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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

PercoChiva -- A Cloaked Killer of Will Power

With black tar heroin from a little place in Mexico being a hugely successful and highly marketed commodity for voracious consumers in Southern Ohio who order it delivered to their doors like pizza, Southern Ohio consumers are now evidently the test market for heroin disguised as Percocet pills.

Crafty alien cells and other entrepreneurs eager to share the market continue to re-imagine a profitable product in high demand, and they continue to find new methods and products to deliver the goods.

Authorities said this new form of heroin is hitting the streets of Ohio. John Burke, the commander of Warren County’s drug task force, said they haven’t seen anything like this in Warren County yet. He said the pills are originating in Mexico and they’re often disguised as tablets, which look like oxycodone.

“I don't know if it seems more benign to people that it's a pill and not in the form of a powder as heroin is. It's really hard to say but somebody's decided that it's a good marketing technique,” Burke said.

Last year in Warren County, 24 people died in heroin-related deaths. In 2015, in January alone seven people have died from heroin-related incidents.

(Ben Patracco. "Authorities: New form of heroin found in Ohio." WLWT5. April 24, 2015)

Of course, switching out drugs like Percocet for heroin increases the chance of addiction and overdose. “You have someone who thinks they’re getting a pharmaceutical-grade opiate, such as percocet,” said Sgt. Jason Lapp of the Bellefontaine Police. “They think they’re getting a 30 milligram pill. However, unbeknownst to them, there’s heroin in it. And they keep taking this drug and all of a sudden, they’re addicted to heroin.”

(News staff. "Percocet was really heroin in disguise." WHIO. April 27, 2015)

The Ohio discovery wasn't the first. In 2013 and 2014, similar drugs were found in other states ...

Deputy District Attorney Sharon McKenna, Chief of the Drug Enforcement Unit, said there was a Delaware County, Pennsylvania, drug seizure in September 2013 of tablets that resembled prescription painkillers, but when analyzed, they contained heroin.

And, in 2014, the Regional Operations Intelligence Center in New Jersey issued an alert regarding seized heroin tablets which had the same color and markings found on prescription 30mg Oxycodone tablets.

(Cheryl Steinberg. "Heroin Disguised as Oxycodone Found in Pennsylvania."
Palm Partners. August 11, 2014)

Again and again and again we repeat the mantra: "Where there is a will, there is a way." This double-edged reality must be realized by the consumer in an incredible marketing chain that promises to make available the product no matter what. The will of the manufacturer and the will of the distributor are much too strong to break.

Illegal opiates will continue to travel across county and be readily available to those with sweaty, eagerly waiting hands full of dollar bills in Scioto County, Ohio. The will of the opiate marketer to gain fame and fortune will not abate. It is his business, and it supplies him with a huge profit.

It is the will of the consumer of the deadly product that must stiffen. The will of the consumer must be tougher than that of the provider, or else the health epidemic will worsen. The dependent and the addicted that live among us must find other successful means to deal with whatever physical and psychological pain they encounter and stop buying heroin and other dangerous opiates.

Some good treatments are now available to those who need help to find their strong will. Yet, many of these strengthening aids are extremely expensive and thus unavailable to poor people who suffer addiction. This is where all of us must become supporters of strategies that increase willpower in opiate users -- not only encouraging treatment but also supporting evidence-based education and pushing lawmakers to fund support to fight drug abuse.

The "way" and the "will" of severely addicted citizens is infected by a horrible disease called drug addiction. Simply put, those who contract the disease lack sufficient means to overcome their malady. No one takes opiates willingly to become an addict just as no smoker puffs on cigarettes to develop lung cancer. I am not making excuses for addiction: I am just stating the frustrating facts.

Unlike smoking a few cigarettes or drinking a few shots of Black Jack, consuming opiates will often trigger the addictive personality although the buyer self-administers precious little intake. With dependency, willpower greatly diminishes, and with addiction, willpower often vanishes completely. This is how a person actually "becomes" a substance -- his or her heart and soul fully consumed.

Talking "will power" with a Jonesing addict is like begging a hungry tiger not to devour Bambi. We cannot cure a disease by talking and begging, believe me. It just doesn't work.

