Seneca on Grief and the Key to Resilience in the Face of Loss: An Extraordinary Letter to His Mother

senecaSeneca

“No man has been shattered by the blows of Fortune unless he was first deceived by her favours.”

“Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be,” Joan Didion observed in her classic meditation on loss. Abraham Lincoln, in his moving letter of consolation to a grief-stricken young woman, wrote of how time transmutes grief into “a sad sweet feeling in your heart.” But what, exactly, is the mechanism of that transmutation and how do we master it before it masters us when grief descends in one of its unforeseeable guises?

Long before Didion, before Lincoln, another titan of thought — the great Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca — addressed this in what might be the crowning achievement in the canon of consolation letters, folding into his missive an elegant summation of Stoicism’s core tenets of resilience.

In the year 41, Seneca was sentenced to exile on the Mediterranean island of Corsica for an alleged affair with the emperor’s sister. Sometime in the next eighteen months, he penned one of his most extraordinary works — a letter of consolation to his mother, Helvia.

Helvia was a woman whose life had been marked by unimaginable loss — her own mother had died while giving birth to her, and she outlived her husband, her beloved uncle, and three of her grandchildren. Twenty days after one the grandchildren — Seneca’s own son — died in her arms, Helvia received news that Seneca had been taken away to Corsica, doomed to life in exile. This final misfortune, Seneca suggests, sent the lifelong tower of losses toppling over and crushing the old woman with grief, prompting him in turn to write Consolation to Helvia, included in his Dialogues and Letters (public library).

Although the piece belongs in the ancient genre of consolatio dating back to the fifth century B.C. — a literary tradition of essay-like letters written to comfort bereaved loved ones — what makes Seneca’s missive unusual is the very paradox that lends it its power: The person whose misfortune is being grieved is also the consoler of the griever.

Seneca writes:

Dearest mother,

I have often had the urge to console you and often restrained it. Many things have encouraged me to venture to do so. First, I thought I would be laying aside all my troubles when I had at least wiped away your tears, even if I could not stop them coming. Then, I did not doubt that I would have more power to raise you up if I had first risen myself… Staunching my own cut with my hand I was doing my best to crawl forward to bind up your wounds.

But what kept Seneca from intervening in his mother’s grief was, above all, the awareness that grief should be grieved rather than immediately treated as a problem to be solved and done away with. He writes:

I realized that your grief should not be intruded upon while it was fresh and agonizing, in case the consolations themselves should rouse and inflame it: for an illness too nothing is more harmful than premature treatment. So I was waiting until your grief of itself should lose its force and, being softened by time to endure remedies, it would allow itself to be touched and handled.

[…]

[Now] I shall offer to the mind all its sorrows, all its mourning garments: this will not be a gentle prescription for healing, but cautery and the knife…

more…

https://www.brainpickings.org/

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It Is Becoming Illegal To Be Homeless In America As Houston, Dallas And Dozens Of Other Cities Pass Draconian Laws

Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to deal with them?  Incredibly, this is actually starting to happen in dozens of major cities all across the United States.  It may be difficult to believe, but in many large urban areas today, if you are found guilty of “public camping” you can be taken directly to jail.  In some cities, activities such as “blocking a walkway” or creating any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation” are also considered to be serious crimes.  And there are some communities that have even made it illegal to feed the homeless without an official permit.  Unfortunately, as the U.S. economy continues to slow down the number of homeless people will continue to grow, and so this is a crisis that is only going to grow in size and scope.

Of course the goal of many of these laws is to get the homeless to go somewhere else.  But as these laws start to multiply all across the nation, pretty soon there won’t be too many places left where it is actually legal to be homeless.

One city that is being highly criticized for passing extremely draconian laws is Houston.  In that city it is actually illegal for the homeless to use any sort of material to shield themselves from the wind, the rain and the cold

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).

With all of the other problems that we are facing as a nation, it stuns me that there are politicians that would spend their time dreaming up such sick and twisted laws.

