January 22, 2013
On this day, honoring the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I pause a moment to reflect on some of the things he had to say about standing up for the freedoms of all individuals.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
I grew up in the 60s, when Dr. King, JFK, and RFK spoke inspiring words that encouraged a generation to stand up for the individual’s rights against the tyranny of the majority. The SCLC , the NAACP, NOW, and many other groups in the latter half of the last century fought for civil rights of individuals. The ACLU has been fighting for years to expand the rights and liberties of individuals against government restrictions. Progressives have historically fought for the rights of the worker to a fair wage for a day’s work, a woman’s right to vote, her choice to bear a child or not, the right of a black person to equal treatment in public places, the right of a gay person to marry whomever he/she chooses, the individual’s right to speak out against government policies without persecution, to gather in protest, and an individual’s right to choose where and how to worship.
The country itself was founded by liberals, who fought for the individual’s rights against the tyranny of a colonial government. They refused to sign the Constitution without a Bill of Rights. These laws protected the rights of individual people, not rights of governments.
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington
Dr. King knew that freedom was never to be an assumption, but needs to be hard-won by each generation, and that it is the duty of individuals to assert their freedoms when others seek to limit them.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yet, freedom comes at a high price. Dr. King paid the ultimate price, as have countless other brave individuals who died on the battlefields to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today. But, freedom also requires much from those who live to enjoy it. It requires us to think and act responsibly. We owe that much to those who have died for our freedoms.
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yet, in this age of catchy one-liners and cut-and-paste Facebook posters, it is easier to find a clever slogan than to deeply question our beliefs and fully express how we feel. We find security in conformity, and safety in agreement, so that few will state positions that are unpopular with the media or their Facebook friends. Believing in a cause, we religiously chant the mantras in blind faith rather than thinking critically. Yet, in the words of Dr. King, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.
Since the 60s, Liberals have fought for the right of black women and men to sit in any seat on the bus, and eat at any lunch counter, without restriction. They fought for the rights of students to protest and demonstrate against a war they were being forced to fight. They fought for the right of a woman to choose death, or life, for her unborn, for the right of LGBTs to marry, for the right of a terrorist to get a fair public trail. Even if one does not personally believe in a certain Constitutional Right, a true liberal will at least defend an individual’s right to have a right.
“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don’t contract them”. - Barack Obama
Liberals have historically fought long and hard against restrictions of any kind on individual rights, with one notable exception – the right to bear arms. Suddenly, there is a complete reversal of philosophy, totally inconsistent with liberal thinking. Suddenly, it is reasonable to restrict a person’s right to defend him/herself with a firearm. Suddenly, it is ‘reasonable’ to tell a person what type of gun they can purchase, what its capacity should be, how much ammo is excessive, what type of ammo they can buy, under what circumstances, and where they can carry the weapon, etc. Suddenly, the progressive position is decidedly restrictive, limiting, regulatory, opposing rights rather than expanding rights. Why? President Obama, in his second inauguration speech today suggested that times have changed and certain rights ought to be restricted now.
“But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. “ - Barack Obama
Have we “always understood that?” That desperate times require desperate measures? That today’s fear is a good enough motivation to make fundamental changes to the Constitution, to circumvent the due process of law by enacting Executive Orders? To relinquish fundamental rights of all people because in a free society there is always the possibility that someone will go berserk? This obvious disjunctive reversal of principles begs liberals to do some soul searching. “Am I really liberal, or am I selectively liberal? Am I for individual civil liberties and rights, or do I want the government to restrict certain rights for certain individuals? Am I all for my own freedoms, but not for the freedoms of others?”
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
- Noam Chomsky
If it is all right to tinker with the 2nd Amendment, to qualify and restrict it, then, why not the 1st Amendment, the 13th Amendment, the 19th, the 26th? Are we going to permit free speech only in certain circumstances, only in private, not in social media, on the street corner, in the church, in print, or on the internet? How much free speech will we permit, and on what topics will we permit it before we use our own 1st Amendment right to condemn it as “hate speech” or “fear-mongering” or whatever derogatory terms we can think of to discredit the words of people who disagree with us? We would not want to limit the media’s right to display violent and sexual content on TV and in the movies, but we do want to silence talk radio. Are we now willing to put restrictions on any of the individual rights protected by the Constitution that we choose? Or, are we going to pick and choose which rights a person ought to have, and which ones should be restricted or limited, so that we feel more comfortable and secure?
“Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.” - Barack Obama
How do we “keep our compass pointed in a true direction” if we start altering our fundamental foundations in the Constitution? The country is founded on the Rule of Law, not the rule of men. That is the compass we rely on to keep us on course when the political winds blow. The men who created the document did so with a firm philosophy. If I have a liberal philosophy, I am for all rights of all people, even people who do not agree with me. I don’t have to like guns to oppose restrictions on my neighbor’s right to own one, or even what kind of gun he can own.
Granted, the media drills into our heads every day all the risks involved with living in a free society. True enough, with freedom comes responsibility and risk. It is not secure. It is unregulated. It is dangerous. You might even feel insecure enough to think you may one day need to defend your family and property. You might want to buy a gun and take training on how to use it. You might not buy into that fear. It’s up to you. It’s your right . . . for now.
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
If you want a model for a safe and secure society, visit a state prison. The prisoners have no guns. They have no need for them. They are safe and protected. Their needs are met. They are fed, clothed, and provided with medical care. They are captives. How long do you think they would stay captives if we permitted them to have guns?
