Floating in a Sea of Despair
A Matter of Opinion
Throughout human history, the trouble that emanates from the activities of smugglers, pirates, and black market profiteers has been a major problem for monarchs and other heads of state. The same thing can be observed today from the pirates of Somalia to the Colombian drug cartels.
There are three reasons why smugglers, criminals and lawbreakers would risk their lives to buy contraband such as opium and these are listed as follows: they have found a lucrative business; they are desperate; and they find it a matter of personal opinion whether they must be considered as astute businessmen or enemies of the state. This argument stems from a close study of a book written by Captain Arthur Cunynghame.
Cunynghame served as a British sea captain and also as the aide-de-camp to Major-General Lord Saltoun. He was a commander of a ship under the royal crown of Britain and at the same time commander of troops assigned to the East India Company. The main argument stated earlier was the result of studying Cunynghame’s personal recollection of the cause and effect of the Opium War of the late 19th century. The following is taken from one of his recollections, an insight into the mindset of the people involved in the opium trade and Cunynghame wrote:
The difficulties and dangers which were placed by the Chinese authorities in the way of obtaining it, together with the immense price to which, in consequences, it had obtained, caused its sale to be undertaken only by the most lawless as well as avaricious of the community, who risked their lives in this pursuit … the cruelties resorted by the mandarins in its suppression, and by the smugglers in retaliation, are almost incredible.
Lucrative Business It is easy to understand why business-minded people flock towards a money-making scheme that assures them a tidy profit. This is simply the dictates of human nature. No person in his right mind would do something that promises verylittle pay if there is an alternative source of income that promises a three-fold increase in income.
More importantly human nature dictates that a person should find an efficient method for achieving a particular goal. In this case the goal is to make money and the methodology adopted is smuggling banned products.
The high yield profit from the importation of opium is the result of the insistence of the 19th century Chinese government that opium is destructive to the health and well-being of the general population. Opium was therefore ruled as an illegal substance. It created a dilemma within Chinese society. For many centuries opium was never considered a deadly menace and a prohibitive drug. On the contrary it was viewed as something of a miracle cure that provided relief to different maladies ranging from headaches to emotional stress.
Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More According to one commentary “It would be normal at such times for some people to use opium to relieve stress, much as the modern world has used Valium.” As a consequence the demand for opium began to increase dramatically as supply dwindled. It was therefore necessary to deal with the consequences of the demand of paying customers. There was a tremendous incentive to bring in opium from outside sources.
As a result opium began pouring in huge quantities but only through the able hands of smuggler and unscrupulous individuals. The presence of the British merchants exacerbated the problem because just like the others, they saw nothing wrong with the sale of opium. The drug must be regulated and not banned.
It can also be argued that growth of the illegal trade in opium was also due to the porous security and law enforcement capability of the Chinese government. At a time when there were too many ports to unload opium and that there were many areas that cannot be efficiently monitored by nation attempting to manage and secure an incredible land mass – the biggest country in the world. Thus, combining the profitability of the illegal activity and chance for success it was not surprising that many took the risk.
Floating in a Sea of Despair The second major reason why people in late 19th century China would risk life and limb in the smuggling of opium is rooted in desperation. This desperation stems from poverty. Many of the minor players in the opium industry struggled to make ends meet and the possibility of augmenting their income is something that is difficult to pass up. Consider for instance the number of employed needing a source of income. There are also people who went through difficult times and the smuggling of opium was an easy way out.
The sense of desperation is not only limited to monetary reasons. There is also the desperation that comes from those who desperately needed a dose of the opiate drug. There are two forces that intensified this feeling of depression. On one side were the legitimate users of opium and limited their use for medicinal purposes only. But on the opposite end there are the opium addicts that require their regular fix.
It has to be pointed out that there was a serious problem when it comes to the supply of opium. The Chinese people from mainland China are not the only ones consuming large quantities of the illegal substance. When the Lord Cunynghame was on his way to China he passed by Singapore and he documented the deplorable state of the nation of Singapore because many of her citizens were opium junkies.
Many Singaporeans during that time were no longer productive citizens because of the ill-effects of opium addiction. Thus, there was not only competition within Chinese society but there was also competition from abroad. This has incredibly increased the sense of desperation from smugglers, peddlers, and users.
