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Society and Its Relationship with Sex, Birth, and Death

 
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Sex, birth and death.  The three sacred mysteries that we are constantly either attracted to or repelled by.  We can't seem to treat any of these things in a proper way.  We either trivialize it or idealize it to the point of rediculousness.

When I was a teenager we lived in a bush town in Alaska where the graveyard was also where the little kids playground (it was right next to the school).  My grandma came to visit and my youngest brother told her that if she died while visiting he would bury her in the graveyard and play on her grave.  He meant it in the kindest way possible, and she thought it was pretty funny.  If someone died in the winter, the ground was too hard to bury them so they wrapped them in plastic and put them in the big community freezer building (each family had a section you could store your meat and fish, etc.  Kids got real cautious about going there to get a salmon for dinner sometimes when there was a dead person in the freezer building.

Currently, sex is both idolized and trivialized.  It is justification for any otherwise unsavory action in the book.  Sometimes we call it love, but sex is not love.  Sex and love can and sometimes are related, but more often not.  (how many people do you love that you won't have sex with.  How many people have sex with people they don't love.)  Sex can be a sacred experience, often it isn't.  It is the easiest of the three experiences to bastardize and because of repeatability is sometimes trivialized.  (You only get to be born once and die once, but you can have sex thousands of times in a lifetime).

Anyone who has witnessed a birth has seen a miracle!  Even an animal birth.  There is something special going on there.  A genuine miracle even if it happens all the time.  We don't really have words to address such genuinely sacred experiences and so we have a hard time communicating it with others.

Death can be similar.  When my grandpa died I remember looking at his body and thinking it may as well have been a side of beef.  I wasn't afraid of his body any more than I would have feared the body of a dog or rabbit.  It was just meat and bones.  The man I had loved and who loved me was gone and what remained was not him.  I wondered where my grandpa had gone.  At such moments were aren't really any more advanced that our neolithic ancestors.  We stand in awe at the doorway to something that tears away our carefully constructed artificial universe and forces us to confront REALITY, which really doesn't care at all about our hopes or fears.  It just IS.

I think our society would be healthier if we didn't have such an unhealthy attitude about death.  It's part of life and we need to face and accept it.  My dad told me once, when someone we knew died, "It's starting to look like none of us are getting out of here alive."  Of course he was being funny, but also recognizing truth.  (graveyard humor is usually truthful).  When my wifes mother died, there were fairly new great grandbabies at the funeral and I think their presence made things easier for everyone.  Life goes on, we get one turn.  I don't agree with Shakespeare about life being like a tale told by a madman, (full of noise and fury and signifying nothing).  We get to decide the tale our life tells.  It can be good, bad, usually a little of both (to paraphrase a line at the end of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.

If this were all there is, (which I don't believe) I would still be grateful for the chance to live.  I've had some scrumptious times, some bad times, had the chance to experience and learn and most importantly for me, to love and be loved.  I read a while back there was a 70 year study ranging over many cultures on what made people happy.  Summarized, it was "be with people who love you".  Simple.


 
pollinator
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There is a huge amount of money in the death business and lots in the sex business. Not so much with birth . There may be expenses but most people don't get squeezed really hard when a child is born .

Sex is often a problem for people who are raised with the idea that there must be shame involved. I can see how that began because there are a lot of shameful things done in the course of obtaining sexual satisfaction . Every society has its rules and we often think that whatever someone else is doing is not very good.

Where I'm from , in Canada it's understood that everyone gets to make their own sexual choices once they reach a certain age. I've been to a couple places where that's not how it's done . In Kenya and most of Africa , many people outside of the copulatiing couple, think they should have a say in who gets married to who and any other sex happening within their families.

I'm in the Philippines right now. Families and the church regularly investigate the bedrooms of others. Sometimes women are pushed into marrying someone they don't care for , because the family thinks it's the right financial decision . If it's discovered that an unmarried couple has been having sex , there is strong pressure for them to get married. I am engaged. If the engagement were broken for some reason, my fiance would be the subject of much discussion and shaming. We are getting along really well , so I don't think that's an issue. But , I didn't enter into this relationship as casually as I would have in Canada , realizing that she would be mocked or ostracized in the event of a broken relationship.
 
Mick Fisch
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Some of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes on sex.

There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales resistance.

Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humor. Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth… The truth that sex, in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is “normal” and “healthy,” and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal.

You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?

There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.



Of course he is arguing from a traditional position, Your agreement or disagreemnt doesn't make it true or false.  He does though manage to point out a few inconsistancies in our society's approach.  

