Politics, religion, and money: the trifecta of conversation topics to avoid during a dinner party. We live in such a diverse society that assuming the people around you think similarly about these fundamental issues is just plain stupid. We all have a different opinion and we all have something to offer on these topics; some of us are just more vocal about it than others.
People on Quora were asked: "Do we need religion?" One Quora user Adeel Khan had an incredibly in-depth and calculated response to this question. Here it is!
The question is 'Do we need religion'?
In order to objectively come up with an answer, one must define what ought to considered as 'we' and what is the definition of a religion.
Today, through observation and measurement, we can deduce the following realities:
1. Our first invention was the story. Storytelling has proved to be immensely useful when it comes to the transfer of ideas in a memetic fashion. Stories have such a strong hold on us. The way we respond to stories has a completely different effect on us vs many other activities that require significant cognitive cycles. Stories can put your whole brain to work. When a human brain is engaged in being receptive to story-telling, there is this direct connection being made to another brain. During this transfer thoughts, ideas and emotions can be implanted from one brain to another. Speakerlistener neural coupling underlies successful communication
2. Religion is a very loosely held collection of stories. Stories that have been handed down from generation to generation. With conversion accounting for the remainder of the percentage.
3. Before printing press, we had the scrolls. And before the scrolls all earthly cultures followed the oral tradition.
4. Speaking of which, most languages share a common ancestor. For example, most Indo-European languages share a common ancestor.
5. From the perspective of Comparative mythology, there have been common themes (mythology, theology) that can be found across the various cultures. The great flood and virgin birth is something that predates the Christian belief. Mention of it in Greek text and also Hindu Scriptures. (amongst others)
6. Theology has evolved from the stories that earthly cultures had been telling their tribes throughout the times.
7. Fast forward to the future. Today, the rise of technology and new age transportation system is leading to increased globalization. Increasingly, cultures are mixing. And as a common culture begins to appear, we are beginning to realize what we have known all this time. That we are more similar and like vs our perceived differences. Deep down inside, we all have hope/dreams/ambitions that drive our existence and some fears/inhibition that also restricts us in some ways.
8. Often modernity (putting down the spear and using debate as a tool) would clash with cultural baggage. This clash results in all sorts of problems, some of which will be outlined below.
9. The are stories, that individuals and groups may have been telling each other for a long time. This act of story-telling conditions individuals and groups in a certain way. Often, this collective story-telling aspect finds it way through the wider subset of society and impacts (on society and individuals) can be disastrous. In random order:
For example: Fundamentalist Muslims and Fundamentalist Christians believing that having gays, lesbians and transgender individuals in a society brings down the wrath of 'God' in a Sodom and Gomorrah sense. The repetition of these stories leads some to become deranged and violent, as has been evidenced an innumerable number of times. Most recently at Orlando, FL, which goes down as the worst mass murder event in US history.
Christian fundamentalists bombing abortion clinics and terrorizing doctors who perform abortions. Being a doctor who performs abortions means you always fear your life is in danger
Violence and its interpretation in Islam. Or to be more precise, how Wahhabism provides the ideological fuel for global terrorism. The larger islamic world does not do enough about this problem, as:
The Islamic community looks at all of its adherent as part of a larger brotherhood. They will fight and kill each other in all the gruesome ways. The uneducated masses that were busy killing each other, can be quickly manipulated to fight against the infidels.
The fundamentalist Muslim has a very different view of life after death. Dying is not a problem at all. And martyrdom is the ultimate insurance.
Antisemitism throughout the various cultures.
Silencing of dissent in countries where Blasphemy Laws are in effect (For example: Saudi Arabia and Canada. Yes, Canada).
Hijacking public policy that veers scientific and technological progress. Makes innovation flow away to another part of the world. Many, many such problems. All of these problems exist, because of the stories that have been told.
In this respect, religion is the ultimate Stanford prison experiment. If you believe, then you are the guard and prisoner if you dont. Depending on the culture that you happen to be in and the level through which it has been able to bring about reforms and modernize itself, the guards may treat the prisoner with a bit more restraint. But if you are not a believer, then there is some contempt in store for you.
From a historical point of a view, most religions tend not too get along. Some examples: Christianity and antisemitism Islam and antisemitism Islamophobia in the United States
SIKHS RELATIONS WITH MUGHAL EMPERORS - Sikh struggle against Mughal empire
Next, a major argument in favour of religion is helps brings peace to the individual. Here:
It may not be the religion itself, but the religious practice that helps bring peace. For example, meditation has been proven to reduce stress. As well, result into positive changes for the brain. Praying may do the same, but the act of praying comes along with all the other baggage. Hey, you must love this God, but you must also hate Gays and be vary of those of who do not believe! Do not make friends with them. Abortion is just bad and we slaughter goats and cows in streets on a certain day because one of our prophets did the same! Praise be to God. Our culture is the best. Look at how the infidel treat their women!
Since there is a ton of baggage that each one of the religions are carrying around. The examples above are a very tiny tiny sample.
