Friday, 30 August 2013

Enslaved by pornography? It's time to break free

“Images today have become so extreme that what used to be considered hard-core is now mainstream pornography.”

       Seems to be everywhere these days. From books to magazines, TV to websites, movies to music videos, photo-sharing sites to social media, the whole world is awash with porn, an industry which rakes in roughly $100 billion a year. 

       And this isn’t just any old porn. According to Professor Gail Dines, “Images today have become so extreme that what used to be considered hard-core is now mainstream pornography.”

       Even more worrying is the number of people who when confronted with the facts – that  pornography is being viewed by more people than at any time in history – merely shrug and say, “So what?”  The fact is, pornography is so widespread these days, it has virtually been ‘normalised.’

       But does it do any harm? Just what IS wrong with pornography?

       Well, first of all, it’s highly addictive, so much so that many mental health professionals rank it alongside crack cocaine for the power it wields over its victims. People who regularly view porn eventually find they can’t stop, with some suffering trance-like symptoms accompanied by physical shaking and head pains. There are personality changes too: Addicts tend to be highly secretive and deceitful, while feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety and anger are serious by-products of this habit. Worst of it is, even if they wanted to break free, they often feel too ashamed to admit they have a problem! Some people even become suicidal.

       Nobody is immune.  Accidentally coming across an offensive image, however briefly, can leave a permanent scar. Such images are indelibly engraved upon the mind,  occasionally gatecrashing as unwelcome and intrusive thoughts that are difficult to shake off.

       Leading researcher on pornography, Dr Judith Reisman, says: “Pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail that is difficult or even impossible to delete.”

       The effects on families are dire and divisive, undermining trust, intimacy, and fidelity. Being in thrall to porn creates selfishness, dissatisfaction and emotional distance, at the same time fuelling unhealthy sexual fantasies and objectionable, possibly violent, practices to which partners may be subjected. Extreme or not, porn demeans, poisons relationships and causes loss of respect for oneself and others.

       “Pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain" 

       Adults, of course, have choices. What is very worrying in today’s climate is the way children are targeted through Smartphones and other mobile devices, triggering a potentially destructive pattern of promiscuity from very young ages, with catastrophic results. Boundaries are blurred, emotions are scarred and the victim may never be able to form lasting partnerships in later life.

       How can an addict break free?

       The best way to avoid this state of affairs is not to let it begin in the first place. If your hands were tied with a single cotton thread, it would be relatively easy to get loose. But if the same thread were continuously wrapped around your hands, it would be much harder to break. This is why it’s vital to pull way from anything  which could arouse sexual feelings....and never let curiosity get the better of you.

       Obviously, once in porn’s grip, you need help to escape, so summoning up the courage to talk to someone about the problem is vital. Whether it’s a partner, trusted friend, parent, teacher or professional counsellor, take a deep breath and talk to them, make that appointment and get them on side.

       Another key to overcoming the habit is to identify and avoid any situation which may trigger the desire. If the Internet is a source of pornographic content, avoid using it in private and keep the computer in a room to which all members of the family have access. (Parents take note!) Same with TVs and video games – you need to make sure other people can help you monitor what you view. Set your computer to block pornographic sites and avoid opening links from unsolicited emails and messages from people you’re not sure about on other social media.

       Mood can also play a part with boredom, loneliness or other mental lows contributing to the problem, in which case, extra care is needed to recognise these feelings and bolster yourself up to resist temptation.

       Often, the best way to get rid of unclean thoughts is to replace them with wholesome ones. Imagine a sponge. Drop it into a pail of muddy water and it will come out muddy. But if the sponge is first of all dunked in a pail of clean water, there’s less room for mud to stick. In the same way, all of us can be smeared with unclean images every day of our lives but by filling our minds with wholesome things and keeping occupied with positive, upbuilding activities, we can help keep the mud to a minimum. 

A few porn statistics:  

Almost 30,000 people view pornographic websites every second  

More than 1.7 million pornographic emails are sent every minute 

Nearly two hard-core porn videos are released in the US every hour 

Over 2 million porn videos are rented in the US every day 

Roughly 9 out of 10 young men and 3 out of 10 young women view porn every month – in the United States alone  

2.5 billion porn emails are sent every day - that's 1.7 million per minute




Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Runaway Children take to the skies

Hang-gliding in the Peak

“Joe and the others held their breath, awaiting their awful fate but, suddenly, from out of the sky, four great shadows appeared, each with ten-foot wings. One by one, they whooshed down from above, snatched a child from the enemy's claws and ascended sharply back into the air. The women, now a hundred feet below, yelped with frustration, like hyenas cheated of their prey.” (Extract from The Runaway Children Volume 1 – Flight from the Nunjas)
Are they planes? Are they prehistoric birds? No, they’re hang-gliders, soaring into the skies like brightly-coloured and highly adventurous eagles.  Considered by enthusiasts to be the most demanding, yet exhilarating, of all free flight experiences, hang-gliding provides a wider scope than para-gliding, as pilots can climb faster and more freely in varying winds and weather conditions. Which no doubt explains why this thrilling activity is so popular in the Derbyshire Peak, where Pennines to the east and Welsh hills to the west create a climate as hard to predict as the next Derby winner.
      Take a hike up Mam Tor near Castleton on a bright, breezy day and you’re likely to see hang-gliders preparing for flight  -  that’s if they’re not too out-of-breath from hauling their gear up to the summit! Quite often, these intrepid birdmen and women seem to spend ages not really doing very much, but they’re actually waiting for the ideal conditions in which to take off, no doubt gauging the weather by means of a wind sock. Pilots also need to assess any hazards in the area and ensure maximum safety for themselves and others.
      Accidents do happen, although these usually involve unqualified pilots who, having acquired the equipment, believe all they have to do is take a running jump from the nearest hilltop. Fortunately, most hang gliders have been thoroughly trained by a British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (BHPA) registered school, a course that normally takes about 10 days. Pupils learn how inspect their kit and assemble it safely, to assess the dangers, to read the weather, to take off and to land properly – ideally on their feet. However, in case landings go wrong, trainees also learn how to roll to minimise injuries.
       When learning to fly, some gliders are ‘aero towed’, or hitched by winches to microlights, which pull them into the air. According to Airways Airsports, this is the easiest way to get airborne as it cuts out all the hassle of hill-climbing over and over again just to gain a few seconds of flight. Airways Airsports’ professional team - including three-times World Champion Judy Leden MBE and World record holder Chris Dawes -  provides tandem hang-gliding aerotow tuition for beginners, helping them spread their wings with 20-30 minutes in the air from their very first lesson.
       Whether they could swoop down and rescue four children and one hairy shot-putting Scotsman from the ground is open to debate but, for those who know what they’re doing, it’s an exhilarating experience like no other.