Is Symmetry Bound into the Very Fabric of the Universe?

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Throughout our readings, the concept of beauty has emerged as a universal concept. Spanning human history, significant resources have been spent to immortalize it in art. From the days of the Egyptians with their stunning hieroglyphics to the immortal statues of ancient Greece, universal standards of beauty have long been established that have stood the test of time. We also find consistent commonalities in art. For example, over the millennia, many sculptures were created with consistent mathematical patterns such as the waist-hip ratio (WHR). The WHR testifies to certain foundational standards that have been constant through time (Swami, Grant, Furnham, & Mcmanus, 2007; Fletcher, Simpson, Campbell, & Overall, 2013). Another universal standard is the concept of symmetry, which, across the ages, exists as a common theme. Architectural classics such as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal of India illustrate a beauty and balance which transcends time. We are starting to find out the importance of symmetry in biological systems too, as recent research has indicated the preference for facial symmetry in mate selection (Scheib, Gangestad, & Thornhill, 1999). It has been demonstrated that human beings have an innate way of detecting which potential mates may have superior genes. In order to protect the future of the species, these traits help offspring to be resistant to toxins, parasites, and disease (Scheib et al., 1999), but how do we account for our desire for certain standards of beauty? Is it just an arbitrary evolutionary accident that worked? Or is it that same power that draws us toward a masterpiece of architecture or a breathtaking sunset? Is some innate force at work that binds humankind together in a timeless desire for the perfect? Is our desire for symmetry merely a weak reflection of the very forces that bind our universe together? In this paper I plan to examine the universality of symmetry as it expresses itself in the macro-universe, the micro-universe, and the metaphysical.

Early man was fascinated with the heavens. Glancing up at the sky on a starry night evokes a feeling of awe and wonder. Many religions believe that the stars and planets were placed in the heavens and divinely inspired for “signs and seasons” (Genesis 1:14, English Standard Version). Throughout the world, the heavens were incorporated into religious activities and used for keeping track of the seasons (“Mayan scientific achievements,” 2010). Early humans observed the sun and the moon as spheres, perfectly symmetrical. It is noted that planets are not “perfect” spheres, which has a religious connotation associated with it, but they are still symmetrical (Lederman & Hill, 2004).

We now know that during the formation of the sun and planets, massive clouds of dust collapsed into symmetric protoplanetary discs. This collapse of dust is referred to as accretion, and during this process, the symmetry of the system increases till the planetary structure forms (Williams, 2010). The symmetry of the universe is not the product of millions of years of an evolutionary process, but a natural result of the innate physical and molecular forces of nature (“HubbleSite – How Do Planets Form?,” n.d.).

These planetary forces are governed by the laws of physics, and mathematics is the language of physics (Cullerne & Machacek, 2008). Perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians to ever live, and perhaps the least recognized, was Emmy Noether (Lederman & Hill, 2004). She formulated, what is now called the Noether Theorem, was eloquently described by Lederman and Hill (2004):

The theorem cleanly and clearly unites symmetry with the complex dynamics of physics and forms a basis for human thought to make forays into the inner world of matter at the most extreme energies and distances (p. 23).

In basic language, “the theorem provides us with a connection between continuous symmetries of the laws of physics and the existence of corresponding conservation laws” (Lederman & Hill, 2004, p. 97). In even simpler terms her theorem is the basis for our modern understanding of the laws of matter. All of the conserved quantities deep within all matter as we know it, “comes from a continuous symmetry lurking deep within the structure of the laws of nature” (Lederman & Hill, 2004, p. 98). Finally, Lederman and Hill (2004) state that the very “laws of physics themselves are essentially defined by symmetry principles” (p. 98). In perhaps the most simple terms, symmetry, as we know it, springs up from deep within the very fabric of matter and expresses itself within all systems. All systems. Everything from deep within the nucleus of an atom, to a sun in a galaxy on the other side of the universe.

These laws must, by definition, include us, as we are composed of remnants from an intergalactic explosion. The atoms that we are constructed of were forged in the crucible of the furnace of a star, which was subject to all the laws of physics and math. We are merely stardust. Symmetry is ever present, it permeates the entire universe, and exists as a constant theme throughout every aspect of the very structure of matter itself. I contend that even in humans, it bubbles up from deep within us to gently, innately and instinctively guide us in making life decisions in regards to mate choices. We cannot divorce ourselves from the very material we are made of. Lederman and Hill (2004) state “even the big bang even of cosmology, as far as we know, was governed by the same laws of physics that govern the formation of a raindrop over a cornfield in Kansas” (p. 65).

