The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘photography’ Category












Photo courtesy of the NY Post




My family taught me certain lessons in childhood which have stayed with me throughout my life.  They taught me the difference between good and bad – not so much through their words but through the way they conducted themselves.  I am grateful to them for their example.  A picture is truly worth a thousand words.

The lessons they taught were not profound or philosophical.  They were simple and practical things  which I could use on an every day basis.  They were predicated on two concepts – courtesy and common sense.

I cannot tell you how many times I saw my father rise from his seat on the subway to ask a lady or an elderly person or an invalid if they would care to sit down.  I learned to do the same thing because of his example.

I cannot tell you how many times I saw my mother holding the tissue in her hand with which she had blown her nose until we came to a garbage receptacle.  I learned to do the same thing because of her example.

As I said, these were simple things.  But atoms are simple until they form molecules and then, all of a sudden you have an amazing universe.  I am grateful for the lessons I learned in childhood.

But just as there were things that were “good” to do, I also learned that there were things that were “bad.”  It was bad to write the date that Magellan and Vasco da Gama had come to the New World on a “crib sheet” if I thought those dates would be on the morning’s history test.

It was bad to take a dime from my mom’s purse because I had spent my allowance but still wanted the latest Superman comic.

It was bad not to thank grandma for the wonderful dinner that she had prepared and neglect to offer to help with the dishes before I finished my homework.

Interestingly, there seemed to be a greater sense of cohesiveness in what America generally perceived as good and bad at that time.  Most of my classmates had apparently been raised in much the same way.  Whether each of us always held fast to the good and abjured the bad was another matter.  But we did know the difference between the two.

So as I fast forward over decades, I cannot help but feel that things have changed – substantially.  Was I simply the victim of a bygone age – or was I its beneficiary?

Bernie Madoff is currently serving the rest of his life in prison.  He fits the description of a sociopath – charming, witty, charismatic and a fraud.  He bilked thousands of people who placed their trust in him out of billions of their hard-earned savings.  He shows no remorse for his actions which enabled him to live an exceptionally comfortable life.

If this had happened when I was a child, the consensus opinion would have been that Bernie Madoff was a “bad” man.  We still hold that view today.

Mitt Romney headed up a private equity firm called Bain Capital.  Like Mr. Madoff, he also accepted money from other people.  But unlike Mr. Madoff he took those investments and multiplied them many times over, providing his investors with a profitable return on their money.  They trusted him and he rewarded their trust with exceptional performance.  Yet in the eyes of the Main Stream Media and ads being run by President Obama, Mr. Romney’s competent execution of his job at Bain Capital make him a “bad” man.

You’ll forgive me but I would like to make a confession.  I’m not the brightest person in the world and I am easily confused.  So I’m asking for your help here.

If both a thief and an honest businessman are “bad”  – would someone please tell me “what is good”?


“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt

There is no question that at different points of our lives and even at different times of the day we allow our minds to operate on settings of either “small” or “average”.  We spend a fair amount of time there.

“Good morning, Mrs. Smith,” we say to our neighbor.  “How are you doing after your surgical procedure?”  Here’s an example of our discussing both a person and an event.  It’s a normal part of our conversation with our friends and acquaintances.  But we could elevate this to that third level by saying, “I am going grocery shopping this afternoon.  Would you like to go with me – or is there anything I can get for you so you don’t have to exert yourself and can rest up?”

Now I will admit that extending an offer of courtesy to an ailing neighbor is not an earth shattering “idea”.  It will not change the course of human civilization or speed us towards a better world – other than for the person whom we are trying to assist.  But as unimportant a thought as offering to get a neighbor’s groceries might be in the scheme of world events – why is that so many of us never think to make the gesture?

I believe there is a simple explanation for why we allow our minds to operate at each level – and I would like to attempt to describe that in reverse order.


When I think of peoples’ conversation as it concerns other people – most of it can be described as gossip and character assassination.  Who enjoys this sort of conversation?  Generally I have found that people who are insecure in their own self-worth spend most of their time engaged in discussing other people.  Somehow they believe that by discrediting and demeaning others they elevate their own stature.  Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

Even as a child I realized that most of us unfortunately gravitate to this low level state of mind from time to time.  Today we have the internet to titillate us over the latest celebrity indiscretion – but back then we had Hollywood gossip columnists and magazines devoted to the subject.  There is a baser part of each of us that seems content to delve into this low level of mental operation – at least from time to time.  The trick is to pull ourselves out of the mire and move upward.

