Indigenous People’s Day vs. Columbus Day vs. Porn Addiction Education

In Maine, today is no longer known as Columbus Day. The governor signed a law stating that we are now celebrating Indigenous People’s Day. Those who wanted the holiday renamed said that it celebrated a man who did far more harm than good to the native people of the Americas.

I read an article the other day featuring voices of several people who didn’t like the name change. They couldn’t really speak to the criticism of Columbus, just that they don’t want to change it.

They seemed like the kind of people who were also against wishing people Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas or who get upset when you want to change a high school football team’s mascot because it offends the group it is meant to represent.

I find it hard to figure out why any other white guy like me would really care, or demand to keep things the way they are.

Does it matter what they tell you when you leave Wal-Mart in December, really? Will you stop cheering for, or rooting against, a certain team because their mascot changes? Do you really worry that the next generation won’t understand the history of the confederacy without statues?

I think the other guys care as much as I do, as to say that they don’t specifically care at all because it isn’t about a greeting or history lesson. I think they make a stink about these things because it’s change, and it’s change that favors the opinion of someone who doesn’t look like them nor shares a common background. You could call this racist but…nothing. It’s fucking racist. It’s the very definition.

But as someone who has probably silently supported these traditional standards, I think it’s important I take a moment to recognize that there are people who care and who are offended for deep personal and cultural reasons.

If it genuinely bothers you that the Redskins are the local football team or that a Robert E. Lee monument sits at the front of your library, well then I say to you…sorry. I didn’t know it bothered you, but I listened to your rational, well explained reasons. Let’s try to make the community more inclusive. Let’s change it.

You can wish me a Happy Hanukkah. I’m not Jewish, but whatever. If you confuse me as being Jewish, again, whatever. Give me an old Merry Christmas, or Super Fun Kwanza or say Happy Holidays. It’s all good.


Bringing this back to porn addiction…

I think fear of change (in this case, our long history of silence and ignoring the problem) is the reason nobody wants to talk about pornography, or the hellish addiction it’s currently bestowing upon the young adults in our society. If we talk about porn addiction, we have to admit that people look at porn and that it can lead to problems. It’s still too much to stomach for many people.

Do you know what offends me? When a podcast about solving problems in marriage asks for pitches from potential guests and I drop several statistics on them that show porn is a growing issue in marriages, but get a response saying that their show doesn’t think it’s the right time, or it’s the wrong direction, to talk about pornography addiction. Right, let’s talk about more important issues, like painting vs. wallpapering.

It offends me when a library or church group books me to give a presentation about pornography addiction and then someone on the board of trustees or parish council or whatever decides it’s not a good idea because I’m talking about solutions to a substance…that personally offends them! I’ve heard everything from “We’re afraid people who attend will be mistakenly labeled as addicts” to “If we hold this presentation, certain people may believe we are promoting the use of pornography.”

Sure, maybe the morons will think you’re promoting pornography, but that’s why they are morons. We can’t let our standard be that we tailor our message to the morons in society or we have a moronic society.

And yeah, I guess I’m not offended about people’s willful ignorance or shunning of pornography addiction, but I’m scared. I know more data than most researchers about pornography addiction. I’ve seen the depths of its depravity within myself, I’ve contemplated the horrors of it from a jail cell and I pulled myself out of it – but I’ve also seen for every one of me, there are exponentially more that don’t recover for a number of reasons, and how society treats them, when they even acknowledge them at all.

I am scared of a changing world where 1/3rd of men between 18 and 30 label themselves as having a problem with pornography. I’m scared of a world where 80% of female porn addiction addicts take their addiction off the computer screen and actually engage in real-life sexual encounters. I’m scared of a world where 98% of married men and 70% of married women looked at online porn in the last 6 months. In 2010, 47% of American households said porn is currently or was a problem in their home at some point. Do you really think that scary number has gone down in a decade?


Wrapping things up…

I think the problem comes down to the fact too many in this country look to the people around them to know how to think and feel about things. Have you ever tried to have a rational conversation with somebody who can only spit the liberal talking points they heard on MSNBC or the conservative talking points they heard of Fox News back at you? When you present them with a counterargument, they get flustered and often result to name calling and attacking the other side. As a guy who is in neither group, I’ve got to tell both of you…you look and sound exactly the same to me. It’s a shame you can’t see it.

Saying or thinking the phrase “porn addiction education” doesn’t make you an addict, nor someone condones pornography. Having a problem with porn addiction education is about having a problem with something else entirely.

