Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who Owns the American Dream?

"The Seed of Revolution is Repression."
What is that? Can you hear it? I bet you can't touch it. You better figure it out though because it is slowly trying to snuff you out. There is an energy source pulsating in this world that is getting stronger. It is heavy and weighing and suffocating. If you focus on it too long, it can cause depression, suffering, apathy, hatred, denial, hostility, greed, violence, separation, desperation, hopelessness and death. What is that energy called? It is malignant negative energy and it is the under current flowing downward from the top into the very soul of every man, woman and child in this country. Ever hear of the trickle down effect? This is the only thing trickling and it is making no one happy and prosperous... well almost no one.
I use to see myself as the person who was more prone to noticing roadkill rather than enjoying the wildlife. My cup was half empty rather than half full. At least that was my M.O. for many things in my life. However, I've been pondering the idea of changing that thinking and becoming more focused on the positive instead of the negative. What if I change my attitude in regards to the state of the nation? Is this even possible? This would be a huge task considering the plethora of information I have been spoon fed by the media. This oppressive climate can do nothing but make life difficult, not only in the physical but the emotional and spiritual realms as well.
I became interested in politics a few years ago during the Clinton administration. After eight years of Bush, I was ready for a change. The night Obama won I felt hope and joy and a sense of optimism I hadn’t experienced before. I was jumping up and down as the states turned blue. I feared an Ace would be pulled from the deck at the last moment that would allow the corporate corrupt to win...but they didn't succeed. The greedy beast was and still is hungrily devouring a large variety of politicians from both sides of the spectrum, so as to dominate and control our country. On that night however, not even the hounds of hell could have ruined my sense of excitement. I turned off the television when it was all over, content that the world would be a better place. I stayed in my naive little bubble for sometime, needing to recoup and heal from my output of anger and frustration over the years with the injustice of it all. As time went on, my curiosity got the better of me and I once again flipped on my political news to while away the time driving or working; my hopes and dreams that I had precariously been pinning to the new government change were crushed. It hadn't occurred to me how much wreckage there was and that opposition was still in place.
“A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste”
“...precarious balancing act of trying to satisfy the draconian demands of the EU while dealing with the increasing unrest and economic misery of his people.” (Greece prime minister)

(All quotes related to Greece come from...

