Ad Culture in America and other addictions

For some time now it has become obvious that ads are targeting the wallets of baby boomers.  No longer do you see prime time ads for diapers and other baby and toddler accoutrements or youthful clothing (unless you are watching Stacey London), for example.  I assume that many of the “baby” ads are on during the day as the bad assumption that all good mothers stay home and watch soap operas still seems to hold some sway in this country.  Even most of the cleaning goods ads seem to be on at odd times with the exception of those that are geared to us “older” folks and our limitations.

Now, almost without exception, we seem to be bombarded with ads for products for women who have urinary urgency or accidents, for getting and keeping an erection (and no, the women having sex with those guys do NOT look like the women in those commercials).  Likewise, commercial for “manly” incontinence underwear, hair replacement, hair color to correct gray, supplements for every ailment, pills for everything under the sun including vaginal dryness; all of which have hideous side effects.  These side effects, to my mind, are far worse than the ailments that they are intended to correct/cure/affect.

So I was watching television the other night, thinking about these very things when a commercial came on that I had not seen before.  Mind you there are lots of laxative, bowel, digestive and urinary tract commercials but this one stood out.  It was a commercial for a laxative marketed to relieve opiod dependence related constipation.  What?  I thought.  The news is full of the “new” American heroin problem.  First, heroin is not a new problem but its prevalence among new classes of users has brought new attention to it.  Today the news is all about those who become dependent on pain medication and when they either can’t get enough or can’t afford it, they turn to the cheaper alternative, heroin.  And we know that pain medication can be obtained from multiple doctors since mostly they don’t talk to each other although some states, mine included, are getting smarter about tracking these things, making it harder to scam the system.  All of these drugs cause constipation apparently. So some bright ad person’s idea is to take advantage of this new scourge of the dwindling middle class and market to addicts to alleviate this particular side effect of their addiction.

Oy vey.  It seems that the money spent on this particular advertising would be better spent on treatment but greed is the American way, especially if you can capture a few of the baby boomer dollars.

War Is Not a Counting Game

I am astounded at how the world, particularly the United States, views the conflict in Gaza/Israel. The American liberal press, in fact most of the “prime time” press, views this conflict as an accounting game, to be determined by the body count. Understand, I am a dyed in the wool liberal, old time determined lefty. But on this, the lefties are mostly wrong.

Every article or story I read or see is about a dead or wounded Palestinian child. Now I believe that war is a tragedy for everyone, most especially for the innocents, caught in the violence. And every death is a tragedy and a keen sorrow for those loved ones left behind. We do not, however, see stories about the disabled Israeli children who, for the last years, have gone to the shelters at least once a week so that when it happens for real, as no it has, they won’t be destroyed by the disruption in their routines. We do hear or see the stories of the children and families who go to the shelters multiple, multiple times per day; whose lives, hearts and minds will never be the same from the daily and constant barrage of the rockets. Rockets that come much further into Israel than had every been imagined.

Israel is now, and has always been, expert at defending herself. By necessity obviously as she is surrounded by sworn enemies. Those that say Israel is perfect are blind, she isn’t. But to say that being better at self-defense makes you wrong is not just ignorant it is blatantly ridiculous.

The number of bodies on either side cannot define this or any conflict, nor does it define moral “rightness”. What defines both the conflict and the political catch-22 is that Israel is determined to survive and Hamas is determined that she will not. And those that are innocent on both sides are caught in the middle, living in fear and hoping for sanity and peace.

Tetzaveh – Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

This Torah portion is primarily about the priestly vestments, clothing, adornments and the altars.  Two things struck me particularly.  The commentaries point out that in the Torah portion Moses’ name is not mentioned at all yet the “directions” are to him.  So it is selfless and ultra present at the same time. Moses said to G-d that he would be nameless in the Torah as a result of the people sinning with the golden calf.  The ultimate selflessness, to remain nameless in the holiest of holy works.  And yet, he is in this most intimate relation with G-d in this portion, G-d providing him with the instructions required for the priests to maintain the relationship between G-d and the people.  Which directs my attention to the tzedakah question – nameless?  I think so.  We as Jews talk about tzedakah, about charitable good works, about tikkun olam, all the time.  There are those who do many good works but feel it necessary to be recognized as often and as publicly as possible.  How close to G-d does that put the person?  The good is the good but I think the desire for a “return” undermines the value of the good.  Sometimes the recognition, the price to the recipient, is too much.  There are those who do small good works but do them anonymously.  How close to G-d does that put the person?  Much closer I think.  It is much more intimate an act to do small acts of kindness and charity without hope of reward.  Not to say that there aren’t those that do great works without the need of public reward.