The 2nd Amendment is not a permission to play with guns, go hunting, or target shooting, or even to defend one’s person against muggers, or one’s home against burglars. It is the right of the individual citizens to revolt. It is the right to take action against tyranny. If you don’t believe in that, then perhaps you believe we should turn this country into one big maximum security facility. That way, we could all feel safe and protected.
In case you have not noticed, with every crisis we have faced as a nation in the last decade, every natural or manmade disaster, every economic crisis, every shooting, a little more of your freedoms have disappeared.
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Ultimately, the answers to our problems lie in self-regulation and morality, rather than external control. Greed, competition, and fear drive us to the brink of insanity. We have lost our moral compass. The Constitution may be the legal compass for a nation so many are willing to abandon, but too many of us have abandoned our own moral compasses. Dr. King put it this way:
“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
That does not mean you have to go to my church, or any church, to be moral or spiritual. You do not have to agree with my philosophy, but you should be consistent with your own. Without it, you have no steady direction, you go any way the wind blows. You follow the crowd. You do what is popular. You say what they say. You believe in conformity.
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth,”- John F. Kennedy
However, if you believe in freedom for yourself, why not freedom for all? And, with personal freedom comes the responsibility to respect and care for the freedoms of your fellow humans.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
January 18, 2013
An article by Thom Hartmann, for Truth-out.org, entitled, “The Second Amendment Was Ratified to Preserve Slavery”, states an opinion linking gun owners with slave owners. Hartmann bases his argument against the 2nd Amendment on the premise that the original draft of the amendment stated that a well- regulated militia was necessary for the security of a “free country,” and the revision was changed to “free state” in order to preserve militias in certain Southern states to put down slave rebellions. However, I found a website that claims that the original proposed draft of the right to keep and bear arms, on display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library, Santa Ana, California, reads as follows:
“That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”
The final draft of the amendment, of course, reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This throws doubt on the validity of Hartmann’s claim that it was all about slavery. The word “state” is used in the first, as well as the final draft, and its meaning is the subject of this discussion. It could mean a state, referring to an individual state, or state referring to the entire union of individual states. This seems to matter for Hartmann, as his whole premise is that the 2nd Amendment is an outmoded law that lost its relevance when slavery was abolished. Seeing that the concept of the United States was to preserve a union of individual states, I would think the wording would have always been “free state”, which is confirmed by what I found. If the Founding Fathers were thinking “country” as one federal entity, they would have simply called it America, not the United States of America. They specifically wanted to preserve states’ rights in the union. It is the opinion of author Thom Hartmann that the reason for this wording was specifically to arm militias in the south to control slave rebellions. I agree that the 2nd amendment could be used to defend the rights of individuals to arm such militias, but it also defends the rights of individuals to bear arms in whatever state they live, whether in the Southern slave states or the free Northern states.
Some feel that because the 2nd Amendment has a justification clause, explaining why it is necessary in a free state for an individual to bear arms, and if a modern court can determine that the justification is no longer valid, the right should be abolished. However, there may be other good reasons to maintain the individual’s right to bear arms besides keeping one’s slaves in line. The flawed logic goes something like this: To maintain the security of a free state, it is necessary for a state to have a well-regulated militia, and therefore, people should have a right to bear arms. It is no longer necessary for a state to have a well-regulated militia to maintain its security, therefore, the people should no longer have the right to bear arms.
The fallacy is the assumption that the only reason to have a gun is to be in a state militia, not to defend oneself against such a militia or a tyrannical government. The operative clause (the people’s right to bear arms) is broader than the justification clause (a militia is necessary), implying that there are indeed other good reasons the people should keep and bear arms than to join in a state’s militia. It does not read, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed as long as a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state.” If that were the case, then the argument that it is no longer necessary for people to bear arms might hold up. As the law reads, however, the right to bear arms does not depend on the excuse that it is for the purpose of state militias.
Whose right is it anyway? The 2nd Amendment states it is the “right of the people” not the right of the state. The Bill of Rights secures the rights of individuals against the state. And, hence, it doesn’t matter if you are talking about an individual state, such as Tennessee or Texas, or the State as a whole country. It is still the right of an individual.
Granted, gun control is a hot topic. It is easy, when emotionally moved by a tragic event, to make moral judgments, to interpret the law according to the political agenda of the day. The situation seems to demand some kind of action. Somebody needs to do something about it. Nobody wants things like the Sandy Hook massacre to happen. But, neither should the rights of all citizens disappear when an individual crazy person abuses his rights. I’ve heard the arguments that tragedies like this would not have happened if the assault weapons were not available. I agree that Adam’s mother was totally irresponsible in training her mentally unstable son to use such a weapon and then leave it where he could get his hands on it. Many people blame the weapon. If it were not for the assault weapon, surely the greatest mass killing of school children in U.S. history would not have happened. However, did you know that Andrew Kehoe, on May 18, 1927, in Bath Township, Michigan, without the aid of an automatic weapon, killed 38 elementary school children, six adults, and also injured at least 58 other people. Kehoe first killed his wife, fire-bombed his farm and set off a major explosion in the Bath Consolidated School, and then committed suicide by detonating a final explosion in his truck. It is the deadliest mass murder in a school in United States history.
I do not own a gun, but one does not have to own a gun to believe in the Constitutional right for anyone else to have one. The subject is bigger than guns, though, and if we change the Constitution to allay our fears about weapons, tomorrow it will be your right to choose where you go to church, your right to assemble, your right to a trial, or your right to free speech. The government is founded on Rule of Law, not personal edict. That is a principle that dates back to the Roman Empire. Laws are carefully worded by rational thinking people, not people who are grieving and understandably emotional over tragic current events, or people who are trying to please them. The law is written down, so that it is not distorted by the ever-changing winds of political climate.
