The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘science’ Category

LIVING THE GOOD LIE

The patient has been ailing for quite awhile and despite the best efforts of medical practitioners, there seems to be little that can be done to facilitate a recovery.  The best they have to offer is to keep him on life support, hoping against hope that his condition may improve.  That patient is truth.

We have evidence that the patient first started to succumb to his condition as long back as Adam and Eve.  When God asked Adam why he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam started truth on its death spiral by blaming the woman whom the Lord had given him as being responsible for his transgression.  And the woman, Eve took no responsibility for her actions but blamed her failing on the serpent in the garden.  It’s all been downhill since then.

Long before the popular song was written, mankind knew that, “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”  That hasn’t prevented us from crafting some whoppers.  But there used to be some guilt  and squeamishness associated with dishonesty, even on the part of the prevaricator as he or she committed the offense.  Perhaps the reason for that was that at one time most of us used to subscribe to an evanescent  principle which we called, “The fear of God.”  The word “fear” in this context is interchangeable with another word – respect.

The critics of religion are plentiful and vocal.  They argue that science has debunked faith and that the only reality is what we can touch, see or hypothesize based on the eternal principles for which scientists are the shamans.  The purpose of this post is not to argue the virtues or flaws either of religion or science.  Rather, it is to consider the practical ramifications of how, having relegated God to the back pew and having put science in the pulpit, we have altered our society.

.Fundamental to any ordered society is the rule of law.  The basis of any lawful society is that its citizens agree to be governed by laws and that the laws be faithfully and universally enforced, punishment being meted out to those who disregard or violate those laws.

How do we determine if a person has infracted a particular statute?  In the United States and throughout most of the western world, the facts are adjudicated in a trial in which the evidence is examined and witnesses offer testimony.  Either a panel of jurors or a judge weigh the facts as they are presented and then render a verdict.

As with science, it is fundamental to the judicial process that the data which is reviewed is pure and uncorrupted.  That is why those who tamper with evidence in an attempt to influence the court’s verdict are subject to severe penalties.  Similarly, we require that those who testify do so honestly.  They are sworn in and must take an oath before the court will consider their testimony.  But an oath to whom?

Our judicial system is predicated on tenets that are fundamental to the Judaeo-Christian experience and teachings.  And underlying that is the belief that  there is a God and the person who offers testimony falsely will be punished for violating his oath to Him.  While it is true that we provide civil penalties for perjury, it is equally true that, other than in the most high profile cases, those charges are seldom pursued or imposed.  Thus the prevaricator who has no belief in God, has little reason not to pursue his own agenda without the expectation of any consequences, thus potentially corrupting the entire judicial process.

If those who hold offices of public trust, presidents, celebrities, and sports figures, all of whom are the focus of our attention, behave deceitfully and are not called to account, it sets an example which others then feel empowered to follow. Our tabloids are filled with example after example of this sort of behavior. Scarcely a day goes by before yet another of those who are privileged is featured on the front page as the subject of the most lurid or disheartening stories.

Telling lies might not seem to be a big issue to the majority of our citizens. We’ve all told a white lie at one time or another. The question is not whether we have transgressed, but whether we recognize the difference between having done what we did and what we should have done and try to improve our behavior in the future. In other words, do we have a conscience.

In truth, religion has not succeeded in converting mankind to live a moral life.  We have not yet heard from science if they can develop an implantable “honesty” gene.  But without the fear of earthly punishment for “bearing false witness” and no concern for a final judgment, it is safe to say that there will be many of us who will remain committed to Living The Good Lie.

AGENDAS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

He is well spoken, succinct and presents his commentary with authority.  Patrick Moore, a Canadian ecologist gave testimony this week before a U. S. Senate committee regarding global warming.  Although the honor goes to many who claim to be in on the founding of the organization known as Greenpeace, Moore’s credentials are are strong as any of the others.

In his testimony he asserted that there is absolutely no evidence that the warming of the earth is other than a natural and regular phenomenon and is not caused by man’s activities.  Needless to say, Moore has earned himself the status of  a “persona non grata” among the most ardent of those in the environmental movement.

Moore went on to explain that the movement had lost its way and instead of trying to save the earth had focused on the far more lucrative potential of raking in the dough both through individual contributions and through government payouts.  There isn’t an “environmentalist” in a university who holds a position that does not start with the underlying premise that man is the contributor to global warming because there is no grant money in holding the opposite position.  Could it really all be about the money?