The other theme in this portion that struck me is that of the “everlasting” light that is supposed to burn from morning until night.  Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?  All the time versus some of the time.  I loved a commentary I read which is essentially that this contradiction is a metaphor for the contrast between the perfect and the imperfect. That it is our job to find a relationship between the divine and the human, the eternal and the temporal.  And isn’t that the meaning of our lives, the striving for a perfection that we know perfectly well is unattainable, yet we continue to strive.  And as with tzedakah, doesn’t the striving for the unattainable put is in a more intimate relationship with g-d.  And this is not the same as striving for “success”.  It is striving for the divine; the perfection of our selves.  Ironically striving to attain the perfection of our human selves is by definition to only attain a better imperfection! 

Ultimately in this portion, both themes that spoke to me are about doing the best we can not because it is asked of us, not because it will gain us material goods or rich recognition, but because it brings us closer to the divine.  They are both about improving our relationship with G-d and what is best in us; in having a more intimate relationship with G-d and with ourselves.  Shabbat Shalom.

Things I Want My Son To Know #27 ~ Don’t Be Nicer Than You Really Are

What a fine line this is to walk!  We all want so much to be liked and the temptation to pretend is great just to get that approval and friendship.  Most of us are nice enough naturally.  You certainly are; I probably am.  When you have a caring heart and an empathetic spirit, it is easy to become a doormat for people, to be gulled into doing things you know are not right or not good for you.  It has taken me a long time in life to learn that I can just be me, civil and respectful, of course, but just me.  It is okay if not everyone is your friend and not everyone likes or loves you.  The people that will matter in your life will find you and you will know.  You won’t have to pretend with them, you won’t have to act out something you don’t feel, you will just know. Then you will just be nice naturally, do things for them because you want to, give gifts, spend time, keep in touch.  Sometimes it is not easy to maintain friendships, but when it is worth it, you will try.  In business, nice vs. civil is sometimes hard to learn.  You have to be respectful and friendly at work, but there are different boundaries at work.  You don’t do things for your co-workers or subordinates that you would do for your friends, and that’s ok.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t likeable, just appropriate.  And depending on your job, likeable isn’t necessarily what’s required.  Even in your social life, sometimes likeable isn’t worth the cost. Don’t be mean, be your natural wonderful self, but don’t be nicer than you really are.

Things I Want My Son To Know #26 ~ Hard & Soft Aren’t Always About Touch

There are times to be tough and times to be sensitive. There are times for rough and times for gentle. Don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in tough; in the idea that you can’t express feelings or pain. There are times in life when pain is appropriate – a breakup, a death, any kind of loss. Expressing it makes it easier, being tough just festers inside. There are times to be tough when it feels wrong. People will try to con you, try to manipulate you, try to get you to do things you know are wrong. No matter how much you like them, care about them or want to be liked, be tough. But always be gentle with those less able than yourself, your pets, the disabled, the bullied. Don’t be so tough that you think everyone is trying to con you or manipulate you. Try to be tough enough to stand up for what you know is right and sensitive enough to see when the wrong is happening. Don’t be too tough on yourself, but be tough in pursuing your dreams. Be a strong man with a sensitivity for other’s feelings. Hard and soft aren’t always about touch.

Things I Want My Son To Know #25 ~ Live With Humility

You are entitled to nothing.  If you remember this, despite the face that it may seem radical in today’s world, it will be much easier to appreciate what you have.  As a parent I certainly want my child to have everything he wants, needs or wishes for.  As a human I know that it is likely that life will most likely not go just that way.

To live with humility is to live with gratitude.  To live with humility is to do service without expectation of reward.  To live with humility is to experience the joy of what you can do for others without worrying about what they can do for you.  To live with humility is to listen more than you talk.  To live with humility is to put the needs of others before your own; to delay gratification. Pleasures delayed are often that much more pleasurable.

To live with humility is to be underestimated.  This sounds bad, like something to be avoided but, in reality, it is something to be treasured.  When you are arrogant and full of yourself, you rarely end up living up to the expectations of others. The good news is that when you live with humility you often exceed the expectations of others, often surprising them to your advantage.

Remember that you are just a small part of a bigger plan, a bigger world, bigger events. There is freedom in humility; if you are not in charge, not the center of everything, your are free to just be in your life and relinquish control of everything you truly can’t control. You will be surprised to find that, after all, a life of humility will bring you rewards and recognition in ways that you cannot imagine, in ways that are different than what you may have expected or hoped for. To live with humility is to be available in your own life and the lives of others wtihout your ego blocking your eyes, your ears and your heart.

blogging is weird

So… once again, life has intruded on life and I have been away too long.  Here on some part of the downhill side of life there is so much to do that it is hard to know where to start, or continue.  Bloggimg is weird because it feels very private when you are doing it.  But you know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that there is at least the possibility that someone you have never met will read what you wrote.  It is a most public activity in the end.  So, all you readers out in radioland, I am hoping to be back.

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