U.S. Lifespan Decreases- Article and My Thoughts

Several of you asked me specific questions and made comments re. the article I re-posted in Facebook (**see below).

I rarely take time to respond *in Facebook* to the following extent but think it good this time as I think you each raise important questions regarding it’s truthfulness/details/agenda. First a preface-

Most all of us, Christ-followers in particular -agree personal choice and responsibility for one’s actions cannot simply be wished, preached, politically agenda-ed out the window whether it comes to commitments to family, neighborhood, county, state, nation or world. Got that. Agreed?

Hope vs. hopelessness is core. My hope is in Jesus and the Good News, it’s an eternal hope that I never knew prior to following Him. My hope is not in a political position as such, and yet the reality is that all such reports as the one I cite are not merely propaganda nor a matter of who to blame for what is killing us. I was addicted in my youth, I attempted suicide, both core issues mentioned.

According to the Gospel, the devil quoted the scripture when tempting Jesus in the wilderness. He was speaking truth, but misquoting it seeking to use it for his own ends. The Scripture is no less truth REGARDLESS. The same goes for truth that is indeed truthful regardless of who’s communicating it.

If you are hardwired in belief that those of liberal bent bring zero truth to articles/conversations quit reading now because I’ve lived out what many would likely judge a “liberal agenda” for most of my life just as others would likely judge zero truth can come from Fox News addicts. I disagree with both extremes but there it is.

Thankfully, so far, there have only been a couple of those simplistic rants in response to this article, but in the end I believe fully that it’s less of an emotional/liberal pitch to sway minds and votes than simple reality that we either agree with or discount as propaganda due to several of the sources cited- universities (all liberal and brain-washed sheepies) and a liberal writer who cites liberal news sources all of which are often tossed as fake news with an agenda as if we’ve not seen anything like that from the conservative press?! Please.

The article itself indeed mentioned 7 and even 10 points by which people in the U.S. are dying earlier than any time in the past 100 years with the exception of WW1/Great Influenza epidemic. Note, the key source in it is the Center for Disease Control. If you don’t trust that group (i.e., they’re the liberal/”intelligentsia” elite and cannot be trusted?) nothing much else matters re. the article or its key points.

Your travels and interactions both rural and urban may be quite different from my own, but I’ve lived in, loved and love people in both. I regularly hear the same core issues of addiction and suicide raised over and over regardless of whether rural or urban. A growing portion of these deaths (quite at the core of another of the article’s points) are among young folks.

This is not a right or left political fantasy, it’s a reality. But again, trust is core.

If you think I or whomever, simply “drinks the koolaid” and not worthy of trust because someone thinks differently or lives in “the other” side of the country, state, county or rural vs. urban sort of thing, don’t bother reading what I write because I think in terms of both/and re. all of this.

I own firearms, hunt, shoot and support the military. I do not support the NRA, nor every single deployment of our military. I DO support the people who serve in our military and law enforcement but I do NOT agree with every decision nor action they take anymore than any reading this fully support EVERY decision and action each and every pastor or local church makes -understood? Nor do I fully agree with every position ANY administration be it federal, state, county or local that affects the American farmer. Most of you are more like me than you may think you are.

There is plenty of “koolaid” in both “camps” and I’d even say the rural vs. urban camp is more entrenched than the liberal-conservative camp, and have thought so for many, many years.

Some of us (absolutely myself) take issue with conspiracy theories because often either side of the aisle plays games using them to stir up votes. Why? Sway the mind, sway the vote and eventually swaying the pocketbook garners power and position.

I do not believe every and all corporations and directors, boards and stockholders are equally robber-barons and fully corrupt using politicians and clout to make ever more money regardless of the fallout to their workers and the nation… but I believe and have always believed this has been and is a common pattern as to why healthcare is not affordable to a huge swath of our nation. I further believe the same regarding most industries as well as the justice system and laws that affect their bottom line. I cannot but think so re. broad reading of history and personal experience.

In essence, I’ve said it just about forever: money equals power equals pols who do your/our/their bidding and often the team we support is corrupt. Knowledge of history and indeed, Scripture states as much! Self-interest itself corrupts or of course has a large part in such.

It truly does (like salvation) come down to who we trust. If we do not trust an article due to its sources, “Out the window!!!”, right? Don’t give an inch to what may actually be truth within it?

To believe nobody on “the other side” ever speaks actual truth, or conversely, speaks it to use for their own self-interest is simply ignorant. Note “rant” is the second half of that term.

As one who does chaplains work in jails and prisons, who reads and deeply appreciates the Koch brothers efforts via Prison Fellowship (anyone for Chuck Colson?) -and in some senses may be more about saving money and the national debt than love and compassion or actually dealing with an often compromised justice system- I find myself reading a ton of findings from both political sides. Meanwhile rural drug-related deaths are easily as high as in urban areas, ditto suicides. Go figure. Really, go figure.

