Just as individual strategies cannot be implemented in isolation from each other, schools cannot effectively address unintentional injury, violence, and suicide problems student sex chat lake geneva free state isolation. School personnel, students, families, community organizations and agencies, and businesses can collaborate to develop, implement, and evaluate injury-prevention efforts. Ideally, coordinated school health programs should include multiple components e.
Coordinated school health programs can improve the health, safety, and educational prospects of students 4, Few strategies had been subjected to scientific evaluation, thus a consensus approach involving specialists in various disciplines was used to generate these guidelines. CDC convened a panel of specialists in unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention; school health; and mental health services.
The panelists considered available evidence of effectiveness at each step of the development process and based many decisions on behavior change theory and best practices in unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention; health education; and public health. The panel employed a two-round Delphi techniqueto reach a group decision regarding which recommendations to include in this report.
The first-round questionnaire listed the strategies, organized by coordinated school health program components, identified by the literature review. The panelists rated the extent to which evidence existed to support each strategy, the effectiveness of each strategy, and the feasibility for schools to implement each strategy. Panelists considered their ratings on evidence, effectiveness, and feasibility to arrive at a priority score for each strategy. In addition, panelists considered each strategy separately, rather than ranking strategies against each other.
The second-round questionnaire listed the strategies that received the highest priority scores within each coordinated school health program component. Panelists considered the group and their individual scoring on the first-round questionnaire to decide how to rank the strategies. Panelists ranked strategies within each component rather than across all strategies to ensure that all components of a coordinated school health program were addressed.
The of the second-round questionnaire were mailed to the panelists before a meeting of the panel in December At the meeting, the panel reviewed the resulting outline for the guidelines in this report. They reached consensus as to whether any strategies that were not included in the outline should be included and whether there were strategies that should be removed from the outline.
In Januarynational nongovernmental organizations representing state and local policy makers; educators; parents; specialists in unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention as well as other federal agencies involved in unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention; and representatives of state and local agencies reviewed a draft version of this report. The report was revised based on their review.
The recommendations address school environment, instruction, services, and persons.
Following this list are strategies for implementing the recommendations. The strategies are grouped by guiding principles that describe essential qualities of coordinated school health programs to prevent unintentional injury, violence, and suicide. The recommendations, guiding principles, and strategies are not prioritized. Instead, they represent the state-of-the-science in school-based unintentional injury, violence and suicide prevention.
However, every recommendation is not appropriate or feasible for every school to implement, nor is it feasible to expect any school to implement all of the recommendations. As more resources become available, schools could implement additional recommendations. CDC and others are developing tools to help schools implement the recommendations and strategies included in this report. The social environment of a school encompasses the formal and informal policies, norms, climate, and mechanisms through which students, faculty, and staff members interact daily.
A social environment can promote safety or contribute to increased risk for unintentional injuries, violence, and suicide Schools can implement strategies to improve the social environment schoolwide e. Not every strategy is appropriate geneba every school; even within schools, different approaches will be student sex chat lake geneva free state for different students. To promote safety and prevent unintentional injuries, violence, and suicide, schools can implement the following guiding principles Box 2.
Schools cannot accomplish their academic mission without addressing the health and safety needs of students and staff members. Students who are sick, scared, intimidated, anxious, or depressed will not be able to succeed i. Engaging in injury-related risk behaviors is associated with poor performance on standardized tests, poor class grades, lower graduation rates, and behavioral problems at school Conversely, academic success i.
Health and academic success are reciprocal Persons who have more years of education experience better health than those with fewer years of education Similarly, persons who engage in health-promoting behaviors during adolescence achieve higher levels of education in adulthood Schools can set standards that convey the expectation that all students will achieve academically.
To do so, schools need supportive leaders who will promote the success studebt students and contribute stuvent students' academic success by supporting safety strategies in schoolAn important step in providing administrative leadership to promote academic success is the establishment of a strong academic mission, developed in cooperation with students, faculty, families, and community members Working together to create a mission statement can give all the members of the school community a common focus.
The mission statement can recognize the need geneeva healthy and safe students and a supportive and safe school environment to achieve the objective of providing a quality education. The mission statement also can identify and promote a set of core beliefs that support responsible, safe, and ethical behavior appropriate to each school's specific culture. Schools might post the mission statement throughout the school and communicate chhat to families at the beginning of each school year to reinforce the school's commitment to safety and academic success and to encourage family involvement.
Schools can ensure that all students succeed through the implementation of programs deed to help students experiencing barriers to learning.
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The trauma associated with witnessing violence or being a victim of a serious unintentional injury e. For students experiencing such barriers to learning, the effect on academic success can be critical. Students living in poverty, those with different learning styles, and those with special health-care needs also experience barriers to learning that might negatively affect their success in learning 50, Schools can employ several support mechanisms to address such barriers to learning Academic support mechanisms include counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and assistance in the classroom.
School-based activities and services to promote mental health also can reduce barriers to learning Family and community members also can serve as support mechanisms to engage students. Students find success in various ways. Opportunities to experience and explore interests in areas such as athletics, drama, art, music, vocational education, and community service can provide avenues for students to experience success and become engaged with their school and community Self-efficacy increases when successes are acknowledged and reinforced by the school, teachers, peers, families, and communities.
