What happens when good medicine is “bad for business”?


Med Symbol 2Last night I watched the movie “Me Before You”.  It’s about a man who is quadriplegic after an accident with a scooter.  Long story short, he decides he doesn’t want to live any longer with the limitations and pain he endures and …………….(spoiler alert) ……………………………ends his life.

The movie brings attention to the issues of assisted suicide, personal relationships and quality of life.  It also begs the question of why on Earth is anybody still having to endure, long term, the medical issues of paraplegia or quadriplegia?  By this I don’t mean why doesn’t everybody with paraplegia or quadriplegia kill themselves.  I do mean that in cases in which a person’s spinal cord is severed in an accident, why aren’t we using the therapies that are known to result in the body healing this damage?

Although I’ve heard of others, for example, one involving the use of white blood cells that must be performed within a short time frame after the injury, what I am mainly referring to is stem cell therapy to facilitate healing of the spinal cord.  Why isn’t this being performed regularly?

I have seen an excellent video of a mouse who had it’s spinal cord severed, and even after a period of time during which it experienced atrophy in the affected limbs, it was able to regain use of the affected limbs after a stem cell transplant.  I just checked online and I was unable to locate that video (??).  Where did it go?  But mice aren’t people, right?

Remember Christopher Reeve?  He played Superman in movies a couple decades or so ago.  He suffered a spinal cord injury and spent years as a quadriplegic.  During this time he became active as an advocate for issues relating to spinal cord injuries.  Stem cell therapy is one issue he was involved with.  I just looked at the Wikipedia article about him and it cites his work to get stem cell research funded.  Research is a necessary prerequisite to treatment, however, research is not treatment.  Why even mention this obvious truth?  More on that later.

Shortly after his death I read an article in “Readers Digest” about a woman in South Korea that had suffered a spinal cord injury many years ago and who had recently received stem cell therapy.  She was, according to the article, recovering use of the affected limbs.  It was around 2004 when I read this article, it was a recent article at the time.  I thought it poignant that this article should appear so shortly after Christopher Reeve’s death.  It brought to mind the question of why didn’t he ever receive stem cell therapy?

What are the problems with stem cell therapy?  Why isn’t it being used?  When stem cell therapy first began receiving widespread coverage in the mainstream press, to my recollection, it was immediately coupled with the issue of having to use stem cells from aborted babies.  So, essentially, stem cell therapy was given a “black eye” right out of the gate.  Dead babies?  If we open the door to stem cell therapy we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in aborted fetuses, right?  Women will be selling their unborn babies so rich folks can have stem cell therapy, right?  Women might even be getting pregnant just to have a fetus to abort and sell.  Horrible, but not an unthinkable scenario.  And the media saw to it we were all thinking it.  Stem cell therapy was cast in the roll of the therapy from hell:  avoid it at all costs.

Stem cell therapy isn’t the only potential treatment to undergo this type of demonization.  How many decades did “Reefer Madness”, and other misinformation define the public perception of marijuana?  (And still does in some places.)

However, during the 1990’s there was another, infinitely less, publicized event taking place in the State of Washington, U.S.A.  A company named CellPro, in Bothell, Washington, was working on a method of extracting stem cells from an adult human body that could be used by the person they were extracted from for stem cell therapy.  Pretty anti-climatic in comparison to being led to believe stem cell therapy would lead to the gates of hell being greased with the bodies of dead fetuses.  From the point of view of selling news with sensationalism, I can see why the CellPro story might not be appealing to the marketing folk down at the press.  But is that the only reason most people in the world have never heard of CellPro nor their success?  That’s right, success.

During the 1990’s, CellPro successfully developed a method of extracting stem cells from an adult human being that can be used by that person for stem cell therapies.  No chance of rejection, no lifetime of anti-rejection medications, and maybe that touches on why it received so little publicity (?).  CellPro’s relatively inexpensive method was successfully used to save one life, one.  A case involving cancer.  Did I mention it was planned to be relatively inexpensive, around $10,000 at the time?  Again I find myself asking:  is that touching on why most people in the world have never heard of CellPro?  If you want to know what happened to this company and the blessing they were getting ready to unleash on the human race, there is a book about it.  The person who’s life was saved wrote a book.

He was the CEO of CellPro.  The book is:  “Patient Number One”, by Rick Murdock and David Fisher.  If you’re interested in learning more about the convoluted interrelationship between medicine, big business, government, and the people affected by it, I recommend this book.  It’s not an easy read, but it’s worth it.

Again, long story short, CellPro was, in effect, shut down by a U.S. District Court judge.  At the very least the judge’s ruling made sure the words “relatively inexpensive” would no longer be applicable.  The reality turned out to be that, in effect, CellPro’s fate was sealed.  That was a U.S. District Court protecting us…from what?  Good health care?

