Tag Archives: anxiety

Unspoken

Succinct – Word of the Day

romance-picnic.jpg

Photo: Browncounty.com

 

Unspoken

Things, being things, are ever complex,
nothing so simple as true.
Our lives are like Ypres,
all wire and craters,
the ever defended self.

Electronic cyclones
with forgettable passwords,
ever commanding, forever shifting.
Deceptive matrices of gloom,
where anxiety reigns
over pixelated doubts.

The neighbours arguing,
profoundly, again!
The light was left on at the front.
Well, someone must pay,
this is serious (of course)
and irresponsible to the trees.

The choreography of life,
cat’s in the cradle gone wrong,
the twine’s all over the place.
Yet in the eye of this storm
we’re calm brevity,
as love is spoken without words.

 

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Fame! It’s A Trap!

Famous

 

beatles-itunes-official.jpg

The Beatles. Most people now know the story well about how the four young musicians from working class families in Liverpool became a world famous band. How Skiffle was the trend, how the drummer was removed and Ringo brought in. The years of going to the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany to make cash, playing at the Cavern in Liverpool, and encountering the quiet businessman Brian Epstein who became their manager. The wonderful alliance of Lennon-McCartney as the primary song writers, and the creative relationship with the late George Martin as their producer at EMI. Beatlemania, pop, rock, experimental music, trend setting, controversy, religion, drugs, a whirlwind of mayhem and success.

What makes me laugh out loud every time is the following comment by Decca records. The Beatles had been taken to London for an audition at Decca Records for new years day 1962, the session was recorded and a decision promised in the days after. Eventually Decca responded, rejecting the Beatles, saying: “Guitar groups are on their way out.” and “The Beatles have no future in show business.” I’ve often wondered if they did a debrief on that a couple of years later. Instead, Decca signed The Tremeloes (also known as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes), a band that performed well and hung around for forty years as consistent recording artists and concert performers, but were never famous. But maybe the Tremeloes had a better time?

By 1966, and five years of hits and relentless international concert schedules, the Beatles stopped touring. It was no longer fun. The freedom and success they had achieved had started to impact their lives in ways they may not have foreseen or understood. They were public property, cultural icons, trend-setters, and they were adored. Privacy was almost nil, and demands were heavy.

Fame also impacted the band relationships, tension, jealousy, power games all played their part, and eventually they went their separate ways, making it a public split in 1970. Even though over the years up until Lennon’s death they were offered staggering sums of money to reunite, they could not bear the thought of it.

The money the Beatles made must have been staggering, the adoration initially seductive and welcome, but for Lennon it contributed to his shooting, Harrison was attacked in his home and stabbed, McCartney lived in fear of being attacked, Ringo hit the booze for a time, it wasn’t pretty. Stress, relationship problems, anxiety, fear, substance abuse related issues, and more.

But while we sit in judgement of those who rise to stardom, where do we fit? At our own level, do we fall into the same patterns? How many of us have not coped with stress, responsibility, fear, money, relationships? As a parallel to the stars we too fall prey to our own behaviours, worries, and desires, just on a smaller scale. We may not have broken up the Beatles, but we may well have broken up with dear friends.

What I take away from the cost of fame for people like the Beatles is that I too can seek popularity, a more localised version of fame, I can seek wealth over relationship, I can ignore those closest to me, I can be busy with my important work to the exclusion of others, I can be jealous when I perceive that I fall short (the disaster of comparison), and I can be anxious about my image. The movie ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ (Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves) makes this point very strongly, the last scene is profound as a truth, that we will sell ourselves to fame and be totally unaware.

True contentment can only ever be in self-acceptance, and thereby building confidence and self-awareness. I believe that fame is best when it is conferred rather than pursued, when others see it in you, rather than making it happen. To be content, to strive, and to be real, that is the road less travelled, and a different type of famous.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under creativity, history, life, mindfulness, music, quote

Bubble Wrapped Life?

via Daily Prompt: Bubble

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Image: id.marge.com

Who hasn’t enjoyed popping the air bubbles on Bubble Wrap, and who hasn’t danced around on it, or run on it. Most of us would have wrapped something fragile in it to mail to someone? And who wouldn’t want to protect valuable, fragile gifts?