According to one news report, the homeless in Houston are now officially banned from doing all of the following things…

1. They can’t block a sidewalk, stand in a roadway median or block a building doorway. (AKA they can’t panhandle).

2. They also can’t do any of these things — blocking walkways — under state law that already existed.

3. They can’t sleep in tents, boxes or any other makeshift shelter on public property.

4. They also can’t have heating devices.

5. They can’t carry around belongings that take up space more than three feet long, three feet wide, three feet tall.

6. People can’t spontaneously feed more than five homeless people without a permit.

If I was a homeless person in Houston, I would definitely be looking to get out of there.

But where are they going to go?

Things are almost as bad in Dallas.  In fact, it is being reported that the police in Dallas “issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015.”

When you break that number down, it comes to 323 citations per month.

Of course some people have tried to challenge these types of laws in court, but most of the challenges have been unsuccessful.  For example, just check out what recently happened in Denver

Three people who were contesting Denver’s urban-camping ban were found guilty on Wednesday, April 5, at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. The defendants — Jerry Burton, Randy Russell and Terese Howard — were determined to have unlawfully camped on November 28, 2016, and to have interfered with police operations at one location. All three were sentenced with court-ordered probation for one year and between twenty and forty hours of community service.

The case challenged Denver’s unauthorized-camping ordinance, which has been divisive ever since Denver City Council approved it in 2012.

Since the courts are generally upholding these laws, this has just emboldened more communities to adopt anti-homelessness ordinances.  According to one report, dozens of major cities have now passed such laws…

more…

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/it-is-becoming-illegal-to-be-homeless-in-america-as-houston-dallas-and-dozens-of-other-cities-pass-draconian-laws

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The taboo of menstruation

Resultado de imagem para Nepalese woman Pabitra Giri prepares to sleep in a Chhaupadi hut during her menstruation period in Surkhet District, some 520km west of Kathmandu. February 3, 2017. Photo by Prakesh Mathema/AFP/GettyNepalese woman Pabitra Giri prepares to sleep in a Chhaupadi hut during her menstruation period in Surkhet District, some 520km west of Kathmandu. February 3, 2017. Photo by Prakesh Mathema/AFP/Getty

All around the world, and throughout history, women have been shamed, sequestered, and medicalised for bleeding regularly

Janie Hampton is the founder of the World Menstrual Network, the author of books on health in Africa, and an international health planner. She developed the first British government policy on international reproductive health, and is patron of the Association of Malawians in UK. She lives in Oxford.

Auntie Flo, on the rag, girl flu, back in the saddle, jam and bread, going to Oklahoma, howlin’ at the moon – these are just some of the many English expressions used to avoid the embarrassing subject of menstruation. The time has come to speak plainly and directly about this straightforward biological function of the human body. As you read this today, more than 800 million women worldwide are having a period. None of us would exist without it and yet it remains one of our most tenacious biological taboos. Writers and broadcasters happily discuss sex, digestion and blood circulation – all natural processes – while menstruation is still off-limits.

Few mammals menstruate – humans are unusual in this. While the hormones oestrogen and progesterone work together to precipitate ovulation, blood is directed to the uterus to make a spongey, nutritious endometrium (lining of the uterus) into which the fertilised ovum can embed and develop into a baby. If conception does not occur, the endometrium disintegrates, leaving the body through the vagina as a period. The thick endometria of humans means that, unlike dogs, we can’t just reabsorb the blood and tissue. So, five to 15 teaspoons of menstrual blood have to be dealt with over a few days. Buying and using menstrual products is inconvenient for most women, and disposing of all the pads and tampons is an increasing environmental problem for the world.

Menstrual literature all states that a ‘normal’ menstrual cycle is 28 days – any shorter or longer, or otherwise irregular, is ‘abnormal’ even though the woman can still conceive. At school, I associated ‘regular’ periods with tidy girls with neat hair who always did their homework on time. My own irregular periods were obviously a symptom of my lazy and disorganised mind.

Women have more periods now than in the past, because until the advent of contraception and bottle-feeding, women were either pregnant or breastfeeding for much of their lives. Also, poor diet and hard work meant that until the 20th century, most girls did not reach the menarche – the first period – until 17 or 18 years. The average age of menarche has dropped over the past century to 12.5 years.

