Are we are minds?

Or are we our bodies?

We cannot be both because our bodies are limited and our minds are endless.

How we deal with that mind/body disconnect is the biggest conflict of our existence but, sadly, many of us never realize that struggle or recognize our need to confront the mortal and the immortal within us.

Then there are bright examples of this human conflict that, for a moment only, shakes everyone from their core and into the realization that we are all broken and we are all sheared into inequal halves and that life is only precious when it is threatens the who of what we are.

Terri Shiavo was a touchstone moment for this duality of living and now, so too, is the life of Ashley.

The bedridden 9-year-old girl had her uterus and breast tissue removed at a Seattle hospital and received large doses of hormones to halt her growth.

She is now 4-foot-5; her parents say she would otherwise probably reach a normal 5-foot-6. … Shortly after birth, Ashley had feeding problems and showed severe developmental delays. Her doctors diagnosed static encephalopathy, which means severe brain damage.

They do not know what caused it. Her condition has left her in an infant state, unable to sit up, roll over, hold a toy or walk or talk. Her parents say she will never get better. She is alert, startles easily, and smiles, but does not maintain eye contact, according to her parents, who call the brown-haired little girl their “pillow angel.” … She had surgery in July 2004 and recently completed the hormone treatment. She weighs about 65 pounds, and is about 13 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than she would be as an adult, according to her parents’ blog.

Ashley’s parents claim the reason they are keeping her body infantilized is for her own good and not their own selfish needs:

We hope that by now it is clear that the “Ashley Treatment” is about improving Ashley’s quality of life and not about convenience to her caregivers.

Ashley’s biggest challenge is discomfort and boredom and the “Ashley Treatment” goes straight to the heart of this challenge.

It is common for Ashley to be uncomfortable or to be bored. Even though Ashley’s level of tolerance has increased along the years, she is helpless when bothered and her only recourse is to cry until someone comes to her rescue.

These episodes are triggered by something as simple as sliding off the pillow or a hair landing on her face and tickling/bothering her, let alone menstrual cramps, adult-level bed sores, and discomfort caused by large breasts.

The purpose of medicine is to interfere and to heal or to make better the devastating natural progression of nature and it is our jobs as cogent human beings to realize that, by design, not all life is sacred or precious or deserving of continuation.

We make hard decisions each day about the quality of our lives and the lives of those who are unable to care for their own being.

I am in full support of Ashley’s parents. Their decision to freeze her in time in an infantilized state where her body will now not outgrow the limits of her mind is the most loving and respectful decision that could be made in this difficult case and they also help to try to avoid the overt and uncontrollable sexualization of a body that can never be conceived by the mind even though her body could have conceived without her mind.

We are not our bodies; we are our minds — the proof of that hard fact is found in the necessary dissection of a maturing body from an infantile mind and the medical restoration of Ashley’s everlasting childhood.

70 Comments

  1. … it is our jobs as cogent human beings to realize that, by design, not all life is sacred or precious or deserving of continuation.

    I don’t really have an opinion on The Pillow Angel case. Maybe keeping the child’s weight down will help to keep her comfortable and free from bedsores. Maybe it is the best thing for the child.
    However, I worry about our “throw away” society where life is viewed as being cheap and doesn’t deserve respect. Too many kids in the urban core grow up thinking that there is no future for them and that life is short and filled with brutality.
    Cheap life that can be ended at a whim leads to places where life is expendible. Living in Northwest Indiana is a constant reminder that there are plenty of people who don’t take human life seriously. The urban core in our area competes with the worst of the worst when it comes to crime figures. A lot of it has to do with a lack of respect for fellow human beings.
    The “Culture of Cheap Life” even allegedly leads leaders of society to resort to violence when they don’t get their way, as reported by the local media.