Bubble wrap was invented through failure. Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes were attempting to make a 3D wallpaper in 1959, but it failed, however, the material they ended up with was useful for packaging fragile objects. And, in 1960, Bubble Wrap was born. I don’t remember it before 1973, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention!

Bubble wrap is a polyethylene product, a hydrocarbon derivative, and in the current situation, an unwelcome intruder in the environment as a non-biodegradable plastic. It will be hard for commerce to wean themselves from this highly effective and cheap product.

Bubble wrap is also a metaphor, as per the image above. The desire to protect ourselves, our family, and our friends, is a powerful one as the saying:  “Don’t bubble wrap your kids” indicates. I’ve known parents prevent their children from doing all manner of normal play activity in an endeavour to protect them from physical harm. And local government have compounded the matter by overprotecting communities with by-laws. Pool fences come to mind (how on earth did we ever survive without them?), my own children quickly leaerned to conquer pool fences as do many children, nor have they prevented drownings. In one classic case of beaurocratic madness one family I knew were ordered to put in a pool fence around their new pool, which was not far from the farm damn, and also near the river, anyway, you get my drift.

But there are all sorts of overprotection, emotional, mental, physical. In my work, I encounter parents who overprotect around grief issues, as if not talking about death will make it go away and their children will not be upset!

I might be good to bubble wrap and ornament to send overseas, but it is counter-productive to bubble wrap people. Psychologists can now show that overprotecting our children can cause anxiety, can erode self-esteem, and in some cases can result in anorexia. Just some of the results of over-protecting. and like its plastic counterpart, the psychological bubble wrap will be difficult to abandon for some.

Psychotherapist Michael Ungar Overprotection Leads to Psychological Damage has written on the dangers of overprotecting children. One of his main points is that we actually neglect our children when we prevent them from experiencing risk, we do them a disservice in preventing them learning to face problems. Australian advocate for children at play Maggie Dent, has long pushed for play grounds that are real (like they used to be). One school in Perth has reintroduced tree trunks as climbing aparatus, a major step away from the culture of overprotection.

In 2009 journalist Lenore Skenazy coined the phrase “free range kids” following the liberating experience of giving her daughter more freedom in public, and on her own at the age of nine. www.freerangekids.com

I find it refreshing that there are parents and individuals willing to confront the bubble wrap parenting methodology. But we are on notice as adults, do we overprotect ourselves, are we so risk averse that we will no longer “have a go?” And are we guilty of squashing our inner child? We need more free range adults too!

Paul,

pvcann.com

15 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

Tend

via Daily Prompt: Tend

In the world around me the feedback loop is consistent: “I’m stressed, I’m frazzled, I’m bogged down in work, I can’t see a way through, I’m worried.” Anxiety, according to a multiplicity of studies across the western nations, is on the rise, and across age groups. I have friends who are afraid to take time off work for legitimate reasons lest they lose their job (which is unlikely), while other friends are reluctant to address work issues – they don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to risk their reputation, they don’t even stand up for themselves let alone other people. It’s almost like we’ve become servile, frightened people. In looking at it from a different perspective, people are overloaded and weighed down by work, responsibilities, and relationship difficulties.

Perhaps I sound simplistic, but my concern is that we don’t tend ourselves enough! Or, perhaps more accurately, we don’t tend to ourselves appropriately. We read about mindfulness, contemplative lifestyles, minimal living, self-care, but when do we actually put it into practice? My concern is that mindfulness is currently the most written about topic and yet is the least practiced way. Sure, we might go to yoga now and again, take the odd walk, meditate periodically, take the occasional break, but we are inconsistent, and lacking commitment to go the distance (which in fact equates to lack of commitment to self). And we suffer for it, we live in an imbalance.

Without mindfulness we are more vulnerable to the ills we read about, depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth and so on. Mindfulness is not a cure all, but if approached and lived in conjunction with healthy living and a balanced diet, then it is going to make a positive contribution to our overall health. Which is a reminder that there is no one way or silver bullet solution, we need a balanced life to survive.