Whatever long process it takes to re-establish a disinfected human will is the answer to stopping the heroin trade -- it must be done one addict at a time. But, our lack of patience and abhorrence for dealers usually results in arrest after arrest of criminal traffickers who have stood in long lines to replace those who had previously smuggled the product of great profit. New recruits can't wait to get their chance to continue their cells in Ohio, and so it goes ... on and on and on.

Develop the needed willpower to resist polluting the body with poisonous illegal opiates. Stop the risk. Stop the consumption. Problem solved. It sounds simple, but it is anything but easy.

Remember when parents urged us as youth not to have sex, to wait until we were more mature and able to handle the responsibilities involved, and to take necessary precautions in order not to risk the possible health problems and an unplanned pregnancy?  How did that work out? Ask both those with strong and weak wills what happened when those luscious lust chemicals churned through their bodies in the heat of sexual passion. High on love? We live and we learn.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Freedom to Feel Pain: Quinones and the "Sunday Review"





I believe we must stop living with unreasonable expectations of pain relief. Granted, the pain pill and the pain injection and the anesthetic are vital. Thank God, they are merciful medical tools. We must have them available and consistently employ them in times when pain should never be endured.

Yet, to escape all pain that naturally occurs because we are creatures of flesh and nerves is a lesson drilled into our being by profiteers. The smiling mask hides the real intention of dealers of death and destruction. Take your Soma and be controlled. There is nothing but enormous pain in criminal pain relief.

"And if anything should go wrong, there's Soma .... Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology."

--Aldous Huxley,  Brave New World, 1932

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The High Cost of Drug Testing Pregnant Women In Question

“Twelve percent of moms come to us with a positive screen and twelve percent of babies ... the percentage of mothers and babies with a positive toxicology screen has increased over the years, since SOMC started looking at the percentages in 2006 ... 12% peak now."


--Jone Stone, nurse manager of Southern Ohio Medical
Center’s (SOMC) Maternity Department


(Wayne Allen. "Babies exposed to substance abuse." Portsmouth Daily Times. April 21, 2015)

Innocent babies born addicted -- what could be more heartbreaking? In a county where the epidemic of drug abuse stifles our ability to understand the graces of human dignity, we must face facts. And, the facts are that 12 percent of expectant moms and their babies test positive for harmful drugs.

Yet, like most proactive measures, drug testing has some questionable outcomes. Both prospective mothers and babies have certain rights. It is my understanding that with utmost compassion for innocent lives, our local hospital requires very expensive drug screening of all local mothers-to-be, and 88 percent of these women test negative for abuse. This begs the question: "Exactly how does drug testing pregnant women serve the private and public needs?"

Serious questions have surfaced about the practice. Some see the required testing as a violation of Fourth Amendment rights barring unreasonable search and seizure. Others question the morality of forcing physicians to fulfill the role of law enforcement officers in the course of treating pregnant women.

However, it seems here, in Scioto County, most pregnant women simply abhor paying the tremendous costs of the screening. And, who can blame them?

If I may, allow me to post some information from Facebook friends to illustrate the concern about the cost:

Response #1

"Eighty-eight percent do NOT test positive- yet ALL mothers are tested (me included). I am STILL paying on drug testing. My drug testing costs alone were over 3000.00 when I had (baby's name) in 2013. I am all for testing and prevention, however, not everyone should be financially punished."

Response #2

"In a 6 day period (3 triage checkups in the OB), I was tested 3 times for cocaine and all the other screenings they do. It costs very little to do the actual screening, but for the markup for the hospital being so far above the actual cost...it ends up being nearly $700.00 just in lab work. (I had my) background checked and no reason to be screened for drugs...yet (I am) paying large bills because of 12% of moms who can't make better choices? It makes me sick that the rest of us are punished because of the bad choices of a few."

Response #3

"These tests are performed on EVERY pregnant woman who enters the hospital EVERY time she is there. For those of us who actually have to pay...that is very costly!!! Also, it seems like a Medicaid payout!!!"


Response #4

"When I contacted my insurance company, they said, 'that is not a common practice. We will need to look further into that.' I called about them not paying for all of the tests.