    Nichole Banham claims this is just the latest in a string of attacks on the part of her husband.
    “You can just like see the rage on his face. And we thought we were gonna die because we were being attacked by like an Army vehicle,” Nichole Banham said of the day she was allegedly chased by her soon-to-be ex-husband.
    He is the principal of Calumet High School, now facing criminal charges for allegedly shooting at and hitting the car his wife was riding in Dec. 29 while they were driving down busy streets.
    “Boom he rams us. We’re just like, ‘oh my God, we’ve been hit.’ And so we’re driving and he’s just ramming us, and we’re hearing gunshots. And I seen the barrel of the gun come out of the driver’s side window,” Nichole Banham said.

    Source: CBS2Chicago. See also the Post-Tribune.
    We need to teach people to respect all life so that we don’t become victims of a “Mad Max” society where the strong prey on the weak for personal or monetary gain.

  2. I am so glad you have decided to discuss this – it has attracted considerable media and news coverage in the UK over the last few days.
    In the UK the decision would have to be made by the courts, with a government appointed solicitor representing the child (Court of Protection) and the process would be very different than in the USA. All kinds of organisations have jumped on the bandwagon and attached their own hobby horses to the debate which has lead to it being sidetracked from the core issues.
    I feel that the doctors and parents have in this case made a compassionate decision with a considerable amount of common sense and a great deal of respect not only for Ashley, but for her parents and future carers.

  3. Hi David,
    I’m in support of the parents as long as what they are doing is the best possible care for their child. It sounds like they are caring parents who are dedicated to taking care of their child.
    It all depends upon the intent of the parents.
    If “stage parents” wanted to stunt a child’s growth to keep their little star cute, adorable and to avoid the awkward teenage years, I would be opposed to any efforts to freeze a child in time.

  4. Hi Nicola!
    Thanks for expressing your interest in this topic yesterday. It’s getting a lot of play in the USA as well but I wasn’t certain if the matter would have enough appeal for a post. After writing it I think it fits here quite well and I thank you for the inspiration and the pointers!
    How do you think this would have played out in the UK? Would the surgeries have been performed? Would the courts take away the parental rights and raise the child in an institution?
    I agree the doctors and the parents have made a hard and intellectual decision about Ashley and they did not embed false morality or politics in their process to fix the problem. They focused on the needs of their child and didn’t let emotion ruin their desire to provide Ashley the best possible life that medicine could give her after nature failed her.

  5. Hi Chris —
    I agree this is a difficult topic. Young male soprano singers were castrated in antiquity to they could retain their glorious voices and continue to provide for their families.
    There are some who argue that intervention of this sort in Ashley’s life is interfering with the intention of God.
    I would argue that 100 years ago Ashley would not have lived as along as she has.
    So did God change or did science?

  6. Science has changed and advanced. God just gave us the free will to make scientific discoveries and to use them for good or for bad.
    I think I read that Ashley’s life span won’t be decreased by the medical treatments. That’s a factor that works in favor of the treatment.
    I wonder if we’ll see a day where parents wish to create “frozen children” who will always remain cute and childlike and never adolescent and surly?

  7. Hi David,
    It all goes back to free will.
    God gave us science to use as we see fit. God also gave us the mandates to love each other and to take care of the earth.
    We are free to destroy the world or each other with science — that’s where free will comes into play.
    Of course, if we ruin the earth we will have to suffer the consequences for our actions.

  8. Hi David,
    She has free will within the scope of her abilities.
    Free will is often dependent upon the means to carry out that free will. For example, Genghis Khan did pretty well for himself limited to horsepower for movement, but might have been limited in carrying out the full extent of his free will because of technological limitations.
    Ashley has free will — just as all children do. It just functions within the constraints of their abilities.

