Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, August 24, 2007

"God's Warriors" have no faith

CNN's Christiane Amanpour did a sensational three-part, six hour documentary, "God's Warriors," on religious fundamentalists - Christian, Muslim and Jewish - who have declared war on the world - or at least some parts of it.

It occurred to me that as I watched these angry, vicious and desperate peoples fight to change the world to suit their philosophy or to force people to behave as they wish, that none of them had any real faith.

They apparently think that God or Allah is so weak and incapable of running the show, that rather than surrender to the universal commandments, tenants and philosophies of any great religion, these self-proclaimed warriors take matters into their own hands, see things in only a humanistic way and take physical action to harm or kill their avowed enemies.

An eye for an eye, never turn the other cheek. Wait, aren't both philosophies written in sacred books? I suppose it comes down to what you want to believe and practice.

Each group works from a core not of faith but of fear.

Fear and love cannot exist at the same moment. This fear is fomented with the perception of the world that, in their minds, insults - hurts - their sensibility. The primary feeling of fear, coupled with hurt, can develop into the secondary emotion of anger.

Fear, hurt and anger is what I saw over and over again in the series. Where is their true spirituality?

Where is any relationship at all to God and spirit.

It felt like the people fighting in the name of God or Allah - the vast, vast majority of whom are men - do not represent God at all. It all seems to be lip service - say the words, have no emotional, personal or real connection with what they're saying.

Finally, it hit me: they're not God's Warriors at all, they're My Own Religious Domination Warriors. They call themselves God's Warriors to rationalize their brutality, greed and psychotic need to dominate.

When I write my scripts, I am aware of each character's spiritual and material sides. Without a balance of both, the character will be lonely, addictive, suffer and/or die.

George Bush says God made him president because, he says, God wants the world to live in an American-type freedom, and to do this he is sending soldiers to commit a near-suicide mission to force Iraqi's to live that way. Well, in Iraq there are the Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis, each of whom may want to split up the country and NOT live in a democracy.

In fact, Islam is not as much a religion to fundamentalists as it is considered a nation. The Muslim religion=the Muslim nation, and fundamentalists want everyone to live the way they dictate. As in, there was no mention of women covering their heads or their bodies in the Koran - those are all "modern" rules declared by men who want to keep women subservient to men in the culture.

So of course their goal is to have the fundamentalist Muslim nation include the entire world, with women everywhere subsurvient to men, not permitted to drive a car, walk outside without a man at her side, etc. Women who have been journalists, broadcasters and held "men's" jobs have been brutally murdered. Likewise, if a woman "offends" the family men by doing anything Western women do freely - the men feel it's their "obligation," their duty, to kill these women, be they sister, mother or daughter, who stray from the near-psychotic need to keep women following the rules proclaimed by fundamentalist Muslim men, not Allah.

Just as fundamentalist Christian men believe women should remain subservient to them. At one time fundamentalist Christians used passages in the Christian bible as a reason to own slaves and consider black people "less than" white people.

Fundamentalist Jews believe they are God's Chosen People. Apart from everyone else. With Israel the chosen land. They do believe in the equality of women, however, including mandatory service in the Israeli militray alonside their Jewish brothers. Again, (is there an echo in here?) they believe there is one truth, theirs. And that the synagogue and state should be one.

A Jewish nation, just as Muslims want a Muslim nation (world), as Christians want a Christian nation (world).

Fundamentalist Jews believe theirs is the chosen religion.

Fundamentalist Muslims believe theirs is the only true religion.

Fundamentalist Christians believe theirs is the only true religion.

Actually, there are other religious groups who believe the same thing. That theirs is the only "real" "true" and "right" religion.

Christian fundamentalists have the same goal. Have Christians rule the world. There should be no division between church and state, with that ruling church being Christian. European nations and the UK went through this for hundreds of bloody years, finally realized it didn't work and have governed with a separation of church and state since.

Although fundamentalists ask, "How would Jesus vote?" It was pointed out that Jesus was never political. He was personal. He was spiritual. He related to God, not to gold.

But it's greed that moves people to try to rule the world. Power over people, their behavior and their money. Again, no separation between church and state.

