Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Percentages of Interest

Percentages of Interest
Robert Stanford

Much of what I write is written for a specific audience. A reader that I hold in my mind as I write. Someone that I am speaking with. A generalization of a certain percentage of the people that will read the article that I create.

Seemingly going through phases, a certain percentage of these percentages go through my mind as I prepare to write and write on whatever topic I deem is so important to communicate to a certain percentage of the percentages of people that will read it at all.

A certain percentage of everyone that reads the title will read further.

A certain percentage will read the first paragraph and another certain percentage will read the first two, and so on.

Of the total number of people that will initially read the title, further percentages are assured. Such as a certain percentage of people that despise me, know me, follow my work, are investigating me for whatever reason, had been looking for another Robert Stanford, either a WWII pilot or a multi-million dollar con artist, or even perhaps a UK based Real Estate Firm. Or simply found it by accident most random, it could not possibly be called a coincidence.

Some of these percentages I am aware of and of course, some I am not.

A certain percentage are law enforcement, social service personnel, elected officials, activists, and some are just people that find my writing intriguing, interesting, or utterly ridiculous and fun to read.

Of the total number or people that will initially read the title, there may be applied a very crude scale that could demonstrate in generalized terms, the amount that people are aware of who I am and what it is exactly that I do. From wherever people fall on this scale, say a scale of 0 to 100, is from where my image in these people’s minds are formed as though the gauge was at 100, no matter what approximate area of the gauge is an accurate representation of each individuals knowledge of who/what I am.

Some of these percentages fall into specific categories in which I can speak with a select demographic – and only to them. Often this does tend to infuriate other audiences I have addressed before, yet their confusion becomes quite evident when my writing to them is basically nothing more than seemingly contrived far side one-liners strung together and broken up in paragraphs in sometimes some rather odd places. My run on sentences suddenly become an irritant to them, when before, when they read what I had specifically written for their percentage category, they were not. The piece you are reading now, however, is intended for a much broader audience. So it will not be as funny.

And beyond the target audience, of course, falls other percentage categories of people that read the entire article.

This contemplation of interest and the percentages of the whole that are involved in some way, and the way that they may be categorized can be applied to many things that plague our very lives and quality of life itself.

For instance, if we were to take the entire population of drug addicts who reside as citizens of the County of Stanislaus (at least 30 days of some type of residence in the county). From this group, several categories can be identified as so probable it would be easy to arrive at a general consensus that they were in fact, facts.

Such as a certain percentage would be able to successfully overcome their addiction if they were in an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) program. A percentage would overcome their addiction if they had a sponsor in the program. Further percentages of this selected population could be broken down by success factors, such as the dedication of the sponsor and the branch meetings of the program itself.

To actually act upon concepts such as targeting and identifying sections of the population as a whole to recruit into these types of programs would warrant a study and speculation of interest and percentages. An identification of their categories, such as a poll to determine the difficulty of convincing the general populace that this is an effective approach to lessening the levels of drug use in their community – decrease demand and you decrease supply.

It’s the law of prohibition. A legal state of affairs that affects every single drug addict residing in the United States today. Percentages of severity could be applied through consideration and practice, which would show, most definitely a pattern of the suffering caused by a specific stigma American society places upon drug addicts as individuals as well as a generalized population – particularly during their consideration of assisting them with their illnesses of drug addiction. So much so that interest in their percentages and corresponding categories are, as a rule, taboo discussions in many communities, including Stanislaus County.

Such a large percentage of the community that comprises Stanislaus County are so quick to be cold and judgmental in consideration of the stereotypical image they hold in their mind when they consider the drug addict as an individual. It becomes for them an immediate representation that speaks to them on behalf of all drug addicts that comprise the entire drug addict population. Such a broad stroke they make. And for the greatest percentage of the people that make this stroke, this mental brush leaves in its wake the outline of absent responsibility. A responsibility that was long ago abandoned and is continually abandoned throughout the life of this drug addict individual – the assumption that their grip on reality and enjoyment of freedom of choice is just as strong as that of the individual that has created this spokesperson image.

Stigma takes over and drug addicts become their own hated race. The greatest percentage of any drug addict population is constantly faced with their cries for help falling on deaf ears. Banished they are. As if they had forsaken their own souls, they are left to their own devices and every mistake they make under the shadow and fog of their drug affliction becomes a crime because it is assumed that the line that divides right and wrong is just as clear for them as it is for those that are free from addiction.

Certainly that would apply to a certain percentage of the drug addict population. But not to all of them. And of those, why do we as a society find ourselves to be so apathetic, insensitive and lazy that we allow these people that can be healed of this disease to suffer so?

Perhaps it is because we do not realize that they exist and we allow our mental image of the drug addict spokesperson to cause by its sole image, for us to bask in the warm glow of yielding to apathy – a human tendency to wither back when faced with adversities or their very consideration. A comforting sense that all we can ever possibly do is shrug, roll our eyes and shake our heads, safe within the comfort zone of “knowing” that every drug addict has the freedom to choose and that they choose to be the mental image we have created to appease ourselves.

It is what has prompted me to point out and illustrate why would someone choose to wake up in the gutter with a needle sticking out of their arm? Interest and percentages. What percentage of the drug addict population choose to actually do just that?

At what point do we dispense with the technicalities of chain-linked events resulting from a decision that was under the duress of drug inducement and look upon these individuals as though they were inflicted by a disease rather than bad morals? Would it perhaps be at the same point that we accept responsibility for our fellow citizens with a healthy respect rather than fear and disgust? Or does it go deeper than that?

Are we perhaps afraid that we as non-addicted individuals could suffer the same fate as the mental image we have painted? Are the defining features of this image a result of our subconscious knowing that it may have in fact only been a matter of lots in life that could have lead to ourselves being represented by this image?

An image borne of stigma. The stigma of a horrible disease that in most cases can be cured. One of the few diseases in the world that can be cured by a neighbor’s love. At least a certain and definite percentage.

Interest and percentages conveniently forgotten by us all through our own design. The design of an image to hold in our minds as irrefutable proof that by cowering in fear and recoiling from the true drug problem, we do not have to fear becoming a part of it, though most certainly, it would be of no real fault of our own.

How can it be so much easier to lash out and condemn those that we fear to become?

Because when we look at them, we are truly looking at ourselves. Therefore, through no choice of our own, we already are – them.

And as drugs continue to destroy the very fabric of our society, at what point will we realize that we do not have to resign ourselves to the oblivion that drug abuse is pushing us toward – we need nothing more than community supported programs and warm extended hands that are outstretched to our neighboring Stanislaus County citizens, despite whatever mental image we have painted to protect ourselves from them.

Copyright 2010 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.