  9. In the UK it would have gone all the way through the court system , family court, high court, court of appeal and then to the House of Lords.
    Social services would have been involved , along with the Health Service, as well as lawyers for the parents and the Official Solicitor/ Court of Protection for the child. There would probably be six different sets of lawyers and barristers involved.
    A legal precedent would almost certainly have been set.
    I suspect that the cost of keeping the child alive and comfortable and cared for would have had far greater significance , as the care provided would come out of the public purse along with any social support the family was receiving.
    We already have situations in this country where mentally handicapped teenagers are sterilized to avoid pregnancy.
    I think they would have come to the same decision – but would have taken a lot longer to reach that decision and cost the tax payer considerably more – and possibly negated some of the advantages of the treatment in the process by the delay.
    What is also interesting and relevent to this is the call by some doctors in this country not to prolong the life of seriously ill babies/or very premature babies for whom the prognosis for a full and active life is poor.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4848698.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6149464.stm
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-2455909.html
    http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/go/ourwork/prolonginglife/publication_406.html
    (Has link to full report in PDF format)
    It seems to me that our ethical standards need to catch up with our medical standards.

  10. Thanks for that great detail, Nicola!

    We already have situations in this country where mentally handicapped teenagers are sterilized to avoid pregnancy.

    Wow! Is this a matter of normal practice or is each sterilization fought out in the courts?
    I think science has, in many ways, gone much too far in trying to save every single life that is born into the world while not seeming to care as much for tending salvageable lives in the womb.
    Some live births were never meant to happen beyond a few hours of life and we need to reconcile the need to Save-at-all-Costs against the greater need of thriving and supporting the community through deeds and intellect.
    Dog The Bounty Hunter is a big TV show in the USA —
    http://www.aetv.com/dog_the_bounty_hunter/index.jsp
    — and he has many children and had a hard life in prison and on drugs. He is also a Big Believer in God and in Saving those he arrests.
    He told a story on one show that when one of his sons was born long ago the baby was in bad shape. The hospital was fighting to save his life. Dog went in to visit the baby and it was crying and crying and then one of the nurses put a needle into the baby’s arm and the baby stopped crying and started to “smile” in relief.
    Dog asked the nurse, “Why did my baby smile and stop crying when you put the needle in his arm?”
    The nurse said, “Because the only thing his body knows is pain. When he feels pain he feels better.”
    Dog told her to stop all efforts at saving his baby. He told them to withdraw all means of ultra-life support and let the baby live or die on his own.
    The baby died later that night. Dog claims it was God’s will that the baby was meant to die and that to artificially give the baby life with science and technology was to only create suffering where none was meant to be and to go against the natural flow of life.

  11. Thanks for that great detail, Nicola!

    We already have situations in this country where mentally handicapped teenagers are sterilized to avoid pregnancy.

    Wow! Is this a matter of normal practice or is each sterilization fought out in the courts?
    I think science has, in many ways, gone much too far in trying to save every single life that is born into the world while not seeming to care as much for tending salvageable lives in the womb.
    Some live births were never meant to happen beyond a few hours of life and we need to reconcile the need to Save-at-all-Costs against the greater need of thriving and supporting the community through deeds and intellect.
    Dog The Bounty Hunter is a big TV show in the USA —
    http://www.aetv.com/dog_the_bounty_hunter/index.jsp
    — and he has many children and had a hard life in prison and on drugs. He is also a Big Believer in God and in Saving those he arrests.
    He told a story on one show that when one of his sons was born long ago the baby was in bad shape. The hospital was fighting to save his life. Dog went in to visit the baby and it was crying and crying and then one of the nurses put a needle into the baby’s arm and the baby stopped crying and started to “smile” in relief.
    Dog asked the nurse, “Why did my baby smile and stop crying when you put the needle in his arm?”
    The nurse said, “Because the only thing his body knows is pain. When he feels pain he feels better.”
    Dog told her to stop all efforts at saving his baby. He told them to withdraw all means of ultra-life support and let the baby live or die on his own.
    The baby died later that night. Dog claims it was God’s will that the baby was meant to die and that to artificially give the baby life with science and technology was to only create suffering where none was meant to be and to go against the natural flow of life.