Sex is powerful!  It needs to be controlled or managed for a society to exist.  During the mating season, males are much more dangerous than normal.  Animals die fighting each other or being so fixated they fail to register other threats.  Since the human mating season is year around, all societies have rules on sex, otherwise chaos, anarchy and no small amount of bloodshed would probably ensue.  It's like a powerful drug, with at least the male part of the population automatically addicted.  (I think the gals are also preaddicted often times, but their reaction is a bit different).
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:There is a huge amount of money in the death business and lots in the sex business. Not so much with birth . There may be expenses but most people don't get squeezed really hard when a child is born .



Ah, that's because you live in Canada. The birth of my son (1.5 days in the hospital being dilated and then a 3 days stay making sure he didn't get Cdif. Only medication was Cervidil. No epidermal or IV fluids or C section) was over $30,000--that's not counting the prenatal appointments. Our insurance covered some of that, and we met our $6,000 deductible. Thankfully, since he was born in October, we didn't have to meet two different years' deductibles.

With my daughter, knowing the cost of pregnancy, we had a deadline for when we'd try to get pregnant. After that, we'd have to wait until the next year so we wouldn't have to pay two deductibles.  My brother and his wife also planned their pregnancies to have them happen in the same insurance year.

Medical costs are so high that we now have the lowest births happening since the 80s. That's total births! Here's an article on why Millennials aren't having kids Everyone’s Missing the Obvious About the Declining U.S. Birth Rate . See reason number 2:

2. Giving birth in the U.S. is exceedingly expensive.
The United States is the most expensive place in the world to give birth. In the Guardian’s analysis, it costs around $32,000 to give birth vaginally in the U.S. if you don’t have insurance. If you require a C-section, those costs increase to around $51,000.

Think about that: Without insurance, it’s the financial equivalent of an extremely nice car or multiple years of tuition at a state university merely to have a baby. And that’s if everything goes well. If there are complications — either for the child or the mother — those costs can quickly escalate to six figures or more.



With my daughter, I gave birth 40 minutes after having arrived at the hospital. We stayed 2 days to make sure she didn't get Group B. The only medication I took was 1/2 dose of Advil. We ended up paying $6,000 in medical bills that year.

So, $12,000 for two kids, and that's just what we paid in medical bills to give birth to them. That's not counting how much insurance companies paid for it.

And, there's also a HUGE push for mothers to buy the very best stroller and organic mattress and toys and cutest clothes for their baby. Infant clothing often costs just as much as adult clothing, for something they'll only wear for a month. And, even if the parents are smart and just get hand-me-down clothing and thrift store clothing for their kids, their friends and family will invariably fork out money buying cute expensive clothes for the baby.

With my son, I purposefully did NOT find out his gender so that people would buy me useful things like bottles (in case I had nursing complications) and baby carriers and mattresses and sheets and swaddles, rather than cute clothing. I didn't buy any clothes for him, and relied on hand-me-downs from my cousins and the non-gendered baby clothing that people gave us. That actually lasted us until he was almost a year old! And, since most of his clothes were non-gendered, my sister-in-law used them for her baby passed them back to me for my daughter and then back to her for her second daughter.

But, there's a huge push to have the very best of everything, and things are made to seem essential that just aren't--like wipe warmers. Baby stuff is one of the few areas that you'll actually easily find organic clothing and toys, because mothers feel so pressured to have the very best for their kids.

Birth--at least here in the U.S.--is very expensive. We waited almost 6 years after we got married to have kids, because we needed to save up money. I had my son at almost 30. My mom had her first child when she was 27. Things just weren't as expensive back then!
 
Mick Fisch
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My wife and I had what now is considered a very large family (9 kids) from about '82 to 2001.  I guess I must have always had pretty good insurance, even as a student, because I don't think we payed more than a couple thousand dollars for each of our kids births.  The delivery and office visits were a package deal which we were paying on during the pregnancy.  We had children in Utah, New Mexico, Illinois and Alaska.  Alaska medical costs are high enough that some folks take a trip down south or to Canada for anything big and save money even including airfare and hotel stays and food.  We were lucky in that all of the kids were healthy.  There's a huge push on getting a bunch of expensive stuff for the baby.  For our first, we didn't have much in the way of clothes for the baby.  I told my wife that he was going to outgrow everything in a month and he was going to be wrapped up in a blanket most of the time anyway.  She had a different opinion on how things were going to work.  Sometimes guys, just get out of the way.  She's got the bit in her teeth and you don't want to try to stop her.  We ended up buying a modest amount of clothing so our baby was not naked under his blanket.

The health costs SEEM TO BE very high in the US.   Just to play the devils advocate, firstly, how much is a healthy child and wife worth?  You could have the baby at home for free and chance it.  Maybe a 5% chance of loosing a wife or kid.  Seems like a bad gamble to me.  Never bet more than your willing to lose.  Secondly, Is it everyone elses job to pay for my wife having a baby?  I recognize some community responsibility, but it seems to me the responsibility is greatest closer to home.