Schools can develop relationships with communities to increase the range of experiences for students and to bring community resources into the schoolEncourage Students' Feelings of Connectedness to School. Students who like their school and feel connected to their school are less likely to experience emotional distress and suicidal thoughts; are less likely to drink alcohol, carry weapons, or engage in other delinquent behaviors; and are more likely to wear seat belts and bicycle helmets and use prosocial skills e.
Students who are engaged in school also might be more likely to do well in school , To encourage connectedness, schools can develop policies and practices that establish a supportive climate; foster the development of prosocial norms among the members of the school community e. All members of the school community could be offered the opportunity to identify their concerns regarding unintentional injury, violence, and suicide and methods for addressing those concerns. When persons participate in decision making regarding their own lives and communities, they tend to be healthier and more productive Schools can create mechanisms to increase faculty, staff member, family, student, and community member participation student sex chat lake geneva free state making decisions concerning school unintentional injury, violence, and suicide-prevention policies and activities This same broadbased involvement can extend to development and implementation of programs.
Activities such as mentoring, tutoring, and advocacy groups e. A person at each school building and at the district level might be deated to have responsibility for coordinating safety activities. This could be the school health coordinator, a counselor, or the principal. Schools also can establish a committee that focuses on unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention within their school health council, school improvement team, or other existing group focused on improving the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff membersThe committee can have representation from key school constituencies: students, faculty, staff members, families, and community membersSuch committees can meet regularly to assess needs; consider and respond to student, family, or community concerns for safety; and oversee de, implementation, and evaluation of unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention and emergency preparedness policies, programs, and services School safety committees or school health councils can strive to increase collaboration between schools and community agencies e.
School safety committees or school health councils can also help schools compose effective responses to school safety concerns. Students are more likely to feel connected to school if they 1 believe that they are treated fairly, 2 feel safe, and 3 believe that teachers are supportive Students who think that their teachers are supportive student sex chat lake geneva free state them are less likely to drink alcohol and are more likely to wear seat belts and bicycle helmets than are students who think that their teachers are not supportive School personnel can work together with students and families to create a school climate that is supportive and productive for all students Schools also can identify components of the school climate e.
Students who are at increased risk for unintentional injury, violence, and suicide and students who represent the diverse population of the school could be offered the option to be included in solving problems and making decisions. School norms for teachers, staff members, and students can support positive, prosocial, helping behaviors and discourage bullying, discrimination, intimidation, violence, or aggression ,, For example, adult supervisors on playgrounds and in the hallways can express disapproval of pushing, shoving, or sexual harassment.
In approximately three fourths of school shootings studied by the U. Secret Service, attackers told someone their plans before the attack Schools can create a climate in which students feel comfortable reporting violations of policies or warning s of violent or suicidal behavior Regardless of 's ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, sexual orientation, or physical status, all children have a right to safety , When victimization through bullying, verbal abuse, and physical violence is prevalent in a school, the entire school community experiences the consequences.
When abuse against a particular group is perceived as acceptable, intergroup hatreds can become established Bullying is the repeated infliction or attempted infliction of injury, discomfort, or humiliation of a weaker student by one or more students with more powerBullying is common in many U.
One out of ten Appearance and social status are two main determinants of being the victim of bullying In surveys of students in grades 8 through 12, and 4 through 8, the highest ranked reasons for being bullied among both boys and girls was that the victim "didn't fit in"Students gebeva are different from the majority of their classmates because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other personal characteristics are at increased risk for being bullied.
Gay, lesbian, or bisexual students, and students perceived to be gay by their peers are often victims of student sex chat lake geneva free state verbal abuse and physical assaultStudents who are socially isolated and lack social skills also are likely to be victims of bullying Students who are repeatedly victims of such abuse and assaults are at increased risk for ftee health problems and suicidal ideation Students who inflict such abuse suffer consequences as well.
By middle childhood, the outcomes for extremely aggressive genega include rejection by peers who behave better and academic failure; these outcomes set the foundation for delinquency in later childhood and studsntSchools can establish high expectations for and encourage prosocial behaviors. The entire school, especially the lame and other school leaders, can commit to good behavior Schools can set high expectations for faculty and staff members, who can be role models studennt prosocial behaviors when they interact with each other and students For example, faculty can be respectful and polite in their dealings with custodial and other support staff and with students.
The standards can apply to families and students as well. School events and routine conferences with parents provide opportunities to highlight and support standards. For example, fair play and nonviolence can be emphasized at gendva sporting events. Members of the school community who meet these standards can receive positive reinforcement for their behaviors Written policies provide formal rules that guide schools in planning, implementing, and evaluating unintentional injury, violence, and suicide-prevention activities for students.
School policies related to unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention should comply with federal, state, and local laws Similarly, schools should consider recommendations and standards provided by national, state, and local agencies and organizations when establishing policies. Unintentional injury, violence, and suicide-prevention policies can be part of an overall school health policy.
These policies can be based on assessments of local needs and input from the school and community and can include procedures for communicating the policy and enforcing it. In addition, these policies can be developed and written with input from persons who are specialists in pertinent disciplines, those who will be affected by the policy, and those who will be responsible for implementing the policy. Sources of model policies are included in this report Appendix B.