It’s always hard for me to accept statements that purport to have found global truth and certainty.  There are some exceptions to that statement.  I do believe that the earth is round, the sun rises in the east and that water is wet.  I also believe that litter is both ugly and unnecessary.  We might refer to pollution as aerial litter and therefore I support efforts to reduce or eliminate it.  But not everyone is on that same page.

Take, for example, the Chinese general who recently characterized the question of China’s pollution, the worst on the globe, as a good thing.  If you’ve ever seen a photo of any of China’s cities where the residents are wearing face masks to protect themselves from the foul air, you might question the general’s logic if not his sanity.

The general had a simple explanation for his position.  “The pollution in our cities helps protect us from the laser equipment on U. S. drone planes because it makes it impossible for them to focus accurately on their targets.”  Whether the general really believes that or he is making an excuse for China’s failure to address their  pollution problems is anyone’s guess.  We all have our agendas.

Whether it was in business or in my personal life I have always found that in order to achieve a goal it was important for me first to define what the goal was.  And then rather than leap to the end, I needed to define specific small steps which would lead me to accomplish what I intended.  Perhaps that is my biggest gripe with those who identify themselves as “environmentalists.”  I do not see many of them taking the small steps which would help improve our environment – which is something I  believe in doing.  We cannot tell other nations to meet high standards if we ourselves do not first set an example.

In the United States we produce and consume 50 Billion plastic bottles a year containing water.  Only twenty percent of those are recycled – leaving 40 Billion bottles a year to get consigned to landfills.  In order to produce those bottles we consume 17 Million barrels of oil.  If you were to add in other beverage containers for juices, sports drinks and sodas you can probably double those numbers.  By almost anyone’s definition that’s a lot of waste and a lot of oil.

To my knowledge, there are only three states which require a deposit when the consumer purchases a plastic bottle containing water, those being California, Hawaii and Maine.  The deposit is small at a nickel – although California has a variable schedule based on the size of the container.  Simply put, that deposit amount is probably insufficient for the consumer to take the environmental impact of disposing of plastic bottles seriously.

But what if there were a twenty-five cent deposit on each bottle of water?  Most consumers purchase bottled water in packages containing two dozen or thirty bottles.  Suddenly, seeing an additional charge on the grocery bill of six dollars or seven-fifty might encourage the shopper to make sure that those bottles were returned so they could receive their deposit back.  There might well be additional benefits to implementing this deposit strategy.

1)  In order to process the higher number of bottles which would be returned for recycling we would undoubtedly develop automated equipment which would handle the process and dispense a voucher for the deposit money.  That means a new industry would begin at a time when our economy is only slowly staggering toward recovery and new jobs that would be created in order to make this equipment.

2)  Consumers, faced with a charge – even a refundable deposit – might investigate alternatives to buying water in plastic bottles such as home filtering equipment which would reduce the number of plastic bottles used and the amount of oil consumed to produce them.

3)  The evidence is increasing, though far from conclusive, that plastic beverage containers leech PCB’s into the liquid they contain.  There is some concern that PCB’s are contributing factors to the development of various forms of cancer.  Thus, reducing our consumption of plastic bottled beverages might act as a way to minimize our risk of getting that disease.

There may be some downside to this deposit suggestion but I haven’t been able to think of one – other than the immediate out of pocket cost of making the deposit and the need to return the bottles for its return.  I would welcome any of my readers to offer any opposing views or any positive suggestions which they have.

My agenda for the environment is that, to the best of my ability, I want to do as little as I can to harm it and try to do as much as I can to benefit it.  To that end I produce only one small bag of garbage every two weeks – in large measure because I compost a lot of trash.  I don’t make unnecessary car trips and try to organize my travel so I can accomplish my errands in one organized run rather than multiple trips.  I watch the thermostat and put on extra clothes in the winter rather than turn up the heat and rely more on ceiling fans in the summer than air conditioning.  In the summer I let my clothes sun dry rather than using the electric dryer.  (In addition to saving electricity, the smell is infinitely nicer).

That plan might seem insufficient to some of the more radical environmentalists but it’s my agenda and I’m sticking with it.  And now it’s time to go.  Gracie needs her morning walk and I have bigger tofu to fry.

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ON KNOWLEDGE

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

(Attributed {attribution disputed}) to Charles Holland Duell, Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 1898-1901.