Hence, collectively speaking, this peace of mind is coming at the expense of another? Another religion, people of different and diverse sexual identities, people of no religion, lack of progress/growth/scientific advancement that hurts everyone + the environment in the long run.
Next, scientifically speaking, humans appear to be hardwired for religion. But perhaps it is not a belief in a higher power that we are wired for. But for social cohesion. As it is social cohesion, that had protected us against the wind, the rain, the changing elements, the predators in the jungles and also across the savannah.
And after wiping out all the other animals on top of the various food chains, the #1 threat to humans, today, are humans themselves. 9 countries possess 15000 nuclear weapons, cyber weapons can be used to cause massive floods and other really evil things, wars are still fought and they have some element of religious thinking driving them. Even climate change is human induced. Created by humans.
Humans crave social cohesion and organized religions have mastered this domain. Truly mastered and in their own interpretation of their cultural environment. Very few institutions do such an effective job of delivering a set of experience. This delivering experience sits on a rather wide spectrum, for lack of a better word. Between endorphins free-flowing at a sermon or at any religious congregation to Mortification of the flesh in the name of religion. Some other examples in this realm and in random order:
Jesus Camp is one of the documentary, through which some of the effects of Christian indoctrination have been captured.
A quarter of a million cows, goats and camels sacrificed each year in the name of religion. All on a single day. Eid al-Adha Ibrahim was instructed by God to sacrifice one of his sons and he was about to do that. Yes, there is absolutely nothing, I say, nothing wrong with that story. Like any normal person would just slaughter their kid because the voices in their head told them to do just that. But Gabriel intervened at a convenient time and now all Muslims must do the same. Because, its religion and this story is completely normal folks. Right? Meanwhile, quote, Douglas Hofstadter has twinges of guilt when he swats a fly.
I guess listening to Qawwali, in a group setting is comparatively benign. And since no strip clubs exists across the Muslim world, they just shower the money on the guys who are singing. Holding hands and singing religious songs in giant group settings. I have never done this. But I think it would be difficult, to *not* be swayed by what was going on.
Next, from the perspective of organized religion, the delivery of these experiences always comes at a cost.
That baggage aspect of religion through the mere fact that that logic exists, infringes on someone, a group and/or an individual, for their right to exists and enjoy their life as they deem fit.
Collective bullying is tolerated because it has become fashionable in that cultural setting and religion influences that unfortunate reality.
Here, and unfortunately most religious leaders are completely mum (silent) to all the the hate being spread in the name of religion. By perpetuating the memes that have been going around for a long time. Some of them only begin to wake up, when something truly horrific and evil has happened. For example: Florida bishop on Orlando attack: Sadly, religion 'often breeds contempt' for LGBT people.
Then they issue a blanket statement in order to strongly condemn the act. After a couple of weeks, everyone forgets about the event. The majority goes back to spreading and perpetuating the baggage in the form of those negative memes.
This cycle will continue. Not sure where this is leading us, but it does appear that this cycle is going towards some huge disaster of sorts.
Speaking of disasters. A disaster is *not* a single event, a disaster occurs because of a a series of events.
Sometimes I wonder if religion has dulled our senses to a point, where we are generally incapacitated from truly feeling anything. And if we are truly conscious and aware, then why do terrible events keep happening and we find ourselves incapacitated in order to truly bring about reform.
Because, well…. tradition. Some part of our collective self, wants to hold onto ideas from the lore. I think, I suspect that this is an illusion of sorts. And this illusion provides temporary stability at the expense of what can be powered.
Must be indoctrinated with ideas. Must treat them with disdain and accuse them of heresy, blasphemy and lunacy if they detract from the path.
Some Saudis claim that spreading atheism equates to spreading terrorism and is punishable. Because it offends their religious beliefs. Pope Francis is of the opinion that you must not criticize religion. Any religion. So there are billions who listen to these religious leaders and each one of these individuals interprets the message in their own ways.
Some have so much emotions attached with their belief(s) that they would even resort to using violence in order to justify whatever it is that is going through their mind. And as long as such memes are perpetuated, the problems will remain. People will do terrible things in the name of religion. And as long as religion exists, these acts will continue.
Next, lets talk about progress.
From the perspective of entire societies. It has been science that has powered all progress. From the time of Galileo and up and until now.
Science, you do something 3200 times and it works every single time the way you had expected that it was going to work! To change a reality, first you have to measure it and understand it deeply and then you work on re-defining it to your will.
No matter how many religious rituals are performed in an infinite universe, it wont even be in a position to move a single speck of dust. So science drives all the progress, all prosperity and all growth.
But religion wants to come in each time, interject and even have the audacity of claiming that scientific and technological progress must be retarded or not done at all. Because the doing of certain Sciences, infringes with the teaches of certain religions. Meanwhile and throughout history, religion has no proposed no solutions. Zero.
People who are religious may have proposed a solution. But religion, by itself, has not been able to recommend anything.
