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gross

1.2 million children trafficked per year:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/leader/display.var.1772020.0.snatched_by_fagin.php_

.snatched_by_fagin.php

add that to the end of the above url.

My first year of college was spent as as "Advertising Production" student. What I learned in the Advertising Psychology classes so appalled me that I dropped the major after the first year. It was my first academic exposure to psychological warfare premises and I've seen their effects become ubiquitous. Were the average person to un-busy themselves long enough to sit and give their media some consideration after being made aware of a few basic psychological techniques, they may wish to move their family to some deserted island. As more people did the same, the island wouldn't be deserted for long. I reiterate something I posted here before: turn off your television set. Failing that, at least press the mute button and avert your eyes during commercial breaks. I'm serious.

Let me add another reiteration: my previously noted book recommendation for the late Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism", which seems to grow more relevant with each year that passes.

"The parents have the power" is the wisest thing I heard in that video. When I was a kid, the word "fashion" wasn't in my family's vocabulary. I was lucky the years I had more than hand-me-downs, and I remember when the school officials used to measure the length of the older girls' skirts and send them home if they were above their knees (no trousers allowed for girls, either), so maybe I'm just too old and out of touch to pass judgment. Then again, I knew kids whose parents wouldn't let them wear what everyone else did -- and the other kids could be brutal.

It's a tough call, and one that makes me relieved I'm not a parent.

But I'm not so sure kids' fashions are a sign of the fall of civilization. Every generation seems to go through a clothing war between adults and kids.

Do sexy fashions for little ones encourage pedophilia? I suspect that a person is either a pedophile or not and the child's clothing matters little, but I still wouldn't want to encourage a child to dress provicatively if I could help it. What happened to children being children? I'm all for slowing down and encouraging a kid to be a kid.

But two of those little girls spoke in a pretty grown-up and articulate way about fashion, and maybe they should be encouraged to study the history of fashion or something. Maybe they have a natural leaning in that direction for a future career. I think parents need to discriminate between a kid just following the others like a sheep and the kid following an artistic calling.

I've written about this before. I think that blaming idiot celebrities, or movies, or video games and what not for children's bad behaviour is just an excuse adults give for bad parenting. Really, how much are the children to blame when they have no money and no power (even though some people may say they do that too is an excuse for bad parenting)? The kids may say "I want to look like celebrity X!" and the parent is supposed to say "tough shit," but instead says "I took too many bong hits in college and now am an idiot and can't say no." Is it that hard for these people to say no to bad ideas?

This is very much like another article I saw today about the decline of society. It discusses how many of today's super atheists have no intellectual problem with God but instead want to be sexual deviants and not have to face the consequences of their perversion in an afterlife.
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/Doug
Giles/2007/10/27/atheism_an_intel
lectual_revolt_or_pelvic_rebellion

MP,
>I hadn't planned to post another entry in this rather unpopular series so soon<
Please continue to post on this topic as often as you can! It's the topic I enjoy most, though after following the first couple links in the series I don't have the heart to read anymore of the horrific happenings, I just take your word for it. It's rare for anyone to validate religion these days, much less Christianity - I applaud you for doing so even if it's not your most popular topic.
>Previously, I speculated that the waning of religious values has led to a cultural vacuum. There's probably some truth to this, but the more I look at it, the more I think that the real culprit in our cultural decline is the demise of any concept of personal responsibility.<
Although I don't have any proof, I agree with your original point that waning religious values has led to a cultural vacuum. The only point I would disagree with is that IMO taking personal responsibility is actually the first principle in Christianity and I would think in most religions, rather than a separate value. In our human form we have certain tendencies that we may have to fight our whole lives, even after becoming followers of Christ, therefore "shedding the old (wo)man and putting on the new (wo)man", which is equal to recognizing and acknowledging our weaknesses and keeping vigilance on correcting them which is a continuous process of taking personal responsibility. (Sorry for the run-on sentence, it can probably be written better than my capabilities).
Suzie

I have this feeling that our evolution of consciousness means we must go through this phase, which appears to us as a decline in morality. This phase might also be a reaction to all this past fear based religion (evangels) in America. We have more people in jail per capita than other industrialized country by a pretty wide margin. So much for religion bringing morality to a society as we have more people attending church than any of the other industrialized western societies.