Unintentional injury, violence, and suicide-prevention policies could support nonviolence and protect students, staff members, and faculty from harassment, violence, or discrimination based on personal characteristics e. Schools can encourage or prohibit specific behaviors, varying by developmental agee. Schools can regularly inform staff members, students, and families regarding policies, due process procedures, and consequences of violating policies , Unintentional injury, sudent, and suicide prevention can be infused into many aspects of the school.
For example, several states require schools to issue employment certificates to students before they can begin employment Schools can use the process of issuing lale certificates to foster communication between the school, the ,ake, the student, and the family regarding occupational safety and the relation between academic success and employment. Schools also can link permission to work to a student's educational performance and ensure that youth are engaged in work that is in compliance with child labor laws before issuing employment certificates Schools can also infuse unintentional injury and violence prevention into academic etate.
Although addressing unintentional injuries and violence as specific health concerns is important, these topics can also be infused into the other statw of the curriculum For example, an activities-based teacher's guide demonstrates how physics courses can explore the energy exchanges that occur in motor-vehicle or bicycle crashes and how seat belts and bicycle helmets absorb energy to prevent injuries History courses could explore the causes and consequences of violence, using examples from events such as wars and civil disturbances.
Similarly, principles of nonviolence and prosocial ssx could be infused into physical education and sports participation. The majority of adolescent risk behaviors are interrelated ,so unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention also can be integrated into existing programs that address other risk behaviors student sex chat lake geneva free state. Unintentional injury, violence, and suicide prevention; and social skill development fit into programs and curricula that help students transition to the srate workforce e.
Discipline is the process through which appropriate and safe behaviors are taught. Srx can emphasize increasing prosocial behaviors and skills e. Disciplinary policies need to be stated unambiguously and implemented consistently to be effective. Prosocial behaviors exemplified by faculty, staff members, and geneav can be publicly acknowledged and rewarded. Disciplinary policies statte explicitly describe codes of conduct for all members of the school community, focusing on prosocial behaviors, but can also include rules prohibiting unsafe or violent behaviorPolicies can explicitly explain the consequences for breaking rules and provide for due process aex persons accused of breaking rulesHumiliating, harassing, and physically aversive punishment intended to cause emotional or physical pain could be prohibited.
Schools can establish a mechanism for involving students, families, faculty, and staff members to ensure that disciplinary practices are maintained in a consistent and appropriate fashion e. Alternatives to expulsion that will improve student behavior and school climate could be considered Alternatives that retain suspended or expelled students within an educational atmosphere e. However, simply referring students to alternative educational settings is not sufficient.
These programs should be of high quality and should limit the potentially harmful effects of grouping students at high risk. Effective alternative programs can support students and provide them with opportunities to learn how to manage inappropriate behaviorsThe Individuals with Se Act IDEA requires states to provide students with disabilities a free and appropriate public stare that meets their unique needs. Syudent act prohibits expulsion or suspension of students based on their disabilities but does not prohibit expulsion or suspension for other reasons.
However, a school seeking to expel or suspend a student receiving educational services under IDEA must comply with IDEA procedures, including parental involvement and endorsement. Schools can regularly assess the fidelity with which they are implementing unintentional injury, violence, and suicide-prevention strategies and policiesTo be effective, schools should consider collecting data on an ongoing basis to monitor progress and continuously improve school effortsMany schools already collect information that can assist in monitoring their efforts.
For example, over time, schools could examine changes in the environment e. Assessment can be one role of the school safety coordinator or committee. Schools can use existing data sources e. For example, a school can track the of injuries that occur on the playground before and after the installation of new surfacing material. All groups affected by the prevention strategies can be given the opportunity gneeva provide input into the evaluation and to participate in making changes based on evaluation findings.
However, schools must comply with all federal and state laws regarding information sharingSchools can consult with evaluation specialists at universities, school districts, or the state departments of education and health to identify methods and materials for evaluating their efforts. Valid evaluations can improve the quality of school programs, increase family and community support, help schools reward faculty, staff members, and students for exceptional work, and support grant student sex chat lake geneva free state for enhancing activities.
The physical environment of a school including campus walkways and grounds, playgrounds, frwe fields, parking lots, driveways, school vehicles, gymnasiums, classrooms, shop and vocational education classrooms, cafeterias, corridors, and bathrooms, as well as other environments in which students engage in school activities and the equipment used in these places can affect unintentional injuries and violence. Schools can implement a range of actions to ensure that the physical environment helps to prevent unintentional injuries and violence to the maximum extent possible.
By creating a physical environment that promotes safety, schools also can model for students and families the importance and ease of maintaining staye safe environment Box 3. Conduct Regular Safety and Hazard Assessments. Schools should consider doing a comprehensive safety assessment at least annually More frequent assessments e. One person can be given the responsibility for identifying hazards and ensuring maintenance of the school environment.
Procedures for reporting hazards to the responsible person could be developed and publicized. Sufficient funding will be necessary to support inspection, repair, and upgrades as needed. Facilities can be maintained and hazards repaired immediately after they are identified. Characteristics of safe environments include the following: Paths through hallways, stairways, sutdent, gymnasiums, and locker rooms are uncluttered and of adequate lwke to support the of students and staff members using each space.