On what should be done with all the other problems that our collective self is confounded with. The list is long, terrorism, climate change, rising unemployment due to automation are hard problem as it is. But on a longer time scale, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many challenges that our species are going to be faced with and unfortunately religion/theology cannot help provide answers to any of these perplexing questions.
It is not to say that people with a background in theology should not be consulted with.
But at the same time, I do not believe that it is at all necessary to consult with individuals with a background in theology. This act, of doing things this way, is just a continuation of following tradition. This is probably how it has been done since the time of the Sumerians. A committee for everything. For sighting the moon, to approve cancer research, to approve the building of a giant Orion class ship, to approve the right for transgender individuals to exist as equals, to approve that mindfiles are conscious entity. The list is long and this approval process, to seek the approval for the sake of getting a checkmark is not necessary. I dont think so.
Overall, organized religion simply seeks to extend it's influence. It is a meme that exists for a single purpose. To spread.
This spread of memes was useful at a time when information and resources were both scarce. A reality where, how humans should have been behaving, interacting with each other, governing and settling their affairs (laws, military campaigns e.t.c) was to be done in light of some purported deity.
It was a tough time folks. There was no technology, the average lifespan was probably 3o to 34 years. Disease, sickness, pestilence were common. Infant mortality was high. Where, irreconcilable differences between cultures and even amongst the same tribes were settled through violence. Terrible, wicked violence with no rules of engagements at all. In evolutionary terms, chivalry is a much more recent phenomenon.
During such times, it mayyy (thats a big may) have made sense to have a set of principles that individuals within a society could adopt. So instead of educating everyone from scratch on each and every principle. Instead, you create an operating system of sorts that would pass on from individual to individual, town to town, culture to culture and continent to continent on its own.
A set of stories with a ton of emotion attached to it. So much so, that it would appeal to the many, the simple minded. And when it would appeal to the masses, then it would make governance easier and lead towards things like centralized governance.
This is what happened with the rise of monotheistic religion. Starting with some of the earliest civilizations and going all the way back to the Sumerians.
In the present day context and in a modern, progressive society there is less of a need for religion. Religion is in decline Google it.
As a religion continues to grow. Then there is a high degree of probability, that at some point it will start impacting policy making. This is a huge conversation by itself.
These are the reasons and then some more where innovation, modernity, prosperity and rights of humans take a negative hit in a nation state where the majority is an adherent of some religious belief. Where through the enablement (or disablement) of the mechanisms - diversity of thought, right to believe or not to believe, freedom of expression, challenging the status quo are all undesirables and must not be tolerated. With this intolerance also goes away the prospects of having realities that can and will be powered on top of imagination.
After all there is an enormous Universe out there and religion is constantly condition us to put limits on ourselves. Never really being in a position to answer the deeper question and relating to the why.
Next, religions help in perpetuating suffering. Yes, you read that right.
Think about it this way, if there was no suffering, then there would be no need to have belief in a higher power. A reason why people want to believe in a higher power is to escape the terrible realities of our construct. Religious people pray to their Gods in order to help make the bad things go away. But prayers have not changed anything.
For example, there is a long History of terrorism. Every time an act terrorism occurs, the good/well-intentioned individuals send out prayers for those affected. But those prayers do not help stop acts of terrorism.
Next and in a hypothetical world where religion does not exist, then specific and concrete actions would be taken in order to first define and then safeguard individual and collective consciousness. Something tells me that there would be more understanding and empathy in such a world.
Here, people may believe in a higher power, because they are struggling and this very struggle in these cases may be resulting into suffering. If your dog has passed away, then that suffering is genuine. But there does not have to be disease, aging or even death. Where there is no judgement. Only understanding and giving individuals unlimited opportunities in order to better their condition. I dont buy it that there is no such thing as free-will in a universe where we do not even know how quantum mechanics really works.
When individuals cannot get to the answers that could help lessen their suffering. That is where religion steps in, and may provide 'temporary' relief by perpetuating the myth of a deity.
But as I have tried to explain above, this extension of the myth comes at a great cost. And we must re-evaluate how perpetuating the myths may be causing great suffering to the lives of other conscious beings. Humans and non-humans. Next,
This is a long conversation. But religion is basically a collection of stories. Throughout history, the elites may have engineered certain outcomes. Religion does make governance somewhat easier.
I am not saying that the elite today are further perpetuating the myths to their convenience. The elites are comprised of a diverse group of individuals from different segments and backgrounds. Since the time of the Medicis and Pope Leo X (One of the first humanists in the ranks of the Church) much progress has been made. But much work remains.
The human condition has many wonderful and beautiful parts. But also some painful parts. The painful parts are *not*, I repeat, not the fault of religion alone. There is a need for re-designing every facet of our condition and our society.