When we look at a face, we innately and unconsciously determine a level of beauty by a carefully crafted series of formulas based on mathematical ratios that we observe (Pallett, Link, & Lee, 2010). Other research has been done to suggest face averageness is achieved over time and is considered more beautiful (Rubenstein, Kalaknis, & Langlois, 1999). Pallett et al. (2010) suggest that these theories can coexist and work together:

We suggest that while the two theories provide different levels of explanation, they may work together to account for our preferences for the optimal length and width ratios for facial beauty. The evolutionary process predisposes us to find average length and width ratios attractive; the cognitive process prescribes what the average length and width ratios are by averaging the ratios of individual faces we have encountered to date (p. 7)

While these two theories can explain human preferences for beauty based on averageness and ratios, it doesn’t answer all of the questions. Still, exists the ultimate question of “why.” Is the why based on the very foundations of matter as we know it?

As humans, we must accept the fact that we are limited in our understanding of the universe around us. Even with all our technological advances, in the last hundred years, we do not know what eighty-five percent of the universe is made of (“Dark Energy, Dark Matter,” n.d.). With every new advance in science, we are only able to see, albeit just a little bit clearer, the shadowy images cast upon the wall of Plato’s cave (Plato, 1941). Even if we were able to free ourselves from our chains and peer upon the light outside, it is too brilliant and way beyond our limited ability to comprehend it. We are not the makers of all that is, but merely an end product and result of untold millennia of chance, chemical interactions, and of physics. As such, we are bound by the natural laws that govern all these. Our behavior in the realm of attraction and mate selection is perhaps predicated on basic laws that transcend our relatively short time on this planet. With every question answered we raise ten more unanswered ones. Perhaps the answer we will find one day is more than we have hoped for, but we continue to press on. We have demonstrated the spirit to inch slowly toward the answers, but as the physicist Stephen Hawking noted, “If we find the answer to that [why the universe is], it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God” (Hawking, 1998, p. 191).

 

References

Cullerne, J., & Machacek, A. (2008). The language of physics: A foundation for university study. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dark Energy, Dark Matter – NASA Science. (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2016, from http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy/

Fletcher, G., Simpson, J. A., Campbell, L., & Overall, N. C. (2013). The science of intimate relationships. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.

Hawking, S. (1998). A brief history of time. New York: Bantam Books.

HubbleSite – Discovering Planets Beyond – How Do Planets Form? (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2016, from http://hubblesite.org/hubble_discoveries/discovering_planets_beyond/how-do-planets-form

Lederman, L. M., & Hill, C. T. (2004). Symmetry and the beautiful universe. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.

Mayan scientific achievements. (2010). Retrieved July 9, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/mayan-scientific-achievements

Pallett, P. M., Link, S., & Lee, K. (2010). New golden ratios for facial beauty. Vision Research, 50(2), 149. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2009.11.003

Plato, & Jowett, B. (1941). Plato’s the republic. New York: The Modern library.

Rubenstein, A. J., Kalakanis, L., & Langlois, J. H. (1999). Infant preferences for attractive faces: A cognitive explanation. Developmental Psychology, 35(3), 848-855. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.35.3.848

Scheib, J. E., Gangestad, S. W., & Thornhill, R. (1999). Facial attractiveness, symmetry and cues of good genes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 266(1431), 1913–1917.

Swami, V., Grant, N., Furnham, A., & Mcmanus, I. C. (2007). Perfectly formed? The effect of manipulating the waist-to-hip ratios of famous paintings and sculptures. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 27(1), 47-62. doi:10.2190/ic.27.1.e

Williams, M. (2010, November 05). Nebular theory – universe today. Retrieved July 9, 2016, from http://www.universetoday.com/77525/nebular-theory

 

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Comparative analysis of Thomas Paine and Glenn Beck

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I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it’s the sand of the coliseum. He’ll bring them death – and they will love him for it. Gracchus – The Gladiator

Humans are particularly gregarious animals. We tend to live in groups, build cities, and typically work together for the common good. As in any animal group, the elevation of certain select individuals to leadership positions is an important and necessary part of the group’s success. By society’s very nature we can only have a few “Chiefs.” How do prospective leaders convince the “Indians” to follow and cooperate? To get along with one another? To pay taxes? To surrender their individual power and personal freedoms? Or to even give up their very lives and die in battle for the “common good”?

