We Are Entering An Unprecedented New Period Of History

Part One of a Four Part Series

The Post Truth EraHow do you define truth? Do you believe that what you see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears is the reality that you live in? Do you trust your senses as tools of verification of the truth? For most people, truth is a statement about the way they perceive the world. The ultimate definition of truth has always been elusive, but in today’s world the challenge is monumental.
Enter the era of deep fakes. Artificial intelligence has advanced to the point that distinguishing between real and virtual can be near impossible. News reports have confirmed that the technology exists to create realistic cyberspace fake people, complete with background biographies, and it has already been deployed. In similar fashion, technology can now take a mere 90 second snippet of your voice or recording of your likeness and generate audio and video files that are close to indistinguishable from the flesh and blood “real thing”.
This is the start of a simulated 3-D environment that will defy your innate senses and have us all questioning what is real. Welcome to the post truth era…where almost anything can be faked and total techno control over reality is closer than you think.

Hey Universe, I Hear You This Time!

Juanita-Lewis Universe is callingThis post is about a tremendous AHA moment I experienced on Friday. It is so powerful that I needed to share it with all my fellow seekers out there. You see, like many others I am aware of way too many moments in my daily life where stress, anxiety, depression, and a sense of despair threaten to undermine if not destroy my happiness. With all the daily practices I have in place to increase my conscious awareness, I still am a work in progress and prone to ruminating about the tragedies in my past and fretting over my future.

I begin each morning with a silent gratitude session, before my feet even touch the floor. This small ritual is a fabulous way to set the tone for the day. After I drink my deliciously flavored coffee, finish with my personal hygiene, and dress – I then have my morning meditation session. There are days when I am not as religiously adherent to this schedule as I would like myself , but on the whole it is a steady routine of mine. Later on, typically about 6 PM, I have an evening meditation session and finally about thirty minutes before I go to sleep…..or attempt to go to sleep at least…..I put on one of my self-help relaxation CD’s and drift off. Sounds good, right? So what is the problem…..you might ask? Well, even though these steps have positively impacted my physical, mental,emotional, and spiritual health…..I still find myself in states of extreme anxiety throughout the day with a feeling that there is a giant boot poised right above my neck about to stomp down and crush the life out of me.

So, I muddle through day by day, seeking solutions and tools that will help me increase my life satisfaction. I am a firm believer in the concept of Go Give. I find that by giving back and helping others…..even in small ways such as offering a smile to a stranger…..I gain just as much satisfaction as the person I am helping if not more. One activity I do in that vein is volunteering as a legal advocate in the local courthouse for people who want to file for PFA’s…..or protection from abuse orders. This is where, on Friday this week, I met her.

She was a well dressed middle-aged woman with piercing green eyes wearing what looked like elasticized bandaged sleeves on both her arms. She was glad she had made it here….. in the tiny coat closet sized room given to the woman’s advocacy center I volunteer for in the basement of the courthouse.  As is my custom, I offered her a seat and a box of tissues and asked her how could I help her and what brought her to here this day. As she began to tell me her story, I found myself so captivated that time just seemed to stop. Over the next hour, she shared with me story and why she was seeking a protection order that day. But it was not so much her story that hit me like a bolt of lightning hurdled from the sky…..it was her attitude, the peace and love that radiated from her, and the sense of unflappability that she displayed. The universe was speaking to me, through the form of this brave woman…..and I was listening this time.

She is a survivor of childhood incest and adolescent rape. By 24 she had given birth to four children and escaped from a tortured and abusive marriage. At 37, a devastating car accident landed her in a coma for 17 days and more metal in her body holding her together than I can imagine. Then at 45 she started the journey of dealing with the  big C…..stage 2b metastatic breast cancer. This lead to lymphedema which is why she was wearing support sleeves on her arms. She had psychiatric hospitalizations for earlier suicide attempts and takes medication daily for bipolar depression. During that time of mental health crisis, she found herself in the wrong place with the wrong people and is now facing two separate legal battles that could potentially send her to prison for decades. Oh, and they found tumors in her uterus so she is undergoing a hysterectomy at the end of this month. She found herself on this occasion filing for a PFA for her 3-year-old grandson against his biological mother’s new boyfriend. Wow…..and that is the short story.

As I was struggling to comprehend the enormity and pain of her journey through life and offer her support and compassion, I realized that I was more shook by her account than she was. Is it my imagination or is she just exuding this amazing steadiness and calm? And it wasn’t an act…..she truly gave off a vibe of peace and serenity that I have only witnessed before in yogis and advanced meditators. I politely asked if she would be willing to tell me her secret for seeming so happy and at peace while facing what seemed like overwhelming circumstances. She paused for a moment, taking a deep breath, and said she would be happy to share it with me.

“It didn’t happen overnight, and it hasn’t been easy,” she replied “but I have finally learned to deeply love the person I am. You see, I have been at rock bottom for most of my life and it got to the point that I only had two options left….end my life or turn things around and go up. Naturally, I tried the former approach first and when that didn’t work I began to research and look for ways to radically transform my life. I spent my whole life trying to give…..it was my job to keep everyone else as happy as possible. I didn’t mind giving to my children. I wanted them to have a happy life. But I didn’t give to myself and I didn’t know how to receive anyone else trying to give me help. ”

Boy, did that hit a nerve with me. How many of us are programmed to give but don’t have a clue about how to receive? I was just mesmerized by her and wanted to hear more. “I learned that if I am constantly putting energy out and not allowing any back in, the message I am sending out into the universe is there is no space for abundance in my life. I also needed to learn to love myself and appreciate the moments, people, and things I did have. I spent so much time and energy worrying about what HAD happened to me and what MIGHT happen to me that I never got to appreciate what really WAS happening. When I finally learned how to be present in the moment…..to live in the now as they say…..I feel like my whole life changed and I became almost reborn.”