If I were to describe this state of mind in today’s terms I guess I would call it the “Social Media Syndrome.”


Thank goodness for sports, tsunamis, other forms of natural disasters and homicides.  Where would our friends with “average minds” turn for topics of discussion without them?  And the fact that we now have virtually instantaneous knowledge of these events provides them with an unlimited source of conversational material.

The other day I was at the dog park.  I went over to say hello to several of the regulars and heard two of the men having a conversation about a baseball game they had seen the day before.  The conversation rapidly turned from a discussion of specific spectacular plays that occurred during the game to one where they went back in time to talk about similar plays which had been made in games ten, twenty and more years ago.  I was astounded they could actually remember those events.  More to the point, I wondered how and why did they remember them?

As I was in a whimsical mood I decided to have a little fun with these two fellows.  So I said, “You guys have such an extensive knowledge of sports and history.  I can’t tell you how impressed I am with that.  Now I’m working on a paper about Italy in the 15th century.  The day that Columbus first landed in the New World happened to be the day of the finals in the all-Italy bocce ball tournament pitting Florence against Venice.  Does either of you remember the final score?”

Apparently bocce ball wasn’t within their area of expertise and after a few seconds of mumbling they resumed their baseball conversation.  I’m sure that my point was lost on them.  But I had a little fun with it anyway.  Every so often I allow my impish side to exert itself and take control of my mouth.

If I were to describe this state of mind I would call it “The Living Vicariously Through Others Syndrome.”


Seldom does humanity produce someone with the abilities of a Leonardo da Vinci or an Isaac Newton.  We call these people geniuses.  But the truth is that even they used just a very small portion of their brains.  Perhaps what differentiates them from the rest of us is that most of us use even less – and they must have exerted some serious effort to utilize as much as they did.  In other words, they tried to improve themselves.

That should give all of us some reason for hope.  While most of us will never operate at their level of brilliance, we can be more “thoughtful” people tomorrow than we are today.  We can aspire to do things that we never imagined yesterday if we only make the effort.

Although the brain is an organ, not a muscle, I am convinced that if it goes unused and unchallenged, just like our biceps it is doomed to languish and atrophy.  If we content ourselves with allowing it to operate in either first or second gear it is bound to do just that.

Why are so many of us afraid to dream dreams and think thoughts that might not only positively improve our own lives but which might change the world?  The only answer is fear – fear of the criticism which might come from those with small and average minds.  Fear of humiliation and ridicule by those whose tools in trade are limited to those instruments of destruction.

I remember a piece of wisdom that my father imparted to me as a child.  I had come home from school the first day I wore glasses.  Several of the kids called me “Four eyes.”  The children making the statement were only acquaintances, but I felt the wound left by their remark.  None of my friends made any comment other than one who said, “Those look good on you.”  When I explained what happened dad said, “Consider the source.”

If I were to describe this state of mind I guess I would call it “The Daring To Be Better Syndrome.”

Each of us has control of how we think and how we live.  If you’ve read this far you have enough curiosity and hopefully sufficient courage to work toward a higher level of thought.  For me that is a personal goal on which I work daily.

It will be a good day indeed when each of us utters the most powerful sentence in the language –  the four words, “I have an idea.”


Although I generally avoid using the word, “assumption” I am going to break my own rule and risk employing it.  Here is the assumption with which I’m going to begin:

“If those American readers who are viewing this post could do something that would improve the financial well-being and health of their country (and ultimately themselves) they would, if capable of it, do it and do it willingly.”

I believe it would be fair to categorize those citizens who actively tried to heal America’s wounds as “patriotic.”  And if that spirit of working for the common good had the additional benefit of improved personal health wouldn’t that be a bandwagon which we all wanted to board?

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or unsure what your political affiliation is, there is one thing on which everyone seems to agree.  The costs of our medical industry are totally out of control and are one of the major sources of our financial malaise.  Sadly, these costs are only expected to get worse and to do so at a faster rate than we have already seen.  The unfunded liabilities for Medicare are at least twice the amount of our stated national debt.

I was the fortunate beneficiary of another person’s illness.  That person happened to be my mother.  As I described in a very early post, mom had a condition as a child which the medical industry was unable to treat – an illness that they called “pernicious anemia.”  In pure desperation and for love of her child my grandmother sought out alternate ways to address this disease since medicine had no answers.