All kinds of taboos and myths surrounded menstruation. The ancient Greeks believed that if a girl’s menarche was late, blood would accumulate around her heart, and her uterus would wander around her body. This could produce erratic behaviour, from violent swearing to suicidal depression. Right into the 20th century, any inappropriate behaviour or poor mental health in women was termed hysteria, after the Greek word for ‘uterus’.

Pliny the Elder, who died in 79 CE, warned: ‘If a woman strips herself naked while she is menstruating, and walks round a field of wheat, the caterpillars, worms, beetles, and other vermin, will fall from off the ears of corn … bees will forsake their hives if touched by a menstruous woman … linen boiling in the cauldron will turn black, the edge of a razor will become blunted.’ But then he also believed that drinking the blood of a gladiator would cure epilepsy.

Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) wrote that leprosy – which she believed was caused by either lust or intemperance – could be cured by washing in the ‘nourishing properties of menstrual blood … as much as he can get’. In medieval times, it was believed that if a man’s penis touched menstrual blood, it would burn up, and any child conceived during menstruation would be possessed by the devil, deformed, or red-haired. A woman with a heavy menstrual flow was advised to bind the hair from an animal’s head onto a young tree. If this failed, she could drink comfrey or nettle tea, while reciting numerical formulae; or she could find a toad, burn it dry, and put its ashes in a pouch around her waist…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/throughout-history-and-still-today-women-are-shamed-for-menstruating

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Long-Time Cartoonist Fired for Daring to Speak the Truth About Monsanto Profits

by Isaac Davis, Staff Writer, Waking Times 

At first glance, you wouldn’t think that this simple, truthful newspaper cartoon would be controversial enough for a long-time cartoonist to lose his career, but we live in a brave new world, where corporate censorship supersedes even government censorship, and when a giant like Monsanto is insulted, heads will roll.

Cartoonist Rick Friday had worked for the Iowan publication, Farm News, for some two decades, creating some “1,090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa,” reports KCCI, until he recently created this simple statement about profits in modern farming.

“The cartoon features two farmers talking about farming profits.

The first says, “I wish there was more profit in farming.”

The second farm answers, “There is. In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers.

Friday received an email from his editor at Farm New cutting off their relationship a day after the cartoon was published.

Friday’s editor said a seed dealer pulled their advertisements with Farm News as a result of the cartoon, and others working at the paper disagreed with the jokes made about the agriculture corporations.” [Source]

Take a look for yourself:

Shortly after publication of this cartoon, Friday was released from his job and left questioning the morals of a publication who would end someone’s career after an honest and factual statement such as this was made.

Friday commented on his release from Farm News in a Facebook post concerning the incident:

“Again, I fall hard in the best interest of large corporations. I am no longer the Editorial Cartoonist for Farm News due to the attached cartoon which was published yesterday. Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of its Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1,090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa.

“I did my research and only submitted the facts in my cartoon.” [Source]

Final Thoughts

We know that only six corporations control some 90% of the world’s media, giving unprecedented control of the content you consume to a mere handful of executive boards. As these corporations exist to generate profit regardless of humanitarian or ethical considerations, we know that insulting or interfering with their sponsors is intolerable in the modern corporatocracy which has emerged in the last century.

As a new type of propaganda war on free speech emerges in the political landscape of America and Europe, it is critical to note that viewpoints which oppose the profitability of major companies who invest in advertising will not be tolerated. This leaves us with the need to create evermore avenues of journalistic expression where genuine truth can be published and access by a body politic clearly hungry for truth.

Friday’s remarks on this incident serve as a warning to future generations of Americans:

“That’s okay, hopefully my children and my grandchildren will see that this last cartoon published by Farm News out of Fort Dodge, Iowa, will shine light on how fragile our rights to free speech and free press really are in the county.” [Source]

About the Author
Isaac Davis is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and OffgridOutpost.com Survival Tips blog. He is an outspoken advocate of liberty and of a voluntary society. He is an avid reader of history and passionate about becoming self-sufficient to break free of the control matrix. Follow him on Facebook, here.
This article (Long-Time Cartoonist Fired for Daring to Speak the Truth About Monsanto Profits) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Isaac Davis and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/05/01/long-time-iowa-cartoonist-fired-daring-speak-truth-monsanto-profits/

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