if we truly care about health

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If we are so full of fear about health that we can be easily compelled to wear masks of dubious efficacy and to submit to severe restrictions of our freedoms — how is it then, that we fail to take the truly meaningful steps toward health?

If we truly care about health, we would change how we eat.

We would walk away from animal agriculture. We would say no to animal foods laced with antibiotics and unhealthy fats. We would not tolerate a system of slaughterhouses staffed with suffering, at-risk workers surrounded by suffering, doomed animals. We would walk away from dairy and processed foods, and head straight for the fruits and vegetables.

But, hey, we have masks.

If we truly care about health, we would seek fresh air and sunlight.

We would be outside every day, soaking up the vitamin D and oxygen, and moving our bodies. We would connect with nature instead of staring at screens as we huddle in our homes.

If we truly care about health, we would demand a healthy environment.

We would recognize that pollutants both on our earth and in the air we breathe are factors in the conditions that predispose a person to succumb to illness. We would recognize the terrible contributions of animal agriculture and other industry to the degradation of our environment and its impacts on health. We would refuse to support the practices, corporations, and government leadership that kill the planet upon which we depend. We would demand new leadership, and find new ways. We would stop walking around our yards spraying weed killers, too. Got your mask?

If we truly care about health, we would question our medical system.

We would insist that health care be readily available to all, not just to some. We would take the profit motive out of health care. We would insist that health care for all issues not be delayed or neglected while providers are busy flattening the curve or idled or laid off. We would look at the implications of the many drugs and treatments our system prescribes in both the current crisis and beyond. We would seek multiple perspectives from a diverse group of medical professionals. We would recognize that a system that promotes extended lockdowns by fiat across society is turning a blind eye to a host of serious health problems. We would denounce blatant propaganda and censorship attempts to thwart access to full information. We would question the mad rush to a vaccine, with all the risks and unknowns that entails, being prioritized over actually working to improve health.

If we truly care about health, we would insist on supportive community and government.

We would be intelligently going about the business of life, which involves other people. We would admit that forsaking actual community for virtual ones – or often, none at all – does not support health, but, in fact, compromises it. Going without employment, social commitments and relationships impacts our very ability to live at all, cutting off both economic means and derivation of purpose and satisfaction. We would demand a responsible, independent media. We would reject any form of censorship. We would not pick sides and vilify the others, rather we would join together to solve our problems – with new leadership that actually works for the people. We would reject any form of surveillance knowing that no thinking adult human being watched and tracked thrives under such treatment. We would insist on education that supports critical thinking. We would recognize that health does not derive in extreme authoritarian overreach that subverts the very foundations of a free society.

If we truly care about our health, there are so many things we could and should actively be doing — not just for the current moment but for the future. This business of corporate control of health, food, media, and government systems; extensive authoritarian lockdowns; economic devastation and instability; censorship; surveillance; pervasive fear, distrust, division, anonymity — this is not it.

If we care so much about health, our own and our neighbors’ and our loved ones’, we need to let go of our cowering fear. We need to own our responsibility in this — and that means far more than wearing a mask.

simple changes for a healthy life and world

veru2_13_19-e1550060900590.jpgI was happy to see a recent video in which Mic. the Vegan interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish.

Mic. the Vegan always offers fun and informative presentations on all things vegan. His forte is delving into actual research to substantiate what we know about the vegan lifestyle. Be sure and check out his channel here.

I’ve appreciated Dr. Ornish since way back when he first published Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. Everything in there made sense to me then, back in 1990, and it still does.

Ornish has a new book, Undo It, written with his wife, Anne.  The idea is that most chronic diseases can be reversed through simple lifestyle changes.

In Mic.’s interview, Ornish boiled the themes of the book down to a handful of maxims:

EAT WELL.

MOVE MORE.

STRESS LESS.

LOVE MORE.

Eating well translates to a plant-based diet. Ornish encourages vegan – the book includes recipes, too. Moving more means exercise. Stressing less involves things like meditation and yoga. Loving more means healthy, loving relationships in our lives, including connectedness with friends and community.

Sounds simple enough, eh? 

Mic. quizzed Ornish about a variety of topics. One that they spent some time on was the prevalence of depression and loneliness, and the impact on health – hence, the “Love more” part of the mix – which Ornish singled out as a high priority. In fact, in 1998 he wrote an entire book on that subject alone: Love & Survival.

Needless to say, Ornish’s latest book is on my reading list. It would be great to see us all take Ornish’s four simple maxims to heart: Eat well, move more, stress less, love more. If we did that, we would all be a lot healthier.

