Russell Brand And Me

Russell Brand and Me
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<p>Russell Brand discusses 'Feminism -- Can It Change the World?' with Prof. Anne Phillips, of the London School of Economics on May 4, 2017.</p>

Russell Brand discusses 'Feminism -- Can It Change the World?' with Prof. Anne Phillips, of the London School of Economics on May 4, 2017.

London-based comedian/philosopher/social activist Russell Brand, promoting his newest book Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, has recently completed a media blitz in New York and Los Angeles. The media coverage showed him at times both serious, and playful, always with the underlying message that, whether we live in a mansion, in suburbia or under a bridge, we all have addictions (consumerism, technology, greed, food, drugs , guns, violence, etc.); whatever our addiction, we can free ourselves from it

With a colorful past that included a variety of addictions and unpredictable behavior, for the past 14 years Brand has achieved stability and strength, though to people of a certain age (ahem), his appearance may be off-putting. With his tattoos, long hair and bohemian clothing, he doesn’t present himself as the typical buttoned-up guy with a tie; that’s OK, though; we can look beyond the wrapping, to find the gift inside.

As for me, a 76-year-old retired journalist, how could I possibly relate to this hippy-looking character? Well, my path to living today, while different in details, is similar in substance, and I greatly respect his mission to bring health and strength to everyone. It parallels my mission of the same – particularly to young generations, present and future . Russell Brand is relevant to me because he speaks plainly and simply to some of society’s most pressing social illnesses; he’s been there and back, and he knows exactly what he’s talking about. He’s talking about returning to emotional health. Now studying for his Master’s degree in Religion in Global Politics at London University, his weekly podcasts offer no-spin interviews with today’s sociopolitical scholars, in a down-to-earth easily understood form.

My life began in 1941 with upstanding, well-meaning parents who were clueless victims of the times and conditions in which they were raised. Corporal punishment, religious, racial and gender intolerance prevailed. As my mother would tell me in later years, “That was just the way it was.” They did their best to be their best, though, and I’m following them in those aspirations, but in an opposing trajectory.

Violence in the ‘40s and early ‘50s was a part of my siblings and my daily life, in the form of corporal punishment – at home and at school. Religious intolerance tore my extended family apart, and vicious attempts to keep black people subjugated filled the news. These elements have so deeply affected me throughout my lifetime, that I have committed to reversing them at every opportunity.

My dad, emotionally absent from us, travelled in his work; work which called on us to move every few years. He had been raised in a religiously intolerant Baptist home, though he went on to commit the ‘crime’ of loving and marrying my Roman Catholic mother. Consequently, we seven children grew up without knowing our multitudinous cousins, aunts and uncles; without the comfort and support of extended family members.

My mom, who had been orphaned at age 6 and farmed around to various relatives, didn’t know how to give love and guidance in my childhood years, because she hadn’t experienced them. Nevertheless, though my parents were unable to foster loyalty and connection among my siblings and me, they tried their best to raise us to be above mediocrity; never mind the emotional consequences.

Because I was a painfully shy child, without the social skills or support necessary for forming relationships in new schools and neighborhoods (we had moved 11 times when I reached high school), I grew up an outsider. Perhaps that is why I chose journalism as my profession; it’s an observer’s occupation, and it gives me the forum to promote civil positivity.

Brand, with his own social difficulties in younger years, interprets the 12-step Addiction Recovery Program (in some colorful language. That’s OK, though, we can take it to get his message), emphasizing the need for connection, some form of spirituality, asking for help and service to others — not necessarily in that order — and I can certainly relate to those ideas.

My life-long reaction to violence and intolerance is to connect through my website, as a contributing writer on HuffPost and on other social media outlets, to promote societal health and wellbeing: political equitability; kindness, understanding, integrity and other values which can ultimately lead us collectively to save society. It has been my mission, and it will be my legacy.

While I have never met him, and have no connection with him other than through social media, I consider Russell Brand my ally in striving for the same goals.

For more information: Russell Brand, Addiction, Societal Health, Under the Skin, Trews News, Recovery, First Rate America

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