Throughout history leaders have used many techniques to gain and keep control of the masses to accomplish their particular agenda. In Germany a charismatic leader and a common hatred of a particular ethnic group was used to seize power and commit unspeakable horrors. In America during the 1960’s an engaging and handsome President inspired a country to reach for the moon. Successful leaders know that the power of a country rests in the masses. Tap into that power base, and incredible power can be harnessed. In a brilliant observation of the true power base of a county, Derek Jacobi’s character Gracchus in the movie The Gladiator observes that the real power of Rome is in the mob, not in the Senate. Distract them and keep them happy and the leader can even deprive them of their basic freedoms.

In this essay I will be comparing two colorful characters who were and are amazing in their ability to rally the people to step in line and follow: Thomas Paine and Glenn Beck. Paine was instrumental in the formation of this country by the penning of a pamphlet, Common Sense, which helped rally the common folk in their support for independence. Beck is the third most powerful radio personality in the world. Based on his writing, Beck sees himself as a modern leader of a new revolution and has even written book with the same name as Paine’s pamphlet (Beck and Kerry).

To properly understand these men, we need to explore the historical context of the times in which each lived. In the middle of the 18th century, the American colonies were at a crossroad. Throughout the country many new leaders had bubbled up through the ranks of society. They were all male, rich, highly educated, and white. They were well versed in classical Latin and Greek. They were students of history, philosophy, and students of the enlightenment. They created a society where they had all the power. They owned the lucrative plantations in the south and the lucrative shipping and trading businesses in the north. Women, blacks whether free or slave, and non-propertied common folk could not vote. Only them. Times were good and thanks to the British army’s success over the French and Native Americans in the Seven Years War, the frontier was not only secured against their enemies but the size of the country was dramatically increased for future expansion.

Although this victory was a tremendous win for the colonists, it came with a price. The cost to the crown for the execution of the war was staggering and more than doubled England’s national debt. Also, ten thousand troops were left to guard the frontier, which also required substantial funding. The Crown was desperate for new avenues of revenue to both pay off its debt and the ongoing cost of defending the frontier.

To address these issues, the British Parliament passed legislation on March 22, 1765 with what was known as the “Stamp Act.” It was a law carefully crafted with the intent of removing the cost of defending the colonies on the British mainland and placing it directly on the colonists. The law required that every bill, receipt, deed, newspaper, and just about every single piece of paper was to be taxed (Colonial Williamsburg). In terms the actual cost to the colonists, this was a very small and insignificant tax. Additionally, the main occupation at this time in the country’s history was the small family farm being etched out of the landscape by new immigrants. To the average “Joe,” or in the words of Thomas Jefferson “The Yoeman Farmer,” this tax had little or no impact (The Yoeman).

To the powerful and rich elite of this country, this was an unacceptable tax. The tax symbolized control, power, and sovereignty. It was a direct attack on the ruling class of this new country and they felt their power was in jeopardy. Talk of revolution filled the taverns throughout the country. But for the colonists to break away from the Crown was treason, a capital offense. To declare independence was in effect to declare war. To be able to wage war an army would be needed. Common folk would be needed to risk their very lives for a cause which for the most part, didn’t impact them.

Enter Thomas Paine, born on 29th of January 1737 in the town of Thetford, England. His father owned a small business as a corset maker and his mother was described “as a woman of sour temper and an eccentric character” (Ayer 1). At age thirteen, after returning from school he came home to apprentice under his father. The young Thomas Paine was somewhat of a troubled young man with no clear direction in his life. Three years later he ran away from home to enlist as a seaman on the privateer “The Terrible” under the Captain William Death. Fortunately his father intercepted him before his enlistment, since Captain Death and almost all of his crew met with an untimely and horrible death a few years later (The Gentleman’s and London Magazine 491). The young Paine continued to drift through life and was unable to keep a job (Ayer 1-3). He went into business at age twenty-one and married a year later, but with no business savvy his business soon failed. A short time later he lost his young wife.