"The sad thing is that the main development happens during the first trimester. If a person is addicted to drugs, seeking help when learning of her pregnancy is probably not going to happen. I am 100% for protecting the innocent. I think all high school kids should see a newborn screaming, crying and shaking through withdrawals (it's beyond awful) or maybe watch a school aged student who cannot focus or sit still in class...it's a sad situation for everyone. I would like to know what percentage of babies who were truly 'helped' by this practice of mandatory drug testing. For further clarification, I do think it's important to test-- yes everyone...however, find a grant to cover the cost for those who have to pay."

Response #5

"I am a nurse practitioner. And I can provide a simple explanation for why they do this testing at the hospital. And that explanation is GREED. There are 2 types of drug tests that can be used which are screening and confirmation. A 12 panel screening test will cost about 3-5 dollars per test depending on the volume that you purchase. And the other is confirmation which costs about 100 dollars per drug tested. The only difference is sensitivity. I am all for testing every patient this day and age but at 3-5 dollars per test I can live with myself and only do confirmations if necessary. But testing every pregnant woman at the OB office and the hospital using the confirmation method is completely ludacris and has no place in todays healthcare where costs need to be contained.


"Just my opinion and this is a topic that I have done a lot of research on because of the amount of money involved. And according to the CDC there are approximately 4 million births in the U.S. per year, and at 1000 dollars per screening and 2 screenings per pregnancy at a minimum that is over an 8 billion dollar industry just testing pregnant women for drugs."

The Supreme Court

Supreme Court ruled very recently that hospitals cannot test pregnant women for drugs without their consent and turn the results over to police.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court said drug testing by a public hospital in Charleston, S.C., violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution — which bars unreasonable search and seizure — even though the hospital was trying to prevent women from harming their fetuses by using crack cocaine.

(Geraldine Sealey. "Drug-Testing Pregnant Women Nixed." ABC News. March 21, 2015)

Under the Constitution, if women don't agree to the tests, a warrant is necessary, the court ruled.

Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said:

"While the ultimate goal of the program may well have been to get the women in question into substance abuse treatment and off of drugs, the immediate objective of the searches was to generate evidence for law enforcement purposes in order to reach that goal."

When hospitals gather evidence of possible illegal activity from their patients, "they have a special obligation to make sure that the patients are fully informed about their constitutional rights," Stevens said.

Stevens' opinion was joined by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy filed a separate opinion concluding the drug tests were unconstitutional.

In the past, the Supreme Court has allowed drug testing without a warrant or individual suspicion when the government can demonstrate a "special need." To fit this category, the state must establish its policy is not designed to help law enforcement and that those being searched have a lower expectation of privacy.

But the ruling of March 21, 2015, means that drug testing of pregnant women without their consent, even to protect their unborn children, cannot be considered a "special need."

The Evident

Studies have shown that pregnant women who abuse drugs are much more likely to give birth to healthy babies if they receive prenatal care, even if they do not stop using drugs during pregnancy.

Still, well-meaning hospitals that fail to inform patients of their rights may be open to civil liability for monetary damages. Of course, testing policies that are developed with law enforcement agencies, employing their protocols, are more likely to be deemed unrelated to treatment -- physicians shouldn't be asked to fulfill the role of law enforcement officers.

(Kristin Pulatie. "The Legality of Drug-Testing Procedures or Pregnant Women."
AMA Journal of Ethics. Volume 10. January 2008)

Pulatie, Interim Director at Montrose County Health & Human Services, writes ...

"Ultimately, to preserve constitutional rights and the ethical patient-doctor relationship, drug testing policies should encourage open communication between patient and physician, emphasize the availability of treatment options, and advocate for the health of woman and child."

As far as the high costs of drug testing at SOMC and other hospitals, I am at a loss for why the screening should be so expensive. It seems outrageous. I think most costs at the hospital are very high, and if you are like me, even with decent insurance, I pay 20 percent of any treatment I have done.

It seems that the recent ruling by the Supreme Court not only prevents health institutions from mandatory drug testing of pregnant women but also opens the door for women who have already incurred these bills to fight for some kind of adjustment of payment or other compensation.

