Cheryl Pappas
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Archive for August, 2011

Ask Your Doctor

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Of course, you know by now that almost every television commercial is a drug company selling prescription anti-depression drugs and repeating the mantra tag line of this new century in advertising, survival, and mass hypnosis: “Ask Your Doctor”.

What you may not know is that this is a benevolent campaign that is saving us all from the horrors of feeling anything bad or even slightly irritating, and we should all get up out of our chairs right this minute and thank the sponsors who care so much about how we feel.

Whoops, before you get up, call your doctor, of course, just in case there is a drug that could help ease the transition from sitting to standing. You just never know, but your doctor certainly does!

I remember a cloudy day many years ago when I could have used this guidance, but it was nowhere to be found.

Can you imagine having to bear the anguish of a shy moment? Well, I’m here to tell you it wasn’t pretty.

Thank God for science that  has delivered us out of the awkward, the agitated, the excruciating darkness of unavoidable contact with discomfort—and other people.

Since there are two sides to every penny, let us also admit that it was the very lack of silencing the soul that produced great works of art and artists, including singers and actors and painters who moved us to our depths, unimpeded by medication.

Or perhaps that was our medication.

Anywho, what’s a little empty space between friends when the upshot is lack of emotional pain?

Professional polls report time and time again that The American People would gladly exchange intimate moments for the sheer bliss of blankness, and who can argue with that?

If you are not among the lucky A.D.D. sufferers who have a faithful, legitimate stash of speed, you might catch a confusion at the end of those commercials for emotional/mental disorder drugs.

This is where the side effects flood forth from a paid actor/actress sotto voce like a train out of control. Don’t be afraid if you find yourself asking out loud whether you should ask your doctor if it’s cool to possibly die in order to partake in the cornucopia of worry- erasing pharmaceuticals.

Again, I urge you to Ask Your Doctor for something to quiet those nerves which apparently have just sprung out from the medicated mattress of your psyche upon hearing that you are on a drug that may, without warning, take away your ability to swallow or breathe.

No worries. Just Ask Your Doctor how he feels about your having the occasional seizure.

It’s all about your being comfortable, which is why the good people at the biggest pharmaceutical companies are thinking about you.

Yes, they are!

They are so concerned that they are developing right now new drugs to take with the ones you already have when the regular drugs don’t work!

Now that’s very nice, don’t you think?

What’s that? You can’t think? You can’t hold onto a thought?

Now that’s something you should ask your doctor about.

The Denial Days of Summer

Friday, August 5th, 2011

The heat is blazing, yet no ten elected officials stand together to attest that right at this minute we are experiencing global warming.

The President is mute.

Summer stock market days are sizzling with alarm.

Yet The New York Times reports that the wealthiest among us are on waiting lists for designer shoes and numbered luxury items from Neiman Marcus.

The President is reading some words about the economy.

It is tempting to fall into the chasm of deep despair and call it a fall off the economic cliff—and cliff of reason– during these last 3 years.

Thanks to 8 years of George W. Bush, we were headed here economically and we continue with Obama.

To make matters worse, we are living at a time when disconnected words and manners are plastered over mournful realities.

Watch Obama smile in alignment with our wonderful economic times. Whoops, sorry, these are not wonderful times, yet there he is. Smiling.

We are living with the news of the debt ceiling calamity and this President’s failure to lead us.

The President’s words are meaningless as “the American people” pay and the wealthiest reap bigger rewards.

The disconnection of this President is everywhere and grating to the nerves of those who bother—or struggle– to understand our lives in this moment.

People are suffering and there he goes again with that stagey smile.

It’s not working anymore, to say the least.

Or should I say it’s as helpful as a clown appearing in front of a train wreck.

In his 1994 poetic book, America, French sociologist Jean Baudrillard writes about the difference between America and Europe, looking over the physical and psychological landscapes which express and define us. The euphoric soaring dream of America juxtaposed with the battered wisdom and traditions of Europe.

It is impossible to think about America in this way and not to mourn our country.

Octavio Paz pointed out that America was “created in the hope of escaping from history, of building a utopia sheltered from history..” That is, America was the destination for those fleeing the Old World and starting afresh, shaking loose the weight of history.

I would argue that since 9/11, America is catching up.

There is not much that shelters us from our history in the making.

Sure, we could pull the plug on television, that 24/7 menace of hostile footage. Still, the streets are filled with rage and disconnection, the link to our everyday personal history.

Since we no longer escape our history, I wonder if the current political drama is a last gasp in the hope of escape and denial.

Maybe even electing Obama, a young, untested, half-black candidate, was in fact a strain toward wiping out history; erasing and starting over.

It’s not working.

When did we begin plastering over the truth with empty words and homilies.

This is not a weak cover-up.

People are angry and insistent, for example, in their use of “no problem”.

It expresses anger, if you really listen to it.

It is a control, stuck and stubborn, that there is “no problem”. What if there is a problem? Are those who sleepwalk mumbling platitudes prepared to be awake in the event of necessity?