  12. Hi David,
    Ashley might not be able to act upon her free will because of her brain damage, but she does has free will within the confines of her disability. Her exercise of free will is different than ours.
    My 14-month old son makes free will choices that are limited by his abilities and his age. He might decide to smile or not smile. He can eat or resist eating certain foods.
    I’m sure Ashley makes free will choices that might not seem significant relative to our experience, but may be significant within the context of her life.

  13. Hi David,
    Ashley might not be able to act upon her free will because of her brain damage, but she does has free will within the confines of her disability. Her exercise of free will is different than ours.
    My 14-month old son makes free will choices that are limited by his abilities and his age. He might decide to smile or not smile. He can eat or resist eating certain foods.
    I’m sure Ashley makes free will choices that might not seem significant relative to our experience, but may be significant within the context of her life.

  14. Chris —
    I’m not sure I’m following how a person in a persistent vegetative state is able to express free will. Isn’t free will of the mind and not of the body?
    Do you believe Terri Schiavo was able to act or in any way express her free will near the end of her life? If you do, what is your evidence other than your belief?

  15. Chris —
    I’m not sure I’m following how a person in a persistent vegetative state is able to express free will. Isn’t free will of the mind and not of the body?
    Do you believe Terri Schiavo was able to act or in any way express her free will near the end of her life? If you do, what is your evidence other than your belief?

  16. WOW!
    It’s shades of Rosemary Kennedy but in a publicly sponsored manner:

    We went through the top of the head, I think she was awake. She had a mild tranquilizer. I made a surgical incision in the brain through the skull. It was near the front. It was on both sides. We just made a small incision, no more than an inch.” The instrument Dr. Watts used looked like a butter knife. He swung it up and down to cut brain tissue. “We put an instrument inside,” he said. As Dr. Watts cut, Dr. Freeman put questions to Rosemary. For example, he asked her to recite the Lord’s Prayer or sing “God Bless America” or count backwards. … “We made an estimate on how far to cut based on how she responded.” … When she began to become incoherent, they stopped.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Kennedy

  17. Hi David,
    I don’t have the evidence in front of me and I’m not a medical doctor, so I can’t perform an armchair diagnosis on someone from far away.
    I’d like to say that humans should make decisions to feed people, but I know that as there are more and more elderly people, decisions will be made to withhold certain (maybe all) treatments in the interest of saving money.
    I hope the idea of free will doesn’t come into play when decisions are made regarding non-heroic life sustaining treatments, because not every living human being can be said to alway be able to exercise their free will.
    If you are held prisoner in a “Supermax” facility where all of your decisions are made for you by the state, then your ability to exercise free will is limited. Or, if the state declares you an “enemy combatant” and spirits you off to a ship anchored in the Atlantic Ocean, your free will has effectively ended. Can someone who is addicted to painkillers to the point that they hallucinate and think the government is out to get them be said to be able to exercise free will? Did Saddam have free will once he was handed over to the Iraqis?
    None of these people had free will at certain points in their lives.
    The concept of free will remains constant. Just as there is free speech and other rights that exist.
    What changes is ones ability to practice same.
    Since humankind has a tendency to restrict people’s rights to free will, I hope that isn’t the test to determine someone’s worth.

  18. I 100% support Ashley’s parents’ decision to freeze her growth.
    It would be extremely trouble some for Ashley to become a full grown adult physically and physiologically without proper mental growth and the ability to synchronize the demand of body and mind independently.

  19. Chris —
    Free will requires the ability to think and reason and severely mentally disabled people like Terri Schiavo and Ashley do not have free will and you don’t need to know anything more than their inability to process thoughts to understand their minds are broken even though their bodies live.
    One “practices” free will, right? It isn’t something inanimate or passive, correct? If free will required no thought-of-action on our part then it wouldn’t be free will it would be passive, blind, obedience.