Maybe there is a decline in morality phase between fear based on religious beliefs and moving away from that fear. The pendulum always seems to go to the other side. Fear is a poor substitute for love when it comes to nurturing morality. Fear has negative side effects and we may be experiencing those side effects in our society.

I suspect the law of human progress looks more like a spiral with a very slight upward trend. I think we humans lack the intelligence to be able to see an underlying reality of these appearances of immorality.

Leaders and managers of the companies I consulted with would almost always state “we all must take personal responsibility” without understanding how the very management systems and structures within their organizations were influencing employee behavior and performance

We have become an individualistic, competitive, materialistic, and capitalistic society. One day an expensive German sports car passed me on the freeway and their license plate read “Igotmine”. And we pride ourselves on every one of these traits. In fact we think so much of them we want the rest of the world to be just like us even if we have to commit aggression against them to give it to them.

Where are the love, kindness, and goodness in any one of those traits that we as a society cherish? Structure, systems, and beliefs influence behavior. Maybe Jesus was right we sow what we reap. Scary thought. Often my own journey feels like two steps forward and three backwards.

William,
You remember I was the person who recently said I respect your views, so with all due respect, may I ask why you think religion is "superstition" and fear-based, etc. yet at the same time you say it's the worst kind of arrogance to think we are the only inhabited planet and there is other life out there? I don't follow your logic, it seems it would take more faith to believe in aliens than it would a Supreme Being. Particularly since this blog's #1 topic is of the spiritual variety?
Thanks, Suzie

Placing all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea, and that includes investing all your love and belief in this physical reality. This physical reality that we live in appears real but it isn't. It's an illusion. Atoms are mostly ghostly empty space, 99.9999999% empty space to be exact, and if an atom were the size of a football stadium the nucleus in the middle would be the size of a grain of rice and the electrons little more than wispy clouds circling around the outside.

And the sub atomic particles themselves that make up atoms, the electrons, neutrons, and protons, etc., are hardly like anything we've come to know as matter - more like eddys in a stream than BB's or rocks. They are able to do things that ordinary matter can not do, appear and disappear, popping into and out of existence, making quantum jumps between orbitals, passing right through ordinary matter, able to instantaneously communicate with one another - some times appearing as a wave and sometimes a particle, and sometimes seemingly able to communicate with the people who are investigating them.

The statistical probability that our Universe be exactly perfect for life is 10 to the 10 to the 123 power. That's an astronomically big number. All kinds of things had to be perfect for this Universe to be able to support life. It's almost like this Universe was made for life. The strong and weak forces inside the atom, gravity, etc. Not only that, the Earth itself is a miracle, with liquid water and a climate where life can exist. A little closer to the Sun and the water would have boiled away, and a little farther away and it would be a block of ice. The Earth without it's moon would have such erratic climate that life as we know it would be impossible.

Add to that the millions of people who have had near death experiences -including evidential material involved, seeing things in the operating room that they shouldn't have been able to see, sometimes even in the hallways or waiting rooms, and even outside the hospital, and saying things about the Spiritual Universe which closely parallel what Dr. David Bohm says one might expect in a holographic universe, describing the other side as some kind of strange quantum-holographic dimension where thoughts are things and consciousness creates reality; a place where the way one thinks creates the reality they experience.

Add to that death bed visions where 60-65% of people who are dying - not under the influence of drugs, reach up their arms and claim to be greeted or met by loved ones who have gone on before them and it's enough for me to have strong confidence that this life is not all there is with the possibility that our life has meaning and something of who we are survives the death of our physical body.

>We have more people in jail per capita than other industrialized country by a pretty wide margin. So much for religion bringing morality to a society as we have more people attending church than any of the other industrialized western societies.

It's doubtful that the people going to church are the same ones who are being sent to jail. There is a deep cultural divide in this country.

We may have a larger prison population than other nations simply because we impose tougher sentences. The man who stabbed Monica Seles was tried in a German court. He was sentenced to outpatient counseling! I very much doubt that an American court would have been so lenient with a guy whose crime - attempted murder - was witnessed by millions on live TV.

>We have become an individualistic, competitive, materialistic, and capitalistic society.