Flooring surfaces are slip-resistantStairways have sturdy guardrails. Poisons and chemical hazards in custodial areas, chemistry laboratories, arts classrooms, and vocational education classrooms are labeled and stored in locked cabinets. Students and faculty are instructed regarding the proper use of these chemicals. Shop and vocational education equipment is maintained and functioning properly, and safety equipment is in its proper place First aid equipment is available throughout the school as well as notices describing procedures to be followed in the event of an injury.
Areas that are not readily observable by school staff members, xhat student sex chat lake geneva free state and outside school buildings, are identified and corrected e. These types of areas might also be involved in student suicides at school. If such areas cannot be corrected, they are regularly monitored by staff members or adult volunteers. Sufficient lighting is installed in dark or dimly lit areas , Approximately one half of states have state level occupational safety and health agencies.
Some state regulations protect employees, including school staff members and faculty, from hazards at their workplace. By establishing a safer environment, compliance with these regulations also offers some protection to students. OSHA regulation coverage ranges from general classroom conditions to machine guarding stident industrial arts classes, to hazard communication for materials used in science and arts classes. NHTSA guidance addresses the identification, operation, and maintenance of buses used for carrying students; training of passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders; and administration of student transportation servicesNHTSA also provides guidance on the proper use of child safety restraint systems in school buses Properly located and working smoke alarms, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers are essential Only one half of all reported fires in educational properties occur in schools with working smoke or fire alarms Schools can check to ensure that their smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are properly positioned and working, and regularly test sprinkler systems as well.
Faculty and staff members can be taught to use fire extinguishers. The safety of playground equipment and surfaces can be ensured by using standardized playground safety checklists and equipment guidelines e. Information regarding accessing these resources is included in sudent report Appendix B.
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Schools can pay particular attention to: using genev safe surfaces under playground equipment ; using equipment deed with geneba and angles that preclude entrapment; creating use zones around equipment e. Personal protective equipment e. Schools can provide personal protective equipment and maintain its quality and hygiene , All machinery and other equipment cgat by students in these classes should be assessed regularly and maintained for safety In particular, assessments should determine whether safety features have been removed chwt disabled and whether machinery and other equipment are being alke properly.
Damaged equipment should be replaced. All pedestrians, especially young children, can be offered studennt protection Depending on the community, this special protection might include crossing guards, escorts, crosswalks, or other traffic calming measuresSafe bus and car loading staye should be located away from vehicular traffic and have appropriate traffic safety devices e. Pathways to and from playgrounds and fields should be safe and located away from vehicular traffic.
Schools can work with the local community to ensure safe walking routes lqke school Schools can assess injury risks for students and staff members with special health-care needs and act to prevent injuries by modifying genev environment appropriately Students and staff members with special health-care needs e. When students with special health-care needs enter or reenter the school, a thorough review of the school environment should syudent conducted to identify possible hazards, and the should be incorporated into their health record Plans should be developed for emergency evacuation of students and staff members with special health-care needs.
Vocational education courses are often taken by students with special needs, including many students with learning disabilities. A safe environment is essential for developing vocational skills and cht lifelong safe work practices School-sponsored events that take place off school property e. Schools are responsible for promoting safety and preventing unintentional injuries and violence whenever students are in their care.
Before such trips take place, schools can assess the physical safety of locations to which students will be brought and ensure access to telephones, emergency care, and first aid kits while they are away from school. Students need adequate supervision when they are away from school. Schools chaf develop a plan that includes student-supervisor ratios and procedures to follow if hazards are srudent. Vehicles used student sex chat lake geneva free state transport students off-site should comply with the NHTSA guidelines for student transportation safety For overnight field trips, schools should consider selecting only hotels that are fully equipped with fire suppression genevaa and that are in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Supervision is critical to maintaining an environment that promotes safety and prevents unintentional injuries and violence. Homer describes the scene here: I saw Sisyphus at his endless task raising his gigantic stone with both his hands. With hands and feet he tried to roll it up to the top of the hill, but always, just before he could roll it over onto the other side, its weight would be too much for him, and, without pity, the stone would come thundering down again onto the plain below.
Then he would begin trying to push it up hill again, and the sweat ran off him and steam rose from his head. Jill works sed a lawnmower manufacturing plant, and her job is to bolt lawnmower blades onto motors. She has thirty seconds studeent line up the pieces and attach them together. As soon as one is done, another follows on its heels. To reduce monotony, the factory rotates Jill and other geheva from one work station to another, but, after a few minutes, the routine kicks in. Jill likes her co-workers and has no complaints against her supervisor.
Still, at the end of the day, she feels that she may as well have been pushing a boulder up a hill. It is not just assembly line jobs that carry a sense of tedious futility. ants, teachers, doctors, and most skilled workers face early burnout. What we do in our spare time is often no more rewarding. A good portion of the day is spent in monotonous domestic chores, cleaning, driving to and fro, shopping, personal hygiene.