Still, advocates of mandatory testing like Cheryl Steinberg of Palm Partners Recovery Center give reasons for their stand that include monetary considerations ...

"By requiring drug testing as well as offering treatment programs for those testing positive, we can intervene and ensure the health of the mother as well as the child. This will also positively impact the community and society at large if we are to be proactive about this. Think of the costs incurred for treating children with long-lasting issues that result from their mothers’ drug use."

I think the bottom line for most concerned mothers-to-be is expressed in "Response #5" above. Drug testing is good and beneficial, but the cost is outrageous and indicative of patient-gouging health care treatments. Even if it impossible to discern drug abusers with questionnaires and similar non-invasive screenings, why should the vast majority of pregnant women pay exorbitant fees for something as simple as a drug test?

To close, here is a final response to the costs:

"I was tested for illegal drugs 4 times during my pregnancy and again when I was admitted for delivery. I was not allowed to opt out of any of it. I have never done a single drug in my life, don’t smoke, don’t drink. So to me one test should have sufficed to see that I was telling the truth.

"Despite having some insurance, I know exactly who paid for those unnecessary tests. Me. I have the bills sitting here to proove it. At delivery I was screened for 8 illegal substances at a cost of $100.32 a test. That’s $802.56 in unnecessary testing. Not to mention wasting people’s time who had to run the tests. And I would assume that since the tests were all processed the same each time, that’s $802 times 5 tests total. And every single one confirmed I don’t do drugs."


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Paul Vernier Left Incomplete

Facing the truth and accepting it rankles those who stand to lose something from the consequences of those actions. In matters of public health, it is imperative that all of us work for the common good that serves not only to save lives but also to protect the populace. This human concern and care is impossible when greed and political motives enter the picture -- treatment cannot be a monopoly.

By all indications, Paul Vernier became a victim of his own kindness on September 25, 2014 when local and federal officials executed search warrants at his properties -- Community Counseling Treatment Services Center in Ironton, Ohio, as well as two facilities in Portsmouth and his home.

The authorities said they were looking for evidence in a drug trafficking and money laundering case they claimed has been in the works for more than a year. The authorities said the owner of all the clinics, Vernier, and his staff took part in illegal activity including drug trafficking, money laundering, insurance fraud and forging prescriptions. Accusations based on hearsay mean nothing to the legal system.

To this date, Vernier hasn't been charged or arrested for criminal activities. Yet, vehicles and other property he owned have been impounded and remain so. His home was ransacked by authorities looking for evidence of crimes with which he had never been charged. All the while, he has been left to wonder why he was targeted for any criminal activity. Reputable sources say Vernier was a stickler about "dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's" of complicated medical treatment procedures.

The raid did irreparable damage to Paul Vernier's reputation while it effectively increased the danger of overdose death and opiate addiction in Southern Ohio. Listen to what Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said about Vernier and Community Counseling Treatment Services:

 "I think when money gets involved, you start not following the laws and rules and it catches up with you and I believe that's the situation we have here."

"I think"? "I believe"? Speculation from Sheriff Lawless is unwarranted. It is critically damaging.

In addition, Vernier has been accused of being a convicted felon who cannot own a pain clinic. How can a person clear his record and establish his character when Scioto County Sheriff Mary Donini told the media this about Paul Vernier?

"House bill 93 prohibits employees of a pain clinic from being a convicted felon, Mr. Vernier is a convicted felon."

 (Kristen Schneider and Dan Griffin. "Drug Treatment Facilities Raided in Lawrence, Scioto Counties." WSAZ News. September 25, 2014)

Let me explain the good sheriff's statement about the felony further:

1. First of all, Community Counseling Treatment Services is not a pain clinic governed by House Bill 93. It is an Opiate Treatment Practice.

2. Vernier's felony is a matter of the far past, and it has either been expunged due to time limits or due to other considerations.

3. Vernier has been fully licensed after full disclosure (after the crime) by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. He was also licensed by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. He is sworn to follow all medications protocol.

4. Vernier has been certified through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) and also certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, (CARF International) an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services to meet internationally recognized standards.

I wonder if either law official can claim the credentials accumulated by Paul Vernier.

