The Difference Between Sympathy and Facts

02/05/2014

Yesterday I wrote down my views on drugs and addiction to which I have received mixed feedback, some people agree with my views whilst some misunderstood them. I don’t have to defend what I say to anybody but today I will explain the reasoning behind my views. Firstly I will reiterate something I have said in the past, the overall aim of this blog is to share my thought provoking opinions in order to raise awareness towards the things happening in the world that receive very little attention. Will my thoughts please everyone? No. Do I claim that my thoughts and opinions are always right? No. And without sounding like an arrogant dick I don’t write for popularity and I don’t write to please anybody. I write about whatever I feel is an important issue at that particular moment in time and I write whatever comes to my head because this is my platform to share MY thoughts. I am just a man sharing his thoughts and I don’t pretend to be anything other than that.

The case of Peaches Geldof took a turn for me yesterday from the obsession of celebrities to the problem of drugs and addiction. I said how the whole incident has brought to the surface a pet hate of mine, that Peaches was a victim of the disease of addiction. I said  I saw one tweet that said addiction is not a lifestyle choice but a cruel disease. Then I said in my eyes this is completely incorrect, substance addiction comes as a result of your lifestyle CHOICES. I said I understand that addiction is a huge problem but like I saw somebody else say, you don’t get addicted to heroin out of the blue. Then I shared this passage from a previous post of mine:

“In recent weeks I have written about accountability with the focus being directed mainly at the police and other government institutions. Today I’m going to be shining the light on us and how in our cynical society it is becoming all too easy to just blame other people for things which we should be taking some personal responsibility for. This line of thought started for me this week when I read an article in The Guardian by Russell Brand which says Phillip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws. Wrong. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the victim of his own choices and actions.

It doesn’t matter what laws are in force regarding any aspect of life the final consequence is always going to be as a result of the choices you make and the action you take. In the case of Mr Hoffman if you choose to be a drug user then prepare for the possibility you will self destruct. Russell’s argument in this case is that we don’t treat drug users correctly. I’m sure if Mr Hoffman wanted it all the help in the world would have been available to him. But we are going off topic, I’m not going to enter that debate of how to treat drug addicts today because it’s a whole different can of worms which I’m not really qualified to comment on. If you have read any of my previous articles or listened to any of my radio shows you will know I am as informed as anyone on the whole “War on Drugs” and the prison for profit business. I know people who have died from drug abuse, I’ve witnessed drug abuse with my own eyes but what I’m talking about today is personal responsibility.

I have very little sympathy for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, if it wasn’t for the fact he has left behind fatherless children I would have none at all. This may sound a little harsh but Mr Hoffman was successful at what he did, he had the world in the palm of his hand to do anything he wanted and he CHOSE heroin which he would have known leads to addiction. It was this choice that has led to his early demise and in the wise words from the film A Bronx Tale there is nothing more tragic in life than wasted talent.

There is a huge drug problem in this country and across the world, extending beyond illegal drugs to include prescription drugs. But with drugs it is all about personal choice, you would have to grow up under a rock to not know what lies at the end of the substance abuse road. Most people take drugs as a release, some people take them to purposely self destruct because their lives have just become so unbearable due to one personal tragedy to the next. But the bottom line always remains the same, people become addicted to drugs because they choose to take them. When I want release I will read a good book because I know the outcome of this activity will be constructive and not destructive. You don’t need laws to deal with book addictions do you, who was the last person to die because of stupid anti-book laws?”

A few people say these views are insensitive, they are not insensitive they are the truth. My views stem from a universal outlook and not the lower level of social groupthink. It is a FACT that people are responsible for their actions, therefore if they take substances that is known to destroy lives then they have brought upon themselves everything that comes their way. But before we continue let’s clear one thing up, I never commented on addiction itself because I am not qualified to do so. I talked about the choices and decisions that come before addiction. The choices are very simple with drugs, do them or don’t do them, say yes or say no. Yesterday I quoted Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five and today I am going to do it again:

“A million magic crystals, painted pure and white, a multi-million dollars almost overnight. Twice as sweet as sugar, twice as bitter as salt and if you get hooked baby it’s nobody else’s fault, so don’t do it!”