I know the President assures us that he is not out to “take away our guns”, only the military assault weapons. Proponents of this measure reason that a person does not need a machine gun to go hunting rabbits, so they have no business having a machine gun. The false assumption is that somebody buys a machine gun to hunt rabbits, which is a bit ridiculous. The reason one buys a machine gun is to defend against another individual with a machine gun. Who has machine guns? The military has machine guns. That is understandable – the enemy has machine guns also. But, why do the local police have machine guns? Why are more and more municipal police departments arming themselves with assault weapons and combat equipment? Is it because gangs and criminals have assault weapons? Is it to protect me against a burglar breaking into my house? Is it to keep the peace in my neighborhood? To protect my kids in school? Or, is it to quell some anticipated terrorist attack or civil unrest?
If it is necessary for police to have automatic weapons to protect citizens against threats to their security because a pistol is no match for an AK or an Uzi, why shouldn’t responsible citizens have them to effectively defend themselves against threats to their security? But, buying faster and bigger guns is an arms race that nobody wins. What’s next? Should everyone carry around grenades and rocket launchers for self-defense? In an ideal world, if we could get the automatic weapons away from the gangs and criminals, then citizens would not need automatic weapons to defend themselves, and neither would the police. Let’s leave the military weapons to the soldiers who are overseas, fighting enemies who also use them. Nobody needs them here at home.
Yet, I do not hear anything in the news about banning automatic weapons from local law enforcement along with banning them from the public. Is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people or not? Should the same rules that apply to citizens also apply to their public servants? The Declaration of Independence says that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Do we still believe these self-evident truths, or is it time for a modern rewrite of this document also?
How would a relatively unarmed populace accomplish such a thing against authorities with automatic weapons? (Not that they would ever need to, mind you.) Wouldn’t it be better if we all lay down our WMDs and back away? Ah, but how do we lay down the arms in a mutually-assured way? How was it accomplished during the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.? One side destroyed so many warheads, the other side destroyed so many, and observers from each side and third parties were present to make sure it was done with no cheating. It was a long process, but eventually the vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons were mutually reduced. Before that, the only security was thought to be mutually-assured destruction. Both sides knew that if they pushed that button they were assuring their own doom. A parallel logic on a smaller scale would put a gun in every classroom, every church, every house, every pocket, so that nobody would be foolish enough to provoke the anger of anyone else knowing they are also carrying a gun. Nobody but a fool would break into a house where they know they are likely to be shot. It would be the Law of the Wild West revisited. That didn’t seem to work either, though, in the Westerns I remember. Power belonged to whoever had the fastest hand.
So, am I saying nothing should be done? No, surely, buying an automatic weapon should not be as easy as buying a hubcap at a flea market. There should be background checks, and mandatory training makes sense. I am suggesting, however, that we should make measured responses to tragic, but local, events without making sweeping global changes to our Constitution, revoking fundamental rights of everyone. If twenty kids are killed in a bus crash caused by a drunk driver, it is unbelievably tragic, but we don’t ban alcohol or hard liquor. We already know Prohibition was not effective in stemming alcohol use. It just created a Black Market for alcohol where the government lost a lot of tax revenue. We acknowledge that certain people from time to time abuse their rights. It is horrible when they do. They need to be punished. That does not mean everyone will follow suit, or that all rights should disappear because some people can’t handle themselves.
The thing about gun control is that it is not really gun control we are talking about, but people control. Like a parent keeps the dangerous things in the house out of reach of her toddlers, we want to keep the dangerous toys out of the hands of the crazy people. If we are all crazy, then I suppose nobody should have a gun. Who, then, gets to decide who is crazy and who is not? A doctor who works for the state? (According to a background briefer provided by the White House, President Obama is asking doctors to help deal with guns. Here’s the relevant passage: “Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities.”) Careful what you say to Doc, or anyone, even in jest. They might not have your sense of humor. Perhaps the opinion of a law enforcement officer is all that is necessary to get you labeled insane. Is there any legal recourse for a person wrongly accused, drugged, and put away for good?
January 1, 2013
I read some encouraging news today, in an article by Ken Starkey, professor of management and organizational learning at Nottingham University Business School. In it, he calls for a new strategy for leadership education in the future that includes arts and humanities, which would produce business leaders who understand the consequences and accept the social responsibility for their actions.
In the past, business schools would focus mainly on the numbers, how to turn the most profit for the least effort and expense, with little regard for the sustainability of the environment, and moral implications of such a self-centered, competitive approach. Business leaders were expected to be unwaveringly confident, understand the market, know the numbers, be able to predict the future, and make the best decisions for their employees and investors. Or, at least they had to appear to have these superhuman characteristics.
This policy paved the way for big egos to run the show, to look and act confident, to insist that they were right even if they did not know what they were doing. Armed with panels of experts, with numbers, statistics, and studies carefully crafted to back their opinions, these self-aggrandized individuals boldly drove their corporations to the economic train wreck of the last few years. Many have witnessed the shortcomings of an ego-driven business world.