Here is a veteran who had been addicted for 25 years, who got sober and has maintained sobriety for at least 18 years, and who decided he wanted to help others. Vernier enrolled in college, worked diligently to attain degrees in education, counseling, and human development. Then, he decided to pursue his dream to help others and open the Community Counseling facilities.

For seven months now, Paul, his family, and his friends have been in limbo because the raid has not justified any wrongdoing. I ask you, is this the way to treat those who work to stop the epidemic of drug abuse that threatens our very existence? I wonder how many lives have been lost to addiction that might have been saved if Vernier had been operating his facilities during the investigation.

Politics, vendettas, deals, and unsavory tactics thwart justice. Our county has a history of factions fighting for control to gain power and monetary advantage. We all know of the "hush" factor, the "threat" factor, and the incredible pressures put on those who have erred and attempt to atone for their once-lost ways. I believe "someone" or "many" had it in for Mr. Vernier.

And, as foible humans, we realize the best messengers for mercy have experienced similar hard times in their own lives. These well-meaning people who raise themselves from potential destruction should not be persecuted in the name of righteousness. We should assist them in every way possible to continue their good work.

In the case of Paul Vernier, a person who understands addiction, a political social system has fabricated ethical considerations to wreck his work. How sad that the honest morals of a person have been damaged by foggy charges and left to linger without repair. How sad his patients suffer the consequences of the bogus raid. That, dear readers, is immoral.

Simply put, people who care about doing the right thing raise the moral standards of their environment. They fight injustices -- whether these injustices are considered ethical or unethical -- and they raise the bar of conduct by literally changing destiny. Their compassion serves to squash injustice.

So, to me, you can view this raid as an overly aggressive and invasive investigation into wrongdoing or as an unjustified, illegal intrusion ignited by politics, power, and greed. Either way, the result has been destructive and it has posed a great threat to the health of a community sorely in need of recovery and treatment.

I pray for the Vernier family. I pray that their long wait and their intense pain will end. Isn't it time to let the man return to work in the profession he so strongly supports? I think so.

Many of Paul Vernier's estimated 1,200 patients have been coming to the defense of the accused owner and staff.

One, Dustin Siders says the center essentially saved his life.

"I've been a struggling addict since 16 years old, in and out of trouble," Siders said. "It wasn't so much the medicines I was getting, but everything. The counseling, they do as much as they can to get to the bottom of your addiction."

(Kristen Schneider; Dan Griffin; Andrew Colegrove.
"Patients Defend Raided Treatment Center." WSAZ 3. October 01, 2014)

Saving lives is what treatment is all about. Imagine Dustin Siders being one of your precious loved ones. This injustice to Paul Vernier should be corrected immediately.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Our Lack of Morals Chains Us to a Negative Destiny

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.

"One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.”

― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934    

It is actually frightening to realize our freedom involves personal responsibility. We cannot say, "We had no choice," and simply relieve ourselves from responsibility of everything we have done and have not done. Dealing with ever-increasing responsibility is vital to enacting needed change. George Bernard Shaw once said: “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”  

I am often amused at the comments of those with spirited ideas who simply embrace freedom and liberty without considering the requirement of active membership in a responsible society. Braying about their Constitutional rights and displaying symbols like flags, declarations, and historical characters, those who dwell on these things are superficial, and, quite frankly, limited to private thoughts and emotions not their own, but given to them by society.

"Bondage to the past" is dangerous and threatens important, needed change. As Nin says, we should, instead, look back and "dissect the elements" of the past in order to "alter the chemistry." Our future involves building a new character, one bettered by our examination of what has come before. We cannot be content with living like parasites -- merely existing upon the thinking of others.

Changing old practices is difficult. It requires great thought. Foremost, the consideration requires us to distinguish the difference between unavoidable mistakes that hamper human endeavors and serious violations that enslave us. Brave, open minds in search of the truth are capable of this exercise, and we who wish to learn must practice diligently to hone our skills of discernment.

Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, stated ...

“Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience.

"But a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any break of morality.”
 