Yesterday I had quite a lengthy debate with a person who questioned my stance on this topic because it wasn’t sympathetic enough, that I over simplified the issue of choices. They countered that some people aren’t always able to make the “right” choices due to mental health issues, trauma, poverty, culture and lack of opportunities. They seemed to think that I don’t understand how circumstances dictate what choices people have, I understand that just as good as anybody else. I’m fully aware that bad environments often result in bad choices. But when somebody is offered a pill, a spliff, a line or a needle it is still down to that person to say yes or no, unless somebody has a gun to their head and is forcing them to take it.

Everybody has the opportunity to make the right choice, whether they do or don’t is up to that person.  Granted it is harder for some but it is never impossible. If I have over simplified the issue then in my eyes that is a good thing because when you break life down to its core elements it is actually very simple, it is ourselves that make life complicated. It is just as easy for somebody to get themselves to the library and better themselves than it is for them to shoot up and go down the path of oblivion. It is down to each individual to be a product of their environment or to be all they can be, it is very rare that a person comes from complete destitution and a place of absolutely no hope, people always have options regardless of circumstances.

In a futile attempt to try and belittle my side of the argument the person I was debating with said “It’s not that easy. It might be for you, but just because it was to you doesn’t mean it is the same for everyone.” This only validates my point that some laws are universal, people’s emotions or state of mind do not affect how they work. If you throw something up in the air, it is going to come back down because of the law of gravity. If you touch a fire you will get burnt because of the law of heat. It has been that easy for me to stay clear of drugs because I obey the universal law of cause and effect. If you read books you will become smart, if you take heroin you will become a junkie. I chose the path I took in life and, other than alcohol at the weekend, I have avoided drugs at all costs. Whilst I was out with my friends on the weekends they were spending their money on cocaine and my money was being saved for a trip around Europe that saw me visit Barcelona, Ibiza, Madrid, Bilbao, Lyon, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Milan, Verona, Venice, Naples, Cassino, Rome, Genoa and Turin as well as countless other towns and villages.

The argument of circumstances doesn’t work with me because I am no fortunate son born into privilege, I am from a council estate raised by a single mother. The place I am from is surrounded by drugs and the opportunities are none. Here is a headline from an incident that happened in a house on the street next to mine around ten years ago, this is the environment my views on life were formed: “Pair deny killing man found cut up” (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/pair-deny-killing-man-found-1194209).

We all make mistakes, growing up I was a bit of a nuisance myself at times.  When I was 16 and still at school I was arrested for being drunk and disorderly after a Friday night of drinking on the streets with my friends. The mistake was made but I didn’t think I am going to become a helpless alcoholic who is always in trouble with the police, I thought last night I made a huge mistake and fucked up big time. My aim was to use my mistake as a lesson to learn from and to make sure it never happened again, which it didn’t.

If there is one thing the people of this country are addicted to then it is the victim mentality and the people who don’t like hearing this the most are the people who like to portray themselves as victims. If people want to argue against people being responsible for their actions then who do we blame? God? The Government? The weather? The alignment of the planets?

Sure the Government creates social conditions that can be very hard to overcome, especially if you are born at the bottom of the pile like I was. But you don’t sit back and wallow in your misery or self destruct at the first available opportunity, you fight twice as hard as everybody else to get to where you want to be in life. There is a distinct lack of personal responsibility in this country and when people aren’t responsible for their actions then chaos ensues. People know drugs destroy lives, we are taught about drugs at school, we see how drugs are portrayed on TV, in the centre of our cities we walk past homeless people with limbs missing from drug abuse, the damage that drugs do is everywhere to see and the simple fact of the matter is that people do them anyway. People don’t like me saying these things because it is a sign of strength which is the complete opposite of the weak victim mentality.

That is not to say I don’t think people who have made mistakes and are suffering from drug dependency should be castrated for their mistakes and be hung out to dry. Like I have admitted the treatment of drug addicts is something beyond my knowledge. If people are struggling and their life is blighted by addiction they should get all the help they can to become healthy again. The funny thing about the people who have disagreed with my outlook on drug abuse and say I am wrong is that they seem to fail to recognise the fact that I am a healthy and fully functioning productive member of society who is not dependent on any substances and takes zero medication. An old saying of the proof is in the pudding comes to mind.