I'll never forget interviewing an Iranian refugee living in the Pacific Northwest many years ago for a story I was doing on "sleeper cells" in the US, wherein he told me, "We thought nothing could be worse than the Shah. But the Ayatollah is a hundred times worse. We trusted that because he was a man of God he would work for the people, to show his love for people, to create peace and harmony among us and the world. He doesn't. It's just the opposite."

We had to photograph him in shadows because he said he would be killed for speaking to me if anyone discovered his identity. He showed me enough evidence to convince me this was true.

In case you don't know, the Shah of Iran was the constitutional monarch of Iran embraced by the US. He left to live in exile in 1979 during a violent revolution, replaced by the Ayatollah Khomeini, who called himself (in the "true ego-less spirit" of Allah's servant) the Supreme Leader, creating the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I think what happens to a lot of religious leaders who don't understand the humility they should have at the very core of their jobs, that of being a spiritual leader, is that they actually believe they ARE God. They see people react to them in such wonderment, they go, "Wow! Lookee me! I can say or do anything because I speak for God!"

They don't understand they have broken the first commandment, "Thou shalt put no other gods before me."

No matter what they say, or even if they believe they are fighting for a religion or a righteous cause, their actions say they fight for a secular, material cause - whatever that might be - above God. It looks to me as if they foresake his commandment, then use God's name to break it.


God must be shaking his/her head wondering, "what is with these human beings that they are so frightened of each other and so mired in their need to be "right" they don't understand how to let me help them make the most of their short time on earth. Don't they know they live in eternity as a spirit and have to account to me for their actions?

"Their need to be right and control others is so sadly apparent. It's obvious they have no faith in me or that others are capable of thinking for themselves or creating their own spiritual relationship with me. So much so they will destroy their time on earth - and others - in a profane quest that is now, and always has been, futile.

"LOL. Even *I* grant everyone free will. Which is why I let them play their shocking, heartbreaking, hurtful games. Perhaps one day when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, they will understand that their spirits inherently supersede and transcend religion, politics and the need to be right or control anyone.

"It's despairing to see them abuse, squander and destroy the gifts I have given them: life, peace, beauty, nature, water, food, emotions, bodies, hearts, minds and their very souls. Within that soul comes the answer to every question. Look inside - find the key to your soul, open it and you will understand how to use these gifts as they were meant to be enjoyed.

"The truly spiritual person courageously enhances the world for everyone, not just himself, his family, his community, his cause. He does this by being who he truly is and becoming all he is meant to be, and supporting others to do the same. By doing that, he shines his light in the world that makes it brighter.

"Instead of being that spiritual person, creating instead of destroying, he douses himself in the cloak of man-made religion, using my name in vain, because he is so fearful - because of his secular, harmful, soul-killing need to be right and control everything in my domain - which he never, never will."

By the way, unlike George Bush, I won't claim I actually heard God speak to me. I just thought, "What would God say?" And the words popped out as written. Except referring to God as "me" using a lower case. Originally, I had it capitalized, but was notified that God is not about ego or being "above" anyone. God is about the power of spirit and humility.

Just a thought.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

War: easier than peace. The cost: health, prosperity

Think about it.

1. The key to peace and healthy interaction with anyone in any situation is relationship skills.

By that I mean the ability to communicate, negotiate, conciliate, reconcile, mediate, understand both sides; have confidence and poise; use diplomacy, have enough knowledge to propose a plan; savoir-faire, and the ability to articulate objectives, purpose and the desired outcome(s). In most cases, not to take things personally but work on behalf of the relationship with both sides benefiting from the outcome of the agreements reached.

Whether it's at the negotiating table or the kitchen table, it is much easier to bring up old resentments and grudges, to blame the other person for the problems that exist, to get angry and refuse to communicate rather than spend the energy and time it takes to unify, humble oneself, find common ground and do whatever it takes to "work things out."

Both sides must be equally dedicated to finding ways to gain clarity, find beneficial solutions and communicate successfully - for themselves individually and collectively - or there is no hope for a positive outcome.

In some cases, one side must convince the other to engage earnestly - openly, honestly and directly - especially when a third party, such as a child, is involved in a dispute like divorce.

Ruthless actions and war break out when one party stops listening, refuses to listen, negotiate or care about the other person/side and takes violent action against him or her out of anger in an attempt to overthrow, subdue or eliminate the other person, or even entire populations, from mediation.