Sound familiar? My positive outlook had been tainted and crushed by the realization that politics have always been corrupt...and the likelihood of that changing is unrealistic. I still have faith in Obama and I would like to hope that he entered the presidency with the desire to bring together the two parties for the betterment of the people who voted him in, not just to be 'one of the good ol' boys'. For anyone that knows me, I am not a Pollyanna but more the it was a stretch for me to go out on a limb and trust things would change. The ‘machine’ is too great and so too was my naivety on some things political. The corrupt thread is long and tangled through our history and can be linked to the negative energy enveloping us. This negative information is the goal of the media of today.
“(Insert any government) corrupt, and the problems exist at all levels. It's a place where playing by the rules came to be seen as for suckers only, creating a system of clientelism, in which attaching yourself to a powerful individual or political machine for income was seen as the smart thing to do.”
This quote is from the Greece prime minister Papandreou; he is, of course, talking about Greece. I inserted the 'any government' for the sake of saving time instead of listing them all. Since I live here, I would like to put the United States at the top of the list. We are corrupt with an outer layer of superiority and cover up as we slowly dismantle every good thing we have going for us. The sentiment above, I feel, is the crux of all the problems of today. We have turned into, or maybe it has always been, about power and money. The powerful are just looking at the here and now, not at future generations (except theirs) and the detrimental affect their greed is having on the fate of the world. Corporate owned government's goal is to control as much as possible with no regard to the pain and suffering caused others, or the long term effects it will have on our people and our planet. I am talking about the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the faltering education for our youth, our obsession with coal use, the prospect of not caring for our elderly, the poisoning of our earth, water, and food with chemicals and cross breeding of species, and the complete denial of climate change...all wrapped in a pretty bow called traditionalism and progress. What is so frustrating is all this is done under the guise of helping the people, when it is pirated capitalism. I don’t understand how some are convinced their intentions are wholesome. I feel the few with any heart left that dare enter the political arena are naive about who and what they will be up against. Beat them or join them, but there will be no compromising with them. Corporate run America is not out to compromise for the good of the people and the country and it is time to stop playing in their sandbox.
"We want the system to change and we want all traditional politicians out. We want young people suffering in this system who still have dreams to take over."
This is the ideal wish for many and many are fighting for this. This is a youth in Greece talking, but it might as well be the voice of the people here. For me, this seems too much to ask; positively impossible according to our news media of today. I have been conditioned to expect the worst. I hear the fear, anger and hopelessness in the news media everyday. I am drawn to fantasizing about my youth, when there were no computers, no more than five channels on television and the negative stories in the news day in and day out were usually confined to my local area. The media was still peppered with stories of hope...but those do not bring in top ratings today. Media was not bought and sold for top dollar. We didn’t have to resort to the ‘citizen’s media’ on the internet where all is disclosed but most will never see it.
"Corruption is everywhere -- and even when we change our laws you cannot eradicate corruption overnight." Papandreou
This quote for me is persevere in the face of badly stacked odds, to know that time takes time and to know I cannot predict the future; which is good being somewhat of a pessimist. I mean after all, Hitler was brought down. I keep score on a daily basis by what I hear in the media and we are losing in a big way. Corruption is everywhere and yet we don’t hear that word attached to the people who truly deserve it...lists and lists of corporations. Corporations, according to law, are considered people. The quote “the power of the people” has a whole new meaning in the world today. As long as corporations control the strings of the politicians and allow laws that make them virtually untouchable, how are we to change without a revolution? Where is the revolution when our basic needs of survival are being attacked? The corporate machine is no dummy. It is a living, breathing calculated attack set on a course to rule and conquer, by suffering the people in all directions. They are voting into law the ability to stifle the voter. They kill laws that allow us to see their greed and out right ignore laws in place that protect the people. They are not even trying to hide the insidiousness of their actions and they can do all of this without even a slap on the wrist. It is a cake walk for them and we have a younger generation where the majority has no understanding of the fatality of the situation at hand. They have been exposed for so long to corruption that they have become desensitized to it, right along with the violence they see on t.v. Their world is filled with angst over finding employment, keeping that employment and trying to figure out how they are going to pay for school.
I say, use the power of the positive to fight for the survival of the many and to not allow the advancement of the few. The powerfully corrupt have cornered the market on fear and hatred, let us truly speak for what we stand for. We the people, want what is best for all living things, including our earth. Let us promote that idea. Stop the playground fight; no more name calling. Rise above the hatred and fear and show them we know what is best for this world. Make them look ridiculous in their petty ways and immature actions. Continue to outline what their plan is, but counter it with the positive of what a healthy, for the people, plan accomplishes. Truth, faith and power of and by the people is to be the mantra...over and over and over again. Become a broken record for the best most wonderful outcome the world has ever seen. Tout the strengths of our constituents that bring about positive change and who refuse to be bought by the corporate machine, instead of condemning them at the first opportunity they show their humanness. We the people can be a positive influence. Let this crisis of good and evil be the starting block for a new era of Positive Energy.
“... yes, there's a lot of anger and resentment in the square -- most of it very justified --but there's also an incredible amount of hopeand, considering how hard things are for millions of people in Greece, an incredible lack of cynicism.This isn't just an "anti" protest -- there's a lot of "pro" in it, as well.”
There is an incredible amount of hope...what a wonderful phrase. An incrediblelack of cynicism...fabulous. Don’t you feel better already just hearing those words? I know I do. Do we hear that in our country? I suppose we do, but not enough. What would it hurt to take the issues of today and work toward a positive solution that is told and retold in our media. Take our power into a healthy, truthful, 'for the people' arena, that doesn't make us feel the need to shower and vomit upon exiting. Let us have a soapbox as consistent and nonconforming as theirs. Let us out yell them from the roof tops. We can match every hateful thing they say and do with an equal yet powerfully positive word or deed.
"What I like about this (Cairo's Tahrir) square is that people discuss things, they express themselves withoutfear," said 18-year-old student Stavroula Koloverou.
Isn't that what we want back; our freedom without fear? Isn’t that what we see happening the world over? Revolutions are springing up everywhere. There is a yin for their yang. Just look at Wisconsin for example and now New York. We need to define what it is we are fighting for, not what bought and sold politicians are doing. If we define over and over again what our desire is, it can start to shed light on the vast difference between what we want and who we are as opposed to what corporate owned America wants. It is essential that we call out corporate owned politicians and the corporations that own them and make our high standards and expectations known. We can increase the divide between who wants what is best for the people and who just wants more money and power. Let us live in our power and hope, not in our fear and hopelessness...let us walk our own path, instead of trying to repave theirs.