She found a “health food store”- the first one in New York City – whose owner gave my grandmother a dietary prescription to remedy mom’s condition.  (By the way, she provided this advice free of charge and sold my grandmother nothing from her store).  Well, the “cure” worked – and it changed both my grandmother’s and mother’s way of looking at illness.  Rather than focusing on curing illness after it had struck, they began looking at doing things that were healthful so that it could be avoided.  For mom this was a life-long undertaking.

One day I remember mom came home with a new book.  It was entitled, “The Happy Hunzas.”  (I just had confirmation that the world of the Hunza people is generally unfamiliar to most of us because as I was typing this, the ever-so-annoying feature of the Microsoft word processing program I am using underlined the word in red – suggesting that I wanted to really type Honda).

Picture this – a community of people living in the Himalayas where the people are free of disease and where a minimal life expectation is 110 years of age with many living as long as 140 years.  There are no drug stores in the Hunza community.  There is no need for them.

As early as 1920 a British physician conducted extensive tests on laboratory animals whom he fed the diet that the Hunzakut people consumed.  Amazingly, those animals who were fed that diet for what would be the human equivalent of 45 years showed no signs of any disease.  None.  The other test group was fed the nutritional equivalent of the typical lower-class Englishman.  This group exhibited all the diseases that their human counterparts experienced.

There is one more interesting (and disturbing) bit of information that I should convey to you.  That lower-class English diet, as poor as it was, had more nutritional value than what we Americans typically consume today.

At the end of this post I attached an article that describes the state of American chronic illness and goes into detail on the life-style of the Hunzakut people as well the experiments that were conducted based on their diet.  It is a relatively lengthy article but one that is well worth reading for those who want to consider ways to improve their personal health.

How does all this relate to patriotism?  Well, what if we all began eating more healthful foods?  What if, as a result, we needed to rely less on medical “cures” because we avoided the diseases in the first place?  How much could we reduce the amount of money that we annually pour into the medical industry – whether we pay it personally or we pay it through Medicare?  What would be the impact on slowing down or even reversing this monster sucking the life-blood out of our economy?

What if, over time, we were because of our new, healthful life-style able to increase the minimum expected life-span to 100 years of age and had more vim and vitality?  We could work longer and increase the minimum retirement age to 80 – thus bailing out Social Security.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s almost always more effective to avoid a problem than it is trying to fix it.  I apply that same logic to health and well-being.  It seems to me that is the patriotic thing to do.