As I mentioned above, medical research is not medical treatment.  Obvious?  Should be, but the reality in the U.S. has to give one pause.  In an article updated in 2005 on NBC News.com, the amount spent on medical research, each year, in the U.S. was 95 billion (with a “B”) dollars.  What should we be expecting for 95 billion dollars a year?  Are we getting it?  There can be no doubt that there is BIG money in medical research.  How about cures?  Maybe not so much?  Look what happened to CellPro with their relatively inexpensive method of procuring transplantable stem cells.  What’s that about?  The fact is medical research is often touted as if it were treatment.  It’s not.

There are a significant number of people, and I would say an increasing number of people, in the U.S. and elsewhere that suspect treatments which would actually cure various diseases are, when discovered, buried, kept secret, in order not to jeopardize the multi-billion dollar medical research industry.  The case of CellPro definitely pushes this notion a step away from the realm of conspiracy theory and into the realm of conspiracy fact.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has a website which gives estimated costs for individuals living with a spinal cord injury.  The least figure they give is for “Incomplete motor function (any level)”.  Those costs are given as:  $347,484 the first year and $42,206 every year thereafter.  The lifetime estimated costs for someone in this category who experiences the injury at 25 years of age, are given as:  $1,578,274.  From there, as they get into the costs of paraplegia and other more profound loss of ability, the costs, as one would expect, go up.  A lot.

Compare this with the costs of one time stem cell transplant with no ongoing anti-rejection medication needed.  Tripling what, in the 1990’s, CellPro estimated would be their costs in obtaining the needed stem cells, from your own body, would put that cost at around $30,000.  Then there would be the cost of the implant itself, an injection.  If we think extortionate costs for that procedure, that might be around $100.000.  Even at extortionate pricing it doesn’t come close to the estimated costs for a lifetime of medication, medical devices, ongoing medical evaluation, caregivers and whatever else would enter in.  But what does that have to do with anything?

Is the system of medical care in the U.S. and the treatments employed the best in the world?  Let’s hope not.  I’m sure most of the medical industry’s P.R. folks would use descriptors like:  excellent, stellar, state of the art, etc.  It seems some of these treatments might be more accurately portrayed as:  the costliest we have, obsolete, ineffective, barbaric.  I’m sure there are a lot of good doctors in the U.S., thank goodness.  However, when even good doctors are at the mercy of a larger, institutionalized, business oriented medical system, well, sometimes their hands are figuratively tied.  Extravagant malpractice suits are the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of each and every physician in the U.S.  Sometimes the malpractice suits even make the extortionate pricing too often used by hospitals, clinics and other providers look trivial.

By designing/allowing extravagant malpractice suits into the bigger picture of the healthcare system those controlling the system gave themselves a ” big stick” with which to threaten recalcitrant physicians. 

The stem cell issue is just one of many treatment issues which have plagued our medical system over the past few decades.  The healthcare system in the U.S. has developed a track record of giving highly preferential treatment to those treatments marketed by big, wealthy corporations.  Pharmaceuticals immediately come to mind.

Some of the treatments which are either hard to obtain, largely ignored or actively lobbied against, even made illegal at some point if they still aren’t, include:  marijuana, stem cell therapy, neurofeedback, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and various cancer treatments offered in other countries but banned in the U.S.  I’m sure there are more.

The point is this:   Our healthcare system needs to be primarily and uncompromisingly dedicated to supporting and sustaining good health for all people.  Right now it is severely compromised by individuals who are using the importance of health and healthcare to contaminate our healthcare system with, what amount to, various avenues and degrees of extortion in a sociopathic pursuit of inordinate wealth. 





Who hates America?

Question Mark BlueI remember when, in history class or social studies, we would hear American democracy and the American republic referred to as “the great experiment”. Could common people govern themselves without the rule of a monarch, an aristocracy? The monarchs and aristocracy, including the religious power structure, along with the bankers, had been controlling Western civilization for centuries and were always working to increase their control.

America, the whole idea of the United States, was a slap in their face.

We read, every once in a while, about whether or not we’re still fighting the Second World War. Maybe the fascists weren’t really defeated? However, I would say we’re still working on the Revolutionary War. We still have not achieved independence, freedom from the “old world” bankers and monarchs.

I remember when George W. Bush made the statement in an address to Congress that:

“Americans are asking “Why do they hate us? They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”

Of course, he was attempting to assign those motives to Al Qaeda. He praised Buckingham Palace as an ally in the same speech. That was the misdirection.

They say some of the hardest lies to unravel are those sprinkled with the most truth.