Tending self is about taking breaks, going on holidays, exercising, spending quality time with family and friends, meditating, reflecting, and just getting down to being. Tending self is not about a singualr focus on the self, it is really a focus on relationships (which means a relationship with nature too) and health. Is it selfish to tend to self – well yes, but in a positive way. The word selfish has had some really bad press over the years, but to be selfish is to really look after oneself, not to exclusively self-indulge, but to care for oneself as one has need. If we are to flourish we need to nurture ourselves. Sometimes I think we need to be a little more selfish and tend to self, only then can we tend to others and the world.

A Senryu

Toast while driving
narrowly missing the turn
late for mindfulness

©Paul

pvcann.com

 

 

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Filed under community, life, meditation, mindfulness, nature, Senryu, Spirituality

Seeking Asylum (Part 4) How Many Come?

The way the Australian media report on refugees or asylum seekers is either by overstatement or the opposite, silence. But then you would only have to look at who owns the media to work that out, as Australian media is (with the exception of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and SBS) privately owned with bias towards the ownership (which is to be expected). However, you would think that journalism might actually be journalism and question government and anti-refugee rhetoric. There is precious little reporting in the mainstream commercial media that challenges the lies and myths surrounding those seeking asylum.

According to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (2012 data) “23,000 persons per day leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere – more than the total number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia in a year.” http://www.asrc.org.au

According to the UNHCR: 

As at December 2012 there were 45.2 million people displaced. of which there were 15.4 million refugees, of which there were 10.5 million (with 4.9 million Palestinians under UNRWA mandate) refugees in 2012. Of that number 1,638,500 were being hosted by Pakistan, 868,200 hosted by Iran, 589,700 hosted by Germany, 564,900 hosted by Kenya, 476,500 hosted by Syria, and 376,400 by Ethiopia.

Developing countries  hosted over 80% of the world’s refugees (compared to 70% ten years ago).

Pakistan hosted the highest number of refugees compared to its national economy – 552 refugees per 1 USD of GDP. Ethiopia was second (303), Kenya third (301), South Sudan fourth (209). Germany was the first developed country on the ranking placing it 31st, with 15 refugees per 1 USD of GDP. Australia hosted 0.7 refugees per USD of GDP ranking it 77th in the world!

Australia’s World Ranking by:

  • Total number of asylum claims 20th.
  • Compared to our population size (per capita) 29th
  • By hosting 77th
  • Compared to our national wealth GDP (PPP) per capita 52nd

Australia’s Ranking of 44 Industrialised Countries (2012):

  • by total number of asylum claims 12th
  • compared to our population size (per capita) 16th
  • compared to our national wealth GDP (PPP) per capita 14th

Note: PPP is purchasing power parity.

By asylum applications received in 2012:

  • Asylum applications received in 2012 out of a global total of 2 million applications globally was 29,610. Australia’s share – 1.47%; Australia’s ranking 20th.
  • Asylum seekers recognised as refugees in 2012 globally 1.3 million. Australia’s recognition 8,367. Australia’s share – 0.61%; Australia’s ranking 28th.

For further statistical resource see:

http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends/2012-GlobalTrends-annex-tables.zip

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/r/stat-int.php

Although New Zealand (pop. 4.3 million; Australia 22.2 million) only takes small numbers of asylum seekers under the quota system (750 per annum – plus/minus 10%) and although in 2011/2012 there were 364 extra claims from others who arrived in New Zealand by various means, only 115 were validated, it is the way they handle it. For a small nation they have a very healthy attitude to reception, processing, and the integration of asylum seekers. It certainly puts Australia’s attitude and policy(s) in a poor light despite population difference.

So, whether we look at our ranking within the industrialised nations, or globally across all nations, or wether we look at per capita (thus in relative context) Australia is woeful at taking in refugees.

A correlative is migration (another sticking point in Australian politics). A recent article at blogs.worldbank.org “Can I get the bill, please? Are immigrants a burden or net contributors to the public purse?” by Jean christophe Dumont and Thomas Liebig asks a number of questions about migration. One significant question is “the current doxa about the fiscal impact of migration is indeed that immigrants contribute less in taxes than they receive in benefits …” It is an expectation an unfounded attitude but not a reality. the converse is also true as the article explores the question as to whether immigrants are a fiscal panacea, and they are not. However, the authors contend that immigrants are neither a burden nor a panacea, but rather that “immigrants have a positive net direct fiscal position in most countries …” in other words, they are not a drain on any society.