Whether Commissioner Duell made that comment or not, it is reflective of a mindset to which we humans sometimes turn.  That mindset is correctly called closed-mindedness.  We limit our thinking and box ourselves into our comfort zones and there spend our lives, unwilling to challenge our perceptions, content with the little universe we have created for ourselves.

But we know the universe is a big place – a very big place – an unfathomably big place.  And we know that our place in it is very small and very new.  Some people find that threatening.  I, on the other hand, think that is very exciting.  Just thinking about how little we know and how much we have to learn gets the hairs on my neck standing at full attention – and reverence.

Our most recent scientific estimate is that the universe is 13.5 billion years old and that the Earth formed about 4.7 billion years ago.  We also know that the Earth has gone through many transformations before it became the water world that it is today, providing the opportunity for life as we know it.

We shouldn’t be startled at this transformation as today we can actually see the creation of new stars being born in our Milky Way and we can observe the death of old ones.  Naturally, new and existing stars bring with them the possibility of new and existing planets orbiting them.  And if there are planets it is only reasonable to believe that there is the possibility of life.

The possibility of life on other planets is hardly a new theory.  Most of the founding fathers believed that was likely.  Certainly, as Galileo looked through his newly improved telescope, it is likely that these thoughts ran through his head as well.  But while we may propose this theory, we in our time await confirmation through personal encounters with these beings from another world.  But do we have to scan our skies looking for them or is there ample proof left on Earth that visitors from other worlds met our ancestors in remote times past?

The “Ancient Astronaut” theory sets out to prove that such visitations occurred thousands of years ago.  There is so much evidence scattered through different parts of the world that can be explained through no other theory as to be convincing to even the most skeptical observer should he choose to consider it.

If you are not familiar with the extensive writings of Eric von Däniken, who is an investigative proponent of this idea. then you may at least be familiar with the series of the same title which the History Channel has aired over several seasons.  The series explores examples of remnants of ancient artifacts whose construction can in no way be explained other than that mankind had “help” in constructing them by someone who was technologically far more advanced than they – or for that matter than we are today.

In the historical records of ancient human civilizations there is constant reference made to “the gods” coming to Earth.  Remarkably, though separated by thousands of miles and with no possibility of interaction between those recording these events, the similarity between the authors’ descriptions is amazing.

Is this a matter of group hypnosis between different groups who did not even know of each other’s existence and were separated by thousands of miles – or is the more plausible explanation that these various cultures were indeed visited by extraterrestrials whom they had no better word to describe than “the gods”?

There simply is no theory that has been so far advanced that can better explain how the Pyramids of Egypt could have been constructed – or those of the Mayans in Central America.

How could the “primitive’ Mayans have produced temples that were clearly based on mathematical and astronomic principles that were so exact as to produce a calendar that is more accurate than our own?  How could they have fitted these massive blocks of stone together with such precision that we would, with all the technological advancements we have made today, be unable to duplicate them?  How could they have mined the stone itself with the simple tools available to them to the degree of precision that they achieved without help from a more technologically advanced civilization?  And to what purpose were these monuments built?

For years Homer’s “Iliad” was considered a work of fiction.  The book was passed down through oral tradition, not unlike the tradition of aboriginal peoples in America and New Zealand and Australia and South America.  However, when the book was finally committed to paper several hundred years after Homer’s death, its description of the location of Troy was sufficiently accurate to allow Heinrich Schliemann to uncover that city’s ancient ruins.

We prefer to think of descriptions of “gods descending in winged chariots from the heavens” as mere allegory.  But what other terms would a people who had never seen anything other than birds fly use to describe the descent of an alien spacecraft?  And when the same term is used in disparate parts of the world, when similar pictographs and drawing are carved depicting people who bear no resemblance to those who were the artists for these works, are we to dismiss them as the mere meanderings of the creative mind?  Have we returned to the theory of “mass hypnosis” – but if that theory is valid, who is the hypnotist?

It is hard for me as a rational and open-minded person (or so I like to think of myself) to believe that we have attained the summit of all knowledge.  It is hard for me to believe that the Creator whom I revere as omnipresent and omnipotent has chosen just one little spot at the edge of an ordinary galaxy to convey intelligent life to the exclusion of the rest of His entire universe.  It seems to me that doing so is to limit God whom we describe as limitless.  And if mankind was made “a little lower than the angels,” perhaps in time we will advance to that point that we have taken our place by their side.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

BODY PARTS

Some of my religious friends who characterize themselves as “conservatives” view this fall’s presidential election as being a referendum on the question of religious liberty and specifically on abortion.  I beg to differ with them.

