empathy” has been extended on college campuses to mean that anything someone might say could offend another is taboo.

That has led to the creation of campus “safe spaces”,  where students can go to a cocoon-like area where they can be free of hearing anything that might offend their delicate ears. Add to that something called “trigger warnings” and speech codes.

Why all the fuss? The term was first used in a 1793 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Since then, it has had a variety of definitions. Most recently, the phrase pits free speech and free choice against civility and inclusion.

Its modern-day roots come from Marxist ideology in the early 20thcentury when Vladimir Lenin was coming to power in Russia. The Marxist-Leninists placed a strong emphasis on “ideological correctness, both politically and theoretically” according to Frank Ellis, a Professor at the University of Sheffield.

“An [open] forum for discussion”, according to Ellis, “would impede the revolutionary spirit needed to upend the social order.”  That’s chilling to anyone in a country where the Bill of Rights assures freedom of speech.

The result: the creation of a totalitarian regime dedicated to quenching dissent or discussion. Only one ideology mattered: the one that the government wanted. Around 8 million civilians died in this quest in the early 20thcentury.

The current stated goal of politically correct language: to improve multiculturalism and diversity. Being politically correct means that you say nothing that would offend anyone, least of all a minority.  I’m all for civility in language, to a point.

Recent polls by Pew Research and others show that people are too easily offended, and that PC language has gotten to be a problem.

George H.W. Bush, in a 1991 Michigan commencement address warned that free speech was under siege by the PC culture:

Although the [PC] movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away debris of racism, (..) sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudices with new ones.”

Fast forward to today. Instead of the term “PC” describing a culture clash within academia, it has been weaponized as a term of insult directed against any ideological opponent.

Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind in 1987, believed the push for “open minds” in academia was instead a method of offering narrow perspectives. His example was the Black Power movement which replaced the civil rights movement.

Instead of pushing for universal rights, it demanded black identity. Its core view was “that the Constitutional tradition was corrupt and constructed as a defense of slavery.” The result was that education has become “less about history and those who were held to be its heroes.”

Bloom continues: “Nothing has taken its place (on campuses) except a smattering of facts learned about other nations or cultures and a few social science formulas.”  The emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity has displaced “rigorous education and free thinking.”

One difficulty is that everyone can be offended by almost anything. Yet, free speech doesn’t limit speech to that which is non-offensive. You may not agree with what is said, but you don’t have the right to quell their right to say it.

Calling someone “racist”, or one of the many words ending in “phobe” has had a chilling effect on civility, which was the original idea of the PC movement. On college campuses, it has made discourse a one-way street. If academia likes what you are likely to say, you have a free pass to speak on campus.

If not, you may be disinvited, like First Lady Laura Bush or Condoleezza Rice at university commencements.  Almost all of them held conservative views, either on abortion, politics or other positions.

I would hardly call these speakers “radicals”, nor whose views are outrageous. Yet, the PC movement has now become a weapon against dissenting views. Basically, if you don’t think like I do, then you will be disinvited, shouted down or protested. Or even stigmatized if you are a conservative.

Couched in simple terms, the PC movement has an unintended consequence of quelling free speech, the exchange of ideas and has bred its own matrix of intolerance.

As one writer in the Atlantic put it: “The new climate [of PC culture] is being institutionalized on campuses”. The next generation  has been bred on an educational diet of developing emotional well-being which “presumes an extraordinary mental fragility of the college psyche.”

How does this square with Christianity? As believers, we should not go out of our way to offend anyone. Instead, we are to love one another. Christianity itself was offensive to many. Paul references the “offense of the cross” to Jews in Galatians 5:11.

Our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth. PC is a form of false morality and is not the morality of scripture. If you limit offensive speech, then the next step is to limit your freedom of religion. The Golden Rule has never been limited to a specific audience.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: You can help your mentee understand that the excesses of the PC culture is a danger to free speech, including the expression of our freedom of religion.

FURTHER RESOURCES: Why the Origins of Politically Correctness Should Frighten You.Wash Times.

Washington Post: How ‘politically correct’ went from compliment to insult.(2016).

The Federalist: The Stigma Against My Conservative Politics Is Worse Than The Stigma Of Being Gay

The Staggering Toll of the Russian Revolution. Foundation for Economic Education.

Atlantic Magazine: The Coddling of the American Mind  and Backstory to the Article.

Political Correctness vs. Faith. Crosswalk

Franklin Graham: Political Correctness Gone Amok.

WORSHIPListen to Liberty Campus Band play How Deep is the Father’s Love.

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