We have had great leaders in our country and I still have hope that the one now will cut through the corporate crap and play hardball. Why not list his successes as much as we list his failures. We hear plenty of all his faults and the faults of all his constituents. Is it too much to ask that we back the one we have instead of tempting the fate of the vote for one that may just be another pawn in the pockets of the corporate machine; one set on destroying forever what we have worked for and stood for. I for one need to hang my hope on the power of goodness, faith and truth. I need to hear more from the good, the faithful and the truth sayers. Let us yell it from the highest roof tops.
A few of Barak Obama's Successes:
*Since coming into office on January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama has:
  • Signed an Executive Order on government contracting to fight waste and abuse:
  • Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers:
  • Renewed dialogue with NATO and other allies and partners on strategic issues:
  • Announced a plan to responsibly end the war in Iraq:
  • Provided funding to families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB:
  • Ended media blackout on war casualties and the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB:
  • Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
  • Launched to track spending from the Recovery Act, an unprecedented step to provide transparency and accountability through technology:
  • Announced the "Making Home Affordable" home refinancing plan:
  • Launched a $15 billion plan to boost lending to small businesses:
  • Invested heavily in education both as a way to provide jobs now and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity:
  • Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans:
  • Signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs:
  • Limited lobbyist's access to the White House:
  • Issued an Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making:
  • Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the nation's unemployed from 9 months to 15 months. Workers laid off between September 1, 2008 and February 28, 2010 qualify:
  • Extended unemployment benefits for 2,000,000 unemployed Americans by 20 weeks. At the time the bill was signed 7,000 unemployed Americans were losing their unemployment benefits each day:
  • Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education which was significantly increased during the Bush Administration to $176 million annually:
  • Rescinded the Global Gag Rule:
  • Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history including more women appointees than any other incoming president:
  • Committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq through the Defense Authorization Act. For your reference:
  • Provided tax credits to first-time home buyers through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 to revitalize the U.S. housing market:
  • Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs the largest spending increase in 30 years to improve medical facilities and national cemeteries, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities:
  • Strengthened the Endangered Species Act:
  • Empowered states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves. Fourteen states have allowed some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington:
  • Enhanced earth mapping:
  • Increased funding for national parks and forests in 2010, and plans to do it again for FY 2011:
  • Changed failing war strategy in Afghanistan:
  • Allocated special funding to the Labor Department to provide green job training to veterans:
  • Allocated funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police or firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession:
  • Created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy 3.5% [as of December 31, 2009] through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
Information above and more can be found at Brown Man Thinking Hard:
So to see the positive of this Negative Energy at work here, is to see the revolution and the waking up of America and democracy around the world. I am not blind to the positive forces at work and as part of my change to be more pollyanna than not, I will look to place myself in the middle of hope. I need to start on a level I will not feel hopeless in. Let us not waste this potential revolutionary crisis in our country. I have no secret corporate overthrow plan in the works. I truly wish I had. My power is this...I can read about it, write about it, talk about it and vote on it. I can have faith and hope that good will trump evil, generosity will trump greed and that truth will trump lies. I will remember the power of the people in the face of the all powerful enemy and know that we can win. What can you do?
Presidential Quotes Worthy of Repeating:
John F. Kennedy
"The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word "crisis". One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity."
"If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"
"When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we'd been saying they were."
"Freedom is not merely a word or an abstract theory, but the most effective instrument for advancing the welfare of man."-
"My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
"We know what works: Freedom works. We know what's right: Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state."
"An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory." –
"It's the quality of the ordinary, the straight, the square, that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation.”
"America now is stumbling through the darkness of hatred and divisiveness. Our values, our principles, and our determination to succeed as a free and democratic people will give us a torch to light the way. And we will survive and become the stronger — not only because of a patriotism that stands for love of country, but a patriotism that stands for love of people."
"We have come tardily to the tremendous task of cleaning up our environment."
"In a political sense, there is one problem that currently underlies all of the others. That problem is making Government sufficiently responsive to the people. If we don't make government responsive to the people, we don't make it believable. And we must make government believable if we are to have a functioning democracy."
"I believe in friendly compromise. I said over in the Senate hearings that truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go."
"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."
"We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers."
“The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history."
"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."
"We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when any one engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal; and the first, and most elementary, kind of square deal is to give him in advance full information as to just what he can, and what he cannot, legally and properly do."
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
"We, and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”
"Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world, at peace”
Theodore Roosevelt
"Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike."
"Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party."
Famous People’s Quotes Worthy of Repeating
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
Walt Disney
"I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy and freedom."
"Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource — the minds of our children."
Bob Dylan
"All the money you made will never buy back your soul."
"There's no black and white, left and right to me anymore; there's only up and down and down is very close to the ground. And I'm trying to go up without thinking about anything trivial such as politics."
Amelia Earhart
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed."
Hillary Clinton
"The American character is both idealistic and realistic: why can't our government reflect both?"
"Freedom is never granted. It is earned by each generation"
Gloria Steinem
"Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren't, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it.
I think that most people from one end of the political spectrum to the other, have way more in common than is disclosed, especially by the media. We most likely are somewhere in the middle just wanting to be able to live in comfort and raise their children without fear. We want what is best for ourselves and our families and that includes our freedoms and the health of our planet. All these quotes are not from one political party, but a melting pot of ideals and ideas. Let us not be too hasty to judge the individual, just know what you believe in your heart to be the best for you. Corporations are not people, no matter what the law says.
"I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others." - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Death: Shhh...We Don't Discuss That