As this process continues, the need is very clear. It is not, I repeat, it is not create conditions through which religious practices are banned. In order to have diversity of thought, which is extremely important, it is also important to have mechanisms through which religions beliefs can be practiced. It is to be determined, what level of absurdity will be tolerated in the real world. The making of this comment is not to suggest that the wider subset of society should discriminate against and categorize all religious practices as absurd.
But at this point in time, almost religious practices seem very absurd to me. Even attempts to make a religion out of the process of technological singularity seems absurd. I understand that there is a high degree of probability that something like the technological singularity will occur. And even if I, as an individual had the option of merging my consciousness with a much advanced AGI. Note: It is very important that I be given that option. Without optogenetics, or some other advanced technology influencing my decision making. And if I were to choose, that I will merge portions of my consciousness with a higher form of consciousness (in a future sense and when it does emerge). Then, that act, does not equate to its reference to some sort of a religious practice.
Here, we are not saying that something like that will absolutely occur. That one is convinced that something like that will happen. That we are discriminating against those who do not believe. But rather, we are saying, this is where technology is going and nothing has been able to put a dent in this phenomenon. And some very intelligent individuals, all the way from Von Neumann to Kurzweil and others are suggesting that something like this could happen. So, what the individuals are saying is that we should prepare for something like this to occur. That it is important to anticipate what is going to occur and work on ensuring that we do this right. Because, and again, this is where technology is going. And there is no way that we can continue our affairs as a human species without our inherent need and dependence on technological progress. The only way to move is to move forward and find ways of how best to merge with our creations. To figure out ways on how to do this as effectively as possible.
So, instead of asking, if we need religion. Instead, we should encourage more individuals and societies to come to the way of science, reason and humanism. Move towards an increasing level of transparency. Beyond the David Brin transparent society. A new kind of society. A society where, how morality is constructed, does not find its underpinnings in theology. For this reason, granting humans their inalienable rights is very important.
Next, and if we do not do that, then this is another reality that we may have to face.
Soon, the religious fundamentalists will have access to advanced technologies. Imagine a much stricter version of the Catholic Church choosing to encourage the mistreatment of transgender individuals. As hypothetical as that reality may be. Or a country with a large Wahhabism following getting their hands on a class of weapons beyond nukes. Or that the rise of religious fundamentalist in one part of the world, brings the world on the brink of WWIII. This happened in Syria last year, when Russia/China/USA were all heavily armed and engaged.
None of the realities must ever occur, as each individual life and the quality of an individuals life is precious. If we cannot enable a reality, through which that guarantee can be had, then we we cannot transcend to the next level of the evolution of our consciousness, either as individuals and/or a species. World war IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
Next, I have tried to understand how religious individuals think. I do suspect that they think differently. As I will share, during my early teens I tinkered with the idea of a deity. Religious people who are resolute, are absolutely sure that one specific set of outcomes will occur. This is contradictory to the nature of reality that is emerging, whereby many different realities are possible.
Next, data suggests that the western world is becoming increasingly irreligious. Nordic countries, England, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, Canada. United States has been an anomaly, but the nones represent a 20% increase over the previous decades. Even places like Iraq are seeing a huge increase in the number of individuals who do not believe in a higher power.
As societies become more connected, as they have access to more knowledge. Increasingly individuals are able to seek answers to questions and as they deem fit.
And as that occurs, religions are going to into crisis mode. The numbers of believers will fall. Donations will shrink. Increasingly, individuals will stop seeking and turning to religion for answers. Because a personal assistant will be able to bring back a near perfect answer that will make perfect rational sense.
As a last ditch effort, some religions will resort to fear tactics. Perhaps they will even resort to desperate measures in order to create very bad conditions.
Here, already there is a certain level of transparency in the human construct. Individuals, all individuals thinking about doing bad things must be beware, potentially speaking all of your actions are getting tracked. Justice will come and it will be swift and your actions will be judged upon by all.
Next, and on the positive side of things. We are heading towards a world of abundance. This is a fact.As we continue heading towards a world of abundance, unnecessary suffering will invariably lessen and significantly at that.
Our leaders are right in assessing the future in respect to a reality, whereby we will have the potential to meet the needs of every man, women and child. This will occur in stages over the next two to three decades.
There will be no have not. There will be haves and super have. After 3 decades and with the introduction of nanotechnology, everyone will be in the super-haves class.
Humans will no longer have to sell their so called soul in order to put food on the table or keep a roof on top of their heads. Vice industries will dry out. Constructs will emerge in order to drive experiences, without the negative and harmful effects. Here, in an Iain Banks sense.
The currency of the future is social impact. Meaning, not how many twitter followers you have, but how many lives did you help improve? And those lives improve will attest that their lives were improved and by what margin. And if you raised your children in good environments and you were kind to them, you cared for their well-being, then you have your job well. Or if you helped start a project that builds windmills for powering schools in Africa, then you have also done your job. Many such examples.
There will be less of a need for money in the future. Specially as we continue heading towards a zero marginal cost society.
Next, I strongly suspect that half of the world will be irreligious by the year, 2040. And the rest will follow. Meaning: not religious; not practicing a religion and feeling no religious impulses or emotions.