It's a "my way or the highway" mentality for one of the parties that creates the warring action.

Despite the protestations of caring for or even loving the person or people they hurt, the violent individual ceases to care the moment s/he plans to put them in harm's way.

Again, it matters not whether we're talking about the US and Iraq, the Nazi's and Europe in WWII, or hostile actions taken in the privacy of homes.

It's no secret that 85-95% of domestic violence victims are women, that the leading cause of injury to women is domestic violence -- and that pregnant women compose the highest percentage of all categories of people killed in acts of domestic violence by male intimate partners, boyfriends and husbands.

The men who beat, abuse and/or kill the women in their lives generally blame the women for "making" or "driving" them to take their anger out on "their" women because the women did not behave the way the men wanted them to. Since they realized they could not force the women to do what they want, they injure, cripple or murder them.

Essentially, the men who do not get their way refuse to negotiate - an action that would help them find a common ground to continue communication and a positive relationship in some way. Instead, they simply take their aggression out on people less capable of defending themselves - women and often their own children

So the aggressor in war, by this reasoning, would be the government that stops listening, refuses to negotiate, communicate or care about working through differences with the other side and strikes out to gain power over the other government, nation or populations. So that targeted people will behave the way the aggressor wants them to.

The Nazi's in Germany are classic examples of not just cutting off negotiations but of instigating an all out propagandist hate war against Jews, which then gave Hitler permission imprison and kill not only millions of Jews but millions of other "unpopular" groups as well - homosexuals, Catholics and anyone who opposed his drive for a "pure" Aryan race.

Because he fomented his nation to see enemies everywhere instead of negotiating partners, he literally declared war against the world with the blessing of Germans who participated because they drank Hitler's Kool-Aid.

Any time war breaks out, someone has drunk some aggressor's Kool-Aid.

Which apparently has the effect of preventing the drinker from being capable of thinking for himself or willing to investigate statements made that are intended to manipulate and control their behavior, making them willing to kill others for the cause.

In short: communicating honestly and earnestly=negotiating, building a relationship. It's tough. Very tough. Ask anyone in a healthy relationship, let alone a troubled coupling.

Cutting off communication, withholding "affection," wanting and trying to control and manipulate others=warring behavior.

Which can be as simple as trying to control someone by hurthing him or her with words, "that" look, silence, a slap, hiding his/her favorite ice cream, rumors, distance, lies or propaganda.

Or as complex as torturing and/or killing, or ordering people to torture and/or kill others for specific or unknown reasons and goals created by the person declaring the war.

Either way, violence is way easier than doing everything possible to "work it out" and go the limit to prevent unnecessary injury, harm or death.

If the two parties are very very different? Then it takes even more relationship skills to gain momentum to perhaps even outwit the withholding partner in order to negotiate honestly and forthrightly with a positive outcome in mind.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The Bush administration has used disinformation masterfully over the past eight years. Karl Rove is normally the creator of the self-serving fabrications spread to party loyalists, conservative groups, media, churches and others who will spread false information without question until the lie is believed to be the truth.

What exactly is "disinformation?"

It's the deliberate pronouncement of fraudulent statements passed off as "facts."

For example, many Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein, the executed leader of Iraq, was in some way responsible for the attack on the New York City World Trade Center September 11, 2001.

That false statement was made by Bush administration spokespeople so often, many Americans believed the lie when it was initially released, and astonishingly continue to believe it, even though it has been proved a hundred times over to be outrightly and completely false.

If it's possible, Saddam Hussein and Iraq had less than nothing to do with the attack.

Iraq was terrorist-free under Hussein because he was the ultimate dictator - paranoid about outsiders stirring up his carefully controlled population, which he ruled with a near- sadistic hand. He knew if any of the dozens of warring tribal factions in Iraq were armed or felt free to fight again (tribal wars have been going on for centuries, including the conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites), he would lose control of the people and "his" country.

It was not until the US attacked Iraq that terrorists, including al qaeda, found the opening they sought to not only move into the country, but use the deadly debacle created by the US in Iraq to recruit new members because now they had concrete evidence that the US is an aggressor; that it wants to occupy Middle Eastern nations.

Interestingly, the number of terrorists actually needed in Iraq is very few because now so many Iraqis themselves are furious at the US - whom they blame for devastating their country and being the cause of the violent deaths of some 600,000 innocent Iraqis. Their anti-US feelings have fomented them into taking arms against our soldiers in harms way there.