We will write a custom Essay on The Opium Trade: Why did it flourished in 19th century China specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More A Matter of Opinion Cunynghame made a brutal assessment of the opium trade and he said that smugglers and black market profiteers would go to great lengths in order to participate in the lucrative business of buying, selling, and delivery of opium.
Aside from poverty, quick profit, and desperation another major reason why many join the ranks of smugglers can be seen in the ambivalence when it comes to the characterization of the opium smugglers and black market profiteers. The government condemned them as enemies of the state and lawbreakers deserving of extreme punishment. But there are others who see them as businessmen.
The ambivalence was the result of how people interpret the meaning and significance of opium. For those who consider it as a miracle cure, there is no justification why the government should prevent others from using it. It is a matter of freedom and personal choice to be able to use a specific drug that is effective against a particular medical condition. But the Chinese government was quick to point out that overall; opium is a destroyer of society.
The smugglers were encouraged no end by the presence of British businessmen who find nothing wrong with the sale of opium. A smuggler can easily justify their actions considering that other powerful entities are enriching themselves from the sale of what was supposed to be illegal products.
It must have created confusion at first when the government suddenly ruled that opium could no longer be made freely available in China. The confusion was due at first to the fact that no such ruling was ever made in China. For the longest time people use it as a form of herbal medicine.
Furthermore, the smugglers and black market profiteers must have found it difficult to reconcile the fact that the Chinese government sent their attack dogs to capture and punish them but the British with the backing of their government were expected to make a profit from the sale of opium. It did not take long for many of them to realize that opium’s status as an illegal or legal substance is a matter of opinion.
Final Argument There were many ways to shut down the opium trade in 19th century China. The government saw the negative impact of opium use to the general population and used its power to crush the growing industry in the importation and use of opium in China.
Severe measures were passed and captured smugglers were severely punished to act an example for those who are attempting to bring in more opium to the country. But instead of instilling fear, the opium trade flourished. There are no other explanations other than profitability, poverty, and perception.
Not sure if you can write a paper on The Opium Trade: Why did it flourished in 19th century China by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Conclusion The opium trade flourished in 19th century China because it was highly profitable. It was an easy way to earn significant amounts of money provided the smugglers and peddlers were not caught. There was a huge demand for it coming from two types of customers.
The first one uses it for medicinal purpose and the second were the high number of opium addicts. The second major reason why the opium trade thrived in spite of the illegal status of the drug is linked to poverty. The lack of reliable sources of income and the lack of opportunities to make good money pushed many to join a gang of smugglers or become a part of a supply chain.
This is why even if the Chinese government made it clear how smugglers should be punished for breaking the law, many were still willing to try. The final reason why the opium trade was such a major success in 19th century China is the realization that the legality of the business is subject to personal opinion. The Chinese smugglers saw how the British government profited from the trade of opium it was therefore unfair for them not to take a slice of the market.
Bibliography Cunynghame, Arthur. The Opium War: Being Recollections of Service in China. PA: G.B. Ziebber
The Culture of Fear Essay
Nursing Assignment Help Introduction The culture of fear is a new phenomenon growing among the American citizens. It refers to the tendency to adopt irrational scares, especially when advanced by the media, politicians, and monomaniacal advocacy groups. This qualifies as paranoia associated with issues such as road rage, breast cancer, pedophiles, blacks, immorality, plane crashes, among others. Glassner and Wainwright provide the reader with statistics to debunk most of the misrepresentations advanced by the media.
Masquerading ‘experts’ who in reality are phonies with dubious qualifications being trotted up to back the media’s prejudicial notions are exposed with the backing of statistics. An interesting point that Glassner brings to attention is how these journalists seem quick to brush aside genuine experts who seek to discredit their generalizations of solitary incidents into ‘trends’.
Glassner’s ‘The Culture of Fear’ is quite a revelation of matters concerning misplaced fears based on delusions by the press. It touches on issues than include fear for airline safety, road rages, teenage pregnancies, monster moms, youth violence, terrorism, crack babies, pedophilia, kidnappings, overemphasis of diseases such as SARS and West Nile Disease, feminists’ banter on silicone breast implants, and racial stereotyping among others (Glassner 2010, p. 3).
It also provides an explanation of why people succumb to these ploys by the media, politicians and lobbyists. Finally, Glassner offers suggestions on how to counter these irrational fears propagated by such falsities. Wainwright’s ‘A Sociology of Health’ is a complex text on health issues.