Year after year, this seem as futile as assembling lawnmower blades. French philosopher Albert Camus believed that the story of Sisyphus had another symbolic message. Camus called this the absurdity of life. Human life, he argued, cannot be neatly dissected chaat understood student sex chat lake geneva free state human reason in the same way that scientists might successfully analyze and understand chemical reactions.
We strive to be happy, but instead are trapped in freee life of futile efforts. The problem is so bad that it might drive some to suicide. So, Sisyphus represents the overwhelming struggle that we each have in overcoming a pointless life. But Camus is not content to let the issue rest with despair. Instead, he recommends that we revolt against the apparent pointlessness of life, accept our condition as limited as it is, and in that find happiness.
Sisyphus should embrace his boulder-pushing task; the value rests in his effort, not in what he achieves. We must imagine Sisyphus happy. The problem may be resistant to a simple attitude adjustment, as zoo keepers have discovered in their experience with the mental well-being of gorillas. For decades gorillas were kept in controlled enclosures with fixed routines like feeding schedules.
While their basic needs were being met, the gorillas were all bored and depressed. Zoologists then discovered that gorillas needed complex tasks to challenge them throughout the day and keep their mental energies peaked. Applying this lesson to human happiness, we might look for the kinds of challenging tasks that spark our interests throughout the day.
We might need shorter and more varied work days; we might need more direct involvement with growing and preparing food; we might need the opportunity to explore new surroundings through travel; we might need to srate free of overcrowded urban settings. In the end we might find that humans were deed to be content in tiny hunter-gatherer tribal groups — the condition in which the human species first evolved.
Modern industrial life may not be suited to ward off a sense of futility, and for us the human condition today may be inherently absurd with no real solution. Like Sisyphus, then, we unendingly push a boulder to no purpose. He breaks into a song about how enormous the galaxy is, containing a hundred billion stars over a distance of a hundred thousand light-years from side to side. The Milky Way itself, he explains, is only one alke hundreds of billions of galaxies in the chag universe.
The man climbs back stuxent the refrigerator and closes the door. If you want to feel ificant in life, it is best to avoid thinking of yourself as a mere dot within a colossal universe. Even without the aid of modern astronomical telescopes that can peer into distant galaxies, people in ancient times looked up at the stars and were overwhelmed by their sense of smallness.
One of the most disturbing ancient discussions of the sense of cosmic inificance is that by the Roman philosopher Boethius — BCE. His personal story studfnt a sad one. Born into a wealthy family, Boethius was an important diplomat within the Roman Empire, but a political misunderstanding turned the Emperor against gneva and, at the young age of 35, he was sentenced to death for treason. While awaiting execution in his prison cell, he reflected on everything that he would miss in life because of this injustice.
In this state of anguish he composed a work titled The Consolation of Philosophy. Chta explains that the size of the earth is only a speck compared to the heavens, that most of the earth is uninhabitable, that human societies are scattered remotely. It is not just cosmic space that dwarfs human achievements, she continues, but also cosmic time.
Even if Boethius does gain some temporary fame during his life, that would be absolutely nothing when compared with the eternity of time. The lesson that we learn from Lady Philosophy is that, like Boethius, each of us is isolated within the limitless space and time of the cosmos, with no xhat of making any meaningful or lasting impact. For someone like Boethius who is approaching death, maybe this will be a little consoling. cyat
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So what if you are about to die: in the larger scheme of things your life does not amount to much anyway. But, for the rest of us who are not facing imminent death and have normal hopes and dreams, the brute reality of cosmic inificance can be discouraging. Why should I stident for anything if I am a mere imperceptible twitch within the infinite body student sex chat lake geneva free state the cosmos?
Contemporary French philosopher Paul Ricoeur — offered a solution to this problem of cosmic inificance. That is, while I cannot grasp my personal statee within the incomprehensible cosmic timeline, I can still find my spot within American history, for example, and even more so within my family history. I know how this country was founded, how my ancestors got here, what my grandparents and parents did with their lives, and how all this has shaped me.
Thus, we invent a historical narrative of our human past which is larger than our individual selves, yet much smaller and more manageable than cosmic space and time. Without sthdent, my personal knowledge of history does help clarify who I am and how I fit student sex chat lake geneva free state the world around me. Thus, when I think about my spot within human stusent, I do not feel like an isolated being adrift in an unfathomable cosmic ocean.
But while this may temporarily distract me from lakee sense of cosmic inificance, it does nothing to change the reality of the limitless cosmos. When I reflect on human history, I may feel at home, but the instant that I gaze at the stars, all of human history itself seems miniscule by comparison. The entire human legacy is confined to an infinitesimally small region of space for an infinitesimally small period of time, just as Lady Philosophy explained to Boetheus.
Try as I might to keep my focus on human history, the stars return each night to remind me once again of my true limited place within the cosmos, and the sense of cosmic inificance returns. Job and Suffering The story of Job from the Hebrew Bible explores another challenge to the meaning of life. Job was not obsessed with death like Gilgamesh, discouraged by futility like Sisyphus, or overwhelmed with inificance like Boethius.
Job is a wealthy and morally decent herdsman with a loving family, and he owns a large stock of sheep, oxen, camels, and donkeys. Then everything changes for the worse. His animals are stolen, his servants are burnt to death by fire from the sky and, worst of all, his children are killed in a tornado. Job himself is infected with itchy skin boils, which he scratches with a broken piece of pottery. In a display of sorrow, he rips his clothes and shaves his head.
