Monthly Archives: October 2007

Is Evil a Treatable Disease?

Yesterday, I took a friend to her cancer treatment. I sat in the waiting room, reading, while she endured a painful and humiliating event. When she emerged, she was tearful and trembling.

As I waited, I read an ancillary textbook for my next class. In the book was an excerpt from M. Scott Peck’s book, People of the Lie. In it, he postulates that evil is a disease, much like alcoholism. People who engage in both evil and alcoholism are participants, he says. Whether they are willing participants or not is the point of the matter.

As an alcoholic who has been clean and sober for many years, I can say that my participation in drinking was the result of a physical craving that was so severe that I would do anything, anything, to satisfy that craving, at the expense of all that was dear. Was I a willing participant? Yes, in a manner of speaking. We all have a need to feel like we’re the good guys, doing the good thing, even when we’re committing heinous acts. I, having no control over my drinking, embraced it as the cool thing to do. Until the time came when I could no longer do so, and shame took over. The only thing that keeps my alcoholism at bay today is a program of spiritual living.

But evil… now that’s a completely different thing. Isn’t it?

The Urantia Book defines evil as “a partial realization of, or maladjustment to, universe realities.” It goes on to say: “And of all forms of evil, none are more destructive of personality status than betrayal of trust and disloyalty to one’s confiding friends.” It is a “deficiency of wisdom.”

And so it would seem that evil is within our control, until we turn that corner and discover that we cannot stop. There was a moment at which I could not stop drinking. Does there come a moment when we cannot curtail our destructive (evil) actions?

Is evil addictive?

And if it is, will a program of spiritual living cure it, or halt its progression? Keep it in remission?

But what about my friend who emerged from the treatment room in the cancer center, shaken and traumatized by the error visited upon her body?

Evil may be an action; it may or may not be a willful action. But the darkness that we call cancer is certainly born of evil–a maladjustment to universe realities.

The treatment isn’t pretty, no matter what the circumstances. Today, cancer is a treatable disease, and my friend will endure whatever discomfort it takes to eradicate the darkness from her body, along with millions of others, recovering from cancer, recovering from alcoholism.

I hope that some day, other manifestations of evil will be similarly treated and eradicated.

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Filed under Cancer, Evil, Friends

Good Stress

There is an old adage: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” This is true in my experience. I have friends who are either retired or stay-at-homes, and if we have a project to do, they always give it to me to organize. I resent this at times, but then I realize that if it’s going to get done, it needs to be done by a busy person. 

I put the tasks on my calendar, prioritize them and just like all the other “to do” items on my desk, it will get done in due time.  If it has a priority.

The last time they gave me an outing to organize, the priority hadn’t yet risen to the surface of my schedule, and when the opportunity came up, spur-of-the-moment, I went without them. They were miffed, but that’s too bad. I’m busy!

I like being busy. I like the stress of deadlines and a full schedule of to-do’s. But I try to keep a careful balance. I tend to over-commit, and while I am almost always capable of meeting all my deadlines, my projects usually rely on others to do their part on time and on budget, too. When someone else fails to meet their commitment, then I get backed up and start missing my own deadlines and that makes me very grumpy indeed. So I want just enough stress to keep me productive, but not so much that I get grumpy. A fine line indeed.

I even write on my calendar “Do Nothing” when I need a day off. That way I’m sure to take a day to myself.

I use Time and Chaos on my computer to organize myself. This program is a godsend. You can download the basic version for free. I enter every aspect of my daily life into this program (and back it up religiously, needless to say). It keeps me from spinning my wheels, keeps me on target and on deadline and keeps me happy.

Kept in perspective, stress is good.

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Filed under Discipline, time

It’s that time of year

National Novel Writing Month begins November 1. Check it out. I know lots of people who have participated in this, and they all say it is an incredible grind, quite an adrenaline pump, and at the end… they have a terrible first draft.  But they do have a first draft, and that’s the point.

With very few exceptions, all first drafts are terrible, so if you need permission to pound out a terrible novel, you have it, and you’ll be in the company of thousands of others writing similarly horrible first drafts.

If you’re going to participate, and I hope you do, now is the time to get your ideas together, maybe even make your outline. The better prepared you are at 12:01 a.m. on November 1, the better your first draft will be.

Here’s the thing: If you participate, and you succeed (win!) by writing a verifiable 50,000 words between November 1 and 30, you will have learned a lot. You will have learned a lot about characters, plot, pacing, and your own limits.

Many people say that the first novel written is never the first one sold. I say the first novel written is usually so autobiographical that it is almost never sold at all, and that’s a good thing. So get it out of your system. Write your practice novel while in the company of over 70,000 others. Take advantage of everything that the fun, amazing website has to offer, and jump in with both feet. It’s only one month. What’s one month?