Much of the cost of US health insurance is masked by the insurance for most folks.  I don't even realize (usually) that I'm paying over $500 a month to the insurance company because it comes out of my check automatically.  (my office visit is $20, my uninsured son needed a shot and it cost him $200 for a 2 minute visit and a shot).  To me, that seems criminal.

I could go on and on about who's to blame, but it's mostly a combination of people trying to make money, powerful special interest groups (like the AMA), international companies (drug companies, why is the same drug 90% cheaper in some other country), and an incompetent government which no longer seems capable of any reasonable action (particularly congress).  Doctors get out of med school owing half a million.  I think the medical profession has reserved way too many things for the doctors.  For 95% of my needs a good nurse would be fine.  (she can stitch me up, give me a shot or prescribe medicine).  Mainly I go because I've gotten hurt or have some bug that I've already identified and I need an antibiotic.  Give the nurse a raise, let her prescribe meds and we're golden.  When we were in Utah (back in the 80s) there was a move to allow nurse midwives to handle births.  The AMA came out against it, except in remote areas where they had a big doctor shortage.  There was a logical flaw in their argument.  If the nurse was capable in the remote areas, she was capable in the cities.  What they were really doing was to try to keep the doctors in control of everything, allowing nurses to do the work only in situations that the doctors didn't want.

If permies did expand dramatically, with several dozen holdings in different areas, would Paul really want to control them all?  It would get too unwieldy and Paul would decide it was too much.  Eventually each group would mostly go its own way while maintaining some loyalty to Paul.

They split the roman empire because it was getting too hard to manage (due to size, wars, different cultures, etc).  Maybe we are just too big and we need to split the country up into something like the commonwealth model (we all salute the queen, but govern ourselves independently and print our own money, so that if California wants to give everyone free health care, California can do it, but California has to figure out how to pay for it).  That is actually pretty close to the original US model, (with the federal role being mainly management of foreign treaties and wars, tariffs, and promoting interstate trade (mainly making sure the states weren't fighting each other or taxing things coming from other states within the union) but over the years (and sometimes for what seemed the best of reasons) the Federal govt. has gotten into everyone's knickers so that the Feds control just about everything.  The fact that the Feds control so much of the cash flow of state governments money gives them huge control, also the fact that feds retained control of up to 96% of some western states means the state really has control of only a very tiny part of itself.  The federal land in the original 13 colonies is very limited.

It's obvious we have some very basic major differences in the country that run very deep.  (For example, If you really believe partial birth abortion is child murder, how can you compromise and still respect yourself?)   Maybe splitting things up or pulling back the Feds horns in a major way would allow people to self segregate to the areas where their views are the majority.  Eventually, the results of bad policies would become evident because the other areas would have different policies and the contrast would show.
 
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But the movies says we have to fight each other and fear death.

Sex is good. Anything that is good for the masses are promoted as bad or is associated with guilt. And the ones that are bad for us are promoted endlessly in the media. Its an strategy to make the sheeple confused insecure and forever lost. It makes them a lot easier to control.

They own the money press. Its about control not money.

 
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Mick Fisch wrote:
The health costs SEEM TO BE very high in the US.   Just to pay the devils advocate, firstly, how much is a healthy child and wife worth?  You could have the baby at home for free and chance it.  Maybe a 5% chance of loosing a wife or kid.  Seems like a bad gamble to me.  Never bet more than your willing to lose.  Secondly, Is it everyone elses job to pay for my wife having a baby?  I recognize some community responsibility, but it seems to me the responsibility is greatest closer to home.



I have always believed that a society is only as good as it treats its worst-off citizens. Combining points 1 and 2 would suggest a society where we accept that at least 5% of pregnancies among the poor will result in stillbirth or death of the mother. I would not sleep right with that. What's the point of living in a society where the life of its members is treated so cheaply? Do we not owe our neighbors and fellow citizens anything at all?
 
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Meg Mitchel wrote:

Do we not owe our neighbors and fellow citizens anything at all?

First I will say that I agree with Meg, then I will suggest I was not at all surprised to see that Meg identifies herself as living in Canada where traditionally this attitude was both encouraged and prized. Unfortunately, statistically, our native population has one of the worst: "In 2015, the MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio) had returned to seven, although the maternal health crisis has not abated, as there is evidence that death rates for Indigenous women are disproportionately high." (National Post)
Personally there are people I agree with who have clearly stated that how "ethical and compassionate" a country is, can be judged by how they treat those most at risk. Statistically, there's strong evidence that this is also the cheapest approach. Poor maternal health is linked to long-term health and welfare issues of the children involved. Statistically, marginalized people are most likely to lack access to birth control which simply compounds the problem. Community support, traditional skills teaching, pride in self have all been shown to turn these sort of bad situations around. Personally the "everyone for himself" approach doesn't support solving some of the bigger picture problems our planet currently faces.
 