I view the matters about which they are concerned not as being the issue but merely the symptoms of the real issue.  That issue is the right of a thoughtful, law abiding individual to make choices for himself or herself, free of government intervention or jurisdiction or coercion.

That statement might lead you to believe that I am what is termed “Pro Choice.”  You are wrong.

For the moment, at least, America is still a country whose principles stem from the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition.  Since the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution we have now advanced scientifically and science plays an important role in this conversation.

The Jews believe that until a baby takes its first breath on its own outside its mother’s womb it is not a person.  Most mainstream Christians believe that the child is a person from the moment of conception.  There is an obvious difference of opinion in these two views.  Science confirms that, in most cases, these embryos would develop into little healthy human beings after a full term gestation.

Trying to look at this objectively, I would say that science leans more to the orthodox Christian view on this matter.  The truth is we don’t know when an embryo is a human – but we do know that letting nature take it’s course will almost inevitably result in the birth of one.

It is our judicial tradition to presume innocence until guilt is proven.  Therefore, from the standpoint of American tradition, I prefer the position that we treat the embryo as a human from the earliest seconds of its existence.  That is not based on a religious philosophy – merely an American one.

Legally, with Roe v. Wade, we view an embryo as an appendage of the mother who is carrying it.  It is simply a body part that, like a hangnail can be clipped and removed.  It is something that has no value other than a certain nuisance value.  Apparently, we view body parts, in the context of a woman’s right to abort one of hers as a fundamental right belonging to the individual.

But our thinking on this issue is far from consistent.

Consider the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 which makes it illegal for an individual either to buy, sell or receive a human organ in exchange for money or any other sort of consideration.  If body parts are disposable items, why should a man or woman with a healthy kidney not be able to sell one If they choose to do so?

If we regard, as in the case of abortion, the mother’s supreme right to determine what she can do with the body part that is growing inside her, why should a person who is willing to sell an organ not have that right as well?  Is a kidney or a cornea so much more worthy of protection than something which will turn into a human being?

One of the arguments on abortion which I frequently encounter is that approximately fifty percent of our society should have no say in this discussion.  They are called men.  That argument is so intellectually unsound as to be almost ludicrous.  It is based on the assumption that men, who never have and never will go through the experience of pregnancy and child-bearing are unqualified to voice an opinion on the matter.

If we follow this sort of “logic”, the only people who would be able to serve on the jury of a person accused of bank robbing would be people convicted themselves of bank robbery.  And a serial killer could only get a jury of his peers if we drafted twelve fellow serial killers to be on the panel.

But let’s return to my opening remarks about the real and far more serious problem of which our discussion on abortion is only a symptom –  the right of people to make decisions for themselves without government intervention.

If we trivialize life, it will be a natural thing for us to feel comfortable electing people who share our attitude.  But what if those people whom we believe share our philosophy have a different and more extreme agenda?

In the civilizations of ancient Greece, Rome and China, female children were considered less desirable than male offspring.  On seeing the birth of a female, these children were often set out in the wild either to starve or be eaten by wild animals.  The legendary twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus were left to this fate but were ironically nurtured by wolves and grew to manhood.

Today we do not have to wait until birth to bring the embryo to this end.  We know the sex and a good deal about its characteristics during the early stages of pregnancy – and there are some, not liking what they see, who make the decision to abort the fetus based on this information.

Some of these decisions which I’m sure are heart-rending for the parents may involve medical conditions – Down or Tourette Syndrome for example.  It is neither my role or my goal to pass judgment on these future parents.  They have enough of an emotional and moral struggle on their own without me.

But what if that decision is not up to them?  What if, despite the fact that they have decided that they will keep and love and rear that child who will be born with Down Syndrome they are told by government that they cannot?

How could our government ever assume such a role?  It will justify it’s authority by saying, “Your child will require more care and money than we are willing to pay in support.  You will be placing an unnecessary burden on the rest of the taxpayers and therefore, for the common good, we are going to abort the fetus.”

And from there it’s an even smaller step to making that decision based on sex or race or any other physical characteristic which the bureaucracy deems undesirable.  If you think this is an impossible scenario please refer to the eugenics programs which Adolph Hitler established in Nazi Germany.

You might think that can’t happen in the United States – and, today you would be correct.  But as we willingly allow government to take greater control over our lives, we are well on our way to permitting just such a scenario.  In fact, it is the abdication of our personal responsibility which will ensure it.  And that is the real issue about which every thinking American should be concerned.