To err is human is the old saying. Yet, while both ethics and morals involve "right" and "wrong" conduct, they are different principles. Ethics refer to rules provided by an external source, such as codes of conduct in our workplaces or principles in religions. Morals refer to an individual’s own principles regarding right and wrong.

Here is an example of a clashes between ethics and morals at the workplace where company ethics can play against personal morality. Corporate greed that blurs its own ethical lines coupled with unreasonable demands on time can lead us to choose between a stressful, demanding and consuming work ethic and family obligations seen as moral obligations to spouse and children. Conversely, we could lose our jobs because of poor personal morals, employee theft being a common reason for dismissal.

So, our ethical considerations stem from concerns to an external social system while our moral considerations are those internal values that define our character. And, as ethics are dependent on others for definition and can vary between contexts, morals are usually consistent, although they can change if our beliefs change.

Morality transcends our cultural norms. Immanuel Kant said that moral judgments are binding on all human beings no matter what kind of society in which they live. Dr. Yitzchok Block, Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University and professor emeritus at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada says ...  

"Many people are inclined to say that the only thing that can justify the categorical element of moral judgments is the fact that G-d commanded them. However, being commanded by G-d is not a necessary and sufficient condition for something being a categorical, moral judgment.

"What then is the justification of a moral judgment? This is a difficult question to answer, but I believe it is connected with the idea that we were made in the image of G-d, and therefore contain innate elements of natural goodness which is part and parcel of the soul and life of every human being, and is expressed in the two basic moral senses of justice and compassion."

(Dr. Yitzchok Block. "What is Morality?"  chabad.org)


Monday, April 13, 2015

Mercy For Weeping Souls

Have Mercy On Me, My Soul 
 BY Khalil Gibran

Why are you weeping, my Soul?
Knowest thou my weakness?
Thy tears strike sharp and injure,
For I know not my wrong.
Until when shalt thou cry?
I have naught but human words to interpret your dreams,
Your desires, and your instructions.

Look upon me, my Soul;
I have consumed my full life heeding your teachings.
Think of how I suffer!
I have exhausted my life following you.

My heart was glorying upon the throne,
But is now yoked in slavery;
My patience was a companion,
But now contends against me;
My youth was my hope,
But now reprimands my neglect.

Why, my Soul, are you all-demanding?
I have denied myself pleasure
And deserted the joy of life
Following the course which you impelled me to pursue.
Be just to me,
Or call Death to unshackle me,
For justice is your glory.

Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have laden me with Love until I cannot carry my burden.
You and Love are inseparable might;
Substance and I are inseparable weakness.
Will e'er the struggle cease between the strong and the weak?

Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have shown me Fortune beyond my grasp.
You and Fortune abide on the mountain top;
Misery and I are abandoned together in the pit of the valley.
Will e'er the mountain and the valley unite?

Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have shown me Beauty,
But then concealed her.
You and Beauty live in the light;
Ignorance and I are bound together in the dark.
Will e'er the light invade darkness?

Your delight comes with the Ending,
And you revel now in anticipation;
But this body suffers with the life
While in life.
This, my Soul, is perplexing.

You are hastening toward Eternity,
But this body goes slowly toward perishment.
You do not wait for him,
And he cannot go quickly.
This, my Soul, is sadness.

You ascend high, though heaven's attraction,
But this body falls by earth's gravity.
You do not console him,
And he does not appreciate you.
This, my Soul, is misery.

You are rich in wisdom,
But this body is poor in understanding.
You do not compromise,
And he does not obey.
This, my Soul, is extreme suffering.

In the silence of the night you visit The Beloved
And enjoy the sweetness of His presence.
This body ever remains,
The bitter victim of hope and separation.
This, my Soul, is agonizing torture.
Have mercy on me, my Soul!


Khalil Gibran (1883 – 1931) was a Lebanese artist, poet, and writer. As a young man he immigrated with his family to the United States, where he studied art and began his literary career, writing in both English and Arabic. In the Arab world, Gibran is regarded as a literary and political rebel. His romantic style was at the heart of a renaissance in modern Arabic literature.

Gibran is chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. He is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Laozi.