Thomas Paine had a gift for the gab and the pen. In 1774 when Benjamin Franklin was visiting England, Paine befriended him and secured a letter of introduction. Armed with this letter Paine emigrated to America. After securing work upon his arrival, Paine soon became the managing editor of a monthly periodical called the Pennsylvania Magazine. Under his management the magazine quickly increased its list of subscriptions from six hundred to over fifteen hundred within a year. Paine had established himself as a master of rhetoric and was soon encouraged by his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush (who was later a signer of the Declaration of Independence) to address the need for independence by publishing Common Sense (Ayer 35).

The pamphlet’s success was extraordinary. Over one hundred fifty thousand copies were sold within months. Paine also was careful to avoid making money from his pamphlet’s success by proposing that his portion of the profits be used to purchase mittens for Washington’s troops (Ayer 35).

America, since the time of the Puritans, had an overwhelming Christian ethos. Paine wrapped and packaged Common Sense in the language of the Bible. He brings the reader through the entire history of Jewish people, comparing the Kings of England with the history of the Jews (Paine 10-13). He even states that the act of even having a King was one of the leading sins of the Jews (Paine 11). By inference he states that to continue under the present system would be a sin, so the very act of rebellion would please God. This approach was instrumental in the pamphlet’s success.

Like Paine, Glenn Beck too had a troubled life. As a child he always had a desire to be the center of attention. At an early age he started to perform on stage as a magician. In 1977, when he was only thirteen, his parents divorced. During this difficult time, Beck continued his self promotion and honed his stage skills. In spite of the breakup of his family Beck secured his first radio show at the AM station KBRC while only thirteen (Zaitchik 20). Two years later during a boating trip he lost his mother, (who according to Beck was also an alcoholic), under some very stranger circumstances (Forbes). Her body was found floating next to an empty boat and her companion was found washed ashore. All that was found on board was her dog, a few personal items, and an empty bottle of vodka. Beck spoke many times publicly about his mother’s “suicide” but no public records state that it was anything other than an accident (Zaitchik 21). At around this time Beck became a substance abuser while still pursuing fame, fortune, and attention behind the radio microphone (Zaitchik 23).

Beck had a remarkable meteoric rise to fame and fortune in the Top 40 Radio market. However, due to his continued addiction to alcohol and drugs, he soon found himself on a roller coaster ride in his career. Beck was constantly trying to reinvent himself. He would stop at nothing to promote himself, even resorting to bribery, interviewing another DJ’s wife’s on-air and then mocking her recent miscarriage (Zaitchik 37-38), or dressing up as a giant banana and diving into a pool of Styrofoam (Zaitchik 49).

In 1994, after fifteen years of drugs and alcohol, Beck and his first wife divorced. He then started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and began his quest for God and purpose in life outside of drugs and the bottle. After vising numerous churches with his future second wife, he settled on the Mormon faith and a new direction in his radio career in the Tampa bay area in talk radio (Zaitchik 56).

Never afraid to push the envelope, Beck was described by the St. Petersburg Times as a “tangle of contradictions.” One minute he would rally his listens to raise money for a grieving family to assist with funeral expenses, and next he would make fun of a woman who was crushed to death by an elephant (Zaitchik 59). The most important point was to light up the phones by pushing the most controversial buttons and to achieve the best ratings regardless of the cost. It was during this time that Beck started a change that would come to set the stage for his national career. He changed from a fruitcake into a right-wing religious social conservative.

Today, hardly a moment goes by when Beck doesn’t find some way to appeal to the mainstay of his audience, which is Protestant middle America. Like Common Sense, everything he says and does is steeped in Biblical imagery. From apocalyptic alarmist threats to appeals to his interpretation of the founders’ faith, Beck has successfully honed himself to reach the average “Joe” of middle America. It also seems very interesting that many of his followers, who profess themselves Christians and consider his Mormon faith a cult, still flock to his teachings (Zernike).

Like Paine, Beck bathes everything he does in the imagery of the Bible. This is crucial to rally the masses, as Machiavelli states in The Prince in praise of the tactics of Ferdinand of Aragon, “always covering himself with a the cloak of religion” (Elliot). The ability to reach out to the large pool of “Indians” is Beck’s wellspring and source of power. Beck even has filled the center of Washington with hundreds of thousands of his followers with a religious rally on August 28th, 2010, calling for the religious rebirth of this nation (Zernike).

When selling a product it isn’t always necessary for the seller to believe in its validity. Are Paine and Beck really true “believers” or merely just using religion as a cloak, like Ferdinand of Aragon, to further their goals?

