• Life and death matter
    March 08,2014
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    As the father of an 8-year-old boy who has visited Vermont, I was stirred as I read various accounts of the heroin epidemic gripping Rutland and Vermont. Lives are being lost and destroyed at an alarming rate. And you, unfortunately, are not alone.

    Here on Long Island, N.Y., there is a growing heroin problem, too. It is clear that more must be done to provide access to drug treatment programs. But what is missing in the discussion of drug abuse is: What is the state of mind of a person drawn to drugs? Is there an attitude to the whole world that makes mind-altering drugs look so attractive?

    The important education, Aesthetic Realism, founded by Eli Siegel, shows that for every person there are two drives. One is our deepest desire to like the world, to see meaning and value in things. The other is the desire to feel the world is a mess, which is not hard to feel at all, and, therefore, have contempt and feel superior to everyone and everything.

    Contempt, Aesthetic Realism explains, is “the addition to self through the lessening of something else.” When we have this feeling, thinking nothing matters too much or is too interesting, including the subjects we may be learning in school — math, reading, science, history — the lure of drugs, which takes us quickly away from this world, can be ever so appealing.

    The fight between contempt and self-respect must be studied and taken seriously. It is a national emergency. It is a life-and-death matter.

    MATTHEW D’AMICO

    Lynbrook, NY
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