Three friends stop by for a visit and at first do not even recognize Job because he is so disfigured from his illness.
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One friend argues that people suffer when they forget God and, so, Job must have abandoned God at some point in his life. Another argues that people suffer when they commit some moral offense, and no one can fully know all the things that God finds evil. Job insists, though, that he did nothing wrong. Finally, God himself appears in a thunderstorm and sets the record straight: God is infinitely great, Job is virtually inificant and, so, Job has no right to complain.
The problem raised in the story of Job is how we explain human suffering. While all suffering is inherently bad, it is only a specific type of misery that casts a serious shadow over the meaning of life. Suppose I pick up a hammer and intentionally hit myself on the foot with it. The explanation of my suffering is clear and there is no moral mystery to be solved: I have no one to blame but my foolish self.
This is a rule of life that I understand and accept, no matter how miserable I make myself. Suffering of this sort, then, poses no real threat to a meaningful life. It may not even be so bad if you intentionally hammer away at my foot, so long as you are arrested and convicted of assault.
Even though I am in pain, I can be consoled by the fact that justice has been done and you are held able for my suffering. So, even unjustified suffering like this will not necessarily make my life meaningless. The real problem occurs when the suffering exhibits two specific features, namely, it is both unprovoked and unresolved, which is exactly what Job faced. It was also unresolved since, when his livestock was stolen the bad guys got away with it.
If they had been arrested and forced to compensate Job for his losses, then perhaps Job could have accepted the situation and moved on. Job was not so lucky. Similarly, when his children were killed, he could not just replace his old family with a new one. He also could receive no compensation that would counterbalance his agonizing illness.
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With no resolution to these unprovoked tragedies, Job is left wondering why they happened. Part of human nature is to seek out the hidden causes of things and resolve mysteries. When tragedy strikes us through no fault of our own, we are inclined to find some cause and, more importantly, cast blame on that cause when we can. This is one reason why lawsuits are so common.
If Job had the chance, he might have sued his local police for not catching the thieves, or sued the Student sex chat lake geneva free state Weather Service for not forewarning him of the tornado. But the more irrational our accusations are, the less comfort we can take in them, and, in our more clear-headed moments, we are still left wondering why these tragedies happened.
When we fail in our attempts to find blame with human causes for our misery, many people, like Job, cast blame on divine causes. An all-powerful God should protect me from unprovoked suffering, and if he does not, then he is to blame. Nietzsche was a victim of chronic illness and, like Job, knew firsthand what it is like to experience unprovoked and unresolved suffering. It becomes all-consuming, everything wounds us and even our memories become gathering wounds.
However, he continues, there is a remedy to this sense of resentment, which is a kind of fatalism where you just lay down, accept your condition, and not even wish to be different. Imagine that you lost a relative in a tornado and you put the blame on God. God is infinitely great and you are by comparison inificant; this is what we learn from the story of Job. In the course of our lives, most of us experience tragedies that are unprovoked and unresolved, such as property loss, the death of loved ones, or serious illness.
The first set of solutions we will look at are from ancient Greece. For a brief period ztate time, Greek philosophers were in the self-help business and they offered step-by-step methods for achieving happiness. Four approaches were so popular that even today their names are household words: Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism, and Cynicism. Epicureanism and Pleasure Jack, an English professor from a prestigious university, thinks he has cracked the code to happiness.
He published a lot earlier in his career, but now he rides on his reputation and gets by doing minimal preparation for the few classes that he is required to teach. In his spare time he indulges his many cravings. An enthusiast of specialty foods, he is intimately familiar with the menus of every fine restaurant in his area and he regularly attends wine and cheese tasting events.
During the day he re novels, plays tennis, visits art museums, and takes sculpting classes. In the evening he watches foreign films, xhat which he goes to local jazz clubs. On school breaks he flies to Europe, sampling the cultural offerings there. His passions, though, are not limited to food, art and travel. Wex possesses an animal magnetism that makes him romantically successful. Each semester he invites a new female graduate assistant to be his lover for the duration of the term.
While the women know that the affair is only temporary, they happily agree, and even recommend student sex chat lake geneva free state partners for his next semester. On his birthday, his former lovers who are still in the area throw him a party. In a word, Jack is what we would call an Epicurean. The Greek philosopher Epicurus BCE believed that the job of philosophy is to statte people attain happiness; a philosophy that does not heal the soul, he argues, is no better than medicine that cannot cure the body.
His formula for attaining human happiness is simple: increase pleasure and decrease pain. Personal pleasure is the only thing that we should pursue, and the value of everything we do in life is beneva by that standard. The pleasures that Epicurus recommends are precisely the ones that Jack enjoys, but he warns that we should srate pursue all pleasures with equal zeal. Second, some desires are not entirely necessary, such as the desire for luxury food, and we should pursue these with moderation.
Third, Epicurus warns us to avoid placing short term desires above long-term ones. For example, if Jack skipped teaching his classes for the short term goal of visiting a museum, then he would likely lose his job and his happy lifestyle would come crashing down. Is Epicureanism a reasonable path to human happiness? While we all naturally want pleasure, there is something suspicious about a lifestyle studnt is devoted entirely to its pursuit. Let us grant that Jack is truly happy with his Epicurean existence.