  20. Hi David,
    If I stipulate that Terri Schivo and Ashley don’t have free will for the sake of the argument, what does that mean?
    Here’s another question:
    When the baby boomers start suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, do they lose free will?
    Did Rosemary Kennedy lose her free will when the doctors cut into her brain?

  21. To help clear up the arguments, when I refer to free will, I’m referring to an innate human ability make choices — even if they are very minimal, such as making a choice to smile or cry or do any particular action.

    The concept of free will can be traced to the Book of Genesis and to ancient Greece and Socrates who advised all to “know thyself”. Similarly, Pindar warned us to “choose thyself” and, Shakespeare’s Hamlet opined, “to thine own self be true”. These words clearly suggest that there are reasons to look within ourselves. Zegans (1989) interpreted these reasons as a core self or being, perhaps even a soul, which exists and is the foundation of human action and values.

    Source: Revisiting the Principles of Free Will and Determinism: Exploring Conceptions of Disability and Counseling Theory
    See also:

    Our actions either follow the first appetite that arises in the mind, or there is a series of alternate appetites and fears, which we call deliberation. The last appetite or fear, that which triumphs, we call will.

    Source: Catholic Encyclopedia.
    My threshold for the existence of free will is extremely minimal.

  22. Chris —

    If I stipulate that Terri Schiavo and Ashley don’t have free will for the sake of the argument, what does that mean?

    It means — if I am understanding your position — that God discriminates between people based on their unique ability to comprehend him and to comprehend or not comprehend their surroundings and to actively decide to suppress to express their free will in actions that affect their mind body and others.
    Yes, extreme examples of Dementia and Alzheimer’s require, by medical definition, the loss of free will and individual decision-making ability and that’s when the courts — in the absence of families — take over the everyday life decisions of what are incomprehensible human beings.
    As I understand the end effects of Rosemary Kennedy’s lobotomy she is, effectively, an unthinking vegetable. She can walk. She can move around but she is an automaton and has no understanding of the presence around her. She is the unwilling victim of a botched operation to keep her perceived promiscuity under control by her controlling father who didn’t want any family fortunes lost on bastard Kennedy children.

  23. Chris —

    innate human ability make choices

    Checkmate!
    Terri Schiavo and Ashley have no ability to make choices so they have no free will. Without the ongoing, direct, FREE WILL intervention of others, each would wither and die.

  24. Hi David,
    God, the Devil, and the Angels have free will. That’s why we have the battle of good vs. evil.
    Animals have free will to a certain extent because they can evaluate choices and make decisions.
    Embryos don’t have free will because they don’t have a capacity to think. But, they have the genetic coding that will allow them to grow and develop so that the human (or animal) is able to exercise free will.

  25. Query: If a human loses their ability to exercise free will, should that change their legal status?
    Just as a corporation is considered a person for purposes of the law, and at one time some people were considered to be only 3/5 of a person, should some similar humanity calculation be made based upon economic, productivity, or other factors for people who have been determined to lack a free will?

  26. Chris!
    Free Will is of the mind only. It has nothing to do with restrictive legal definitions for political gain or those who are unproductive by choice.
    Brooke Astor is a shining example of the corruption of free will by another’s malice where, because of manipulation and cruelty, she became acted upon instead of acting for herself after the courts determined she was unable to make cogent free will decisions.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/438056p-369086c.html
    Brooke seems well aware of her terrible situation yet is unable to do anything about it herself because the courts have acted against her free will as well as the free will of others who love her.