Along with a lot of other people I couldn’t figure out why the common people in the Middle East “…hate our freedoms.” Envy maybe, but why hate? The reason so many couldn’t quite get a handle on this statement is because they didn’t. But somebody did, and does, and George W. was telling us the truth in his assignment of motive to the most dedicated enemies of America. He just then pointed us toward the wrong people.

The concept of the United States was, and still is, a threat to “Old Money”. The wealthy old families, some considered royalty, who established control in Europe centuries ago and have been working hard to establish it everywhere else. If America could succeed with a democratically elected government it would totally undermine the myth of the need for their leadership. People around the world would wake up to the reality of how these families have been conning and ripping off the general population mightily for centuries.

They, the international oligarchs, have, for centuries, been getting us to settle their disagreements by going to war and killing each other…for them. It is very much in their best interest to keep us divided. The oligarch controlled media works hard to fan the fires of racial, religious and nationalist divisions.

It seems only logical that one of their worst fears must be an educated population that can achieve economic stability and self-determination.  Such a population would no longer hold the belief, the illusion, that they, or anyone else, possesses some sort of divine mandate of superiority and governance.  Nor would such a population continue to endure their scams.

The world was making a lot of progress in this direction after WW II. From their perspective that had to inspire great fear.  Slowly, insidiously, they have been asserting, and/or reasserting, their agenda. The oligarch controlled media has been telling us who to hate, who to fear. They’ve been taking control of the world’s banks and economy.  They’ve been promoting, establishing and maintaining, scarcity in the world. It helps them to keep the common people edgy, nervous, unstable, hungry.  Not necessarily hungry for food, also hungry for answers.  A truly informed public is not going to tolerate their manipulative ploys for long.  And people are weary, in need of economic stability.  Relief from the unrelenting stress of the debt slavery which helps keep us in line.

Edgy, nervous, unstable people, people only given partial truths about the world, are open to suggestion.  An information starved people are easier prey for the well studied psychological ploys which are constantly being employed and reinforced to keep us believing the lies essential to keeping their agenda on track.  Just consider all the unanswered questions going back to the assassination of John Kennedy. And there are a lot more unanswered questions around many events since then. The unanswered questions around 9/11 are many and profound.  When we’re angry and in the dark, we’re ripe, set up, primed to believe what those we’ve been programmed to accept as “authority” tell us.  Very often it seems they want us to kill some people, somewhere, who aren’t going along with their program.

And, of course, there is great power in manipulating goods and distribution, that is why a condition of plenty cannot be allowed to manifest.  However, if scarcity in goods and services is an important tool of the oligarchs, even more so is education. We are, and have been, indoctrinated in their version of history, what they need us to believe. Especially when it comes to anything having to do with economics, the central bank.

I possibly should have titled this article “Who fears our freedom?”  Because, the truth is right now a lot of people in the world hate the U.S. and what it’s government and military have been up to.  And the number is growing.  These feelings are, almost exclusively, resulting from behaviors U.S. citizens have been engaging in because of the explanations (vague and incomplete explanations) we’ve been getting about the terrorist acts that have killed U.S. citizens, such as 9/11.

So, as it’s always been, it’s up to us. Are we going to, once again, fall victim to their propaganda and turn on one another in support of their tyrannical rule?  Or are we educated enough, mature enough, to withstand the lies, the manipulations?  Can we maintain civility with one another, around the world?  This doesn’t mean that a people should bend over backwards to accept whatever abuse another people wants to inflict on them.  It does mean not letting our general motives when dealing with one another be greed, competition, fear, arrogance.  Do we have the survival orientation, the resolve, to protect ourselves and our loved ones with the important mental and spiritual tools we have access to?  We need to base our thoughts and actions in compassion, knowledge, wisdom and a recognition of the mutuality of the plight of humankind around the world.  There has never been a more important time for people to be establishing trust and friendship with one another.  Honesty and fairness can and will defuse the hate and lies we are being fed.

Just sharing.

753I don’t know if I should even be writing at this time.  I am feeling a kind of mental fatigue.  A lot of heavy issues coming one right after the other.  Some have been revelations about myself, realizations of greater detail, greater explanation about things I’ve gone through in the past.  I welcome these, however, they require attention, some work and sometimes can be stressful.  And a number of the issues come from my (our) environment, the world at large.

I’m not going to go into the personal realizations here, maybe in a book sometime (?), I don’t know.  But they would require a lot more words than I want to be dealing with at this moment.

As for what’s going on in our environment, wow, the carousel is certainly spinning quickly.  One very salient question is;  how do we keep from getting dizzy?  We have what happened in Las Vegas, what’s going on with North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and more.