Do it.

And on December 1, let me know how it went.

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Filed under Discipline, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

Personality types

It only makes sense that there are a limited number of personality “types” in the world. We live in an orderly universe, after all. Astrology would have us believe there are twelve. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, there are sixteen. The Enneagram says there are nine.

Last weekend I took a class in the Myers-Briggs (I’m an INFJ) and in the Enneagram (I’m a 7), and was stunned to speechlessness at how accurate they both were in talking about me. I’m also a Taurus, and that profile fits like a glove, too, all of them different, yet surprisingly undeniable. 

Some people are distressed when they discover that they conform to a certain type, others find comfort in it.

I like it.

I like seeing my strengths and weaknesses from the point of view of an impartial observer. I like seeing my  husband’s natural traits spelled out for me in a book, and from now on, I’ll react differently to some of the things he does and says because I know those things are in his nature. I don’t try to change him, and we don’t fight, but I do my share of eye-rolling. That will stop now that I understand him better.

The Urantia Book says that the key to loving our neighbors is understanding them. I came a long way toward that this weekend, and had yet one more gut-level validation about the exquisite architecture of this magnificent universe in which we live.   

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Filed under connections, Personalities, The Urantia Book

When is enough, enough?

I’m struggling. This is likely to be an unpopular blog entry, but I’m struggling with difficult issues, and I hope you understand that and don’t judge me by my musings.

Let me say first off that I have had cancer. I don’t have it any more, at least I don’t think so. It could pop up again and haunt me, but for now, I’m what they call NED, or No Evidence of Disease. But my bout with cancer has rendered me all but uninsurable.  The minimal insurance I have is basically in case of a catastrophic event. It is very expensive,  I have a very high deductible, and all the “wellness” stuff I do —  mammograms, etc. — aren’t covered. They don’t even count toward my deductible.

And yet I hear about 90-year-old people having hips replaced.  An 87-year-old woman having a mastectomy. Yet another round of chemo for an 85-year-old woman with inoperable, incurable, terminal pancreatic cancer.

Who pays for that? You and I do.

People on Medicare? People on Medicaid? People who are blessed with good insurance coverage? You and I pay for all of that, one way or another.

Fertility treatments–wretchedly expensive–are covered by insurance in seven states where it is the law to do so. Isn’t that an elective procedure? I know it isn’t fair that some people can breed indiscriminately and others cannot conceive no matter what, but hey, life isn’t fair. Why should I pay for that?

I have a friend whose elderly mother-in-law is dying of lung cancer. I’m not entirely certain of her age, but I believe her to be in her early 90s. He said to me, “Knowing what I know now, I would have stopped the chemo a year or more ago and let her feel as good as possible this past year, instead of continually, horribly sick.” I’ve heard that before.

I’ve also heard doctors say, “We can’t take away their hope.”  Hope? What do you mean, hope? Does the 90-year-old woman really believe that she isn’t going to die — if not by this cancer than by something else — and soon?

So they pump these poor people full of yet another round of chemo and collect their Medicare payments and think that they’ve given the family some hope.

I’m a big fan of Leroy Sievers’. I’ve been following his blog since I saw the “Living With Cancer” special with Ted Koppel, Elizabeth Edwards and Lance Armstrong several months ago. Leroy is quite the warrior, with recurrent, metatastic colon cancer. He has had mets removed from his brain, his rib, his lungs and last Monday, they took out diseased vertebrae and replaced them. I root for him to beat this disease.

But is the medical professional leading him on? Is there really a cure right around the corner, and all they need to do is buy him some more time until that cure is available for him? Or are they sucking away his insurance dollars and giving him false hope? Does the medical profession ever run out of hope for people with cancer — midlife people like Leroy, like me? Should they just… stop… at some point?

I don’t know. I don’t have to make those tough decisions today, not for myself, my husband, my elderly mother or anybody else. I am not walking a mile in anyone’s moccasins here. I am merely troubled, and trying to come to terms with the fact that millions of children go without any health insurance at all, while all this money is sent to Iraq and shot into the fading veins of patients for whom there really is no hope.

Leroy posted a cancer joke not too long ago. Q: Why do they nail coffins shut? A. So the doctors can’t try just one more round of chemo.

Grim humor.

Here’s my bottom line question: Just because we can, does that mean we should

To me, the people who give this planet hope are the ones with enough faith to understand that we’re all going to die, and that death is not a tragedy for someone who has reached their elder years.  All these resources should be going to the children, who still have much yet to experience.

But as I said, I’m not making any decisions today.  I’m just thinking, preparing for the time when I will have to say “enough,” because surely that day will come.

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Filed under Cancer