Constructs will exist to experience a set of experiences that humans are not capable of experiencing today. AI will power such experiences.
Today, mistreatment of individuals and discriminating against those who believe in stories is not a good model. No matter how regressive their point of views, their ideologies may seem to a culture. If they break the law or are about to break the law, then justice must be served.
Here, we should create avenues in the physical world and also the virtual world. Where individuals can come and interact with each other. Through many such interactions, 'understanding' will occur. Understanding can only occur if two people can empathize with each other. The alternative is military confrontation and that's not looking so great in the worlds of advanced and automated systems of warfare, in the range of nano/neuro/AI etc.
When I was a child, I was told all of these stories. During my teens I was seriously doubting most of these stories and for them to have ever occurred. During my 20's I engaged in many conversations. My intention was to look at the reality and how it seemed to from a variety of different angles. Looking at the theoretical suppositions (set) from multiple points of views.
A lot of people believe in theology. It does not make it true or accurate. There is no proof of a God. Almost all of the phenomenon occurring across the Universe can be explained in terms of some kind of rational observation, with some kind of a measurement backing up the statement. If it cannot be backed up via some mathematical proof leading up to the possibility, then it does not exist. If the math is leading up to some reality, then we should further entertain the possibility.
There is no God, playing no dice. That is not how gravitational waves are caused. And indeed, there is spooky action at a distance in the realm of Quantum Mechanics.
Since I happened to have grown up in three different cultures, there were other stories that I was engrained with as well. That homosexuality is bad and Jews, Christians and atheists will never accept you as a friend. Increasingly, throughout my 20's after coming to Canada, I decided to check out reality myself. The stories I was engrained with turned out to be completely false. I found wonderful people in all segments of societies. I am glad that I got out of the building and choose to interact with folks from all segments of societies.
I sincerely believe that if only we make the conscious attempt of reaching out to someone. Then that interaction alone will be enough to bring about change on some level. And through many such changes on a smaller scale, understanding can be had across earthly cultures. Only then can we begin our collective journey, when it comes to the exploration of the wider cosmos, as well our own consciousness. And there appears to be a lot to discover in both of these realms.
As humans we should seek to understand ourselves and our surroundings. We should seek to continually find out about our origins, the origins of the cosmos, further our understand of intelligence and what gives rise to this phenomenon. We must exhibit curiosity about ever facet of our universe and seek to better our understanding.
We should continually work on creating a better set of tools and better spaces. For ourselves, our children and their children.
Some of this material has been edited for clarity.
How many people do you know battling addictions?
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is "a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual's life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences."
Hearing from those who have battled addictions––and come out the other side––can be remarkably eye-opening, as we were reminded once Redditor YoshBotArmy asked the online community,
"People who have beaten an addiction... what's your secret?"
"I'd then check off..."
"Alcohol. The "one day at a time" approach was too much. I made a chart with a 24 hour day broken up into 15 minutes. For example: 8:00-8:15. [ ]
8:15-8:30. [ ]
8:30-8:45. [ ]
I'd then check off a box for every fifteen minutes I didn't drink. This really boosted my confidence because although I may have only gone two hours without drinking, my brain focused on the 8 boxes I checked off.
Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, etc.
It's now been 8 years."
"You need to want to quit..."
"You need to want to quit, otherwise, it will be a fight against yourself. I quit smoking about 15 years ago after being a smoker for like 18 years. I decided to quit several times but never stuck, always found a reason to fall back into the habit. One day my 4yo daughter told me that she was going to find a way to save me from cancer because smokers are bound to get it. After that, I couldn't stand cigarettes anymore and quit within the week. Never again. I wanted to be there for my girl more than anything else."
"The lesson to take away from this..."
"I realised my binge eating was due to a general lack of self-control. I developed bulimia (exercise is my poison) trying to counteract it, and I still struggle with that.
I struggled with it for years and tried everything under the sun to stop it. It wasn't until I started practicing Stoicism that I started seeing life differently. Then a couple of years into that, I overheard a colleague say "it's all about finding balance" in a conversation about the challenges life throws at you. That quote stuck with me for about a year until I realised I have no sense of balance because I used to be an extremely black and white/all or nothing character.
It's now been 2 years since I completely stopped binge eating, and it was all due to having that epiphany. Took practice to get into good eating habits and a routine with meals but I'm all good now.
The lesson to take away from this - teach your children self-control and the ability to say no to themselves. My parents gave me everything I wanted so I had to teach myself this throughout my early 20s."
"That does not mean..."
"You have to learn to give yourself grace.
Relapses happen. I self-mutilate. I will do incredible for months. Then one negative thought can send me into a spiral and I harm myself.
That does not mean that I undid any of the hard work I had done up to this point. I acknowledge that I made a mistake, identify my triggers, and make an effort to start clear of them. Take a deep breath and try again."
A valuable observation.
"I kicked the habit..."