American intelligence sources report that approximately 4% of fighters in Iraq are associated with al qaeda. If that sounds like it's good news, it's not. It only means all the terrorist cells and individuals not fighting in Iraq are free to ply their trades in other nations.

Al Gore's #1 NYT best selling book The Assault on Reason just arrived here; I'll read it this week and review it next week here. I have a feeling these sorts of issues will be discussed there because often, if we're accurately informed about a subject, we can discern truth from lie by using simple reason.

Like, if you knew about how Saddam ran his country - ruling by making people terrified of him while keeping it terrorist-free, never wanting anyone to challenge his autocratic authoritarianism; that he would never tolerate tribal in-fighting because it would detract from his iron-fisted control - you would understand that anyone claiming that terrorists were allowed in Iraq or that Saddam had anything to do with them is simply and outright unreasonable.

Because the US Senate Intelligence Committee's Report on Prewar Intelligence Assessment about Postwar Iraq outlined these and many other facts, it predicted the horrors we face today if Saddam were not only unseated but the nation itself attacked to allow US-backed individuals to take over.

Unfortunately, many US Senators and Representatives believed this misinformation put out by the Bush administration instead of reading the report gathered by some 81 separate intelligence agencies, and voted to give George Bush the authority to invade Iraq - including US Senator Hilary Clinton.

It all comes back to the need for an educated, informed nation to effectively run a democratic republic like the United States.

But between outright disinformation disseminated freely by people who know the truth because they want to manipulate you, and an unquestioning media - that can be hard to come by through "normal" media outlets. US media tend to reproduce whatever they are told by "authoritative" sources without question or perspective - and those "authoritative sources" tend to be the very people who disseminate disinformation these days.

Think of the glib government disinformation on its response to Katrina - that "Brownie's doing a heck of a job," while we saw the massive destruction with our own eyes. The meteorologist who gave President Bush and the US Federal Government the grave warning of the oncoming disaster himself days before the hurricane struck. The response: "We had no idea this would happen."

Disinformers *love* this; they also love how frightened US media are when they are accused of being "unfair" or "one-sided" about their coverage.

Here's how that works:

Mr. X, an authoritative spokesperson, says "10."

US media pass it on, uncensored, unquestioned, unexamined.

Then Mr. C, an authoritative spokesperson who knows that "10" is an outright lie, says, "10 is not true! In fact, here's evidence it's an outright fabrication and harmful to our nation!" And there's the proof that you can see with your own eyes (Iraq's astonishing devastation, Katrina reconstruction is NOT happening as promised, etc.)

Mr. X responds, "There the 'liberal media' goes again - unfairly showing only ONE SIDE of the story!"

The media, terrified of being called "unfair," steps up the quotes by Mr. X and his cohorts, so we keep hearing "10," over and over again, and seldom see Mr. C and the actual evidence of Mr. X's fraudulent statement.

After awhile, "10" sounds like it *should* be true. Thereby becoming part of Stephen Colbert's genius term, "truthiness;" which means something that feels like it should be true.

By the way, I hope you understand that disinformers believe *you* are not only ignorant, but stupid. Stupid enough to buy whatever they sell. They particularly need their own followers to be ignorant of facts and stupid. Who else would believe such overtly ignorant statements and disinformation but people who want to believe them because they are their leaders and trust them blindly.

That's why "believers" whose information is challenged become so emotionally charged and outraged when others tell them anything that disagrees with what they've been told by their leaders. Because if the truth-tellers make those leaders wrong, then they -- the believers -- have to realize how stupid they were to believe them in the first place.

And no one likes to think of themselves as being duped. It's embarrassing. So they fight harder to "prove" the disinformation given them by their leaders.

This happens all the time in extremist religious circles who disperse disinformation, whether it's extreme fundamentalist Muslims or extreme fundamentalist Christians.

Here are more ways Wikipedia finds disinformation (intentional misinformation, lies, misrepresentation) are used: forged documents, manuscripts, photographs; propagation of malicious rumors and fabricated intelligence.

More, "In the context of espionage or military intelligence, it is the deliberate spreading of false information to mislead an enemy as to one's position or course of action. It also includes the distortion of true information in such a way as to render it useless.