Here in the U.S. we have a President who is busily establishing himself as a “taker” extraordinaire.  He wants to take back the promises made to the “Dreamers”.  He wants to take away money from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  He wants to take back civil rights gains from the LGBTQ population.  He wants to personally benefit himself (take) with tax cuts, and in the process take away money needed to keep our society healthy.  And more.  Of course it’s not just him, behind him are a number of other multi-millionaires and billionaires with their hands out, rooting him on.  If we had the government our public school system tells us we have, we’d be able to report him and have him seriously investigated.  But he is the head of the government and that’s not going to happen.  At least not the way it would to any average citizen.

Back to Las Vegas, is anyone out there still trying to figure that out?  How’s that working for  you?  I can’t say it was a “false flag” attack, the only “flag” I see seriously attached to the event is the flag of fear.  And certainly what happened was done in the name of creating fear, so that’s not a false flag.  Who or what else had a hand in it?  Some domestic extremist group?  The CIA?  FBI?  Some faction or another of another agency as yet unknown?  ISIS (unlikely)?  No doubt it wasn’t all about Stephen Paddock.  But whoever is behind it, it is just another in a growing list of tragic events we are being lied to about.

And I realize that claiming, or even being able to soundly demonstrate, that we’re being lied to by our government and media hardly raises an eyebrow anymore.  Wow, is the mainstream U.S. population filled with complacency, or is it apathy?  Or, and this is one of my personal fears, have so many people bought onto the value that “it’s all about money” so that whatever anyone does in the pursuit of wealth and power (to get more wealth) is just seen as normal?  Stephen Paddock was already quite wealthy from what I’ve been hearing.  So his cooperating, if he was cooperating, with this thing to gain wealth may seem unlikely, but it doesn’t take much looking around to see there are plenty of people whose greed seems to know no bounds.  I do think that the pursuit of wealth is the ultimate motivation behind whoever set this all up.

Human beings are engaged in so much corrupt and hurtful behavior, it would be easy to get discouraged with it all.  But there is also so much good stuff going on.  We are still enjoying life on an outrageously beautiful planet.  There are still artists:  painters and other visual artists, musicians, writers, dancers, storytellers and others turning out some beautiful work.  There are people working to protect and restore our planet and our communities.  I enjoy family and friends.  In other words, the worthwhile aspects of the human spirit are still around and actually not that hard to find.

So maybe I just need a break.  I need to take a break from my decades long compulsive quest to understand.   I had it shown to me in dream, decades ago, that to protect ourselves we don’t need to wield the truth, we just need to possess it.  That’s quite a concept, but having people looking on an event and knowing the truth does have an effect.  We affect what we observe.  More good news is that I do know that, every day, more people are becoming interested in the truth.

I find my thoughts drifting to SCUBA diving.  Floating around in a weightless environment.  Seeing the wonders there are to see.  It’s something I dearly love and have gotten to do precious little of.

So I am just kind of rambling on I suppose.  Thank you to everyone who has read and commented, or just read, this blog.  And to other bloggers who help their peers see that it can be done and that there are regular folks looking around to see what other regular folks are writing.

I hope things are going well with you.  I think I’m going to check into used SCUBA gear.

The Problems with the Answers

Problem AnswersWe now know our world, our planet (or those who are paying attention know) is one single, large, system.  When we tweak the system, for better or for worse, there are systemic consequences.  For centuries we have had examples of the systemic effects altering a single component of a system can have.  If a person’s liver stops functioning: the person dies.  The whole person, not just the liver.  As human beings we are all sub-systems within, what we undeniably now know is, the larger, unified system which is the Earth.  The danger we face is in continuing to think and behave as if each seemingly separate free-standing entity, whether a person, cow, tree, continent or ocean is an independent entity unaffected by the other seemingly free-standing entities around it.

As a video which used to be shown before movies in the U.S. said:  “There is no non-peeing section of the pool”.  Our environment is like a large pool, it’s all connected and there is no “non-peeing” section.  What happens to the ocean off New Jersey affects Shanghai, and vice-versa.  With some events proximity makes some difference; the closer a place, a people, are to the event, the greater the impact.  Yet even small doses of a poison, continued over a long enough period of time, are going to affect the whole system.

Therein lies the problem with so many of the answers that industries and governments (and those controlling them) want to hand to the rest of us.  So many, if not all, of the answers are lacking in adequate consideration of the systemic consequences of what is being proposed.  Or, if the systemic consequences are being considered, there is a Machiavellian agenda afoot which gives little or no weight to the health and well-being of the majority of people on the planet.  It is the cognizance of this latter possibility that underlies many, if not all, of the “conspiracy theories” we encounter.