It is time for a new kind of leader: The kind who cares about more than the numbers. Someone who displays a sense of moral responsibility and humility. Someone who is not afraid to say they are wrong, question existing beliefs, try new things, listen to and care about their employees, find new solutions for business that take sustainability and social consequences into consideration. The new dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, agrees with Starkey, calling for leaders who demonstrate moral humility, who can admit their ignorance, and begin by asking questions, think critically, reflect on the moral implications and consequences of their actions instead of focusing only on finances and personal gain.
In my view, I think the shift toward more responsible leadership is part of the larger shift in human consciousness away from the cold, competitive, “dog-eat-dog” modern world of individualism toward more human compassion and connection. Perhaps the postindustrial society we live in has a place for philosophy and liberal arts after all. It is encouraging to hear business educators calling for a return of classical education in business schools. I had placed my bet when I returned to school in 2009 that the world was going to need more than MBAs to straighten out this mess. I chose a multi-disciplinary path, earning a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies, including music, philosophy, literature, history, and creative writing. I am now at UNCG, earning a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. People often questioned why I did not go for a business degree, or science and technology degree, implying that degrees such as these would be more “useful” and “practical” training for a career in the “real world.” “What are you going to do with a Liberal Arts degree?” they would ask.
Indeed, in the last thirty years in particular, the focus of American business on quantitative analysis, economics, bigger numbers, and higher profit margins, has had little use for the humanities, and Liberal Arts in many universities have suffered because of it. With a large portion of their contributions coming from the corporate world, universities often put Philosophy, Art, Music, and Literature departments on the ‘back burner’, while Mathematics, Engineering, Science, and Technology, and Business get all the funding and attention, and thus, universities are in danger of becoming merely training centers for the industries that fund them.
Rather than the current model of business schools, that market their programs based on the rankings of publications and individual salaries earned by their graduates, perhaps these schools should be more concerned producing graduates who are concerned with the greater good of society than their own personal gain. Starkey envisions business schools that hire graduates from other disciplines such as the arts and humanities, to create innovative new courses that teach leaders how to envision products and services that may better serve the needs of society and the planet rather than ones that merely turn big profits. Like the academies of the ancient Greeks, philosophy, art, music, poetry, and science were taught side by side with politics and business, producing leaders who were thinkers, who had vision, and a concern for humanity and ‘the good life’. I am all for putting humanity back into business. Perhaps we can start by putting Humanities back in schools.
December 28, 2012
The average American eats double the amount of protein they need! No wonder we have a higher incidence of osteoporosis than, say, Japan, where they rarely drink milk. The low fat Japanese diet also helps explain why severe symptoms of menopause are virtually unknown there.
Based on absorption characteristics, the best sources of usable calcium are collard greens, turnip greens, and kale. Yes, greens — the stuff your grandmother made you eat. One cup of kale, for instance, contains only 179 mg of calcium vs. 302 mg for milk, but your body can use 50-70% of it, yielding, on average, 107 mg. You can only use about 30% of the calcium in milk, so you only get 91 mg of calcium per cup of milk. And collard greens have almost twice as much! Other excellent sources include turnip greens, soy, broccoli, cornbread, and beans.
By avoiding dairy products you can help yourself by reducing the risk of osteoporosis, food allergies, asthma, obesity, and heart disease.
“The myth that osteoporosis is caused by calcium
deficiency was created to sell dairy products and
calcium supplements. There’s no truth to it. American
women are among the biggest consumers of calcium
in the world, and they still have one of the highest
levels of osteoporosis in the world. And eating even
more dairy products and calcium supplements is not
going to change that fact.”
–Dr. John McDougall
The McDougall Program for Women (2000)
Drinking milk builds dairy producers' profits, but as the
above studies show, it's more likely to harm your bones
than to help them. And dairy foods are linked to all sorts
of other problems, including obesity, heart disease and cancer
(including breast cancer and prostate cancer) and are likely to
be contaminated with trace levels of antibiotics, hormones, and
other chemicals, including dioxin, one of the most toxic
substances known to humans (The Washington Post reported
that "the latest EPA study concludes that people who consume
even small amounts of dioxin in fatty foods and dairy products
face a cancer risk of 1 in 100. They may also develop other
problems, such as attention disorder, learning disabilities,
susceptibility to infections and liver disorders" (April 12, 2001).
According to Dr. Neal Barnard,
president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible
"Milk, in particular, is poor insurance against bone breaks ...
the healthiest calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and
legumes ... You don't need to eat huge servings of
vegetables or beans to get enough calcium, but do include
both in your regular menu planning. If you are looking for
extra calcium, fortified orange, apple, or grapefruit juices
are good choices."
It makes no more sense for humans to consume the mother's
milk of cows than for us to consume the mother's milk of
rats, cats, dogs, giraffes, or any other mammal. Nature
created human mother's milk for baby humans, cow
mother's milk for baby cows, and so on.
The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, in Baby and Child Care
(the United States' best selling book, other than the Bible,
over the past 50 years), after recommending that no one
consume cow's milk and cataloging a host of ills associated
with milk consumption (heart disease, cancer, obesity,
antibiotic residue, iron deficiency, asthma, ear infections,
skin conditions, stomach aches, bloating, and diarrhea),
"In nature, animals do not drink milk after infancy, and that
is the normal pattern for humans, too. ...Children stay in
better calcium balance when their protein comes from plant
“Make no mistake about it; the dairy
industry has been virtually in total control of any and
all public health information that ever rises to the level
of public scrutiny." Says Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the world's leading
epidemiological researcher in the field of diet and health. "The association between the intake of animal protein
and fracture rates appears to be as strong as the
association between cigarette smoking and
"Milk, it now seems clear, is not the solution to poor
bone density. To the contrary, it's part of the problem."