  27. Hi David,
    We’ll see more of these stories as the baby boomers get older and begin to outnumber the younger generations. Some will see the elderly as vehicles for riches, rather than as human beings.
    A similarly sad story happened in my area:

    Gary police Sgt. Joshua Wiley, 48, was charged last month with six counts in the case, including fraud on a financial institution, exploitation of an endangered adult and theft.
    Wiley, an 18-year Gary Police Department veteran, gained control of more than $138,000 of Chentnik’s assets, according to the probable cause affidavit.
    Lake County Detective Michelle Weaver learned Chentnik suffered from dementia and senility and was incapable of making decisions. Officials said Wiley admitted Chentnik to a nursing home on April 1, 2004, and never visited her again.
    Over the last four years, Wiley cashed the woman’s pension and Social Security checks, took money from her savings account and forged a quitclaim deed to obtain ownership of her house where he was living, authorities say.

    Source: Louisville Courier-Journal.

  28. Terrible, Chris!
    There must be nothing worse than having Free Will and then realizing you lost it through the law or declining mental health.
    One might even argue those born without the ability to even recognize their independence might be luckier than those who had the will and lost it.

  29. If one is to accept the concept of free will it must be accepted at all levels down to the quantum level, where it was first demonstrated. To think that it is only “free”humans who are “free,” is an extension of the prevailing racist viewpoint. The process of concrescence on the mineral level shows that everything is alive and posesses free will. The mind and body are one. If one ever performs a routine operation, such as opening a combination lock with an “opposite hand,” one will realise the hand thinks. If one has ever heard a master classical musician play, one realises that higher cerebral function exists outside of the central nervous system. It is mostly after Descartes that people saw the mineral level as “dead” and the mind and body as separate. It is politically expedient but scientifically unfounded. Everything is a living speaking “God” and should be regarded as such.

  30. David- Yes!! Ever read P.D.Ouspensky’s “Talk with A Devil?” He shows how the gun makes one shoot the victum as much as the person behind it, actually more. The chocolate cake makes the non-hungry person eat it. We have it all backwards starting to the most fundamental law “gravity.” It is not a pulling together of mass but a pushing from empty space which has massive energy. If there is a God do you think She/He/It would make it all simple and obvious? or un-obvious. It’s not what we get, but what we “throw away.” We were all created by a seed that was “thrown away” then a “fertilised egg” that was thrown away into the womb. War is showing us we have it all backwards where we droped a bomb on Hiroshima because we had it. The bomb was more alive and had more free will than Einstein with all his so called “brains.” Washington warned of a standing army with standing weapons. We have killed “God” and replaced it with mineral on paper that has more free will than all of us. “i was blind but now i see.”

  31. Whatever I understand from the term ‘free will’ is it is a capacity to choose a course of action among various alternatives.
    So, my logic says one needs the power of reasoning to act on free will to his/her best/worst interest; because as I have mentioned before free will is a capacity to choose.
    I am not sure if Ashley has free will and if she has the ‘capacity’ to act on it.

  32. That’s “Talks with a Devil.” and victim not victum. Does anyone think that a slave has less “free will” than his “master?” No, it is just more difficult to express it overtly in the desired way.

  33. fred —
    You make some fascinating claims but I’m not sure you believe them other than for sharing their outrageous value today.
    😀
    To follow what you propose to the next step — that guns kill people and that bombs drop themselves — you would also have to accept that children seek their molestation from predators, murder victims want their deaths and the Kurds had the real power in deciding to get gassed by Saddam.
    To provide so much power in inanimate objects is to entertain the insane: That dogs in the street really told David Berkowitz to shoot all those people at point-blank range with a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver and that J.D. Salinger was the real killer of John Lennon.
    http://www.thegunzone.com/bulldog-pug.html
    There’s an old saying in the theatre: “If you put it on the stage, it must be used.” That’s why people who see Ibsen’s powerful play Hedda Gabler are so unconsciously uncomfortable when they attend the play because that pistol, that magnificent killing machine, stares out at them from the mantle the entire show and glistens in the light until it comes time for the bullet to choose its end.

  34. Query: If a human loses their ability to exercise free will, should that change their legal status?
    It does in the UK – for dementia patients, accident victims etc – either an existing power of attorney has to be ratified by the court ) the process I am going through with my 90 year old mother) – or the court of Protection and the Official Solicitor steps in.