Take A Hint From the Hunzas:
Diet Is Key to Health, Vitality

by Dr. Lynn Hardy, N.D.
Director or the Global Institute For Alternative Medicine
Americans are sicker than ever! This is not my personal opinion but an undisputable fact. After examining the latest statistics and health forecasts, I am horrified about the future that lies before us. Even though most are preoccupied, and rightfully so, with the threat of terrorist attacks and other potential dangers, the phenomenon I’ll be discussing also demands our immediate attention. Ending the atrocities of the world will not be enough to ensure a positive future for mankind. We must work just as hard to put a stop to the total deterioration of our food, water, and environment.
Based on scientific literature and the latest research, I will try to shine a light on the rapidly deteriorating state of health in America in contrast to a nation that has unwittingly discovered the secrets of supreme health and longevity.
The land of the sick
The United States, and on a smaller scale Europe, is being propelled towards total disaster through the deliberate poisoning of our most essential basic need – our food. Within the last hundred years food manufacturers, through their clever and aggressive marketing, have completely changed the way we look at food. In fact, they’ve been so successful in their campaign that people actually believe they’re getting a healthy nutritious meal when they devour a McDonald’s or Burger King hamburger. They don’t realize that what they’re actually eating is almost completely deficient of any nutrients and full of harmful ingredients. These junk foods don’t nourish the body in any way – as food should – they just barely keep the person from starving. (I mean this in a nutritional sense because the obese humans these foods produce look far from starved!) The situation has become so critical that the majority of people simply dismiss those of us fighting for clean food, water, and air as blind fanatics. Paradoxically, supermarkets are actually starting to devote a tiny little section to so called “Health Food”. But then what exactly are they selling in the remaining 99% of the store, “Sick Food”? My answer is “yes” and I will go on to prove my point and risk being called a fanatic or an idealist.
But am I, in fact, being fanatic when the latest statistics show that every second American is chronically ill? How could we have let things get so out of hand?
Partnership for Solutions, a new initiative of Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, collects health statistics and calculates future projections. (See They define “chronic illness” the following way:
“A chronic condition lasts a year or longer, limits what one can do and may require ongoing care. More than 125 million Americans have at least one chronic condition and 60 million have more than one condition. Examples of chronic conditions are diabetes, cancer, glaucoma and heart disease.
“The number of people with chronic conditions is growing at an alarming rate. In 2000, 20 million more people had one or more chronic conditions than the number originally estimated in 1996. By the year 2020, 25% of the American population will be living with multiple chronic conditions, and costs for managing these conditions will reach $1.07 trillion… The number of people with chronic conditions is projected to increase from 125 million in 2000 to 171 million in the year 2030.”1
These statistics are not only frightening but rather shocking as well! And even though data about the prevalence of chronic illness is available in many health publications, most people are simply not aware of it.
What’s even more disturbing is that the average age of the “chronically ill” is on a constant decline. Nearly half are under the age of 45 and a staggering 15 percent of those are children. Millions of little ones are suffering from diabetes, asthma, developmental disabilities, cancer and other disorders. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting an estimated 5 million children. Among the population, children now have the highest rate of asthma, and the numbers have increased 92% over the past decade. A growing number of children are also developing Type II (adult-onset) diabetes, which was primarily found only in adults. Millions of young ones are being medicated for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) for their inability to concentrate. Cancer is still the leading cause of disease-related deaths in children under 15.
Along with countless others, all of the above-mentioned chronic conditions can be blamed on our polluted air and water, and the nutritionally deprived, chemically poisoned food we eat. Simply stated, if we were to eliminate these toxins from our lives we would not develop asthma, diabetes, ADD, cancer, etc. Thus, does this mother who works so hard to fight for clean air, water and food for her child still seem like a fanatic? Or to phrase it in a different way: What can we say about the ignorance of the person who disregards the above statistics and continues to poison herself and her children on a daily basis?
Unfortunately, our modern health care system (or “sick care system” as my husband calls it) does not really believe in the health-preserving power nutrition plays in our lives. Instead, conventional medicine often blames heredity for diseases, which actually serves two purposes: It frees the industry from any liability and deems the patient helpless and not responsible for his own health (or lack thereof). After all, anyone can change the way they eat, but we can’t do anything about our genes! This is a very convenient and profitable standpoint. But as luck would have it, I have concrete evidence of what happens to a nation if it doesn’t eat, drink and breathe garbage. I will now present this “other side of the coin” to the reader, so that the truth can be seen once and for all!
The land of vitality – the Hunza Valley
In India during the 1920s, British researcher Sir Robert McCarrison conducted one of the most eye-opening experiments relative to the correlation between diet and health. Dr. McCarrison spent many years in the Himalayan Mountains including the picturesque Hunza Valley. This magical fairytale-like place is found between the borders of China, India, Pakistan and Russia at nearly 8000 ft. The natives of this valley, the Hunzakuts, captured Dr. McCarrison’s attention because of the their excellent health and extremely long lifespan.
“In these Himalayan Mountains is Hunza; a country slightly more than a hundred miles long and perhaps just as wide, containing approximately thirty thousand inhabitants,” writes Dr. Jay F. Hoffman, the author of the book Hunza – Secrets Of The World’s Healthiest And Oldest Living People, published in 1960. Dr. Hoffman was sent to Hunza under the auspices of the National Geriatrics Society.