The “mainstream” culture in the U.S., the government, industry, media, seem to want us to view the systemic reality that is our planetary ecosystem only one component at a time.  We’re supposed to believe there is no critical interconnection between the components (seemingly independent entities).  We are supposed to ignore the system as a whole.  In actuality, each part, each component, of our planet is in constant energetic, chemical and/or physical interaction, communication if you will, with every other part.  Just as our body is a whole system with each part in constant communication, via energetic, chemical and physical affects, with every other part.  What happens if our planet’s “liver” fails?

This consequences of this interconnectedness has been referred to at times as the “butterfly effect”.  That is an extreme, but not unfounded, conceptualization of the systemic reality we live within.

It’s time we not only face this reality but alter our thinking and behavior to properly take it into account.  Air pollution in China affects us all.  The radioactive water leaking from the Fukushima reactor in Japan is poisoning the whole ocean.  The inordinate materialism being promoted in advertisements, movies and other media from the U.S. is affecting the collective psyche around the world.  You see, it’s not just about air, water, or soil pollution, it’s about everything.  Including the physicality, mentality and spirituality of all people, everywhere. 

Some want to see our Earth as a being named “Gaia”.  I have no problem with that.  Whether our planet, our home is a sentient being or not really should make no difference in how we treat it (her).  Our undeniable reality is that the Earth is our home, our only life-support system, and we need to give much, much greater respect and consideration to that reality than is being shown at this time.


Here is a reblog of an excellent article by Elke Macartney…


little moon’s eclipse trick A celestial coincidence factors into the stunning astronomical illusion of a total solar eclipse. In order for the experience of viewing a solar eclipse on earth to happen, the measurements of the moon, the distance of the moon from the earth, and the size of the sun all have to line…

via Little moon’s eclipse trick — Elke Macartney

What’s your system?

City with QMSystems:  family, community, national, political, governmental, religious, industrial, military…even musical, intellectual, artistic.  We all live among them.  Some we belong to, subscribe to.  Some of these we internalize, as if it were a part of us.  When we do so, then we become like cells within the body of that system.  Via the reality of our mind we more than identify with the system we have joined with, we feel what it feels, what affects it affects us.  To a greater or lesser extent, we tie our future to that system.  Sometimes systems can, via the sheer number of their subscribers, have great influence, great power in the world.  People, individuals, are, collectively, what make or break a system.

However, we, as individuals, are all separate functioning systems ourselves.  The system which we are, which is “me”, is made up of components which include aspects which are corporeal (flesh, muscle, bone), chemical, emotional, intellectual, electrical, energetic/spiritual.  Some of it, that which is “me”, is temporal, destructible, and some is spiritual and lasting.  Even when the earthly vehicle which is usually identified as “me” while I inhabit it is no longer, I go on.

The intent of this article is to ask a question and hopefully lead you to ask it also.  The question is:  Am I satisfied that the systems which I contribute to keeping alive, to their well-being, that these systems adequately reciprocate in ways which also contribute to my well-being?  In other words, is the relationship a two-way street or a one-way street?

This is actually a very important question which we should all be visiting and revisiting regularly.  The desire for health, vitality, general well-being are usually at the foundation of why we create systems.  Systems are, at their best, tools by and for the general public to more efficiently and/or effectively perform certain functions for the benefit of the whole.  At their worst systems fall under the influence (ownership?) of a limited number of individuals, a fraction of the whole. Individuals who have the desire and the cunning to manipulate conditions within the system to inordinately benefit themselves at the cost of everyone else.  There is a great advantage to be had if they (the abusers) can successfully frame their abuse, create a public perception, that the abusive behavior is actually necessary and a benefit to the general membership of the system.

Sooner or later though, all such misrepresentation, lies, deceit, are a corruption of the integrity of the system they exist within and the constructs will necessarily collapse.  The matter of consequence to us, besides how much damage the corruption may do while it exists, is how much pain and suffering is going to accompany the eventual collapse?  Is the corruption so pervasive that the entire system is going to collapse?

What systems do you subscribe to?  Are you adequately aware of what they’re doing?  Are they reciprocating in terms of supporting your well-being the way they expect (demand?) you to support their well-being?  If not, why are you supporting them?  Does it make any sense to be expending our resources, expending the system which is “me”, to support a collective which does not reciprocate in kind?

Sound, well designed, well-functioning systems can enhance and benefit us all.  Corrupt, self-serving fractional systems can and do drain the life from us, our families, and communities. 

Guido Monaco…who knew?