While Pain’s Common Sense was bathed in the mantle of Christianity, he also wrote a book titled The Age of Reason, which attacked the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Theodore Roosevelt has been quoted referring to Paine as a “filthy little atheist” (Ayer 140). Even his good friend and the very man who encouraged him to publish Common Sense, Dr Benjamin Rush,refused to see or speak to him in 1803 (Ayer 169). Although probably not an atheist but a deist, Paine nonetheless attacks the very foundations of the Bible that he so convincingly used to steer public opinion in Common Sense.

One must wonder, is Beck, like Paine, merely using the right formula to achieve a particular agenda? After years of reinventing himself did Beck finally find the right demographic to succeed in radio? Or, unlike Paine, does Beck really believe the rhetoric he promotes?

A favorite target of Beck is President Obama. From calling the President a racist, to daily assaults on his person, his politics, and family, Beck has made the President the focus of his shows (CBS-News). Beck is a professing Christian who constantly appeals to the Bible as the rule by which to live his life, however, in contrast to his verbal attacks, we find very clear Biblical text stating that existing Governments are established by God (Romans 13:1). Furthermore, as with King David, even if the current King is doing a terrible job, respect is an obligation (1 Samuel). Beck even repeatedly mocked the President’s young children on his national radio show during the Gulf oil crisis. Although Beck did apologize for calling the President a racist, his daily attacks on him and even the mocking of the children continued (Media Matters). As with Paine, Beck uses Biblical imagery to promote his agenda with complete disregard to its actual teachings.

Both Paine and Beck have a gift for making outrageous statements to an ignorant and ill informed audience. In Common Sense Paine proposes that the lack of experienced sailors will not impede the ability of Americans to match the British navy on the seas. He suggests that Captain William Death had crews in which only a small percentage were sailors: “A few able and social sailors will soon instruct a sufficient number of active land-men in the common work of a ship (Paine).” Not only was this not true, but Captain Death and almost the entire crew met with a horrible death (The Gentleman’s and London Magazine). Beck also recently suggested that members of Reformed Judaism, which is almost the entire Jewish population of North America, have similar beliefs to radical Islam (Glenn Beck: Reform Rabbis and Radicalized Islam).

The mob, the crowd, the common folk. They are the backbone and foundation of society. Tap into their thinking, their anger, then market them God’s purpose for their lives and make a lot of money. Paine gave away most of his money made from Common Sense. However, Beck has created a multimedia empire which takes in over thirty two million dollars a year (Forbes). He lives in a multimillion dollar house in Connecticut and daily promotes the purchase of gold, dehydrated food, and gun safes to protect his listeners in the coming apocalypse.

In Elia Kazan’s movie A Face in the Crowd the character Lonesome Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith, rises to fame as the nation’s top rated TV and radio personality, but he is nothing more than a hypocrite who believes nothing of what he says. When Rhodes becomes a major power broker able to help elect the president he becomes drunk with power and states, “This whole country’s just like my flock of sheep!They’re mine! I own ’em! They think like I do. Only they’re even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for ’em. … you just wait and see. I’m gonna be the power behind the president.” Like Rhodes, Beck has amassed a huge power base of faithful followers. Just the mention of an obscure author or political candidate can send millions of dollars flowing their way in a matter of hours.

Both Paine and Beck have used Biblical imagery extensively in the rallying of the “Indians” to gain power and political control, and neither one believes the principals they have articulated. Paine was able to motivate tens of thousands of men to risk their lives in the fight for independence, and Beck was able to rally hundreds of thousands of people in the Capitol calling for national repentance while keeping his “sponsors” forever in the view of the faithful. Paine used his money to buy mittens for the Continental Army, but Beck has used his money to buy gold, multimillion dollar homes, a staff of bodyguards, and an armored SUV. Glenn Beck is no modern day Thomas Paine, but he lives in the spirit of Lonesome Rhodes, an opportunist drunk with power.

Works Cited

A Face in the Crowd. Dir. Elia Kazan. Perf. Andy Griffith. Warner Home Video, 1957. DVD.

Ayer, A. J. Thomas Paine. New York: Atheneum, 1988. Print.

“A Summary of the 1765 Stamp Act : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site.” Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site. THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG FOUNDATION. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. .