--Dr. Charles Attwood
http://www.notmilk.com/deb/030799.html PCRM article on the 78,000 nurse study
http://www.notmilk.com/deb/092098.html CALCIUM AND BONE DISEASE
http://www.notmilk.com/badbones.html WHO GETS BONE DISEASE?
http://www.notmilk.com/bonehead.txt CRIPPLING BONEHEADS
http://www.notmilk.com/calcium/index.html Consolidated comments
The dairy industry has a powerful hold on the nutrition
industry in this country; it pays huge numbers of
dietitians, doctors, and researchers to push dairy,
spending more than $300 million annually, just at the
national level, to retain a market for its products. The
dairy industry has infiltrated schools, bought off sports
stars, celebrities, and politicians, pushing all the while
an agenda based on profit, rather than public health.
Dr. Walter Willett, a veteran nutrition researcher at
the Harvard School of Public Health, says that
calcium consumption "has become like a religious
crusade," overshadowing true preventive measures
such as physical exercise. To hear the dairy industry
tell it, if you consume three glasses of milk daily,
your bones will be stronger, and you can rest safely
knowing that osteoporosis is not in your future.
Despite the dairy industry funding study after study
to try to prove its claims, Dr. John McDougall, upon
examining all the available nutritional studies and
"The primary cause of osteoporosis is the high-protein
diet most Americans consume today. As one leading
researcher in this area said, '[Eating a high-protein
diet is like pouring acid rain on your bones.'" Remarkably
enough, if dairy has any effect, both clinical and
population evidence strongly implicate dairy in causing,
rather than preventing, osteoporosis. That the dairy
industry would lull unsuspecting women and children
into complacency by telling them, essentially, drink more
milk and your bones will be fine, may make good
business sense, but it does the public a grave disservice.
Most of the world's peoples do not consume cow's
milk, and yet most of the world does not experience the
high rates of osteoporosis found in the West. In Asian
countries, for example, where consumption of dairy
foods is low (and where women tend to be thin and
small-boned, universally accepted risk factors for
osteoporosis), fracture rates are much lower than
they are in the United States and in Scandinavian
countries, where consumption of dairy products i
s considerably higher.
One study, funded by the National Dairy Council, involved
giving a group of postmenopausal women three 8-ounce glasses
of skim milk per day for two years and comparing their bones
to those of a control group of women not given the milk. The
dairy group consumed 1,400 mg of calcium per day and
lost bone at twice the rate of the control group. According to
the researchers, "This may have been due to the average 30
percent increase in protein intake during milk supplementation ...
The adverse effect of increases in protein intake on calcium
balance has been reported from several laboratories, including
our own" (they then cite 10 other studies). Says McDougall,
"Needless to say, this finding did not reach the six o'clock
After looking at 34 published studies in 16 countries,
researchers at Yale University found that countries with the
highest rates of osteoporosis--including the United States,
Sweden, and Finland--are those in which people consume
the most meat, milk, and other animal foods.
Harvard University's landmark Nurses Health Study, which
followed 78,000 women over a 12-year period, found that
the women who consumed the most calcium from dairy
foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk.
A National Institutes of Health study out of the University
of California, published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition (2001), found that;
"Women who ate most of their protein from animal sources
had three times the rate of bone loss and 3.7 times the rate
of hip fractures of women who ate most of their protein from
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition (2000) looked at all aspects of diet and bone health
and found that high consumption of fruits and vegetables
positively affect bone health and that dairy consumption did
According to Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Turn Off the Fat
Genes (2001) and several other books on diet and health,
the calcium absorption from vegetables is as good as or
better than that from milk. Calcium absorption from milk is
approximately 30 percent, while figures for broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, and
some other leafy green vegetables range between 40
percent and 64 percent.
After reviewing studies on the link between protein intake
and urinary calcium loss, nutritional researcher Robert P.
Heaney found that as consumption of protein increases, so
does the amount of calcium lost in the urine (Journal of
the American Dietetic Association, 1993). In other words, calcium from dairy and animal products increases protein levels, and more calcium is lost through the urine.
Researchers from the University of Sydney and Westmead
Hospital discovered that consumption of dairy foods, especially
early in life, increases the risk of hip fractures in old age
(American Journal of Epidemiology, 1994).
Finally, an analysis of all research conducted since 1985,
published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000),
"If dairy food intakes confer bone health, one might
expect this to have been apparent from the 57 outcomes,
which included randomized, controlled trials and longitudinal
cohort studies involving 645,000 person-years."
The researchers go on to lament that "there have been few
carefully designed studies of the effects of dairy foods on bone
health," and then to conclude with typical scientific reserve
"The body of scientific evidence appears inadequate
to support a recommendation for daily intake of dairy foods
to promote bone health in the general U.S. population."
What we do know is that osteoporosis rates decline markedly
as body weight, exercise, and caloric intake rise. Corroborating
the researchers' lament about bad studies, only three studies
have factored caloric intake into the analysis; two of them
found no correlation between dairy intake and osteoporosis.
The other found a positive link; that is, the more milk consumed,
the higher the fracture risk (Harvard Nurses Study, see above).