For the purposes of this paper, the focus is on chapter two, which discusses ‘Doing Better, Feeling Scared: Health Statistics and the Culture of Fear’. Wainwright’s work is a reflection of Glassner’s many concepts, with more emphasis laid on the statistics, to debunk the paranoia that comes with ignorance. However, he gives a detailed explanation of the nature of ‘actuarial risk’ (Wainwright 2008, p. 91). This paper will discuss both authors’ contributions jointly.
The culture of fear is not new: it continues to breed with the sustaining efforts of the opportunistic politicians seeking votes from the public by playing on people’s emotions through mass media.
It thrives on sensationalism and exaggerated reports of occurrences to keep people tuned in and single-minded advocacy groups that exaggerate the prevalence of certain diseases and conditions to solicit funding. Unfortunately, these extreme, albeit spectacular depictions are detrimental to society in terms of propagating further hardships and eclipsing the real, and usually less popular problems.
Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More For instance, Glassner posits that the widespread anti-breast cancer campaigns spread fear among affected parties, making it less likely for daughters whose mothers had breast cancer to conduct screening tests. He also gives the example of the hype over illegal drug usage, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroine.
Focusing on these abusers shifts our attention from the abuse of legal drugs and the negligent prescription of wrong medication by health practitioners. Another instance is the decline to handle violent crimes by instigating bans on gun ownership and possession. The media works on the philosophy ‘if it bleeds it leads’ which explain the gross exaggerations and christening of incidents into trends. It happens when there are several sequential or even sparse occurrences of newsworthy events.
A good example is the youth killings in Littleton Colorado, which earned the title ‘monstrous youth’. Such generalizations of specific people’s crimes into an entire category’s nature are a major reason why paranoia spreads among the public. “Entire categories stand out as innately dangerous…” (Glassner 2010, p. 9). Consequently, parents no longer trust public schools.
Politicians are notorious for their scare mongering, especially during campaigns. Glassner quotes Richard Nixon who once stated, “People react to fear, not love…They don’t teach that in Sunday school, but its true” (Glassner 2010, p. 15). Surely, if that is the motto of politicians, then the country is in for a great scare. The last group addressed in this category is lobbyists, who single-mindedly misrepresent the prevalence of certain diseases and conditions to hike funding, or in support of their ideologies.
A good example is the feminists who launched an anti-silicone breast implants campaign until the FDA banned them in 1992, yet extensive research found no connection between these implants and deteriorated health of individuals who had them (Wainwright 2008, p. 148). The issue of health and fear also occurs in the form of people feeling healthy, yet believing that they will fall ill.
Countless journals constantly present data in millions of Americans with rare diseases, epidemics like SARS, West Nile Disease, and the Gulf War Syndrome. All this is at the expense of numerous Americans ‘actually’ suffering from malaria and malnutrition, among other dangerous conditions. It seems ironical to note that these figures once combined or summed up come up to over 500 million Americans yet the last census only accounts for less those 300 million citizens.
Glassner proposes that there be a shift from the sensational to the mundane if change is to occur. “We have the resources to feed, house, educate, insure, and disarm our communities if we resolve to do so…We can choose to redirect some funds to combat serious dangers that threaten large numbers of people…At election time, we can choose candidates that proffer programs rather than scares” (Glassner 2010, p. 210).
We will write a custom Essay on The Culture of Fear specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More He notes that whereas in the last three decades the crime rate has declined by almost thirty percent, press coverage has shot up to 600%! The result of this discrepancy is the appearance of an increasing crime rate. The same applies for many other societal vices on the decline such as suicide rates and abortions.
The public will always be vulnerable to deception by opinion leaders because most people cannot reason probabilistically, and they lack understanding of the rules of inference and statistical evidence. Education on probability may be of help, but the burden lies on the deceivers to correct their ways. The society needs to take accountability for its actions, or lack of actions, especially in failing to route for corrective policies, instead of blaming drug addicts, or blacks, or other marginalized groups in need of welfare and respite.
References Glassner, B., 2010. Introduction to the Tenth Anniversary Edition. In The Culture of
Fear. New York: Basic Books.
Wainwright, D., 2008. Chapter 2, Doing Better, Feeling Scared: Health Statistics
and the Culture of Fear, In A Sociology of Health (pp. 89-96). Oregon: Sage Publication Ltd.