"Disinformation techniques may also be found in commerce and government, used by one group to try to undermine the position of a competitor. It in fact is the act of deception and blatant false statements to convince someone of an untruth."

Tomorrow, I'll discuss how disinformation differs from propaganda, misinformation, The Big Lie, and other ways people with specific agendas not only try, but succeed to control your behavior, votes and money with misleading and outright untruthful statements.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Rosie and Elisabeth

Good grief.
Most American entertainment reporters and media pundants don't seem to be able to understand what they see or hear when it comes to the heated exchange between Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasslebeck on the US TV program The View.

It's as if they haven't heard an honest emotion uttered on TV; they seemed rattled. And of course there were those who degraded the exchange by calling it a "cat fight." ABC-TV early morning News even used the squaling of cats in the background.

I've seen almost all of those would-be journalists "report" that Rosie (whose name familiarity is joining the ranks of Oprah, Cher and Madonna; Elisabeth, however, will continue to be known as Elisabeth Who the moment Rosie is off The View) called US soldiers "terrorists," and she absolutely did not.

She inferred that the US government may be experienced as terrorists by Iraqis whose nation is being decimated by the US invasion-turned-all-out-war against (in their minds) Iraqis. Iraqis are not sitting around watching these faux analysts, they are trying to survive bombs, guns, and other artillery going off all around them, all the time.

To the pundants, the US-Iraq war is a notion; to the Iraqis it's a matter of life and death.

In order to understand what Rosie actually said, one must understand nuance. One must be able to think for themselves. Analyze.

Unfortunately, instead of a worthy opponent, Rosie saw someone across the table whom she thought actually knew her well enough to know that Rosie would never diss our kids in uniform. She saw a would-be friend deny her the benefit of the doubt, even enough to attempt to understand her genuine intention.

A would-be friend who instead attributed to Rosie thoughts and words she neither said nor intended. So she got emotional and delved into name-calling.

Elisabeth fought back, which her fans were happy to see. But she fought back with words intended only to push and diss Rosie with name-calling as well instead of participating in an educated argument.

No matter how you feel about Rosie's arguments? She reads, she researches, she wants to know more than what she is told by people who have every reason to mislead us.

Elisabeth doesn't appear to know how to participate in genuine spirited, knowledgeable argument about the US-Iraq war . An informed public exchanging honestly held points of view is at the core of a democracy. But! She does seem to know how to practice "truthiness."

Regurgitating what she's been told by those in power, believing everything she is told because it feels like it should be true.
Watch the exchange for yourself here.

We link, you decide. When you watch - I hope you'll pay attention to what is actually said on both sides, rather than indulging in the truthiness of your already steadfast beliefs.

Elisabeth's retorts remind me of the lyrics from a song in The King and I: "Very quickly will he fight/He'll fight to prove what he does. Not. Know. Is. So."

No matter whose corner you're in, the fact is that this daytime show - thanks to the irascible Rosie - is one of the few places where we can see real political ... chatter; I'm not sure it rises to the definition of debate.

Oh, most of those would-be pundants declared one of the two a winner the other a loser. But the only real losers are the American public because this is about as classy as public discussion gets about the subject here.

I hope you're checking out news from other nations to understand the extraordinary bias in American media coverage. The internet is rife with news from every corner of the world, most feature English versions of coverage in other languages.

It also helps if you speak more than one language in any occupation these days because of the international nature of the world economy.

Back home? I wish more of those would-be US analysts and pundants were investigating, reporting and debating the real issues concerning this horrific US-Iraq war - a war that has virtually destabilized the world - so we can know the genuine truth about the people who got us into it and explain honestly why our troops have not come home long ago.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alec's reprehensible rant

This hurts.


I am a huge fan of Alec Baldwin and his work.

He is an extraordinary talent and person. I interviewed him last year - his personal warmth, sense of humor, professionalism and desire to help others succeed in this business were clear; the words of wisdom he passed on to movieScope readers profound.

But with the release of the recorded horrific tirade against his 11 year-old daughter, Ireland, he is facing the personal trial of his life: whether to maturely take full responsibility for his actions and make a determined effort to grow up - or not.

To change how he deals with the misery that has been his spiteful divorce proceedings with ex, Kim Basinger - or not.