IMG_1897At one point on our trip to Italy, while most of our traveling companions decided to go to Venice, Riitta and I decided instead to visit the city of Arezzo. I’m not quite sure why we picked Arezzo other than it was convenient and seemed a good opportunity to explore a city we knew nothing about. When we arrived at the train station we began walking directly into the city and quickly came to a grassy piazza, which we wrongly assumed was probably the main piazza of the city. In the center of the piazza is a statue of, and dedicated to, Guido Monaco. Somewhere among you reading this are probably a person, maybe even two, who know what Guido Monaco did. We had no clue. My guesses tended to run to his being a political or religious figure. While one of those is somewhat correct, neither is why this particular statue has been erected. To one side of the statue there is a smaller, metal sculpture which tells of Guido Monaco’s accomplishment. I have to admit I was initially incredulous. We turned to the internet capability of our cell phone and did some quick research. What we found confirmed the assertion on the small, metal sculpture.

Then, as we continued our walk into the city, my mind began to put together the implications, the immensity of Guido Monaco’s contribution to our world. I was awestruck! First by his contribution and, secondly, that I had never before heard of him.  It is no exaggeration to say that Guido Monaco’s contribution to human civilization has affected our world as much, or more, than that of any other human being. For centuries his work has touched lives around the world. His accomplishment has provided countless millions with joy, excitement, comfort and inspiration. It has helped us celebrate the good times, make it through the hard times, and, in general, to be happier, healthier, and more complete as individuals and as a species.  Guido Monaco paved the way for us to experience the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Ellington, Basie, Lennon and McCartney, and virtually all of the other great composers past and present.  So what did he do?  He developed, invented if you will, musical notation!

Riitta and I were both initially incredulous of this claim.  Musical notation has been around forever hasn’t it?  Isn’t it as common as the dirt beneath our feet and the air we breathe?  Didn’t it just happen?  Well yes and no.  It happened because Guido Monaco brought it into being.  Wow.

Imagine how much we would be missing if Guido hadn’t done what he did.  Would another person have stepped in to fill the void?  Maybe, who knows?  But the fact is that Guido Monaco did it and we have it and we have been enjoying it a long time.

When I think of all the people that the educational system at the time deemed worthy for me to learn about;  the soldiers, politicians, monarchs, scientists, doctors, and yes, artists and musicians, I am at a loss to think of any of them who has affected my life in a more profound way than Guido Monaco.  It makes me wonder about the value system we use when we decide who’s accomplishments are to be celebrated…  Here’s to you Guido.  Thanks.



Let’s show a little respect!

img_1889.jpg  I’ve been privileged to spend some time in Italy lately.  A little in the south, a little more in Tuscany and a little on the “Italian Riviera”.  It started as a sightseeing trip:  see the landscape, the old cities, the ruins, the shops, the Italians.  Then some things happened.  I am not going to go into them all, however, I do want to share some events from one day.

First some backstory.  I was raised in a mid-western Christian tradition.  As I grew older, went out in the world, saw more, learned more; I began to question.  Gradually, to me, churches have become, in significant part, artifacts of a system which has failed to appropriately respond to too many of the realities of the world around it.  Too many meaningless or hurtful doctrines.  Too many arbitrary rules.  Too many judgments upon people whose lifestyles do not conform to someone else’s idea of “normal”.  Yet, seeing some of the old churches was also part of the agenda on the trip.

It was a sunny, warm Sunday.  We were in a town, walking in the centro area enjoying the pleasant, cooling breeze which was very present on the hillside the town was built upon.  Then, unexpectedly, all around us the bells of several churches began ringing.  The sounds reverberated through the narrow streets lined with buildings.  While there were many bells ringing at once, they were all in harmony.  It was beautiful.  We stopped in one church and witnessed a monk lighting some candles.  He was a younger man, tall, dark hair, wearing the brown robe and white belt which monks of his order probably have worn for centuries.  I remember noting that people are still joining monastic orders.  Then an older monk appeared.  His appearance and bearing were striking.  Short, stocky, with a ring of white hair around the tan, bald crown of his head.  I could not help but notice the kindness and intelligence which were very present in his eyes.  I felt a liking and an admiration of this person.   While he and I very well might not agree on everything, I found myself instinctively respecting the dignity and sincerity which this individual embodied.

I had entered the church with shorts on, above the knee.  As we left there was a sign (which had not been present at the door we entered through) showing appropriate dress for the sanctuary.  Shorts above the knee are not appropriate garb.  I realized the church held profound importance and relevance for some and that I was a visitor, a guest.  I resolved to respect the dress code for any future visits to churches.

As we continued our walk we came to the main cathedral in the city.  Mass was going on and could be seen and heard through the doors which were probably kept open to capture the wonderful breeze which cooled the otherwise hot day.  I looked through the doorway, inside there was a small (for the size of the cathedral) group of worshipers sitting mostly toward the front of the cathedral.  Unbelievably there were tourists walking in, strolling, looking around, examining the art on the walls and ceiling, probably taking pictures.  It was as if the worshipers were exhibits in a zoo.  I was amazed at the disrespect being shown by the tourists.  I have no idea where the tourists were from.  Probably they were from more than one country and ethnicity.