Mick Fisch
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Now that I think a little deeper into it, I see a couple of things I would like to point out.  

1.  When gambling you should never risk more than you are willing to lose.  This concept puts us in a very weak bargaining position when it effects our spouses and children health.  Most people want their families well protected and so we are at the mercy of those who can provide the service.  Additionally, making your options ever fewer, if you opt to not choose a medical option that some doctor recommends, he may report you as an bad parent and the govt. may take your children.  

2.  As was pointed out, good care for pregnant women and small children is much cheaper than trying to deal with the issues later on.  It should be pointed out that in the vast majority of cases the "good care" is pretty damned cheap and low tech (education, good food).  Sometimes things go wrong, sometimes for no apparent reason.  Low cost neighborhoods health clinics run mainly by RNs make a lot of sense to me.

I had a friend who was an obstetrician.  He was telling me the insurance for a good doctor was about $50,000 a year (circa 1990) because about 3% of children born had a problem and the doctor would be sued.  That seems like a problem to me.  I am not for giving anyone a free pass, but our lawyering up has gotten way out of hand.  Most of the test my doctor orders are made only so he won't get sued.

3.  There comes a point of diminishing returns for health care.  Not to be callous, but if to keep me alive an extra few days puts my kids into debt for the next 5 years or takes my wife from a comfortable situation to poverty, let me die.  It's easy for me to make that decision for myself.  I wouldn't be able to make the decision for a loved one, because of my own emotional issues (love, loyalty, betrayal).  I think most people would be of a similar mind.  There comes a point of 'this is good enough' because there are no bottomless pockets or unlimited number of highly trained people with unlimited time to take care the terminally ill.  There comes a time to let the person go.  You can only fight nature for so long.  

The main improvements in lifespan came before antibiotics were widely available, they came from public sanitation, better food and quarantine.  Main problems we still have in the west are drugs, alcohol, inactivity and bad nutrition.  

 
Dale Hodgins
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My fiance and all of her siblings were born in the same bamboo hut. It was washed out to sea during a typhoon a few years back. When we visited , she stood by a thicket and pronounced that this was the place of her birth. The new house is on higher ground. It was pretty low tech,  but they didn't have to fork money over to an insurance company.

The relationship with food is really weird here in the Philippines. It is ultra cheap to eat a good healthy diet. So anyone with any money is likely to be seen eating junk food. Diabetes is rampant and in a country where where most children are a healthy weight, fat children are used on television commercials to promote the worst foods. The words "healthy" and "nutrition" and "complete diet" are used when talking about chocolate flavored cereals and energy drinks. There is a restaurant called Jollibee. It's very similar to Mcdonald's. A trip there is like a trip to the future, I'm afraid. People with the money to go there tend to be considerably fatter than the the average person on the street. Lots of overweight babies and teenagers. They've really embraced sugary drinks and many of the meals include unlimited rice. This is the diet that many aspire to, but most can't afford, so instead they cook much better food at home.
 
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Nicole is right, child birth is way more expensive than burial, with average burial being around $8,000 and birth averaging around $34,000. The reason no one cites birth is because it is often fully covered by insurance fully.

And frankly it should be, in the United States our constitution recognizes that life is priceless and protected at all costs. Frankly, I am proud of that, and proud the Coast Guard will send out hundreds of people in heavy seas just to save the lives of two fishermen lost at sea. And yes, the worst has happened. The movie "Perfect Storm" was stupid, but the real life storm that gave way to that movie caused Coast Guard members to lose their lives in trying to save fishermen caught in the perfect trifecta of storms.

When I worked for the shipyard, we bid on 13 new ships for the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard's speech was concerning, the commander asked if America were willing to spend the billions required in holding that all life is indeed precious. America answered with their checkbook, and inked out a check for billions worth of new ships.

Babies are no different, and it is a silly person who thinks they are doing the world a favor by not having many. I have seen this all my life, in the early years large families indeed suffer financially, but in the end people with large families make out the best. They have such a pool in which to acquire talent and skills. It takes years to get to use that talent, but blood is always thicker than water, and loyalty can never be bought. A couple with a lot of kids are going to do well; it even comes with a guarantee.


 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm one of those silly people. I have no desire to be permanently enslaved by having too many offspring. My parents had 10 . Instead of being friends, we were always competitors. Competing for food competing for resources and competing for attention. Life provides no guarantees when it comes to children.
 
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