Is the dairy industry ignoring these factors by design
in its clinical studies, perhaps because dairy consumers
tend to be heavier and to consume more calories than
those consuming fewer (or no) dairy products? It is
remarkable that the dairy industry can't get the results
it's looking for, since dairy consumption does tend to
make people heavier. Even though dairy researchers
ignore this factor, most studies still show no relationship,
and some indicate that milk causes osteoporosis. If the
tendencies of those who consume more dairy to be
heavier and to consume more calories were accounted for,
would the studies indicating no link show, in fact, that
dairy intake causes osteoporosis, like the Harvard School
of Public Health study? That would bring clinical analysis
into line with the population analysis, which clearly states
that increased dairy consumption is linked to increased
risk for osteoporosis.
What the evidence does dictate as useful for strong bones is:
* Getting enough vitamin D (if you don't spend any time in the
sun, be sure to take a supplement or eat fortified foods).
* Eliminating animal protein (for a variety of reasons, animal
protein causes severe bone deterioration).
* Limiting alcohol consumption (alcohol is toxic to the cells
that form bones and inhibits the absorption of calcium).
* Limiting salt intake (sodium leaches calcium out of the bones)
* Not smoking (studies have shown that women who smoke one
pack of cigarettes a day have 5 to 10 percent less bone density
at menopause than nonsmokers).
* Getting plenty of exercise. Studies have concluded that physical
exercise is the key to building strong bones (more important than
any other factor). For example, a study published in the British
Medical Journal, which followed 1,400 men and women over
a 15-year period, found that exercise may be the best protection
against hip fractures and that "reduced intake of dietary calcium
does not seem to be a risk factor." And Penn State University
researchers found that bone density is significantly affected by
how much exercise girls get during their teen years, when 40
to 50 percent of their skeletal mass is developed. Consistent
with previous research, the Penn State study, which was
published in Pediatrics (2000), the journal of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, showed that calcium intake, which
ranged from 500 to 1,500 mg per day, has no lasting effect
on bone health.
Because of heavy promotion by the American dairy industry, the public often believes that cow’s milk is the sole source of calcium. However, other excellent sources of calcium exist. Sources of well-absorbed calcium for vegans include calcium-fortified soy milk and juice, calcium-set tofu, soybeans and soynuts, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and okra 1. Grains, beans (other than soybeans), fruits, and vegetables (other than those listed) can contribute to calcium intake but cannot replace these key foods. Table 1 shows the amount of calcium in selected foods. When you realize that there is as much or more calcium in 4 ounces of firm tofu or 3/4 cup of collard greens as there is in one cup of cow’s milk, it is easy to see why groups of people who do not drink cow’s milk still have strong bones and teeth.
The calcium recommendation for adults age 19-50 years and men 51-70 years is 1000 mg per day 2. An intake of 1200 mg of calcium is recommended for women over 51 years and for men over 70 2. While not all studies find a reduced risk of fracturing bones to be associated with higher calcium intakes 3,4, research does suggest that adequate calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis as people age 5.
There are a limited number of studies of vegans, most of which find low bone density, as well as low calcium intakes 6-8. Results of a meta-analysis that combined several studies predicted that vegans would have a slightly (perhaps 10%) higher risk of bone fracture compared to non-vegetarians 8. One study found that, when calcium intakes were adequate (greater than 525 mg/day in this study), vegans had no greater risk of breaking a bone than did non-vegetarians with similar calcium intakes 7. Since many factors can affect calcium needs, we recommend that vegans try to meet the recommendations for the general public. By choosing the suggested number of servings of calcium-rich foods daily, vegans should meet calcium needs.
The National Dairy Council wants you to drink your milk. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) doesn't. At issue is your risk of developing osteoporosis and a few billion dollars in profits for the dairy industry.
1. Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis
Excerpt: While patients tend to assume that boosting their calcium intake will ensure strong bones, research clearly shows that calcium intake is only part of the issue and that simply increasing calcium intake is an inadequate strategy. No less important is reducing calcium losses. The loss of bone mineral probably results from a combination of genetics and dietary and lifestyle factors, particularly the intake of animal protein, salt, and possibly caffeine, along with tobacco use, physical inactivity, and lack of sun exposure.
Excerpt: Insulin-dependent diabetes (Type I or childhood-onset) is linked to consumption of dairy products. Epidemiological studies of various countries show a strong correlation between the use of dairy products and the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes. Researchers in 1992 found that a specific dairy protein sparks an auto-immune reaction, which is believed to be what destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
Contrary to popular belief, calcium does not protect bones. Not by itself, anyway. But since the body compensates for a calcium deficiency by leaching calcium from bones, it is important to get anough. So what are the best sources? Surprisingly -- at least for people who get their nutritional guidance from dairy council advertising -- milk is not a very good source. Sure, it's loaded with calcium, but it's not as easy for the body to absorb it as the calcium in kale or swiss chard, and the presence of protein, fats, and other products can cause the body to lose calcium from bones.
That's why the largest study of its kind found that eating dairy products provided no protection at all against bone fractures!
The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or "greens and beans" for short. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other healthful nutrients.
The medical profession and the media encourage the public to drink milk and eat dairy products because "it does the body good". Nothing could be further from the truth! Higher calcium and protein intake is purported to lower the incidence of osteoporosis according to the Dairy Council [but] the largest study of diet and disease in medical history [shows that] higher animal calcium and animal protein intake is the primary cause of degenerative disease.
