WITH JORDANNA THIGPEN
A form of suicide
By Jordanna Thigpen
October 2, 2006
Lately, America has been called many things.
Strapped against our will to the stainless steel hospital table
of global public opinion, we have been diagnosed as schizophrenic
(because we have dark symptoms with early adulthood manifestation);
sociopathic (because we do harm without regard for others); and
psychopathic (well, you know why.)
This week in dentist's-office-read Time, Hugo Chavez says
that America is suicidal. "Bush wanted Iraq's oil and I believe
he wants Venezuela's oil," Chavez says. "But the blame
for high oil prices lies in the consumer model of the U.S. Its
reckless oil consumption is a form of suicide."
Suicide is the ultimate revenge, isn't it? And revenge should
appeal to red-blooded Americans, right? But at least for those
who have considered suicide, there's something really pure about
it. And it's comforting - if you're ever really sad or angry it's
like coming home. It's always there, if you're really desperate;
just like you can always make a PB&J if you're really hungry.
But unless you're one of those who consummates this aching and
final desire, something always brings you back, and it's not fear
- it's compassion.
Is it possible, in your most ebony hour, to feel compassion for
others? Our nation is about to find out.
Our prosperity, and our consumption, has been subsidized by the
rest of the world for generations. No American can say she is
truly prosperous. No American can truly say he is a self-made
man. No American can say that he is not living off the blood,
sweat, and tears of hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women
around the world - many, as we saw this week, living without basic
sanitation. Every American, from the homeless of San Francisco
who are supported by tax and nonprofit dollars, to the top out
of sights whose names you will never know, is subsidized by cheap
lives and cheap oil.
So have we become a nation of vampires, even serial killers,
methodically and knowingly assassinating the lives and character
of those in the so-called second and third worlds? Hugo Chavez
sees this clearly. And so does the rest of the global community.
At the very least, we are exhibiting suicidal ideation - we haven't
actually committed suicide yet, so there's still hope.
Epidemiological factors associated with suicidal ideation include
being male, white, greater than 65 years of age, with stressful
life events and access to firearms. A majority of those seated
in Congress, as do Cheney, Rumsfeld, the majority of the Cabinet,
and department heads meet these qualifications.
Psychiatric disorders associated with suicidal ideation include
major depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, panic disorder,
borderline personality disorder and - this is key - in adolescents
(and our nation can fairly be considered adolescent), antisocial
and aggressive behavior. Certainly our nation has exhibited signs
of each of these disorders, particularly in the past six years.
In a 1999 article, Dr. Michael Gliatto from the Veterans Affairs
Medical Center and Dr. Anil Rai from the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine proposed a several-step process for evaluating
and treating suicidal ideation. The hospitalization process involves
determining the following:
(1) Is the patient expressing suicidal ideation?
(2) Does the patient have access to lethal means, have poor
social support, and poor judgment, and cannot make a contract
If the answers to both questions are yes, the patient should
be hospitalized. We are so there!
Many people have spoken of America's "addiction" to
oil. But our collective behavior is indeed closer to suicidal
ideation. Nothing can ever be as final or chilling as actually
doing ourselves in, and yet every day we return to our favorite
comfortable place, taunting the members of our global family with
the prospect in an increasingly desperate game.
A happy ending will come, when we behave with compassion towards
ourselves and the world's people. Our nation as we knew it no
longer exists. It will live in memory. The era now is a collective
one: one of shared wealth, and shared oil. Our prayer now can
be, may no nation have hegemony.
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