Many of Gibran's writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. But his mysticism is a convergence of several different influences: Christianity, Islam, Sufism, Judaism and theosophy. He wrote: "You are my brother and I love you. I love you when you prostrate yourself in your mosque, and kneel in your church and pray in your synagogue. You and I are sons of one faith—the Spirit."

(Alexandre Najjar. Kahlil Gibran, A Biography. 2008)

Weeping souls abound today. Everywhere, suffering people caught in circumstances that consume their happy existence cry out for help. How often do they look within to consider the necessary contact with their own immortal souls -- an internal dialogue that must take place on universal levels of consciousness and compassion?

In Hindu philosophy, the antahkarana (Sanskrit: the inner cause) refers to the totality of two levels of mind, namely the buddhi, the intellect or higher mind, and the manas, the middle levels of mind which exist as or include the mental body. Antahkarana, the path, or bridge, between higher and middle minds, serves as a medium of communication between the two. It is built by the aspiring person in mental matter in the effort to attain wisdom.

The verses of Gibran's "Have Mercy On Me, My Soul" echo the need for self-enlightenment to comprehend critical understandings of life. As examples of the theosophical identity and meaning of the poem, here a few sentences from the classical work The Voice of the Silence, translated and annotated by H.P. Blavatsky. 

Among many similar passages, The Voice of the Silence says:

1) “The Self of Matter and the SELF of Spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both.” (Fragment I, p. 13)

2) “The ladder by which the candidate [to wisdom] ascends is formed of rungs of suffering and pain; these can be silenced only by the voice of virtue.” (Fragment I, p. 16)

3) “If thou would’st reap sweet peace and rest, Disciple, sow with the seeds of merit the fields of future harvests. Accept the woes of birth.” (Fragment II, p. 34)

Indeed, the human soul is an "all-demanding" entity of our human nature. Who of us does not feel the needs of the spirit, and the suffering inherent in our lives, suffering that sometimes feels too much to bear? Even the love, fortune, and beauty we encounter seems to fade as we age and accumulate fragilities of body and mind. Gibran writes ...

"My patience was a companion,
But now contends against me;
My youth was my hope,
But now reprimands my neglect...

"Substance and I are inseparable weakness.
Will e'er the struggle cease between the strong and the weak?"

In the speaker's dialogue with the soul, he reveals the knowledge that eternal delight comes with "the Ending," a new life that draws anticipation and revelation from the soul. The "unshackled" soul is victorious in death.

How are we -- with our suffering bodies bound by gravity and our perplexing, uncompromising souls "hastening toward eternity" -- supposed to exist in the dark valleys we often find ourselves dwelling? Gibran contends ...

"In the silence of the night you (the soul) visit The Beloved
And enjoy the sweetness of His presence.
This body ever remains,
The bitter victim of hope and separation.
This, my Soul, is agonizing torture.
Have mercy on me, my Soul!"
  

The poet draws his theme in the title of the work: "Have mercy on me, my Soul." Enjoying the pleasures and experiencing the suffering -- both inevitable peaks and depressions of life -- require God's mercy upon our souls. Those who do not look within and find meaningful communication and understanding of their own souls deny the gift of God. It is the soul that speaks with the Almighty and communicates our real reason for existence.

The wisdom we surely acquire, no matter how great its bounty, is weak and useless without Soul Power. Whether we call it antahkarana or soul searching, we must realize the soul, not the body, lives on and requires strengthening exercise. Our journey on earth is whole only if we feed the spirit even when we suffer pain.

Those with weeping souls who continually insist on finding material comfort or carnal pleasures to escape the pain do not comprehend that the mercies they bestow upon our souls, not the rewards they heap upon their physical selves, allow them to persist and, eventually, to grow in unison with God's purpose. Is it any wonder all love, beauty, and fortune mean nothing without a strong, virtuous soul?

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?"

The King James Bible, Mark 8:36.

Instead of blaming others and finding temporary, fragile shelter in substances and in relationships  without lasting spiritual foundations, weeping souls must look within to sow seeds for future harvests. There, within each of us, is the power of mercy and the lasting love offered by God. I believe we will never fully comprehend our souls in this life, but unless we look towards them and seek clemency and strength, we will lead a hollow existence until both our body and our spirit fully expire.