I realized what I was seeing was a microcosmic display of something that has become far too common in our world:  a disrespect for the essential being and lives of others.  

“It’s all about me” has become the motto of too many people.  Or is it that we are seeing each other as abstract concepts and not whole human beings, like ourselves?  We don’t have to all agree on everything.  We don’t have to all hold the same values, tastes, or desires.  But somewhere within those values, tastes and desires needs to be an essential, basic respect for the lives of others.  The spiritual journey we engage in, whether within or without an established church, is usually an important, central aspect of our lives.  We should, within reason, endeavor to respect the spiritual journey of others.  I think allowing worshipers to enjoy the sanctity of their worship service is a gesture of a basic, essential respect for the lives of others.

Maybe then we can also realize the need for regard and respect in such things as freedom from violence, the need for food and housing, a clean environment, the need for medical care, and the mutuality of our lives around the world.


ExtremismViolent extremism may or may not be lethal.   Lethal extremism may or may not be violent.

In hindsight I might more descriptively have titled this article “Extremism and Terror”.

We encounter the word “extremism” a lot these days.  In the U.S., President Donald Trump uses the word a lot.  In his recent speech in Saudi Arabia he spoke strongly about the need to rid places of worship, communities, the Holy Land, and even the Earth itself, of terrorists and extremists.  (Perhaps there is more than a little extremism and terrorism in this speech itself?)  Terrorism and extremism most definitely are blights upon the Earth today.  In the world today, as in President Trump’s speech, they are frequently found going hand in hand.

Terrorism, as it is most widely recognized today, is an intentional action designed to inflict terror upon a “target population”.  That is pretty much how I have found it in dictionary definitions.  Unless one has totally ignored world news the past couple decades or longer, we all know what violent terrorism is.  And, whether we watch the news or not, most, if not all, of us know what terror is.  Just so we’re on “the same page”, here are some excerpts from the  definition of “terror”  given by Merriam-Webster online:

1   : a state of intense fear

 2   b:  a frightening aspect

      c :  a cause of anxiety :  worry”

Most of us have experienced terror for one reason or another during our lives.  Maybe we’ve even gone to watch certain movies or taken part in other activities to feel it.  However, as an ongoing aspect of our day to day lives, terror is not something to be desired or sought.  While in a single dose it may provide an exhilarating thrill, as a steady diet it is stressful and, unless one can free oneself from it’s hold (as one can in a movie situation simply by getting up and walking out), the anxiety and stress accompanying terror can wear us down, become debilitating.  Ultimately the physiological effects resulting from the anxiety and stress which accompany terror, if experienced long term, can diminish the quality and the quantity of our lives.  In fact, terror itself, not just the violence perpetrated in an act of terrorism, carries it’s own lethality.  (See the link at the end of this article.)

Extremism, in and of itself, while today’s media usually has it associated with terror and violence, isn’t always the purveyor of harm or even unpleasantness.  For example, someone may be extreme in their view that all school textbooks should contain information which is true and accurate to the best of our knowledge.  While extreme, that pursuit isn’t going to cause harm for it’s target population.  Quite the contrary.  So maybe “extremism”, in and of itself, is getting something of a bad rap in the world today?

Merriam-Webster online defines extremism as:

“1 :  the quality or state of being extreme 

 2  :  advocacy of extreme measures or views :  radicalism”

However, in recent world news the word “extremist” is most often used referring to people who hold extreme ideas about religion.  Further, in the news the past few years, the words extremist or extremism are often (always?) linked with the words “violent” and/or “religious”.  Violent religious extremism is frequently put forward as a cause of many, if not most, of the world’s ills right now.  It is a fact that people; men, women and children, are being harmed and are being killed in places where “violent religious extremism” is taking place.

Looking at the phenomenon a little closer, what exactly is it that the religious extremists (violent or otherwise) are extreme about?  It is, in every case, their ideas; concepts, values.  In the case of religious extremism those ideas relate to religion.  In cases of religious extremism, I think it’s fair to say those concepts and values are being accorded primacy above all else.  Upholding, following, those concepts and values is being seen and acted upon as being more important than the well-being, even the lives, of others.  That is where lethality enters into situations where extremism is present:  when an idea takes on such value that it becomes more important than life itself, that of others or possibly even one’s own.    

It seems humankind, in general, does not like nor respect the act of putting one’s ideas, no matter how deeply held, before the well-being and lives of others.  Sometimes we may find honor in being willing to put one’s own life on the line for an idea, a value.  However, being willing to put someone else’s life or well-being on the line for that idea or value just doesn’t carry the same merit.