We were always that kind of society, but in the past there was a greater sense of personal responsibility. I suspect that part of the decline in personal responsibility can be traced to the rise of the welfare state, which seeks to relieve people of responsibility. This is not to say that the welfare state is a bad thing - I certainly wouldn't want to live in a society without a "social safety net" - but any reform, no matter how necessary, is going to have a downside.

Arthur, that's a very nice summary of evidence for a nonmaterialistic worldview. Well done!

Evolution of consciousness? Try slime molds -- from New Scientist, last May:

The gates are treated to ensure that mould creeping though one or both of two "input" tubes eventually causes mould to either emerge from a single "output" tube or to not emerge. In an "AND" gate, for example, mould only exits from the output tube when it is fed into both input tubes. Connecting many such tubes together can be used to perform more complex calculations, albeit at a very slow speeds (slime mould's top speed is 1 centimetre per hour).

As with Zauner's research, potential applications are not very clear. But one noteworthy benefit is that a mould-based logic gate will naturally repair itself. So biological logic gates could perhaps be used in certain situations as a more resilient alternative to electronic gates.

Okay, I'm pretty new to this blog (well, commenting anyway - I've been reading it for a while) so I hope I'm not out of line but I have to ask- what on earth is Drew Hempel on about? He seems to make a daily comment that is near incomprehensible. Is it only me that thinks that?

It may be the case that society is declining, it may not, but where's the proof that this - if true - is due to a certain worldview? What makes you draw this hasty conclusion? I don't know how many times I've mentioned this, but the Japanese society is a very good counter example to your thesis. Japanese society is no less materialistic than ours (I just read about this in a Japanese book on the paranormal, and the attitudes are basically the same), still, their crime rates are extraordinarily low compared to most countries. Granted, they're increasing, but this probably has a lot to do with the cultural influence of the west.

Another point I've been trying to make is that atheism seems to have been *stronger* in those golden days that Michael are talking about, that is, the 40's and 50's (he mentioned some statistics about schools from this period compared to today). I don't recall the specific facts, but I do recall having read on several occasions that belief in the paranormal has grown since this period.
Now som have argued that belief in the paranormal doesn't equate spirituality, but that's a strange kind of answer if you ask me. I mean, what then is spirituality? It's so vague that it's meaningless even to discuss. I can find spiritual values in atheists as well.

"Okay, I'm pretty new to this blog (well, commenting anyway - I've been reading it for a while) so I hope I'm not out of line but I have to ask- what on earth is Drew Hempel on about? He seems to make a daily comment that is near incomprehensible. Is it only me that thinks that?"

No, Major, you're not the only one. I think drew hempel's posts demonstrate what involvement with with the paranormal can do to a person. It's sad.

>Another point I've been trying to make is that atheism seems to have been *stronger* in those golden days that Michael are talking about, that is, the 40's and 50's

No way. Look at the way religion was treated in Hollywood movies of that period.

In any event, I'm coming around to the view that a decline in personal responsibility is the real problem.

Oh, regarding Japan ... One of the few things I know about Japan is that they traditionally have had a "shame culture," while most Western societies have had a "guilt culture." (See discussion here.)

It seems to me that guilt does not have as strong a hold on the Western mindset as it once did, and as a result people are more willing to behave irresponsibly and not worry about the consequences. (Of course, there's an upside to having less guilt, but the downside is not negligible. Sometimes guilt serves a useful purpose.)

Perhaps the Japanese have retained more of their traditional "shame culture" and so have been somewhat immunized against the temptation to behave irresponsibly.

Well I realize my information seems incomprehensible but I just post for fun. I have my masters thesis and biography linked at http://nonduality.com/hempel.htm.

Here's an applicable quote from one of my favorite researchers on this topic:

"In particular, however, neither Freud nor anyone later sought to suggest the repression of paranormal abilities as a causal basis for neurosis -- that is, for the splitting away from consciousness, and the consequent gathering to themselves of disproportionate separate powers, of aspects of the unconscious mind -- a proposal that the present book makes herewith." (p. 154)

-- from Stan Gooch's book "The Origins of Psychic Phenomena: Poltergeists, incubi, succubi, and the unconscious mind" (Inner Traditions, 2007)

Gooch and I have corresponded several times, via snail mail.

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