Beck, Glenn, and Joe Kerry. Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: the Case against an Out-of-control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine. New York: Mercury Radio Arts/Threshold Editions, 2009. Print.

“Glenn Beck: Reform Rabbis and “radicalized Islam” | The Jewish Week.” The Jewish Week | Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

“Glenn Beck Inc – Forbes.com.” Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

“Glenn Beck: Obama Is a Racist – CBS News.”Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News – CBS News. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

“Glenn Beck Smears Obama’s 11-year-old Daughter.” Media Matters for America. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

Eliot, Charles William. “The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli, Page 76.” The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909. Print.

Gladiator. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Derek Jacobi. DreamWorks LLC and Universal Studios, 2000. DVD.

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense, and Other Political Writings. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1953. Print.

Romans 13:1. Biblegateway.com. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

1 Samuel 24:3-7. Biblegateway.com. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. <http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+24:3-7&version=NIV >.

The Gentleman’s and London Magazine. Vol. 26. 1757. 490-91. The Online Books Page. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. .

“The Yoeman.” American Studies. The University of Virginia. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. .

Zaitchick, Alexander. Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010. Print.

Zernike, Kate. “At Lincoln Memorial, a Call for Religious Rebirth.” The New York Times. 28 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

My Drug Use

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Multitudes have perished, families been torn apart, and entire counties have been pushed over the abyss into chaos. Brother against brother, sister against sister, all because of a small, seemingly insignificant fruit of this plant. Resembling a large shrub, it can grow anywhere from 10 to 12 feet tall. After planting it takes three to five years before the plant bears fruit. Once the fruit appear, it takes another nine months to ripen and turn their distinct cherry-red color. Roughly the size of a dime, at its peak ripeness it is strikingly close to the color of blood. This ironic shade which must have been chosen by some deity to speak to the death and destruction that this fruit has brought to the world. Illegal to use in some countries for many years due to its powerful effects on the human body, it has been legalized due to its out of control and widespread use.

Legend has it that goat farmers saw that after male goats ate the leaves and the fruit, they soon became rather “frisky” with the does . Man, with his eternal preoccupation with sexual fulfillment, soon learned how to extract the potent drugs from the seeds and prepare it in a pleasing manner. It spread like wildfire across the Mideast and foreigners became exposed to this new psychotropic wonder drug . They wanted to steal it, but the tribal lords kept a tight lid on it and restricted export of the seeds and young plants. Finally the plant was illegally taken out of the Middle East by a smuggler who secreted seedlings out of the country by strapping them to his chest. Making its way to South America, it soon found an ideal growing location high in the rugged mountains of Brazil. In this beautiful climate with warm tropical breezes year round, just the right amount of yearly rainfall, and soil rich with all the proper nutrients, the crop flourished.

In the Brazilian mountains, harvesting is a difficult and arduous task. Workers must first scale the mountains with their pack animals and gear in tow, and then climb the large plants going up and down for hours on end. All the time the hot tropical sun is beating down on them baking them to a crisp. Soon the local population of Brazil was not able to meet the huge labor demands required to harvest this new crop. The dealers looked elsewhere for large pools of labor. Why pay people to harvest your crop when you can get people to do it for free? They cast their greedy eyes upon Africa.

Like Brazil which has the ideal climate for the plant, Africa, with its political instability, tribal warfare, and an existing slave system had the ideal climate to provide the labor. Because of skyrocketing demand for this drug, millions of people were kidnapped to work the plantations.

As its use spread through Europe and the New World, no one cared about the untold misery this substance inflicted on their fellow human beings. All they wanted was to get their next fix. As was the case with other legal drugs such as heroin, opium, tobacco, and cocaine, little was known about the addictive nature of this substance. As a huge cash crop, many governments were on the take and turned a blind eye to the horrors it caused.

Like tobacco, this drug has become an integral part of our modern day culture. Throughout the world enterprising individuals have created pleasing dens where users can meet to socialize and get buzzed together. The price of the drug keeps going up and up, but no one cares. They need their daily fix.

Confession time. I too am a user of this drug. Because pushers ply the drug with sugar to make it appealing to young children, I was hooked at an early age. Withdrawal is a very painful experience, with headaches that seem like your brain is going to explode. Often I have deluded myself with the notion I can quit at anytime, but I can’t.

Excuse me one moment. Pardon me? Oh, a regular coffee please! Make that a Grande Latte with cream and extra sugar.