At least throughout the past couple millenia, history and now current events, are showing us that religious extremism can result in lethality.  However, extremism isn’t limited to religion.  Extremism can be found in other aspects of human thinking, human cultures around the world.  As so much suffering in the world right now is being ascribed to religious extremism, I think it is fair to ask:  are there any other forms of extremism which either historically or currently are showing themselves to be as capable of inflicting pain and suffering upon the people of the world?  As it happens, there is at least one.  If there is any other form of extremism which has shown itself to be as capable of violence and/or lethality as religious extremism through the ages, it is extremism in the pursuit of wealth.  Economic extremism.

Economic extremism can take three forms, they are:

  • Extremism around a particular economic system.  Extreme exponents of both capitalism and communism have left some significant body counts in their wake.
  • The extreme pursuit of less.  Asceticism most definitely has the potential to be lethal, but only to the person pursuing it.  I have nothing to fear if my neighbor decides to pursue a life of asceticism.  Realistically, if I live in an area characterized by even a moderate level of life’s comforts, they probably won’t be my neighbor for long if they are extreme in their pursuit.
  • The extreme pursuit of more.  This expression of extremism, as much as any other form of extremism known to human kind, including religious extremism, can result in and has resulted in violence, terror, and/or lethality.

Just as the pursuit of religiosity, carried to extremes, has led individuals and entire cultures to engage in cruel, brutal and murderous behavior toward other human beings, the pursuit of material wealth, carried to extremes, has done likewise.  It is pretty clear that an extreme desire for wealth can lead a person to give that desire the same primacy that religious extremists give the religiosity they cherish.  Off hand, without having all the data on how many people have been wounded, maimed, and/or killed by religious or economic extremists in all of recorded history, I think it would be very hard to make a reasonable estimate on whether religious extremism or economic extremism has resulted in more casualties.

It is also true that sometimes religious and economic extremism go hand in hand.

In understanding the relationship between extremism, terror and lethality, it is important to keep in mind that debilitation, terror and death are not always the results of violence.  Violence is the act of giving someone else more of something:  force, brutality, injuries, lethal trauma.  Debilitation, terror and death can and are just as easily, though not necessarily as quickly, caused by giving someone else less of something:  food, water, shelter, medical care, even education.  Revisiting the topic of terror and terrorism briefly, sometimes terror is the result of the prospect of unfulfilled needs:  unfulfilled needs for food, water, shelter, medical care.  In this way, again, we find extremism and terror going hand in hand.  It is the latter method, the method of giving or allowing less which is the primary method of lethality accompanying economic extremism.  No matter how many people have been killed by violence occurring through the extreme efforts of tyrants to acquire more wealth, more people have perished as a result of being on the wrong side of an extreme economic imbalance.

If a man or woman can be happy with the wealth produced by their own hands, we have no problems.  The problems enter in when men and women desire the wealth produced by the hands of others. The greater the desire for wealth, the more people it requires to produce it.  When inordinate amounts of that wealth are being directed to a ridiculously small number of people there is no question that the people actually producing the wealth are being deprived of an equitable share of the wealth they contributed to producing.  That is a signature of economic extremism, and there is lethality occurring as a result.

The methods, the ploys used in the expression of economic extremism, as with religious extremism, are many and I’m not going to try to go into those at this time.  Suffice to say that whenever, in this world of plenty, we see people languishing in poverty we can be certain that there is economic extremism at the root of it.

If humankind is ever going to realize it’s full potential, if healthy, viable, sustainable, communities are ever going to exist, we are going to have to transcend religious and economic extremism.  

“Why Stress is Deadly”

The Corporate Promise

12437112 - evolution hand-draw

Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_bigfatnapoleon’>bigfatnapoleon / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The twentieth century may go down in history as the century of the corporation.  Corporations dominated the economic and political scene in the U.S. and many other countries.  Somehow the American people bought the idea that the U.S. is like a corporation and that corporate CEO’s know how to run it best.  A corporation is in business to make money and a corporate CEO is generally judged by their ability to make the corporation successful at that goal.  However, the U.S. general population has not been seen as shareholders.  Rather, the U.S. treasury has become just another source of wealth to be looted.  As Eisenhower warned us, the military-industrial complex has garnered power and has taken the lion’s share of our treasury.  Private interests have effectively cleaned out our collective wealth and delivered us into decades of debt: to them.  That has been the fulfillment of the corporate promise.  More a devolution to primitive tribalism than progress.

In truth, a stable, healthy country is more like a family than a corporation.  It is when we recognize our kinship and work together that we realize our fullest potential.  The stress of relentless competition affects human neurology in a way which prevents whole and healthy development.  If we want to continue evolving as a species we are going to need to recognize general well-being as a worthy goal, more worthy than extravagant individual wealth.  “As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man.