This article is authored by Lee Cooper

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Requiem For a Dream

22/02/2014

Last night I watched the film Requiem For a Dream which is one of, if not the best, films about the “dark” side of life which is very common and closer to home than we would like to admit. If you have never watched this film you should try and find the time to do so, it is available to watch online for free with a quick Google search.

A brief overview of the film is that it revolves around the lives of the characters Harry Goldfarb, his mother Sara Goldfarb and Harry’s girlfriend Marion Silver. The film is set around Coney Island in New York and it focuses on how mundane life can be when you do not have the funds to live as you would like to live. Sara Goldfarb is an elderly widow who lives a lonely existence that revolves around the television, when one day she receives a telephone call to say she has been selected to appear as a contestant on a television game show.  During a visit to his mothers Sara tells Harry how depressing and lonely her life has become, she tells her son the reason she musters up the will to live and get out of bed in the mornings is to appear on this television show. For her appearance on TV Sara wants to wear a special red dress she has but she can’t fit into it because she has gained weight so she takes diet pills to lose the weight to fit into the dress. The dress is special to her because she wore it to her sons graduation, the red dress is symbolic of better days when she still had a family and happiness in her life. She takes the diet pills whilst sitting at home watching infomercials. To me this is trying to symbolise how fake everything has become, our loved ones sit at home neglected whilst the world is just out to sell us anything and everything, whether it be a fad diet or a shiny new car. We gain possessions but lose what we had all along.

In the case of Harry and his girlfriend Sara it shows the pitfalls of drugs and youth. It shows how they are casual drug users in their apartment where they hold parties with lots of music. At the start of the film the two are clearly in love, the film is about them trying to achieve their dreams. Marion is a fashion designer and her dream is to open her own store and Harry’s dream is to provide for the women he loves to make her happy (The poor misguided man!).  Harry, along with his friend Tyrone, turns drug dealer to try and achieve his goals. They make enough money to open a store but everything turns upside down when they are busted by the police. Harry becomes a heavily dependent drug user whilst Marion turns to prostitution in order to gain access to funds. Things come to a tragic head at the end of the film.

Throughout the film the basic underlying theme is money and the lack of it. Each one of their dreams was to just be happy and in the process of trying to achieve their dreams they lose grip on reality and go crazy. To me the film highlights that at a basic fundamental level our society is very sick but we choose to ignore this. The film highlights how people become trapped into the environments they are born into. I can relate to this film a lot because I myself am trapped in an environment I was born into, I too am in the wilderness trying to achieve my dreams. I gave up a secure, decent paying job to go on this pursuit, some people said that was a crazy move and many still hold that view today. But unlike the people in this film and 95% of the people in real life I feel truly alive every single day. When I worked in an office I was brain-dead, I was a robot, a slave to the mundane 9-5 existence. It is this mundaneness, this emptiness that people take drugs to escape from, they want release from the walls that have been built around them.

But at the station I’m currently at in life all the pitfalls are there. The drugs are there if I wanted them. It was only two months ago that my friends brother who grew up on my street died of a drug overdose, gone in his late twenties. This film reminded me of the old story regarding Martin Hannett, the Manchester music producer who died aged 41 of heart failure after he descended into heroin addiction. Some say this descent started when Factory Records chose to buy the Hacienda nightclub instead of new recording equipment. Ironically the Hacienda is well known for its drugs and some would say it was the birthplace of the Ecstasy/House revolution. Who knows what would have happened if Hannett got his studio instead of the world getting the Hacienda.

I use this example of just how powerful and destructive drugs are, not that any of us need reminding. Like I say on a fundamental level our society is sick, very sick indeed. But we don’t try to fix things, we just carry on in our broken ways. I left my job because I could see that I was just playing the corporate game like everybody is programmed to do. But I could see I would never get any money that way. Money is the game changer and it is very, very elusive. In a cash orientated world where greed is king nobody wants to share what they have so we have a society where the have-nots sling it out against each other for the scraps that are thrown their way by the people who do have money and control the game. It goes back to what I wrote about my family’s old business and its demise, we are no longer a part of a community or families, we are just a cog in a machine that works effortlessly in expanding the wealth of the owners and operators of the machine. Nothing in life is going to change unless we make it happen and until we make that choice to make the necessary changes there is going to be a lot more requiem for dreams along with wasted lives.

This article is authored by Lee Cooper

Follow me on Twitter: @MCR_WAKE_UP

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