The false hypnosis of “no worries” is not benign.

It stops the action that could follow acknowledgment and investigation of the truth.

Worrying itself is a passive enterprise, yet if we dared to see that all is definitively not good, we could unite and create solutions to what ails us.

To take the other end of the argument, if so many people authentically live inside a “no worries” zone, why the nasty, aggressive driving behavior?

The follow-up to speaking any clear truth is now to say, “I’m just saying”.

In other words, what?

Cushion the blow of real feeling.

No meaning, no biggie, no commitment.

I’m just saying, singing, whistling dust.

It means nothing.

The words are bubbles, melting in the air.

Only the lasting demand of no true discussion.

Our people are lonely and disconnected from each other.

Denial is killing America.

Sargent Shriver, father of Maria, and creator of humanistic organizations such as the Peace Corps, warned decades ago that

“The politics of death is calculation, prudence, measured gestures.”

This is our President and these are our times.

I’m just saying.

Educating The Peeps: Political Information, Please!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

I am wondering about the emotional fallout from Monday night’s split-screen appearances by President Obama and Speaker John Boehner.

It is tempting to liken this presentation to a reality contest.

Something perhaps called, “Who is the most believable?”

It’s easy to trivialize politics today.

This frivolous response is brought to us by politicians themselves, for not being believable, and by the media, for whom politics is a horse race.

The media treats politics as if it were brought to us by The National Inquirer. That is, lots of innuendo, gossip, imaginary reality is “reported”.

Sample: The reporter asks the so-called Washington insider, who is usually standing right outside the White House, “What do you think the President is thinking right now?”

Honestly, is this news or is this “professional” speculation in lieu of news even worthy of air time?

Whether it’s Chris Mathews outright asking sports analogous questions about where candidates are in the “race”, or any one of the news shows featuring countdowns to the political contest, a sport and a contest it has become.

In spite of this competitive media tournament, for every Presidential speech or political news event, there is a psychological impact on the people in this country.

Very few people are politically astute enough to measure the President’s words, yet there is an unconscious emotional reaction to the tenor and the visual of his presentation, as well as to Boehner’s.

Mostly, it seems to be fear and anger.

Fear, because of the veiled and obvious threats in the words; anger, because it is overwhelming that no one is solving these very issues that indeed the American public cannot themselves address.

Fear and anger, the right combo to stir up the blood and mute the intellect.

Advertising people understand this triggering of the public’s sleeping mind, and use it to pad their clients’ bottom lines.

How are we politically being used?

In America, serious televised politics are digested mainly emotionally, without regard for content, since content absorption relies on knowledge of the subject, which most of us don’t have!

The President very ably and deliberately gave a speech suitable for young children regarding the basics of spending money that you do not have.

But, wait a minute, Boehner made the same point.

Each of them accused the other of not playing well together.

On the surface last night, it looked like the American public was a child given a choice by two warring parents as to which one to live with.

Do we go with the disappointing Obama, who pitched himself as the “hope and change” President, but who is really a centrist Republican?

Or, conversely, how in the world do we believe Boehner, known for expressing a notably labile—unstable display of emotion—style and behavior?

Of course, the budget and deficit are significant matters, but how many of us understand it? No 15-minute Presidential lecture on the stand-off is sufficient to relay the reality of these political in-fights.

We are asked not just to understand. We must take a side.

Meanwhile, America, the child, is crying because he is hungry.

“The American People”, as they are politically tagged, are exhausted and want the people in charge to do the jobs they were hired to do.

I suspect that throughout the life of America, average citizens were consigned to, and perhaps have enjoyed, the child role in the governmental family, and today, it is ever true and not pretty.

Since the public is normally left out of big political decisions and discussions, it makes sense that there is numbness and despair when they are asked to run interference on topics that, frankly, they know nothing about. Who has the answers, they wonder.

This further points out how undereducated we are.

We desperately need to beef up education, not delete it.

On these national topics, the audience is several grades behind on world affairs and national economics.

How can we decide the feasibility of a political direction without true information?

One suggestion I have is that the media become involved in being a solution to the public’s ignorance.

Lacking knowledge as we are, perhaps instead of superficial fights on nightly news shows between representatives from both camps, there could be real education offered.

In other words, rather than reporting on today’s nasty slurs between persons A and B, or producing shows that feature advanced discussions on intricate economic policy by communication-challenged professors, how about some bite-sized, digestible education?

Right now the audience is choosing between dozing off while pretending to understand graduate-level references from esteemed academics on Charlie Rose or tuning out to panels of pretend celebrities on Joy Behar.

Political Information, Please!

I don’t believe it’s too late for America to smarten up.

We could use some support from the media ASAP to inject some education into the public.

I’m not talking about PBS.

I’m talking about all major news programs.

It doesn’t have to be effete or boring.

It’s about everyone’s personal life.

That’s the truth and the pitch: It’s personal.

As it stands, it is easy to pick an emotional side on a subject, whether it’s the economy or any other issue, based on no clear understanding or information.



    
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