Let me declare up front that there was much to celebrate on the 4th of July, and this blog is not meant to distract from the great beginnings of this country that July 4 commemorates, and the many outstanding accomplishments that the USA can claim as our own over the past 235 years. In many ways, it’s remarkable how well the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights have fared over such a long period of dramatic change in the country.
We celebrate Independence Day as freedom from overt government intrusion into our lives, yet gazing back over the landscape of events and behaviors in recent years, I sense that we have allowed ourselves to become more dependent. The freedom and advances we benefit from today have come at a cost of our critical thinking skills and accepting responsibility for outcomes that effect each of us, our communities, and our nation.
I’ll touch on a few that are top of mind. You’ll likely have a different set, but these are top of mind as I write this.
• Main Stream Media – Stories That Sell Advertising Revenue Instead of Objective Informing
• Prescription Drugs Abuse
Main Stream Media
We use Main Stream Media (MSM) to educate and inform us on global and national events knowing full well that each major MSM channel has its own political and commercial (revenue) agenda. You can scan the channels any evening and hear very different “news reports” depending on whether you are watching Fox, CNN, MSNBC, or your local programming. We tune to the MSM channel that best fits our belief system and then allow the flow of information to confirm and advance those beliefs. Remember that MSM is a for-profit business, and you get what you pay for, meaning MSM will follow and report on the rubbernecking story at the expense of what events here or abroad are truly shaping our future.
I have been using the remote much more lately to scan between the major MSM channels in an attempt to triangulate on the information provided and then go off and coalesce those disparate reports such that I can make a more informed assessment of the information provided. When that isn’t enough, I’ll do more research to better understand the issue. I refuse to allow my belief system to be informed or altered by simple sound bites from the most polished, handsome, or politically biased newscasters. Be cautious when forming an opinion dependent solely on one news source, regardless of the stature it carries in MSM.
Prescription Drugs Abuse
This past April, the White House announced taking action to try to reverse what it characterizes as a growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. A look at recent numbers demonstrates there is a ton of work ahead to reverse this problem.
• 33 million: Number of Americans aged 12 and older that the Food and Drug Administration estimates misused prescription drugs in 2007 alone. It represents an increase of 4 million from the 29 million who abused prescription drugs in 2002.
• $234.1 billion: Amount of money spent on prescription drugs in the United States in 2008 alone. This sum more than quadrupled the amount spent on prescribed medications in 1999.
• 48: Percentage of Americans who used at least one prescription drug per month from 2005 to 2008. This is a 4 percent increase from usage levels a decade ago.
• 90: Percentage of Americans aged 60 or older who have used a prescription drug in the past month. Most of these are a result of combating age-related diseases. Some are a result of doctors over-prescribing medicines.
• 20: Percentage of U.S. children who have used a prescription drug in the past month.
Just recently, four people were killed in a NY pharmacy by a person intent on gaining access to pain killers, one of the most insidious addictions that arise from the abuse of pain management in what are otherwise normal people. Parents run off and acquire antibiotics when their child develops a sniffle. Poor test grades? Try an ADD drug. Can’t cope with work or relationships? Pop a few benzodiazepines to get through the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many medically necessary prescriptions written, though I can’t help but consider how many of these have now become the new normal when dealing with pain, minor infections, or manageable stress. I’ve tried gutting it out after knee surgery and that was clearly a mistake, pain medicine was needed. But are prescription pain pills needed for what are everyday aches and pains? Minor infections have a way of running their course instead of abusing antibiotics and creating a more drug resilient bacteria. Stress seems to be the new normal for many as more work is heaped upon a “right-sized” organization. Can benzos (like Xanax) really get more work done, or are they removing the eustress we need to accomplish more in tight time frames.
That’s my two for now. You will likely have your own top two or three and someone else will have another few. There seems to be an abundance of ways to become dependent on expedient decision-making or eluding difficult issues. I’m doing my best to better understand the issues that are framing our collective future and our ability to enhance the way we go about shaping that outcome. Our personal leadership in action can translate into community and corporate leadership. There is a huge opportunity to make a difference, if we once again declare our Independence.