Organic calcium is found within the body in the matrix, spongy living core of the bones. Animal dairy products contain inorganic calcium. Which is not recognized, nor utilized by the body. Dr. Stanley Kaplan, MD has found that organic calcium losses were elevated markedly in individuals for 3-4 hours after a meal rich in calcium from dairy and high in protein. Independent medical studies, those not funded by the Dairy Council, have concluded that excessive calcium found in the body (in the blood stream ) will not be recognized. Instead, this inorganic calcium from animal sources are removed from the blood and collected in the kidneys. This can lead to the development of kidney stones. The body requires calcium for life and daily bodily repair. Since there is no usable calcium available the brain instructs the bone matrix to release organic calcium into the blood stream. The net result is a loss of calcium from the bone matrix. This loss causes a weakening of the bone resulting in osteoporosis according to Dr. John McDougall, M.D.
Why the Dairy People would Rather Sling Mud than Talk Science
From the National Dairy Council: CASE STUDY OF "JUNK SCIENCE": "Further fueling misinformation [...] are activists like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The PCRM and PETA have been conducting a systematic and misleading anti-milk campaign to further their own animal rights and vegan agendas. These groups inappropriately interpret observational research to make bogus food and health claims promoted on the Internet to unnecessarily scare millions of consumers."
Notice the derogatory use of "activist" to mean "fanatic." Of course, the National Dairy Council isn't an activist organization at all! They have no agenda! Their idea of plain talk is to use loaded words like "misleading," "inappropriate," "bogus," and "scare."
Perhaps because it could not substantiate its claim that PCRM used junk science, the thrust of the Dairy Council's press release was to attack PCRM by dismissing the organization as, "a fringe anti-meat, anti-dairy, animal rights group." The Dairy Council went on to deride PCRM's milk warnings as, "ridiculous and irresponsible," and attacked PCRM for trying to push a "hidden agenda." It's true PCRM has an agenda, as does any group that seeks to modify a population's eating patterns, but this agenda is certainly not hidden. PCRM has never tried to hide its position that a vegan lifestyle offers numerous health, environmental, and ethical advantages. In fact, it's fair to say that PCRM publicizes a vegan-oriented message at every opportunity. Indeed, if anyone has a "hidden agenda" it's not PCRM but rather the National Dairy Council.
The National Dairy Council concluded its June 1 press release with the words: "Consumers are warned against taking nutritional guidance from activist groups that are trying to promote their own agendas." But isn't it much more hazardous for consumers to take nutritional guidance from business groups that are trying to promote their own agendas, namely selling a product? According to the Dairy Council's logic, we should ignore non-profit publicly funded groups like PCRM and instead base our eating decisions on information provided by industry-funded "science" groups. The point of attacking PCRM is that the Dairy Council does not want consumers to realize that calcium is abundant in numerous non-dairy foods. Contrary to the Dairy Council's propaganda, it's easy to construct a dairy-free diet that delivers sufficient calcium. By relying on plants rather than cows to provide your calcium needs, you also avoid cholesterol, saturated fat, somatic (pus) cells, potential risks arising from rBGH injections, and a number of other undesirable elements that come in every glass of milk.
August 30, 2010
30 August 2010
Throughout the ages, man has been fascinated with the subject of happiness. For some, it is something to be “pursued,” while others try to “find” contentment, as if it is somewhere on a map. Foreign correspondent for NPR, Eric Weiner wrote The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, a project which took him around the world, in search of its happiest people and their cultures. His trip may have yielded him plenty of frequent flyer miles, but he reports only a marginal improvement in his overall happiness level upon his return. I suspect that the popular myth that happiness can be found some place is nothing more than an advertising ploy perpetuated by the travel industry and tourist bureaus of the world to entice us to come to exotic places, and spend a lot of money. Although he starts the book with the statement that “happiness is not inside of us, but out there,” by the end of his yearlong journey, he concludes that most of the things that are really important to happiness are not to be found in any particular geographic location, but in the relationship one has with family and friends, and in the practice of virtues such as trust, and gratitude. I agree with his conclusion that happiness involves more of a change in attitude than a change in location.
In a fascinating series of videos, The Biology of Perception, cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton explains that for years, the science of biology taught that genes, or DNA, controlled not only our physical characteristics, but our inclinations toward anxiety, aggression or happiness. Since we inherit our genetic makeup from our parents, there would seem to be little that we could do about our predisposition towards certain behaviors and diseases. In fact, in The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests that up to 50% of our happiness level is hereditary (53). Now, however, recent research has revealed the error in that assumption. Without getting too technical here, basically, the story is that cells simply react to environmental stressors and stimuli in one of two modes – either growth or protection. In other words, it is not a pre-determined pattern of heredity that determines cellular characteristics, but reaction to the environment. In all of nature, living things have a fractal design – a repeating pattern in which every cell is a microcosm of the larger whole organism. So, if what is true for the cell is also true for the whole organism, we could conclude that we too are the product of our environment. This would lead one to believe that by changing one’s environment, one could change the person. There is one factor that complicates this picture, however, and that is perception. We react not to our environment, but to what we perceive our environment to be, and what we perceive it to be is not necessarily what our environment actually is.
Cells have a very simple mechanism of receptors and effectors, which by changing the shapes of proteins within the cell, react to various stimuli. We humans have a similar, but far more complicated system of receptors – eyes, ears, nose, and skin – that sends information to our brain, which reacts and adapts to its environment as well. As the information is passing through our brains, however, it picks up additional information stored in the brain about the subject. For example if we put our hand close to a hot element of a stove, we get the sensation of the heat from our fingers, but we also get beliefs about the dangers of hot objects and stored patterns for survival behavior from past experience that cause us to pull back our hand and not burn ourselves. It is a combination of direct reaction and also our fear that causes our body to move. Cells react in the same way if there is an actual danger or if there is only a fear of danger. So, it comes down to our perception of the environment that causes the change, and not just the environment itself. What I’m saying here is that changing one’s environment may not change the person, but changing his attitude about his environment will. Therefore, a sad person will be a sad person in either an awful place or a paradise. If you think that life sucks, it will suck for you wherever you go. Conversely, if you believe life is good, you can be happy in most any livable environment.