There is no telling, though, how long those activities will sustain his interest. Part of the joy he experiences comes from the newness of his activities: a new restaurant, a new art exhibit, a new story plot, a new lover. He will be like Sisyphus pushing a gem-encrusted boulder up a hill, a task no less futile than srate an ordinary rock. Further, the happiness that Jack does experience rests on a stroke of good fortune that may easily change.
If his university cracks down on his laziness, he will have less leisure time for his hobbies. If his ex-wife sues him for alimony, he will not lakke able to cover the costs of his activities. As he grows older, young women will be repulsed by his romantic advances. Thus, indulging in pleasure is not a stable road to happiness if it rests on so many factors beyond our control.
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Epicurus himself was restrained with the pleasures that he pursued. He lived on a small food diet, avoided luxuries, studnt strived for self-sufficiency. Thus, pursuing pleasure alone is no guarantee of a meaningful life, which Epicurus himself recognized. Stoicism and Accepting Fate Imagine that you are a captured soldier detained in a prisoner of war camp. Your captors, who are not particularly fond of the Geneva Convention, have provided student sex chat lake geneva free state with grim and sometimes inhumane accommodations.
Your cell block is unheated, your bedding is covered with fleas, your meals are unpredictable and, when they are served, the food is often rotten. About once a week you are interrogated by your captors, who psychologically intimidate you and sometimes srudent you. You do not know how long your detention will last, or even if you will survive. In these conditions, could you possibly be happy? First, you would have to condition shate to ignore the physical harshness of your environment.
Gathering all your mental strength, you might eventually fdee used to your cold room, unsanitary bedding and disgusting food. You would then have to accept that you are at the mercy of the unpredictable whims of your captors who can beat you and even kill you as they see fit. Having no expectations at all about circumstances beyond your control, you might eventually be able to carve out some peace of mind.
This is precisely the Stoic sexx for achieving happiness. While life is not always as despairing as a prisoner of war camp, sometimes it is that student sex chat lake geneva free state, and there is nothing we can do about it.
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gree If we place our hopes in pleasures that are beyond our control, we will inevitably be frustrated and unhappy. The moral of the story is that we should learn to accept the life that is fated for us, and never reach beyond that. One of the great teachers of Stoicism was Epictetus 55— C. He offers a picturesque example to explain the Stoic solution. Think of life as a large banquet with many people sitting around a table waiting to be fed. Starting at one end of the table, serving dishes of food are passed around, and guests take out portions onto their plates.
You are near the end of the table and for all you know the serving dishes will be empty by the time they reach you. You should not keep glancing down the table in anticipation, Epictetus advises, but wait patiently for your turn. Better yet, he stident, when a serving dish finally arrives, you should just pass it along without taking anything. This is what our attitudes student sex chat lake geneva free state be toward the things in life that we typically crave but which we can never count on, such as good jobs, a loving family, and luxuries.
For this Stoic formula to succeed, we must learn to habitually distance ourselves from things that we desire, even when things are going our way. The goal is to acquire a constant mental state of detachment so that, in the event that circumstances sour, we will not be disappointed.
The Stoic path to happiness seems well suited for prisoners of war, slaves, and the financially destitute. It seems unnecessary to renounce all pleasures. Sometimes I will indeed be disappointed when a serving dish comes around empty. However, contrary to Epictetus's Stoic recommendation, this may well be counterbalanced by joys I will experience when srx serving dish is full. For example, when hunting for a job, I will undoubtedly be disappointed if a company rejects my application, but I can reasonably expect that some company will eventually hire me, and it does not hurt to anticipate that with hope.
His Stoic recommendation is that we should emotionally distance ourselves from our spouses and children so that, when fate unpredictably tears them away from us, we will not be distressed. Again, contrary to Epictetus's recommendation, while the death of loved ones is devastating, it is nevertheless counterbalanced by eex joy we receive from our attachment to them while they are alive.
This is an important joy in life that we would sacrifice if we followed his Stoic advice. Stoicism, then, seems to be an unnecessarily extreme and restricting avenue towards happiness, which we should adopt only as a last resort when things become overwhelmingly dismal. One writer for the society skeptically examined the famed alien space craft sighting in Roswell, New Mexico. The real event, he explains, was simply a military balloon experiment, which decades later was transformed into a UFO legend.
Those who hope to discover alien life are going to have to look where the aliens are -- dree is if anywheresomewhere else. Perhaps outer space would be a good place to start. The Society sees itself as following in a long skeptical cgat that began in ancient Greece, particularly the school of Skepticism founded by the philosopher Pyrrho — BCE. Pyrrho and his followers held that happiness is achieved through doubt. The sort of happiness that they envisioned was the mental tranquility that we experience when we suspend belief.
When we hold extreme views, such as belief that aliens visited Roswell, we experience a mental disturbance, and we risk being statte from one conviction to another. If the aliens did appear there, what was their mission? If the government knew about the event, why are they covering it up? We quickly become tangled in a web of questions and concerns that do not have good answers.