Death, With All It's Baggage
How unfortunate in this day and age, death is still a taboo topic. We don't discuss it, we don't talk about what it brings up...abandonment, fear, pain or the desire to die ourselves with the thought of another's death. In this society, we seem to have a handle on funeral arrangements, wills, estate sales and attorney costs. Our extended family has become the retirement community, convalescent centers and hospice. I am not belittling these organizations by any means; they are the replacements for what use to be family. I understand that the definition of family has changed over the years. We no longer have the time, resources, the accessible distance from or connectedness to our families. So, instead of finding ways to stay connected in life and in death, we avoid both. This of course, sheds light on where I stand with my family and the topic of death.
I have been afraid of my parents dying since I was five. You see, my parents were older than all my friends parents, so naturally they were going to drop dead at any moment. They were both in their late thirties...ancient. Nowadays, late thirties is a perfectly normal age to be having kids. My mom had me just before her thirty-seventh birthday. I was of course, totally reliant on my parents, as with any child. How would I survive without them? I am sure that I was thinking this, on some level, when I came flying out of the womb. The child inside me believed that she would not survive if they died. My parents were totally healthy, active and full of life. We took vacations, skied, swam, played tennis and they golfed. There was no indication that their lives were going to abruptly end, nor did I know anyone else with this malady. Yet, the thought of losing them was always in the back of my mind...if it wasn't staring me in the face.
I remember sitting on the top of the stairs as a child, waiting for my mom to get out of the shower. I was beside myself hysterical, feeling alone and completely out of sorts. My house didn't feel like my house. The lighting was wrong and no one could console me. I felt as if I was in the twilight zone. I was breathing too fast and crying; I'm sure I freaked my mom out. Today I know it was a panic attack, but back then it was the worst fear I had felt. I kept asking myself why I was on this earth and where did I come from. It was as if knowing this would stop the enormous fear I was experiencing..who and what am I and why was I chosen to be here. My parents were my life line to this life and I knew there was no way around losing my them; I could not stop their deaths from happening. I needed my mom to physically hold me right then and there or I was going to cease to exist. Pretty lofty thoughts for a young child.
Now, I didn't grow up in a religion, nor do I feel I was deprived for not. However, I think a foundation of some sort of higher power would have been beneficial at the time and possibly helped with those questions and the fear I had. It has since been suggested that I relied on my parents as some rely on a higher power. So in essence, my parents dying would be the loss of that high power and the removal of my stability as a human on this earth. They were the ones that had me, wanted me and loved me. What a cruel joke to take them away from me. Now I tend to jump way to far into the future with ideas that seem way too much for me to handle. For instance, how am I possibly going to be able to do a thesis for my masters degree? My friends suggested I concentrate on the AA degree that I was working on at the time. Get my point? So, I may someday have the tools, courage and faith, to handle my parents passing. Who thinks of this at the age of five on? My most memorable dream was the sudden crumpling of a white piece of paper standing on end. I would wake up crying from the ferocity of that paper being destroyed. I tend to believe that was symbolic of life ending as I knew it.