I have read about this concept before. I do try to practice being present and enjoying the moment that is. Yet, I heard this from her as though it was a brand new revelation. For whatever reason, this time and in this space with this woman, I got it. If she can take the practice of living in the now and implement it in her life in a true deep way to make it automatic, then I can too. This woman came into my life looking for my assistance and help, but instead gave to me a gift that is truly so precious. Live each moment as if it is the only moment, because it is truly the only moment that ever matters. And practice loving yourself as deeply, truly, and profoundly as you give love to others. Pay attention, bring conscious awareness to your thoughts and emotions. Allow yourself to feel and to think as you may, but stop and witness these thoughts and feelings and consider that you do not have to act on any of them…..only acknowledge them and watch them. Live in the now…..what a concept! Hey universe, I heard you this time.

sign from universe

The Startling Case For Abuse Prevention Education In Schools

Upon opening my email this morning, I scrolled down to my daily MEDPAGE TODAY update. As I browsed through the latest medical news and updates, I found this new continuing medical education article available for credit. What caught my eye instantly was the title. It is provocative, disturbing, and delivers a sense of urgency to the reader. In my opinion, this article and the research behind it should be justification enough for any school district to incorporate dating violence awareness, abuse, and stalking prevention programs into their curriculum immediately.  Below is the article in its entirety.  PLEASE share this article. Let’s break the silence and the cycle of violence.

Sexual Violence Common Among Adolescents

Published: Oct 7, 2013

Nearly one in 10 of the 14- to 21-year-olds surveyed reported perpetrating sexual violence in their lifetime, researchers found.

Of the 9% who committed some type of sexual violence, 8% engaged in forced sexual contact (kissing, touching), 3% persuaded someone to yield to their sexual demand (referred to as coercive sex), 3% attempted rape and were unsuccessful, and 2% completed rape, according to Michele L. Ybarra, MPH, PhD, of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, Calif., and Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhD, of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

Most often (73%), the victims were a romantic partner and 50% of perpetrators said the victim was responsible for the sexual violence. Most perpetrators also said no one had found out about the incidents, so contact with the justice system was uncommon, researchers reported in the Oct. 7 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Perpetrators of sexual violence tended to have more frequent exposure to sexually-charged and/or violent material on television, in music, in games, and online compared with non perpetrators.

For example, 33% of those who attempted rape were exposed to violent and/or sexually explicit material compared with 4% of non perpetrators.

Ybarra and Mitchell found that most young people who reported trying to force or forcing someone to have sex reported using coercive tactics, such as arguing, pressuring someone, getting angry or making someone feel guilty, more commonly than using threats or physical force.

The most common age at the first perpetration of sexual violence was 16 (40%), and males were overwhelmingly more likely to have their first episode at 15 or younger (98%) compared with females. Boys ages 16 and 17 had similarly high rates of first sexual violence (90%).

However, by ages 18 or 19, “the split of male to female perpetrators was nearly equivalent,” researchers reported.

“Although I was saddened by the results of this study, I was not surprised,” Emily Rothman, ScD, an associate professor in the department of community health services at Boston University School of Public Health, told MedPage Today.

“We have known for decades that the prevalence of sexual violence victimization among youth is unacceptably high, and that youth are responsible for 30% to 50% of the perpetration of childhood sexual abuse,” Rothman said.

She pointed to aspects of the study that are “novel and important,” and show for the first time:

  • Nationally representative estimates of the proportion of young people who are perpetrating sexual abuse against peers
  • Information that the majority of this sexual abuse (73%) is actually dating violence (the sexual coercion happens in the context of a romantic relationship)
  • Information that the proportion of those who believe that they are not responsible for having been sexually coercive is very high (one in seven of those who had done it)
  • Information that there is a strong association between exposure to sexually explicit material (i.e., pornography) and reporting sexual abuse perpetration among youth

 

Rothman noted the emergence of school-based prevention curricula that have demonstrated through randomized controlled trials that they can reduce the perpetration of dating and/or sexual violence.

cluster randomized trial by David Wolfe, MD, from CAMH Centre for Prevention Science in London, Ontario, and colleagues found that a 21-lesson curriculum delivered during 28 hours by teachers with additional training in the dynamics of dating violence and healthy relationships reduced physical dating violence and increased condom use up to nearly 3 years later.

Rothman also said continued support for research that examines the link between sexually explicit media and youth sexual violence is important.

“We need to ensure that youth have access to comprehensive sex education that teaches them media literacy skills so that when they are exposed to pornography or other sexually explicit media they understand how to interpret it and how it may be impacting them or their peers,” she told MedPage Today.

For the study, Ybarra and Mitchell analyzed data in the Growing Up with Media study.

A majority (52%) of perpetrators met their victims at school, with 12% meeting at an outside school activity.

Many perpetrators engaged in more than one type of sexual perpetration — forced contact, coercive sex, unsuccessful rape, and completed rape — with 12% reporting two different behaviors, 11% reporting three, and 9% reporting all four types.

There were differences in the type of sexual violence by age of first perpetration. Up to age 15, oral sex was the most common (65%), followed by vaginal sex (46%), and anal sex (40%). At ages 18 or 19, vaginal sex was the most common perpetration (96%), followed by anal sex (13%).

The researchers did not find differences by race/ethnicity or household income in terms of those who reported sexual violence perpetration.

One important limitation of the study is that the sample was drawn from an Internet panel, and there may be biases in terms of who participates in those surveys, Rothman noted.

Another limitation is that results were based on self-reports and are therefore likely under-reported, Rothman suggested.

The study received support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.