The PR nightmare resulting from the public airing of the abusive recorded message to his daughter has only been compounded by his reaction.

On his website, he makes an apology and tries to explain his behavior, in part saying that he regrets the words he used (like calling her a "pig") and that his anger was the result of six years of essentially being kicked around through custody battles by his ex-wife.

Here's the problem: there is no acceptable reason, explanation or cause for a father to verbally abuse his child. As in, ever.

If his gripe is with Kim Basinger, that is where he needs to direct his feelings - and has for six years, as she has directed hers against him - with Ireland caught in the middle.

As a parent, his role is to protect his daughter from people like him. To step in between people who for whatever reason personalize and attack children for something over which they have no power.

As a parent, his role is to let go of any feelings other than love, support, care and protection for his child.

The fact that he is attempting to explain his behavior tells us that he's trying to make himself somehow right or that his response would make sense if only we knew more about what *he* is going through.

Alec, that is the point.

It doesn't matter what you are going through. Your role is to protect your kid. Support, nurture, care for and about her.

I know he didn't come up with this abusive behavior in a vacuum. I have no doubt his own childhood and background play a role in his outrageous outburst and that the past six years have worn on him.

But the most important lesson a parent must learn is to stop making himself or herself the center of attention (he and Basinger have both failed to do this); the child should become the most important center of attention for parents the moment she's born.

I hate to think of Ireland being "brainwashed" by Basinger against her father, but he doesn't help his case by portraying himself as a victim rather than suck it up and be a responsible parent.

He spoke to his daughter as if she were knowlingly abusing him - as if he were the target of abuse - while he was in fact abusing her.

He does not seem to comprehend that his role as a parent is to try to understand why she does what she does and help her learn problem solving skills to avoid hurting other people - including him.

What a sad state of affairs for his child.

Who released the tape and why is a subject for the courts to decide. That has nothing to do with his daughter or being a good parent.

I join the chorus of people who care about him, who cry out that they wish he would get counseling to learn how to be the most effective, loving parent despite what he is going through in his divorce custody battle.

His behavior is inexcusable, as is Basinger's.

I join another chorus of people who wonder why these two 49 year-old chldren can't stop making the case against one another more important than the welfare of their child.

Adults can tell children over and over again that they did not cause a divorce. Even if they intellectually understand that - kids still feel and believe that it is their fault.

Kids may even feel at fault for a parent's personally abusive tirade directed specifically at them, when, in fact, it's all about an adult who is incapable of behaving like a responsible parent.

Whoever released the tape doesn't seem to understand that Ireland will suffer from knowing that the public heard her daddy belittle and abuse her so vehemently; reliving those vile, hurtful words along with millions of adults and kids who not only knew that he treated her this way, but heard it for themselves word for word.

Messages left on machines never go away. As in, never.

One of Baldwin's punishments for abusing his child will be that he will have to listen to this tape played in media over and over the rest of his life. The stories they air will have no relation to it, but they will play the message, nonetheless.

I believe it will also cost him jobs.

But all of this should pale to the punishment he suffers minute after minute, forced to live with the fact that he actually spoke to his child so abusively, using those hurtful words, that spiteful tone, with the unmistakeable motive of threatening and trying to scare her into behaving the way he wanted her to.

When we go to war, the first thing each side does is dehumanize the "enemy." That is what Alec and Basinger have done to one another. Now that duo is triangulated to include their innocent daughter, who is only guilty of being born to two people who now clearly and destructively hate one another.

The result, as in any war, is that a child grows up with a certain understanding of hate, enemies, an unfriendly world, believing it's them against the world, hating themselves for "causing" the war, and the probability of being abused by people he or she chooses to love, because that is how they interpret "love."

There's still time to turn it around. Grow up. Both of you. Find out how to deal with your feelings. Love your child enough to stop putting her in the middle of your adult idiocy, using her as a weapon to get revenge against one another.

The sooner you do this the sooner you'll stop being a punch line on late night TV - and the subject of blogs like this one! You have made this private affair the public's business - because we have witnessed a little girl be verbally abused, no matter the "cause" or who is to "blame"!

Divorce lawyers - how about earning your huge fees working in the best interest of the child; stop dividing these people any more than you have; help them become the world's best parents - and positive public role models for couples who are undergoing equally venemous divorces.