As for me, I’m planning on hanging on to each of my body parts as long as I can.

APOCALYPSE

SIX MONTHS TO GO AND COUNTING DOWN:

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THE TWO HALF-SISTERS

Ever since their births there have been two half-sisters who have been quibbling and bickering and quarrelling.  Their names are Religion and Science.

Both half-sisters attempt to explain the true “nature of things”.  But they do that in very different ways.  Religion, the older of the two, relies on “faith” and Science relies on “fact”.  Faith may be described as that which cannot be seen but can be believed and fact on that which is observable and provable.

Both half-sisters make some excellent points which favor their positions.  Most people subscribe either to the philosophy espoused by one of the half-sisters and in so doing reject that offered by the other.  But are what both have to offer, really so different?

Religion, on her side of the family was blessed with a plentitude of cousins.  Her many family members include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam to name a few.  Science points to these various relatives as proving the case that if Religion truly had merit there would be only one way in which she expressed her world view.

Science too has many relatives on her side of the family; mathematics, medicine, astronomy, archaeology among others.  While Religion tries to come to an understanding of everything, Science segments her analysis of life into different disciplines, each concerned with its own specialty and ignores and shows little interest in the others – unless they happen on a discovery which might impact her own studies.

Science points out correctly that, despite Religion’s underlying theme of love and compassion, she has been the responsible party for so many of the wars that have plagued the earth.  But if Religion has the responsibility for starting these conflict, Science has elevated them to a destructive art form.

Mankind first fought these wars in the name of Religion with slingshot and spear and arrow.  Science gave us gunpowder and machine guns and the missile which could bring destruction all around the globe.

“Now am I become death the destroyer of worlds”  quoted J. Robert Oppenheimer from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita as the first A-bomb was set off at Los Alamos, NM.  Here was an example of how both Religion and Science could co-exist.  And it wasn’t a pretty picture.

It happened one day that I was at a conference which both Religion and Science attended.  During a break I was enjoying an iced tea on the patio of the conference center.  The two half-sisters sat down at a table near me and I overheard their discussion.

“You know, Religion you preach a message of love and understanding, compassion and forgiveness and yet as I am looking at today’s paper I see how that is actually carried out by your followers.  They murder each other, rob and steal and break all the commandments which you have established based on your faith.   How do you explain that?  To me it is evident and observable proof that what you have to offer is false.”

“Well, Science you are correct that what I teach and how that is applied by my students do not always coincide.  But how is that any different than one of your mathematics students who is given a simple problem, say what is the answer to the question how much is 3 x 5 who responds with 14?  Does the fact that this student and perhaps many more answered this question incorrectly invalidate the truth which you have found in your system of mathematics?  Or does it simply mean that they have not understood the principle correctly?”

“Well, Religion let’s look at another example.  For many years your leaders believed that the earth was the center of the universe; that the sun revolved around our little planet and then Galileo proved that was not true and that the earth revolved around the  sun.  Those leaders forced him to recant his position and shut him away in his house until he died.  How do you explain that?”

“Science, they were wrong.  But I would remind you that at the same time this was all happening those who were followers of your discipline believed that there were six planets in our solar system.  Then later our knowledge grew and suddenly there were seven, then eight then nine.  But then they reconsidered and decided that the last of these wasn’t really a planet and so now we’re back to eight.  If facts are just that, facts – how can they change over time?”

“Let me give you another example.  As you know, barbers were the first surgeons in your discipline that we know as medicine.  It was customary for them to apply leeches to an invalid patient to draw out the “bad blood”.  They were confident that this would help the patient heal.  Yet today if you were to go to any modern hospital I think you would be hard pressed to find even one which has a supply of leeches to treat any of the maladies of those who come there for help.”

“You see, Science we are not all that different.  I would assert that both you and I have a system that is based on faith.  What we believe today is what we think is true.  But as both of us have evolved over time our understanding has grown and our outlooks have changed to accommodate our greater knowledge.  And if you don’t mind, I would like to quote one of my followers, a man named Paul who summed this up rather nicely.”

“For now we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

At that point I finished my beverage and left to re-take my seat at the conference.  The two half-sisters were still debating with each other.

I suspect that conversation will continue for a long time.

ON PATRIOTISM AND HEALTH

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 http://www.chronicnet.org.) 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.
References:
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

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