So, unless you enjoy the glamour of travel, dragging luggage around airports, buses, hotels, eating restaurant food, and taking a lot of pictures of scenery, you could save yourself the trip, if it is happiness you’re after. It’s not somewhere “out there,” but somewhere “in here.” If life is a journey, we agree with author Henry Miller, that “one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin 2007. Print.
Weiner, Eric. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World. New York: Twelve 2008. Print.
August 21, 2010
“In the beginning was the word . . .” St. John 1:1
The Greek “logos” is the word John uses, which means, according to Heraclitus (535-475 B.C.) “the principle of Order and Knowledge in the Universe.” The Sophist philosophers of Greece used the term to mean “discourse,” while the Stoics later defined it as the “divine animating principle of the Universe.”
Sophist and educator, Protagoras, maintained that he could teach his students to be “good citizens,” (hence, our word, “sophisticated”), while Socrates, on the other hand, argued that virtue cannot be taught. Plato gives an account of this famous argument in Protagoras. Socrates was generally skeptical about sophists who traveled around the country, teaching for money; warning his student, Hippocrates, that they are dangerous because their persuasive words “go straight to the soul,” and could lead to its corruption. In Plato’s story, Socrates makes a distinction between knowledge and wisdom, saying that although knowledge can be taught, wisdom cannot. Protagoras comes back with the question of why, if that were true, do parents spend so much time trying to teach their children virtues, and why do we go to school, or church, and why do we try to rehabilitate criminals, or send bad kids to correctional institutions if they can’t learn virtues? Socrates points out that if virtue could be handed down or imparted, then why are the children of virtuous men not always virtuous themselves? Protagoras explains that it is probably because the parent did not teach the child his virtues properly. For example, a flute player’s son may not necessarily know how to play the flute, even though his father is a virtuoso, unless the father takes the time to teach him what he knows. As so often happens in philosophical discussions, the issue between Protagoras and Socrates is not resolved, and continues on through the ages, as every new generation adds their insights to the discussion, even to this day. So if philosophy’s goal is wisdom, and wisdom cannot be taught, what is the purpose of a course in philosophy?
In The Experience of Philosophy, authors David Kolak and Raymond Martin define philosophy as the art of questioning everything (1). Philosophers believe there is a danger in the uncritical acceptance of beliefs. That danger is as relevant today in the post-modern world, as it was in the time of Plato. If you are like me, you get your information from a variety of sources: Broadcast News, Cable News, Public Radio, and the Internet. Only by synthesizing the stories from all these sources can one arrive at some consensus and figure out what is really happening. It seems that each individual source has its own interpretation of events, and unless you have actually experienced a thing, and have first-hand knowledge, you rely on someone else’s interpretation of events, which cannot help but be biased in some way by their belief systems. Even your own experience, although you may consider it factual, is viewed through the filter of your own beliefs. This is why twenty people viewing the same event have twenty different versions of the tale. So it is important always to consider the source, what their motivations might be, who financially supports them and what their agendas are, and in what way they may benefit from your belief that what they say is true.
Some say beliefs hold the keys to your life. Beliefs must change before anything else changes. This is not the same as simply thinking or saying something is so, and magically it becomes a reality. How many diets and New Year’s resolutions have you made that didn’t stick? You may agree with an idea intellectually, but that does not change your beliefs. Change requires something more than that. The knowledge you gain from someone else needs to be tried on to see how it fits you – like a pair of pants. If you try it on, and it fits for you – agrees with other things you know to be true – you may agree with it; and in practicing it, and experiencing it, you may eventually believe it. Only when that happens does your world change to reflect that new belief. Now there is good news and bad news about belief. The bad news is that, as children, most of our beliefs are handed down to us from parents or authority. We have no critical thinking skills; we just automatically assume that what is told to us is the gospel truth. As adults, we need to learn to evaluate information, rather than just uncritically absorb it. The good news is that beliefs can be changed ( Riuz 7). There is an interesting series of videos by Rob Williams on a technique developed to do just that.
Philosophy teaches us how to question, think critically, and form our own world view. Kolak and Martin say, that although knowledge and beliefs can be handed down, wisdom cannot be (1). As Canadian songwriter, Burton Cummings, put it, “Don’t give me no hand-me-down world.” Wisdom comes from self-discovery – each one of us is on his/her own path of self-awareness, and must individually define what is true. This is why philosophy is important for everyone, and should be high on a list of priorities for any educational curriculum.
I hope you will join me here in conversations on a variety of subjects, from the classic discussions of Knowledge, Truth, God, Reality, Ethics, and Freedom, to issues of Aging in the Post-Modern World, Childhood Obesity in America, and other contemporary topics. Please feel free to comment on the subjects being discussed. I only ask that the tone of the conversation remains reader-friendly and accessible, using plain language, to keep the conversation real, relevant, lively, and interesting for general audiences. My intent is to learn by discourse, as did the ancient Greeks. Although I don’t pretend to know everything, I intend to question everything.
Kolak, Daniel and Raymond Martin, eds. The Experience Philosophy.6thed. New York: Oxford 2006. Print.
Riuz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. San Rafael: Amber-Allen. 1997. Print.