Free Forum Q&A – (1) BEN SKINNER, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery & (2) GABOR MATE M.D. IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS: Close Encounters With AddictionWritten on April 23rd, 2015
Ben Skinner(Originally aired April 2009)
Gabor Mate (Originally aired May 2011)
These interviews pursue a world that just might work. That pursuit, however, demands looking honestly at the darker aspects of human behavior, and this week’s interviews deal with slavery and addiction. In both cases, my guests draw on years of personal experience to frame their analyses and their proposed solutions.
To those who say society’s not actually making progress, many point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery. But sadly that is not the case. 143 years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery worldwide, there are more slaves right now than at any time in human history – 27 million. The new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives, is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely.
During the four years that BEN SKINNER researched modern-day slavery for his book, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS, he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents, interviewed convicted human traffickers in a Romanian prison and endured giardia, malaria, dengue and a bad motorcycle accident. But SKINNER says he’s most haunted by his experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.
Some might call addiction is a form of slavery. I am a long and consistent opponent of the war on drugs and of US policy toward illegal drugs and illegal drug users. I am also someone who advocates for a holistic view of reality, its challenges, and potential solutions. Holistic healing deals with the whole situation – mind, body, emotions, spirit and environment, treats root causes rather than symptoms, and treats as naturally and safely as possible. GABOR MATE, deals with the issues of drugs and addiction holistically. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts proposes approaching addiction through an understanding of its biological and socio-economic roots.
There’s been a lot of talk about the battle between science and religion the last few years. At the same time, there’s been some fascinating and powerful work bringing science and spirituality closer together. Recent developments in psychology and the neurosciences have led to insights about how our brains work and how these neurological functions shape our experiences of the world. Turns out some of what we’re learning fits very well with the wisdom developed over thousands of years in contemplative practices.
RICK HANSON has been meditating since 1974 the same year he graduated summa cum laude from UCLA. In his new book, written with Richard Mendius MD, BUDDHA’S BRAIN, he pulls a lot of information together to reach all of us from the most scientific to the most spiritual. After all we’ve all got brains and we all seek happiness.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist, co-founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom (http://www.wisebrain.org/), and editor of the Wise Brain Bulletin. He offers a free newsletter, "Just One Thing" at his website rickhanson.net which offers a simple mindfulness practice each week. Hanson is co-author with his wife, Jan, of MOTHER NURTURE, still the only book that systematically shows how to support the health and well-being of mothers and couples over the long haul of raising a family. His newest book is BUDDHA'S BRAIN: THE PRACTICAL NEUROSCIENCE OF HAPPINESS, LOVE, AND WISDOM.