"I wasn't physically addicted to marijuana, but I had such a mental dependency on it that it was pretty much like being addicted. I couldn't function without it.
I kicked the habit by pursuing a girl. I really wanted to date her, and I didn't want her to know that I was actively smoking weed. I stopped smoking weed because I'd fallen in love with a girl. I'm now married to her, and I haven't smoked weed in over 4 years."
"The most important thing..."
"The most important thing I ever learned was not to fight cravings. I don't mean to give in and use when a craving strikes but for a long time simply feeling the craving was awful. I tried so much to avoid the feeling because I was scared of it.
I saw the suggestion to actually indulge the feeling and just let it wash over you. When I tried it, it was still uncomfortable to want to use but by letting myself feel the craving fully I was able to let it go and move on with my day more easily. Fighting the craving just made me suffer."
"I wore a rubber band..."
"I wore a rubber band around my arm and anytime I thought about my addiction, I would snap it and hurt myself. That way, I associated my addiction with pain and eventually broke my body's natural desire for it."
It turns out this has merit.
"I have no idea..."
"Coffee. I was a serious caffeine addict (like 12 cups a day), and one day for no reason I just woke up and ... didn't feel like having coffee. I've had maybe 5 cups of coffee in the 10 years since then.
I have no idea why it happened, but I haven't felt a craving for it in years. I wish that would happen for my other bad habits."
"I don't think..."
"I don't think it's a secret. Understanding the addiction. Knowing that it takes time for the chemicals in your brain to reset. Knowing it's gonna suck. Being prepared as best you can. Knowing it's going to be a battle."
"I'm not very far..."
"It was really taking a toll on my overall health and one day I woke up and said never again. I'm not very far into recovery and I've never been to a meeting or anything. I know I can't have it around me or I'll relapse."
We are proud of anyone who manages to beat an addiction and who can speak about their experience so candidly. And if any of you out there are struggling, we're rooting for you.
Have some of your own stories? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below.
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I'm just spitballing here, but it seems to me that pretty much that weapons of war are among humanity's worst creations. Sure: We live in an anarchic world. States can never be certain of another state's intentions. Conflicts are bound to break out. But in a perfect world––and a man can dream––none of this would be necessary.
It seems I'm not alone in this, either. People had opinions of their own after Redditor Questwarrior asked the online community,
"What was the worst human invention ever made?"
"Cheap and easy to make..."
"Landmines. Cheap and easy to make, but they remain active and people forget where they put them."
"Styrofoam. It's toxic, can't be recycled, and there are better alternatives."
It also sounds horrible when rubbed against another piece of Styrofoam. Torturous.
"Now idiots can connect to each other..."
"Social Media - It gave people the ability to find others and create echo chambers. Before, idiots were isolated to dealing with just a few in their immediate radius of existence. Now idiots can connect to each other across the world and validate their thoughts/feelings."
This is very true. We're seeing the consequences, aren't we?
Ain't built like they used to - because they can't sell you a newer model if the old one is still performing like new.
If companies didn't have this in mind we wouldn't be running out of resources and messing up the planet in search of more. This would create less conflict and way less pollution. Imagine companies actually making insanely good, long-lasting products instead of cheap ones that needs replacing more often than it should."
"Heroin destroys people's lives every day."
"As a medical student..."
"As a medical student, I basically see people every day whose lives have been wrecked by smoking. Kids and unborn babies get messed over by tobacco smoke. Stupid and plain evil."
A great film about the tobacco industry: The Insider (1999). Really makes you think about the cost we all pay for Big Tobacco.
"I can't believe..."
"The concept of Flat Earth. I can't believe people are still stuck in the seventeenth century and still believe in that crap and try to defend it with their misunderstandings of science and physics, as well as pure ignorance."
People believe the most ridiculous things.
"They exist solely..."
"Torture devices. They exist solely to cause harm."
"How am I going to pay you..."
"Overdraft fees. How am I going to pay you EXTRA money when I don't have money?!"
Human beings are capable of so much innovation, beauty, and joy, but threads like these remind us of all the horrors in the world. There's a lot of darkness in humans, too.
Have some of your own contributions to share? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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Homelessness is an unfortunate and all-too-common occurrence in the world, particularly in the United States. Homelessness has grown to a huge degree, and while most countries have the resources to help their homeless, many choose not to.
It is also difficult to break the cycle of homelessness once you have entered it. It creates a never-ending loop of failed job searching, lost or stolen goods/items/things of value, and stigmatization by society. More often than not, homelessness is begotten by another condition wherein the state or country fails to provide resources--such as mental health.
"Ex homeless people, what are some things people don't know about the streets?"
Here were some of those answers.
A Sad Reality
"My stint on the streets was about six months and due to some bad decisions I made. But what sticks with me the most was the crushing boredom."
"No intellectual stimulus at all because it's safer to keep your distance from other homeless, and you're not going to have a chat with civilian out of the blue."