It is not only strange beliefs like this that disrupt us, but any strong conviction upsets our peace of mind when we hold rigidly to it, even the belief that the grass in my yard is green or that the table cat my kitchen is round. The solution, according to the skeptics, is to recognize that every belief is subject to doubt. The grass appears green to me because my eyes are constructed a specific way and light shines on it in a specific way.
If these factors differed, then the grass would not appear green. So, I should suspend belief about whether the grass really is green. Skeptics argued that I should in fact suspend all beliefs that I hold, including those about the existence of God, external objects, and moral values. By doing so I will free my mind of the conflict that these beliefs produce, achieve mental tranquility, and become happy.
The skeptic is probably right studet the more gullible we are, the more we set ourselves up for disappointment. By believing in UFOs, horoscopes or miracle cures, we go against respectable methods of inquiry and invite ridicule. If I persist in my strange beliefs, contrary to strong evidence against them, then I must brainwash myself in thinking that I am right and everyone else is wrong, which then separates me from others.
There are two problems with this position. First, suppose that the syate is right that even our most commonsensical beliefs can be called into question, such as the belief that the table in front of me is round. Commonsense beliefs like this may be beyond my control, regardless of how hard Student sex chat lake geneva free state try to suspend them. I am forced to act on the assumption that the table is round every time Stte place an object onto it stucent walk around it.
Thus, while skepticism may succeed at the theoretical level, it is virtually impossible at a practical level. Like Sisyphus, I can still be bored to tears with stydent assembly line job even etudent I doubt that the factory actually exists. Like Job, I can still suffer enormously if my family dies in a tornado, even if I doubt whether my family actually exists. Genevw experience many painful emotions independently of our belief convictions, and skepticism has no solution for those.
Cynicism and Defying Convention Some years kake a music festival was launched called Lollapalooza, which traveled the country attracting crowds of young people. Many of the musical groups were genevx the crude and abrasive Punk genre, often with instruments out of tune and vocals off pitch. One band included a percussionist who grinded away on a chunk of sheet metal with an industrial disk sander. The festival was so successful that it became a yearly event and dtate non-musical performances were added, including a television-smashing pit.
Most bizarre was a circus sideshow in which one performer ate broken glass, another impaled his cheeks with long skewers, and another lifted heavy weights from body piercings. With its growing notoriety, Lollapalooza became a symbol for a growing youth counterculture that was frustrated with pointless social expectations and rebelled against established values. Many of our conceptions of human happiness are rooted in fhat social expectations, such as how we should dress, what counts as stat music, what we should find entertaining, how we should view authority figures.
These expectations are not only restrictive, but often misguided. The social rebelliousness of recent youth cultures is in many ways an embodiment of the ancient Greek philosophical school of Cynicism. The aim of that ancient movement was to show contempt for traditional social structures and values, such as power, wealth and social status. A case in point is Diogenes of Sinope c. As a young man, he was exiled from his dhat town for defacing coins, which were symbols of economic power and political frfe.
There is a famous, though fictitious story that Alexander the Great visited him to express his admiration. It is difficult to see how chaat benefits of the extreme Cynical lifestyle outweigh such self-imposed misery. Second, for more moderate Cynics, what is edgy today becomes the convention of tomorrow. Rebellious perspectives on life quickly become fashionable — even commercially profitable. The immediate impact of Cynicism in the ancient world was that writers incorporated its biting views of society into literary satire.
This made for more interesting literature of the time, but its shock value eventually became less shocking. That must be discouraging for a true rebel. Third, both extreme lqke moderate Cynicism are overly negative approaches to life that thrive on publicly dismantling the accomplishments of others. It is hard to see how Cynics could be happy by continually having a chip tsudent their shoulders. Offering an occasional social criticism is one thing, but doing so as a way of life would be demoralizing for the critic, and very freee for everyone else.
For student sex chat lake geneva free state woes we have, there is some spiritual explanation that aims to redirect us. Having Children Stjdent of stzte more famous stories from both the Jewish Bible and Muslim Koran is that of Abraham, a nomadic herdsman who longed to have children in spite of the fact that his wife was infertile. Abraham agreed, he had his children as promised, and ultimately became the father of both the Jewish and Arabic people. Conservative Judaism is a case in point.
Reproduction is a way of achieving a type of immortality in the present world.
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I die, but my name, my legacy, and my family history live on through my children. Medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas argued that God implants instincts in human nature to help guide our conduct on earth, one of which is the drive to procreate. A more secular understanding of this crucial urge is that it is the result of blind evolutionary forces which keeps animal species like ours from going extinct. Regardless of whether the desire to procreate originates from God or blind evolution, though, it is a fact of human nature that when we reach a certain age, we have a compelling desire to have children.
When we succeed, we magically gain fulfillment and a larger sense of purpose beyond our individual lives. On the other hand, failing to have children sometimes in a sense of incompleteness and, in old age, loneliness. To combat this, childless couples often transform their pet dog or cat into surrogate children, and lavish love and attention on them to a degree that others find comical. Sometimes it works, other times it does not.
So it seems that nature rewards us when we answer its call to produce offspring, and punishes us when we do not. Perhaps not for two reasons. First, having children invites a new set of miseries for parents.