不用藥品（合法、非法都包括）而想過正常生活，已經越來越難了。約翰‧霍浦斯金大學首席醫教授、加拿大 William Osler說：「人與動物的差異在於吃藥的欲望。」我們不是在談醫療診所的抑鬱病患，而是指赫胥黎在《美麗新世界》中的情況，人們靠藥物來紓解壓力、焦慮、憂鬱、痛苦、空虛。這些問題不是由生命和基因的條件所造成，而是因為環境和社會病態造成。
※12至13歲的兒童，70％有認識的同齡吸菸；44％有認識的同齡人喝酒；33％ 有認識的同齡人吸毒；29％有認識的同齡人有槍；27％有認識的同齡人曾入獄 ；20％有認識的同齡人生育或懷孕； 12％有認識的同齡人曾被迫行性行為。
Whereas, in the "over-developed" world the Surgeon General focuses on couch-potato children whose obesity presents a major health problem nationally, and our TV ads bombard us with endless products, health clubs, and gadgets for fighting overweight (all of which invigorate the economy through further consumption based on perceived "scarcity" or inadequacy).
Malnutrition is the principle cause of infant and child mortality in developing nations. In many, over 25% of the population die before reaching the age of four. The average family in Costa Rica eats less meat than the average American housecat. (This is our neighbor right next door. But again "neighbor" only in the old- belief sense of the Good Samaritan; according to the new capitalist gospel, of course, we have no neighbors except as they can further our own self-interest). The world's cattle alone (not including pigs and chicken) consumes a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people, which is nearly double the entire human population of the planet.
If Americans were to reduce their meat consumption by only 10%, this would free over 12 million tons of grain annually for human consumption—enough to adequately feed the 60 million people who will starve to death on the planet in a year. Land, water, energy used to grow livestock feed could feed 60-100 million people if U. S. reduced its meat intake by 10%.
We have seen a 24-fold increase in major depressive disorders since World War II; the use of anti-depressant medication along with alcohol and drug-use is at record high. Prozac, the "feel-good drug," is latest in increasing reliance on psychotropic / psychopharmacological management of unhappiness. We are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the ability to live a normal, worthwhile life without the use of drugs (legal and illegal). (The Canadian physician and first Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, William Osier, said: "The difference between men and animals is the desire to take pills."). We are not talking here about clinical depression, but rather something akin to Huxley's Brave New World, where we rely on drugs to relieve stress, anxiety, melancholy, angst and emptiness, not brought on by biological or genetic conditions, but growing out of environmental and social disease.
What has become clear is that there is no direct association between affluence and happiness. Let me repeat: the central premise and promise of capitalism is that there exists a direct relationship between material wealth and human happiness. It is impossible, of course to be happy without food and shelter. But if we have enough money to satisfy our basic material needs, further increases in our disposable income do not seem to bring about corresponding increase in our happiness. For example, over the past 30 to 40 years there has been a remarkable increase in the number of material goods (cars, color TVs, microwaves, computers, video recorders, cell phones, pagers, etc.) owned by members of an average household in many Western countries, but with no similarly dramatic increase in happiness, by any measure that anyone has been able to apply. In fact, the opposite seems to be occurring.
The University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center has found that the proportion of Americans who describe themselves as "very happy" has remained fairly constant (1 in 3) since the 1950's. This can partly be explained by a phenomenon known to psychologists as "habituation"; we quickly accustom ourselves to new acquisitions/highs only to return to neutral flats. This flattening out of newness in turn brings out the urge to ignite new passions; and so this cycle goes on and on without any qualitative rise in contentment or fulfillment (like Tolstoy's restless peasant in the story). We get caught up in a cycle of wanting, longing to get, grabbing, getting, and feeling empty, wanting more, ad nauseam. An ideal set of conditions for an expanding economy, but not for not necessarily for human happiness. Instead of satisfaction, the opposite occurs, where greater activity results in diminished rewards...thus anxiety and depression. We have, as one noted psychiatrist observed, "a profound misunderstanding of the true nature of happiness...determining what makes a person happy requires self-knowledge, more self-knowledge than most of us possess." Thus we find ourselves living in a particular contemporary nihilism: a dream of wanting where everything wanted is finally worthless. This is what the Buddha called, "Born drunk and dying in a dream."
Young people in some ways provide an even more sensitive measure of the "soul" or "spirit" of a society. They are most in tune with the Zeitgeist and reflect the core values and trends. Buddhism argues that desires unrestrained, greed too much excited, leads to competitive striving and invariably frustration. Frustration at never getting what one seeks, in turn foments anger and eventually violence. These "healthy" habits essential to a market-driven way of life, play themselves out (harmlessly some would argue) in our sports, games, our movies, and other fantasy fare. But increasingly the distinction blurs between fantasy and reality. This is especially true for the younger population. Thus,
-The murder rate among 14 to 17 year-olds, increased 165 percent in the past 10 years.
-Every day, 135,000 children take guns to school.
-70% of 12 to 13 year olds know someone their age who smokes; 44% know someone their age who drinks; 33% know someone their age who does drugs; 29% know someone their age who has a gun; 27% know someone their age who has been to jail; 20% know someone their age who has a child or is pregnant; 12% know someone their age who has been forced to have sex.
To be continued