It was not from a lack of trying to fit into a religion, that I didn't have one. I grew up in Utah and was surrounded by Mormons...alas, I was not. Utah is the state they landed in, as it was the state my dad was transferred to by his job. I was born a year after my parents moved there, so it was all I knew. It was difficult to feel apart of, as I was on the outskirts of a whole community. On one hand, it was not something I really wanted nor believed in, but what child doesn't want to fit in with friends...the pickings were slim if you were looking for any other denomination or lack of. There were extensions, I guess you could call them, of the church called wards sprinkled throughout the city. There was even a bible study building attached to my junior high. I tried ward basketball, Sunday school and even sat and waited for my neighbors to finish family home evening which occurred every Wednesday. But it did not stick. What I envied was the importance of family. Not that we didn't do things together as a family, but I was always a comparer. I look back now and wonder, what went on behind their closed doors. What I didn't like was the exclusion of people that weren't of their religion. I was never good enough without the title. Suffice it to say, I gave up trying. I was even at my friends one day and I said out loud I didn't want to be Mormon. The mom asked me to leave. Her daughter said that was ridiculous. I always remembered my friend sticking up for me. Isn't that acceptance suppose to be a part of faith?

I went to another church, this time the Presbyterians. That is what my parents were, not that it was practiced a lot. I had gone to preschool there, tried Sunday school and after school activities. Again, I didn't feel apart of and didn't want to. I was so uncomfortable being in large groups of kids as it was. I felt like another outsider, not having participated regularly. Maybe if I was made to go consistently as a child, I would have fit in more.

What was unfortunate was, no one talked about death. It is a part of life and we deny its very existence until it is in front of us; whether it is a family member, friend or our own mortality. In other cultures, I believe it is embraced, celebrated and a part of life. Even our media and celebrities go to extremes to ignore getting older. Facelifts and botox until we have no expression at all, seems to be the norm. What's with not knowing if someone is having a feeling because their face doesn't move...yes, very attractive, I think I want that when I'm old. I have to admit, I find the vampire movies very appealing though, specifically for the reason that they don't die of old age. So much better just to have your head removed in one quick motion.

My parents are now in their late seventies and still alive and kicking. However, their age is starting to show and the trips to the doctors are more frequent as the interest in doing a great many things has decreased. They tire easily, recuperate slower from sickness and surgery and their over all appearance is more fragile. My fear of losing them has again resurfaced. I don't think it has ever truly gone away. What will I do? I know everyone loses parents and eventually dies themselves...a part of life. I would like to not feel like the world is ending because they pass and leave me behind. Not that I want to avoid grief, or maybe I do. Maybe it is the idea that I still won't survive without them. I will slip away to avoid feeling and not want to come back. The relationship with my higher power is still difficult for me.

I am at the age now where losing a parent becomes common place. We face our own mortality because there is no longer anyone standing between you and death. The buffer is gone when your parents are. You are next in line. We stand and watch, helpless, as our parents fade and become the shell of the person they once were. I dread that almost more than their passing. The strong, opinionated, sturdy, smart, seemingly fearless caretakers that raised you, are now the ones needing to be taken care of. Such is the circle of life and the growth we acquire from it. There is nothing easy about getting old. With age comes wisdom however, and I wouldn't trade that for the fountain of youth. I am comfortable with myself, for the most part, and I never that confidence growing up. I walked around as if I had no skin. I was sensitive to everything and everyone from the get go. I had no defense against the outside world, as I looked for acceptance from anyone who looked likely to give it.

My other issue, is how to accept my parents fear of dying. I assume they have fear. My mother struggles with the concept of a God. She says she doesn't believe in anything, yet she reads all about it, looking, I think, for something to hold onto. My dad is harder to read because he just doesn't say anything. I have projected my fear onto them. I suppose I could bring up the taboo topic, but it would make their mortality all too real and I may find out how much they fear death. How awkward would they feel about me bringing up their deaths? How would I feel if my daughter was to approach me with the topic. Would it look like I was just waiting or would they feel the need to take care of my fear. I also could find out they aren't afraid, but I don't know if the risk is worth it. I have to take some kind of action soon, before I live to regret not saying or doing anything. Sitting in the fear has always been worse than walking through it. Can I do that with death too?