"So you're completely alone all the time. And to avoid putting yourself in risky situations you stay on the move as much as possible."
"Most cities you can get some day labor work for quick cash but then you have to be careful about people knowing you have cash. You're always on the lookout."
"The only sound nights sleep I ever got was when I could manage to scrounge up enough cash to get a room in a transient hotel for a night and basically pass out from exhaustion."
"Other than that you're sleep deprived most of the time. And of course all this is made worse if on the streets in winter."-HardALee99
The Worst Side Of A Woman's Life (TW: Rape)
"I'm a psychiatric RN who works with mostly homeless people."
"I have heard SO MANY TIMES where women who tested positive for meth have said they use it to stay awake 24/7 to avoid being assaulted by other homeless."
Lucky To Be Alive
"People can and often do develop PTSD from being homeless, especially in rough areas. BF was kicked out at 14 in what was, at the time, the heroin capital of the Northeast, and he very quickly realized that selling drugs was the easiest way to make sure he had food/water/shelter as someone under legal age to work."
"But bouncing from crackhouse to crackhouse— especially as a kid— creates this state of constant hyper-vigilance, possessiveness over your belongings, a lot of hoarding behaviors, etc."
"Basically you wind up living in survival mode the entire time so you don't get assaulted/arrested/kidnapped/shanked."
"To this day if you touch him while he's sleeping he freaks the f**k out. Loud noises at night freak him out, car engines outside, lights in the window, etc."
"He still sleeps better on a couch in the corner of the room than a bed, because 'at least then you have something at your back, makes it harder for people to surprise you.'"
"Nightmares, too. Just... a whole bunch of sh*t, some of which I won't get into because he's embarrassed by it. Here are a few of the choice events he went through, though, just in the first two years or so:"
"He's almost had his throat slit with a half a DVD, woke up with a fork in his chest from some crazy chick, had all his food stolen, even had somebody inject him with heroin against his will while he was sleeping. Sad to think about."
"He's off the streets now, kicked a drug addiction, found a good-paying job, and is about to go to college. But the damage being homeless for his adolesence/early adulthood did..."
"It's going to be a while before he really feels safe. Not to mention he feels like a failure going to college at 30, but... I mean, how many people could have gone through all the horrific sh*t he went through, lived to tell the tale, AND somehow managed to keep going and eventually recover?"-vishuual
Homelessness is even expensive for the country because it leads to more and more problems that resources have to be expended upon in order to deal with the mental health and physical trauma it causes.
Over And Over
"One thing that f**ked me up was my concept of time. Often I'd be up late as f**k trying to sleep and before I knew it, the sun's back up."
"You gotta plan your day differently to use the restroom and it's hard to even find anything 'normal' to do because there are so little resources."
"People don't realize that being homeless is a situation in which no one is really looking to help you to find a sustainable life. It's truly being otherized and ostracized until you die or miraculously get back on the work grind."-SuperDuperChuck
Not An Addict
"I guess the worst part for me was the lasting trauma."
"Sure walking around in sandals because it's all you have when it's raining sucks. Sure sleeping in public is terrifying. Yeah homeless shelters are packed out. Borderline impossible to get a job."
"But the worst part was realising I'd lost some fundamental part of myself and I wasn't getting it back. Innocence maybe?"
"But it's more than that, it's like that Lily Allen music video where she's walking around with rose coloured glasses but the audience sees what's real. Yeah well, you lose the glasses and you never get them back."
"There's nothing that fixes the trauma of knowing people who you thought were your friends or family were fully aware you had nowhere to go and didn't do anything about it."
"You can't fix that feeling of your best friend not returning your texts until you're back on your feet. Or the stares you get in the street when thousands of people walk past and don't stop."
"I'm physically ok now but I'll never see people the same way again. I don't know how to. I used to be a really sociable person and now I steer clear of most people. I don't trust anyone."
"Also as an aside, the people who were kindest to me were always working class. A construction worker who bought me lunch. A taxi driver who got me a blanket. Rich people treat you like utter filth and disappear ASAP."
"I was homeless due to domestic violence as well, but people just assume it must be drugs. I literally barely drink let alone use drugs, but in people's minds homeless = addict."-SunnydaleHigh1999
Stop Stigmatizing Homelessness
"The amount of 'ordinary' people there are that are homeless. I was homeless for about 6 months but you would have never known."
"I had job where I could make just enough to stay fed and get a gym membership. I kept all my clothes in the gym/ back room of the restaurant I worked at."
"I'd hide and sleep in the back office of the restaurant. A lot of homeless people have cars and can sleep in them."
"Gym memberships are the easiest ways to stay clean/ not look homeless. Once my boss found out I was homeless, he let me move into a room at a hotel he managed for free. That man saved my life."-SeamanTheSailor
Food Or Money?
"People seem to have this perception that food is the only thing a homeless person would need to use money on and so they will give food in place of money."