“Here the people lived to be 100, 110, 120, and occasionally as much as 140 years of age. Here lies the real Fountain of Youth – probably the only one in the world… Hunza land is truly a Utopia if ever there was one. Just think of this! Here is a land where people do not have our common diseases, such as heart ailments, cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, tuberculosis, hay fever, asthma, liver trouble, gall bladder trouble, constipation or many other ailments the plague the rest of the world. Moreover, there are no hospitals, no insane asylums, no drug stores, no saloons, no tobacco stores, no police, no jails, no crimes, no murders, and no beggars.”2
Any westerner who stepped foot on the tiny land of this friendly nation couldn’t stop raving about their good nature, outstanding hospitality, not to mention the physical strength and stamina of their men. ” My own experience provides an example of a race unsurpassed in perfection of physique and in freedom from disease in general.” Wrote Dr. McCarrison about the Hunzkuts. “Amongst these people the span of life is extraordinarily long… During the period of my association with these people I never saw a case of asthenic dyspepsia, of gastric or duodenal ulcer, of appendicitis, of mucous colitis, of cancer.”3
Not only are the Hunza people immune to serious diseases they are also spared the discomfort of commonplace conditions such as the cold or the flu. Dr. McCarrison, who specialized in nutritional diseases, was determined to learn their secret. The opportunity arose in 1927 when he was appointed the Director of Nutrition Research in India. Along with his designation he also received a well-equipped laboratory and qualified assistants.
The Doctor designed a whole series of experiments to determine how big of a role the Hunzakuts’ diet plays in their supreme health and longevity. In the first experiment 1189 albino rats were fed the Hunza diet right from birth. This consisted of whole meal flatbread with a pat of fresh butter, sprouted legumes, fresh raw carrots and cabbage, unboiled whole milk, and once a week a tiny portion of meat and bones. Plenty of water was provided for drinking and bathing. The only thing the rats did not receive was fruit, which the Hunza people ate a great deal of.
No diseases, no death
The rats were fed this diet for 27 months, which would be the equivalent of approximately 45 human years. The rats were killed, and thoroughly examined at all stages leading up to 27 months. Remarkably, no trace of any disease could be found in their bodies! This astonishing consequence could best be explained through Dr. McCarrison’s words as he described his findings during a lecture at the College of Surgeons in 1931:
“During the past two and a quarter years there has been no case of illness in this ‘universe’ of albino rats, no death from natural causes in the adult stock, and, but for a few accidental deaths, no infantile mortality. Both clinically and at post-mortem examination this stock has been shown to be remarkably free from disease. It may be that some of them have cryptic disease of one kind or another, but, if so, I have failed to find either clinical or macroscopical evidence of it.”
These results were truly staggering. But sadly, they did not have any real impact on the physicians present, whom, much like the doctors of today, have a greater understanding of disease than the lack thereof. There wasn’t a sudden surge of articles and books propagating the Hunza diet and the avoidance of white rice, white flour, sugar and for the most part, meat. Their meals don’t consist of pre-cooked, over-processed, and nutritionally devoid industrial chemicals – like the average American’s. Instead, they enjoy locally grown organic fruit, vegetables, unprocessed fresh milk products, and green or whole grains.
As a follow up to his earlier experiment, Dr. McCarrison duplicated in his laboratory the low quality diet of a poor rural region of India. During this larger-scale experiment, 2243 rats were fed a diet deficient of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. The animal results matched the physical condition of the millions of people living in this region: Both groups developed diseases in every organ they possessed.
Diet and behavior
The most disturbing discovery of Dr. McCarrison was to come. In a later experiment, he set out to learn how the rats would react to the diet of the poorer class of England. This consisted of white bread, margarine, sweetened tea, boiled vegetables, and cheap canned meats and jams. On this diet, not only did the rats not thrive physically, but they actually developed nervous disorders before things went from bad to worse: “They were nervous,” writes the doctor, “and opt to bite their attendants; they lived unhappily together, and by the 16th day of the experiment they began to kill and eat the weaker ones amongst them.”
Shockingly, this diet of the lower-class English in the 1930s actually had a much greater nutrient value than the “food” the majority of well-to-do Americans stuff themselves with today.
The Hunza people did not become a household name, even though they unintentionally came to possess the mental and practical skills needed to live long, joyous and disease-free lives. Of course, most of us are not able to move to the mountains and grow our own food but we can still learn a lot from this noble, peaceful and healthy nation. We can definitely start restoring our health by modifying our food selections and by drinking pure filtered water. Staying away from dead processed foods and turning towards natural, fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables as much as possible is a good rule of thumb for everyone, regardless of his state of health. If enough people started demanding quality foods the food industry would have no choice but to alter its manufacturing processes and start supplying us with truly nutritious options instead of the falsely labeled junk we’re subjected to. But since I can’t foresee that day anytime in the near future, we all need to take responsibility for our own health and educate ourselves the best we can about the importance of nutrition.
1 Partnership for Solutions: Projection of Chronic Illness Prevalence and Cost Inflation. A project of John Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
2 Dr. Jay M. Hoffman: Hunza, Secrets Of The World’s Healthiest And Oldest Living People. New Win Publishing.
3 J.I. Rodale: The Healthy Hunza. Rodale Press
Dr. Hardy is a board certified Naturopathic Doctor and a Certified Nutritional Consultant. She studied nutrition at the Packard School of Nutrition in Sudbury, ON and began her N.D. education at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada. She continued her education and obtained her N.D. diploma in the United States. She is an active member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Association for Nutritional Consultants, the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and the American Holistic Health Association. Her health articles have appeared in dozens of publications in nine different languages. Her expertise and experience includes designing custom dietary formulas, researching and evaluating new health products, and educating employees in the natural health industry. For contact or other information, visit Global Institute for Alternative Medicine

Tag Cloud