Not only that, adhering to those maxims as a culture has the potential to change the world and our collective future in very positive ways – from protecting our endangered planet to improving the very structure of our society.

Works for me. It’s simple steps each one of us can do to take care of ourselves and each other. Let’s “be the change we wish to see.” 

earth on edge

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I love nature. I love the ever-changing skies, both night and day. I love this amazing earth upon which we live – the trees, the plants, the animals, the entire amazing array of diverse, mystical life that grows here. I love the waters of the earth – the soul-rushing oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, and creeks.

I love people. I love the profound mystery that each one of us is. I love recognizing the us in us – that we are connected, that we necessarily and purposefully share this space and the very experience of life. I love our unique capacities for imagination, creativity, understanding, discovery, embrace, cooperation. I love the power of love.

And so I’m worried.

Last week, there was yet another major report out about the state of our planet. The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2018 advised us of a “60% decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians” during the period between 1970 and 2014.

That’s life on earth – disappearing.

Even in the small samples of our planet that I personally experience, I have noticed things changing in my lifetime. The numbers and diversity of birds, bugs, and other animals has demonstrably changed – even in my own small experience.

The destruction and pollution of habitat is also all too easily observed, whether that’s the vast tracts of monoculture farmed lands, the Superfund site in the vicinity, or the knowledge of PFAs in the water.

This does not bode well for us.

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We need to stop destroying our planet and the life on it. 

There are things we each can do. Yes, ultimately, we need to hold corporations and governments to account, but corporations and governments depend on us. They depend on us – and so far, we’ve pretty much been delivering status quo.

When we alter our behaviors on a big scale, change will eventually ensue. Couple that with persistent, coordinated, non-violent demands, and change will definitely ensue.

A logical first impactful step is to move toward a plant-based diet.

Industrial animal agriculture is one of the things at the heart of destruction on our planet. Deforestation, pesticides, herbicides, the depletion of our soils and pollution of our waters keep happening because of what we choose to eat and the corporations that are intent on delivering it at the best possible profit.

While easing the pressure on our earth by changing our diets, this step will also help to end the suffering of animals and improve individual health.

Of course, there are other steps to take as well, but this is one practical, doable thing you can do today.

When one thoughtfully changes their diet this way, and gets educated, it necessarily changes perspective on political, social, and economic issues. The whole world looks different. It is a powerful and empowering move towards peace, justice, and equality.

It’s one thing you can do.

Do it for nature. Do it for people.

on the Pere Marquette trail

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veru10_14_18aPere Marquette Rail Trail made for a lonely sojourn in the cooler temperatures this weekend. Lonely was just fine with me, allowing me to soak in the solace of nature and all the autumn beauty. It was a peaceful and soul-warming place to be, far from the endless stream of stress in which we all seem to be caught up lately.

The trail is a long one (30 miles), and I only did a short portion of it, but it was just the fix I needed.

Leaves and pine needles scattered themselves along the trail. Water burbled along underneath an old railroad span. I tucked my hands down in my jacket pockets with the chill.

Geese flew overhead, calling out enroute. They are like old friends to me.

Another sound captured my attention on the part of the trail close to town – the brisk clop-clop of a horse pulling an Amish buggy mixing it up with traffic along the side of a nearby roadway. I noticed with interest that seeing something like that through vegan eyes evokes a feeling that is a far cry from the quaint charm it might have evoked at one time.

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So, too, the calves in their little individual sheds that I saw on my way to the trail.

There was a time when I would feel a simple delight in such scenes. No more. I am too conscious now of the suffering inherent in our use of animals. The animals themselves, though, do inspire with their individual beauty and selves.

My trail excursion came after a thoughtful visit to a small church. A mere handful of people came together there, along with two small dogs that had the run of the place. It was the closest picture of community I’ve come across in quite a while. 

For all our memberships and ‘involvement’ in things, we’re increasingly isolated by divisive rhetoric, fear, and the stamp of our personal value in terms of purchase or production – in this world where our very selves are commodified. Churches are not exempt from the phenomena, all too often both generating and exacerbating them.

Happily, this little glimpse into a functional community revealed none of that.

This was just a few people wanting to do good in this world, in the simplest of ways – together.

It was a nice picture to carry with me onto the trail. The peace and beauty of the place, coupled with that picture, translated into a hopeful feeling.

People – wanting to do good in this world, in the simplest of ways. Together.

Kinda sounds like a plan, you know?