The official immigration impact on OECD countries, including Australia is negligible when considered over a period of fifty years of migration study, to the point that the fiscal impact is “close to zero, rarely exceeding 0.5% of GDP …”

The subject of asylum seekers also raises the doxa of negative fiscal impact but that is also not true. In Australia refugees cannot access Centrelink, do not get public housing, rarely are able to get transitional housing, a limited number are able to get the Red Cross Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (which is 89% of the New Start Scheme) for a short period of time. Refugees face higher rates of homelessness than other groups in Australia. Until a visa is granted they cannot access Medicare. They receive less than what it costs to pay rent and buy food let alone pay up-front for medical and dental costs.

There are many other myths surrounding asylum seekers. We need detention centres: well between 1948 – 1992 we successfully resettled 452,000 refugees, all processed directly within the community. There were no detention centres then and we more than coped. We must protect our borders: we do and have always done so, refugees by boat have always been checked and scrutinised no one is at risk in Australia from a boat arrival in spite of the government or media rhetoric (manufactured moral panic?)!

So, we are not being overrun, or flooded by refugees. We are not at risk. We take the least of many of our fellow industrialised nations. We are way behind developing nations in accepting refugees. They are neither a major drain on our economy nor a panacea (using the immigration ideal which is not radically different) as they have limited access to welfare or assistance.

So I’m wondering what the problem is?

I personally believe that it has a lot to do with the development of the nation and our beliefs about the ‘other’ the foreigner. With the reaction to the Chinese on the Victorian goldfields (1851), the fear of a Russian invasion (1885), the framing of the constitution to deliberately exclude non-whites and restrict non-english speaking peoples (Section 51, sub-sections 26 – 30), the treatment of German people during World War One, the riot in Kalgoorlie in 1934 against Italian migrants, the Imperial attitude to race and culture, all of these and more are contributing factors to an anxiety about the foreigner in Australia today.

I believe that the current fear is, as a direct result of ignorance, a fear of Islamic people, beliefs and culture (White Australia Policy again). Which is not dissimilar to how people reacted to the Chinese and the Germans and Italians in the past.

In addition, it has become popular in political circles to utilise this anxiety for political gain, so that people have become politicised and therefore dehumanised. There is a worrying connection with the insights of Georgio Agamben in his work ‘Homo Sacer’  and earlier, Hannah Arendt’s ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ which demonstrate how easy it is to create scapegoats, and to dehumanise and demonise a race or culture for political gain.

We are not overrun, we are not inundated, we would not be financially burdened in the extreme (especially if we used an integration process rather than a detention process – which is costing us dearly), so it must be (irrational) fear.

Only this past week, the U.N. has reprimanded Australia for reneging on its U.N. treaty obligations in regard to 46 refugees. We have descended from a nation of foreigners (excepting the indigenous Aboriginal peoples),risen to a nation that welcomed some foreigners after both World Wars, and then plummeted to a nation that resists foreigners. We have lost sight of our responsibilities as a nation on the world scene. We have lost our compassion in regard to asylum seekers. We are surely hypocritical to be sitting on the U.N. Security Council, sitting making decisions that affect other nations, sitting in judgement of other nations as we seek to reinforce U.N. treaties and conventions!

It is entirely possible to change this. Education about asylum seekers at all levels from school to parliament would help to restore a positive understanding of their plight and our responsibility to them, and the possibility of  their positive participation in our nation. To deconstruct the myths and distortions would help to re-humanise those who come to our shores by whatever means.

We need a new way forward on asylum seekers and refugees, one that will see them as people with inalienable rights, but also to see them as future Australians.

See:

epress.anu.edu.au/cw/mobile_devices/ch13s05.html  (chapter on the ‘White Australia Policy)

http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org  (reference to fear Russian  ship visiting Sydney)

“In Fear of Security: Australia’s Invasion Anxiety” Dr. Anthony Burke 2001

“U.N. castigates Australia for treatment of 46 refugees” Reuters, Geneva 22.8.2013

http://www.immigration.govt.nz  (refugee fact sheet)

Hannah Arendt ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich  1973

Georgio Agamben ‘Homo Sacer’ Stanford University Press, 1998

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