  35. Nicola!
    It’s pretty much the same thing here but much more dangerous. Any family member can reduce another to nothing in the eyes of the law by claiming — with merely a doctor’s judgment — another family member is mentally incapacitated.
    Then free will becomes incarceration in a system from which one cannot easily escape alone.
    There are some jurisdictions where the mere accusation of mental instability — of “Being a Danger to Oneself or Others” — can land that person in a mental institution for a mandatory “three day observation period” from which they cannot move because they are a ward of the state.
    If you have enough money and power, you can render anyone you wish helpless in a system built to protect the majority from perceived minority threats.

  36. No, because ‘free will’ needs the power of reasoning and I think inanimate, brain damaged people are incapable of practicing any kind of logic.

  37. Thank you and no thank you – I don’t agree that my participartion here is an involuntary muscle twitch that forces me to contribute.
    On the other hand I think it’s my capacity of choosing one amongst other alternatives and act on it.

  38. Um…. Katha?

    I don’t agree that my participation here is an involuntary muscle twitch that forces me to contribute.

    Are you aware that I could have you locked in a mental hospital for this sort of blog insubordination?

  39. You seem to have many more safeguards in the process than we do.
    Here most of it is “professional judgment” that can be bought and exchanged for value and even if you can get a writ of habeas corpus filed, it will take you longer than 3 days to get heard in a court of law for remedy.
    Once you’re branded by the system as “insane” it’s easier to “get you in” the next time…

  40. We have an element of that here – once your card has been marked – it is marked and you are flagged up for good – hence all the concerns about the new super computer which will hold everyones health records and how insecure it will be and just how many people will have access to them.

  41. David- Again – Yes!! i know it seems 180 degrees out of phase with “straight western thinking” (See Andrew Weil “Natural Mind” chapters 7-a trip to Stonesville and 6-The topography of straightland.) This eastern view is more viable to me than the western dual Descartian view. i may seem crazy to many, but many seem more than crazy to me backing the “war backed” world. i can hardly believe people feeling that they are disconnected from their environment. To me this is schizophrenia. If one wants to control people the first step is to tell them they are separate from their environment- and all the rest will follow. Ibsen was one of the first westeners to adopt the eastern view and i thank him for it, and his being one of the first males to attempt to bring sanity and the liberation of women and other enslaved people to the western world. The solipsistic view is fundamental with me and ludicrus to the average person with western mentality. There is a lot of truth in Nietzsche’s statement that if there is such a thing as values they are most likely reversed and should be reversed again to get them where they should be. The slave is more free on many important fundamental levels than is his master. As Dylan says “once you have nothing you have nothing to loose.” There is freedom in nothing and slavery in material. “War is good for business- invest your son.” (bumper sticker).

  42. Nicola!
    YIKES! That’s scary stuff. The key is to get marked at any cost.
    Our president just signed a statement that says he has the right to read any of our First Class mail without a warrant.
    I really hope the Democrats challenge all those ridiculous signing statements he’s made over the last six years –- when Bush signs bills into law he has decided he can add his own statement to the bill that overrules the congressional bill if he sees fit –- He is the self-proclaimed “Decider” remember! — because of “Executive Privilege” which basically means he can say, “I don’t accept this bill” and pretend it never was signed into law.
    Bush prefers this method to a straight veto because the congress can override a veto but signing statements are nothing in the law and are only around because Bush claims he has the power to invent the power and enforce them as the representative of the Executive branch.
    I believe Republican scion Senator Arlen Specter — a fine man and a great mind — is planning on introducing legislation that will outlaw all presidential signing statements. Now that would be grand and fitting!

  43. It’s just all so awful, Nicola. The president already has the right to open any mail that he feels reasonably endangers national security.
    This recent added “decision” isn’t based in anything other than, “I want to and I will” and it makes one wonder just what he’s looking for in our private correspondence.