"While giving food is nice, it isn't some one-to-one replacement for money. Food can't help you get cleaned up for job interviews, for example."-CattyPlatty
And homelessness is caused by a number of things--most of which are failures of the government. There are enough vacant homes in the United States for every homeless person to have 6.
Policing Your Own Cleanliness
"What's really important is staying clean. But not so clean people won't give you money if you have to panhandle."
"Don't let people know where you sleep if you can help it."
"Don't take work offers alone, you never know what kind of sicko's there are out there, especially once they have you alone in their environment."-Tired_of_yer_ish
Read That Part Again About How Close You Are To Homelessness
"Former homeless person here (as a child and an adult) and someone who used to work helping folks who were unhoused due to violence get housing:"
"-You are more likely to become homeless than win the lottery. Most Americans (around 60%, that number has probably changed in the pandemic) are one missed paycheck away from homelessness."
"-As shared above, lack of quality jobs, affordable inventory (meaning not enough affordable housing), and integrative and trauma-informed heath care services are the leading causes that keep people unhoused."
"All this to say, you have far more in common with people on the street than you think you do. Please see them as people. I will never forget what it felt like to have someone's eyes slide right past me like I was invisible. "
"No one is expecting you alone to end homelessness, but you can give someone $10 for a laundromat or shower, or say hello."-AbolitionistCapybara
Why Is It Illegal To Have The System Fail You?
"I was homeless with my single mom at the age of 9. In the US it is basically illegal to be homeless but it is definitely illegal to be homeless and have a homeless kid."
"My mom was a great mom. We just hit a really rough patch in the 2008 financial crisis in the US causing my mom to lose her job."
"She could not get another one and we ended up living in her mini van. However she was always able to get me food and get me to school. I am not sure how she was able to keep our situation a secret but I was so ashamed of living in a car that I wasn't about to tell anyone about it."
"I think it is twisted that the government would rather place kids with strangers and give those strangers money to take care of the kid than to help that kids family find stability."
"Furthermore my boyfriend was in the foster system for a number of years and has a few horror stories from it. I feel lucky that I was homeless with my mother and that we were able to get out of that situation in comparison to what my boyfriend went through in his childhood living with abusive foster parents."-psychologicalfuntime
The bottom line is that homelessness is not the fault of the homeless. It is the fault of a system that criminalizes a lack of resources and support, especially in the USA, the wealthiest country in the world.
What would we gain by continuing to criticize and stigmatize homeless people across the country?
It's amazing what the legalities are from place to place. I live in New England, and in Connecticut, passengers are allowed to drink alcohol in the car, as long as they aren't driving. Weed isn't legal there, but open containers in the car? Totally fine. At least we have something to look forward to as we cross the border.
There are some truly strange laws depending on where you go. Here is a list of the weirdest ones.
Did you know that murder is allowed in certain instances, depending on where you go? Talk about scary.
I’m sure no one will test these laws.
Not sure how much of it is true. But apparently if the Swedes cross the border by walking over the ice given its frozen over, (which it hasn't in like more than 100 years) we are allowed to kill them.
The exact gates they have to be within are defined but I don't remember what they are.
Dying is illegal in France.Kate Mckinnon Snl GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
Oh boy. France has some history and a love of regulation. Perfect mix for absurd laws. Quick examples:
It's still technically mandatory to have hay at home in case the king's horse is nearby and needs some... Horses have been a pretty rare sight, let alone kings.
A mayor made it illegal to die in his town. The initial problem was an overcrowded cemetery, but he kinda reached the wrong solution.
This probably isn’t enforced anymore.
There is a medieval law here that has never been repealed: all males over the age of 14 are required by law to practice longbow for at least two hours per week.
Some of these laws are so silly, they make you wonder what event happened that put them in place.
I think everyone has done this.
"Forbidden to pee in the ocean". I live in Portugal.
'Like a piss in the ocean' is literally a euphemism for something not mattering. What's the problem?
Tigers are fine, though.film history GIF by DiggGiphy
It's illegal to bring a lion to the movies.
Somebody better have a conversation with MGM.
You can't carry a salmon suspiciously.
"No officer, I was going to eat it later"
"Seems suspicious you were carrying it around in public. I'm gonna have to take you in for questioning."
What is the backstory here?
It's illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors here.
I know this is Pennsylvania, but I forget the exact reasoning, but I think it has something to do with homeless people.
These next few laws will definitely make you question these towns’ legitimacy when it comes to lawmaking.
Poor raccoons.raccoon stealing GIFGiphy
In Virginia, it's illegal to "hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species" on Sundays. However, it is permissible to kill raccoons.
How the heck is this enforced?
I don't know if this is still a thing anymore, but in Texas it used to be illegal to own more than six dildos.
It's illegal to own any at all in Alabama unless the owner has a letter from a doctor claiming a legitimate medical need.
Granted, most of these laws were written a very long time ago. But it makes you wonder, what the heck were these original lawmakers doing? And what event happened that needed these laws to be enforced at all?
If some of these laws don't make you want to be a criminal, then I don't know what will