from The Worldview Literacy Book   copyright 2009            back to worldview theme(s) #33


#33A:  Slavery has a long history (Figure #33a).  While many Western governments outlawed it in the nineteenth century, it continues both within and outside the law throughout the world.  By most estimates, millions (mostly children) world-wide live in conditions that essentially represent slavery.  Far more numerous are those incorporating aspects of servitude into their worldviews.  In this regard, Nietzsche distinguished masters and slaves, and described a “slave morality.”

     While the terms slavery and servitude are used synonymously by some, the former refers to a situation where one is subject to a master and is treated like property, the latter to the general lack of liberty to do as one pleases.  Consider sixteen reasons—and related worldview themes—why various people have essentially lost the freedom to control their own lives:

1) they have been kidnapped and are being held against their will, perhaps in slavery, by those who seek to benefit from this power they exert over others (themes #29B and #43); 2) they have violated the law or failed to respect authority, and are prisoners (themes #29B and #34); 3) they are considered a threat by some government and are political prisoners (themes #20B and #32); 4) they are prisoners of war (theme #46B);         5) they live in an extremely heavy-handed authoritarian state (theme #20B); 6) they are oppressed by the imperialism of outsiders (theme #22B); 7) they have been brainwashed and are captives of some cult or dogmatic belief (themes #2B and #15); 8) they are illiterate, mentally deficient or physically handicapped and are dependent upon others (themes #2B and #52); 9) they are victims of domestic violence—captives of some threatening, tyrannical master (theme #29B); 10) they are victims of a long time tribal feud or blood vendetta (theme #17A); 11) they have been discriminated against, scapegoated and forced into an existence at the edge of society (theme #39B); 12) they are children, without parents to protect them from such exploitation, forced to work in factories, mines, farms, armies, etc. whose human rights have been violated (theme #32); 13) they are in debt bondage (theme #45A);      14) they have been forced into prostitution by extreme poverty (see theme #24); 15) they are practically unable to escape a harsh environment or somewhere they don't wish to be (theme #24); and 16) they are fatalistically resigned to their fate and won't seek escape (theme #11A).

     #33B:  Addiction refers to a person being out of control and unable to stop engaging in an activity known to be harmful but instead continues to compulsively pursue it.  As Figure #33b suggests, the consequences of addiction are staggering. Some addictions can be traced to the physiological and/or psychological dependence on particular chemical substances—such as drugs, alcohol, or foods—which produce a craving for the substance.  Others are connected with certain


behaviors that involve rewards—such as gambling, sex, and shopping.  Both involve withdrawal symptoms.  Some are general: continued craving, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and depression.  Others are more specific to the particular addiction.  Such symptoms become evident when the substance or opportunity to engage in the pleasurable behavior is unavailable.

     In either case, it seems that an addicted person's brain fails to successfully send a "stop" signal.  Most drugs causing addiction alter levels of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine, see Figure #33c) in the brain's reward circuitry and create changes in the associated receptor sitesmaking them less sensitive.  This creates tolerance to greater amounts of the drug and results in addiction.  From a biochemical viewpoint, people continue to smoke to get nicotine and maintain high dopamine levels—although smokers themselves would refer to associated feelings of pleasure.  Efforts to stop smoking bring withdrawal symptoms including headaches, anxiety, irritability, headaches, anxiety, mental disturbances, and sleep disruption.  The symptoms peak two to three days after the last cigarette and are completely gone after two to six weeks.  Alcohol decreases neural activity by increasing the inhibitory GABA neurotransmitter and decreasing the glutamate in the brain, while increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain's reward center. Alcoholics' withdrawal symptoms include severe shaking, convulsions and hallucinations.   

     Theories as to what causes addiction generally divide between those emphasizing genetic and biological causes, and those tracing its origin to cultural and psychological factors. Undoubtedly certain individuals are genetically predisposed to become alcoholics or drug addicts.  Studies show that children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop this affliction.  Once believed to be caused by moral weakness, addiction is now best explained by modeling it as a disease caused by impairment of brain biochemistry or behavioral processes.   

       Figure #33a: Speaking Out Against Slavery

St. Patrick (390-460) came to Ireland as a slave.  Remembered today for bringing Christianity to Ireland,  Patrick is credited with being the first person to speak out unequivocally against slavery.  When he railed against this "crime so horrible and unspeakable" he was perhaps recalling his own six years of suffering in bondage.  He especially empathized with women captives.  His efforts brought slavery in Ireland to an end

Figure #33b:

Consequences of Addiction

NEWS ITEM: February 8, 2008

AWorld Health Organization (WHO) report says, unless governments and societies act quickly to reverse current trends, tobacco use could kill more than one billion people around the world this century. 

 NEWS ITEM: May 23, 2007

The World Health Organization announced a global campaign against alcohol abuse to begin in 2009.  It estimates there are two billion consumers of alcohol worldwide, with Europeans consuming the most.  There, alcohol is linked to 3.2 % of all deaths, 20% to 30% of all cancer, and 1/3 of all auto accidents.

 Addiction Related Problems:

% of USA adults who are cocaine users=2.5

have gambling problems=4.0, are obese=34


Figure #33c:




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