Only because of its already public venue, I suggest that Alec and Basinger get together with Dr. Phil to understand how to relate to their child in the most healthy way before it's too late. It would be a public service because there is no longer the possibility of privacy; show others how to save their kids from the hell this infamous couple has already put their daughter through.

Dr. Phil, take the wheel.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Growing up too fast"

There are several news stories out now in newspapers, TV and radio about protecting kids from "growing up too fast" - from being exposed to - and partaking in - drugs, alcohol and violence.

But ask any psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor: engaging in these activities and abusing mood-altering chemicals at a young age results in preventing an individual from growing up.

They actually keep us immature.

Significant steps in our maturation stop literally the day a child takes his or her first drink, drug or is severly traumatized by violence. Addiction is much more likely to occur if a kid takes a drink or drug at a younger age.

According to Robert Downey Jr., his father gave him his first hit of marijuana when he was 8 years old and was allowed to partake in addictive substances, including alcohol, as a child. According to addiction experts, children and women are more easily addicted to alcohol and drugs because of their physiology than adult men.

And addiction is no stranger to grown men.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, a noted child psychiatrist I interviewed from Seattle's Children's Hosptial and Medical Center told me the way children can recover from even the most traumatic experiences is to talk about their feelings.

However, addictions prevent abusers from processing - recognizing and talking about - memories or feelings in order to mature. When kids aren't taught systems with which to handle negative emotions or experiences, the fallout from those feelings and troubles can linger and fester - harming the individual's ability to deal effectively with life's ups and downs as well as blocking a significant part of the emotional and intellectual maturation process.

Several adult friends of mine regret ever lighting up that first cigarette or joint, or abusing alcohol. Not because they ever got "hooked" or addicted, nor were these "gateway" drugs ("lighter" drugs that lead to hard drug abuse) or because their lives were in any way messed up or ruined by them, but because they simply were not necessary.

They only took time away from the clarity they enjoy now not taking any mind-altering substances - especially the misery and time it took to quit smoking!

I'm one of them. What a waste of time. Even though I started when I was a young adult and not a kid, and quit smoking and drinking decades ago, I still wish I had never started. I'm someone who wants to make the most of her life; chemicals don't enhance that experience for me - they detract from it.

It's probably impossible to convince youngsters how much of their youth is robbed by sucking up cigarettes and booze or taking drugs because they mistakingly believe abusing drugs and alcohol is a sign of maturity - where in fact it is a sign of immaturity.

It's immature to get behind the wheel of a one-ton lethal weapon after drinking or drugging.

It's immature to escape feelings and refusing to grow up drinking and drugging.

It's immature to instigate violence.

Violence not only enforces simplistic, ineffective solutions for complex problems, but witnessing violence traumatizes not just those who experience it, but even those who execute it; those doing the shooting and hurting others.

Why do you think there are so many soldiers - who firmly believe they're doing the right thing - suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?

Again, from all I've seen and experienced, smoking, drinking, drugs and violence keeps those parts of us that have not developed immature. Literally preventing us from becoming all we can become, all we can genuinely experience in order to live life fully.

It always makes me laugh when notorious alcoholics and drug addicts die and are described as people who "lived life to the fullest."

Um, no. Drugs, alcohol and violence actually prevent us from living life fully - I mean, what good is having a "great time" if we can't remember it or suffer the sickness of a hangover the next day or two or three after - preventing us from doing anything except recovering?

Or suffer from life-altering injuries, severe trauma, are killed or put in jail because of violent acts?

It's true of artists. Who can create honestly, love openly, share our talent fully, if we're "under the influence" that prevents us from accessing our deepest thoughts and feelings.

An interesting study in Canada revealed that great artists don't do great work while they were under the influence or suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, but in fact when they were free from those things - lucid, sober and not distracted by demons.

However, because those experiences tended to be their most vivid and recent memories, that is what they tend to create in their work - painting, writing, and so on.

You may consider these things when you are creating characters as a writer, actor or director.

To be clear - I personally don't care if adults imbibe or partake of anything they choose as long as they don't endanger anyone else as they do it.

However you choose to define living your life to its fullest and being genuinely happy - whatever that is - is just right for you.

It is your body, your mind, your life.

I thought you might find these thoughts interesting.

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