Let’s get these indigenous people who despise Columbus in a room with people who really believe that the world is going to be worse off by not recognizing Christopher Columbus and have them explain their beliefs to one another with no bullet points from their political silos. Let me talk to these people who preach “open dialogue” so I can find out what their real issues with pornography addiction education is and why that doesn’t meet the criteria for such dialogue.

Our country is divided because we don’t talk about our differences and solve our problems collectively. We’re wasting too much time doing this while our problems and differences continue to multiply.

Happy Indigenous People’s Day. Try not to look at any porn.


Progress and Evolution Always Win, Even When it Comes to Your Addiction

I was flipping through the news/political channels on the TV this morning and a rush of thoughts came to me, and of course because of who I am, I started overanalyzing them in terms of addiction.

As you may know, I stay away from the news as much as possible these days and my political leanings are dead center. I’d be a registered Libertarian if I ever decided to vote.

Conservatives really don’t want things to change, or at least want them to change at a much slower rate than they ever do. Liberals want things to change today, right now. It occurred to me that in the end, the liberals will always win not because they are correct in their beliefs, but simply because time marches on. Given enough time, slaves are freed, women get the vote and homosexuals are allowed to get married. It’s not even that the liberals win. It’s that progress wins because progress is just time measured by milestones.

In nature, it’s a similar game called evolution. The strong survive and the weak – even if they are monster lizards who roamed the Earth for millions of years – eventually disappear. And even those who in the strongest category die because everything living dies eventually. You can’t slow evolution, even if you’re one of the people who refuses to believe in it. Evolution doesn’t care.

Thinking about progress and evolution made me think of some of the people I met in rehab. While I went once for alcoholism and another for porn/sex addiction, I look at them as two completely different successful experiences. Many of the people I got to know had nothing close to that success record.

There was one guy who must have been about 22. He was handsome, a bit of a jock and a genuinely sweet guy. He was at rehab for the eighth time. The guy he was roommates with, who was very similar, except he wasn’t a sweet guy, was in rehab for his 10th time. Both just couldn’t kick their heroin addiction and both went because they were told repeatedly they’d get cut off financially if they didn’t attend.

Today, more than four years later, one of them seems to be thriving as an EMT. The other has been dead for two years. You can’t tell which one is which based on my description I bet. I wouldn’t have been able to tell who would be successful and who would succumb.

The guy who worked for the rehab and lived at the small motel-like property that I was stationed at in my first stint was probably in his late 20s. He went to rehab 14 times, but for some reason, that 15th time did the trick. Except for the first two times, all of them were ordered by a judge between his short stints in jail or on probation. When I checked up on him a year ago, he’s still sober and working at a ranch that focuses on recovery somewhere in the Dakotas or Montana.

I can run through a motley crew of characters – there’s the 50-year-old former Hells’ Angel and his 18-year-old girlfriend who was pregnant and couldn’t kick her heroin habit; he was hiding out in rehab from the law and wanted to get her straight before the baby was born, or the beautiful former major-market newscaster who relapsed three times in the two weeks I knew her before deciding rehab wasn’t for her – and unfortunately with most of these people I have no idea what happened.

These people are either healthy, dead, or much, much worse off if they happen to still be alive. Yes, most of them had drug-related issues, but I’ve followed up with some of my friends who had eating disorders, sex or gambling addictions and everybody seems to have similar stories.

My point is that there’s a shelf life for an addict. They’ve abused themselves for years and always get away with it. A life continuing to go down the toilet? Ironically, that’s called progress. They’ve tried to be conservative and keep things as they are with their use, but progress escalates things. Progress never lets things stay the same. If they’ve tried to quit immediately, it’s almost always a failure because they immediately demand too much from their mental or physical health in too short a time, almost like a liberal mindset.

Then there are those who are much worse off if they still happen to be alive. They’ll either eventually see the light and walk the long, grueling path to recovery. Those who don’t will die. That’s just evolution.

The message to me was that you keep going to rehab, or at least seeking help, until you get it right because the alternative shouldn’t be anybody’s alternative. If you aren’t one of those people who can stop on your own, get the professional help from people who know how to help and what speed. Recovery is like a dimmer switch, it can go brighter or darker, but it doesn’t just turn on or off. Professional help are the electricians who can try to help before you short circuit yourself to an early grave.

Progress and evolution – they are forces of nature. We have to work with, not against, them.