I find the big box agriculture corporations and massively wealthy insurance companies (health care anyone?) in part, are part of the reason the American farmer is going the way of the dodo. Also why people snatch illicit drugs to help ease the pain because they cannot afford otherwise. This is not the spiritual but rather practical reality of many addicts in urban, suburban and rural areas.

I also find money is the root of all evil and the more money (to whom much is given much shall be required) the more political clout, therefore the laws are dumped, tweaked or written with the idea of “those with the most money get the most votes/perks/personal desires” fulfilled.

The article simply states a slew of facts we may discount, but meanwhile my continual question to you is what I ask myself nearly every day: what are YOU DOING for your neighbor re. these issues besides voting or on occasion, ranting.

Trust is the issue, always has been. I don’t fully trust either “side” because the corruption of individual hearts is all too easy to see throughout history including the history of the United States.

Finally, we all pay taxes for things (several, and a large chunk per) we fully disagree with.

The fellowship I serve with in inner-city Chicago (a mission field many of you are not called to, understood) has taxed and non-taxed entities. We indeed pay greater tax on gas and for it also have 6 free or nearly free city colleges, county health care and etc., much of which rural Illinois does not have access to.

I truly understand (remember, friends all over the place both rural and urban) ACA meant many areas took a serious hit re. insurance premiums (Big biz and money anyone? Want LESS regulation anyone? Do I sound like Bernie yet? To be blunt: I don’t care) and there you have it.

Scapegoats abound, but the poor do not write the laws.

If the Dems “use the poor to stay in office” so does the GOP “use the rich corporations” to do the same. I see a game all around the park. I do not believe they’re all liars nor all fully corrupt all the time. Likely, neither do you.

Meanwhile the increasing death rates and largely among a segment of people in their 20s and 30s are due to what? Overdoses and suicides? And a larger increase of such in rural areas? Fact is that depression due to whatever and having a firearm and ammo close by naturally and in the practical does offer a quick and immediate way to finish things. There is a ton of solid research re. rural homicides and suicides directly related to drug abuse and depression in rural America. Come on, this reality.

Yes, “slippery slope”, I get it. I’m 65 and have thought as I do in this bit of writing most of my life.

IF in my studies and travel, conversations with people all over the nation brought me to think otherwise I’d not be shy in saying so when I thought it would benefit people.

Last core issue: if and as we focus on these things only as they relate to ourselves directly we miss the very commands of Jesus to love our neighbor and (whew) love our enemies. How are we- you and I- DOING in that regard?

See, being a moderate who leans very left on some issues and fairly right on some issues makes me a pain to all and of course “neither fish nor foul”. A false balance is still “an abomination to the Lord”. Balance, sense, proportion and quitting the blame game one side toward the other is always easy… or is it?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Fair warning- if you choose to comment in my Facebook and it seems to me a rather troll/emotional/knee-jerk bit, your post will be gone in short order. Rant elsewhere:)

**The Article and Facebook post re. This Post: https://tinyurl.com/ycsttmle

-Glenn

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4 thoughts on “U.S. Lifespan Decreases- Article and My Thoughts

  1. Thank you again Glenn. If I have learned anything from you in the almost 30 years of following you, it’s that we must love our neighbors above ourselves. We must be willing to truly hear everyone, but not necessarily trust everyone.
    Jesus came and pissed off the religious when he said “there are only two rules, love your God and love your neighbor” What got him hung on the cross that day was when he said “in this life you will never be able to wrap your arms around your God, so wrap them around you neighbor and God will receive that hug”.
    This is the message I have learned from you and others at JPUSA.

    1. As to your first paragraph here, thank you and re. your conclusions re. my thinking, yes! As to your second, I can hear folks who read it judging your use of English as in “It doesn’t say it those words…” which of course is the fundamentalist take on many things folks don’t like to face, because I think you truly understand Jesus’ core points indeed. You’re very kind, God help us live our lives out for Him regardless. Thanks so much, -Glenn

  2. Thanks, my friend, for exploring this from both/all sides. Living in a sub-urban area, the stats are the same, and our church actually struggles with figuring out how to be part of the solution (rather than ignoring the epidemic or chastising those in the midst of it).
    And I have the conundrum of sharing the majority of your “leanings” (helped by nearly 20 years at JPUSA)—yet I am a Koch employee. Go figure!
    Anyways, blessings to you and Wendi!

    1. Indeed, you’re welcome and thank YOU for your work. Love your heart expressed here. I think one point in all of it is either disgust for people or deep hope and faith for people… that seems to be a major fulcrum and point-of-balance for all of us. If God only camped on “Ok, reap what you’ve sown” and did not offer “I stand at the door and knock” with grace…

      I wrote a song called “Where Would I Be” once that basically lays bare my thoughts. Thanks my bro!

      -Glenn

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