I look back at the loss in my life and realize I have survived it all. When I was young, my dog was hit by car. Since then, I have lost a lot of special pets, some violently, some disappeared and some died in my arms. I had many acquaintances and few friends in my drinking days. Over the years I have been kept abreast of many deaths in that crowd. Most have directly or indirectly died from the disease of alcoholism. My aunt had cancer and I watch the doctors take her off life support. I was drinking at that time and utilized alcohol to numb the fear and pain. Lately, it seems there is a death a month. A friend I did a lot of healing work with, just lost her battle with colon cancer at the age of 46 and another friend just lost her husband from complications with shingles (If you are over fifty, get vaccinated). It has been a struggle and maybe the answer is to continue to talk about it. My ultimate goal is to be fully connected and trusting of my higher power. Entering this world, we are caught by another's hands, hopefully with love, if we are fortunate. We alone, experience our own unique feelings of loss...we also come into this world alone and go out the same. I hope to be comfortable some day with my mortality. I would like to look death in the eye and embrace it with a sense of willingness and peace. The fight is an inevitable loss. Maybe we aren't alone coming or going after all. I would like to think I have angels that guide me in and out of this life. I certainly have been given angels in this life; they are called family and friends. I do know I can't take them with me either. I don't suppose any of them would volunteer...

I am older now...older than when my parents were, when they were ancient. I have a child of my own that I hope finds comfort in a higher power she can trust and lean on. If and when she comes to me with questions and fears about her own mortality and others, I hope to be able to be truthful in my feelings. They say if you have faith, you have no fear. I don't believe that. I believe fear is what drives us to look for faith. If we had no fear, why would we need a higher power. There is a saying...God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but he gives you more than you can fight. So in essence, you need him. Acceptance is the key... I think I will continue to pray for acceptance and trust I can lean on something bigger than me and I don't cease to exist when I depart this life. The child within can be taken care of regardless of what happens and she will continue on. She will be loved wether she chooses to see it or not. I choose to think that she will.

Monday, June 13, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup...The Toxic Ingredient

What you don't know...can kill you.
    Since the 1970’s High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has been a key ingredient in soda, juices, bread, cereals and tons of processed foods. HFCS did not exist before the 1970’s. From that point on, there was a rapid rise in this country in its use. This rise coincided with the start of the obesity epidemic. Americans ate about a half pound of HFCS per person per year. By 1997, we were consuming up to 62-1/2 pounds each, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That's 228 calories per person per day, and that figure is based on ‘6 -year-old’ numbers; consumption has almost certainly risen since then. Over the same period, the obesity rate has more than doubled. The increase of HFCS consumption far exceeded changes in intake of any other food or food group.
    HFCS is produced by milling corn into corn starch, then processing that starch to yield corn syrup, which is almost entirely glucose (one part of sugar) and then adding enzymes that change most of the glucose into fructose. The enzyme process is excessive and puts HFCS in the ‘no longer natural’ category.
    Why is HFCS used today to replace sugar? Manufacturers say it is cheaper to produce and use in food manufacturing, than cane or beet sugars. A system of sugar tariffs and sugar quotas imposed in 1977 in the US significantly increased the cost of imported sugar and US producers sought cheaper sources. In a free market, beet and cane sugar would win hands down in cost of production and market dominance.
    So this has us sacrificing our environment as well as our bodies. Today, corn is the world’s most widely planted cereal crop. Bush signed a $190 billion farm bill. Under this program, taxpayers will pay farmers $4 billion a year to grow even more corn, this despite the fact that we struggle to get rid of the surplus the plant already produces. Beef cattle eat corn and it wreaks havoc on their digestive system, making them need to be fed antibiotics to stave off illness and infection. Chicken, pigs and even salmon are fed corn. Why feed salmon corn? Because it is the cheapest thing you can feed an animal, thanks to federal subsidies.
    Corn is also the greediest of plants, demanding more nitrogen fertilizer than any other crop. Producing these chemicals takes a vast amount of oil and natural gas. (Nitrogen fertilizer from natural gas and pesticides from oil). The corn crop is a huge, inefficient polluting machine that uses tons of fossil fuel; half a gallon of it for every bushel.
    Another important note is that corn requires more pesticides than any other food crop and run off from these chemicals find their way into the groundwater in the Midwestern Corn Belt and into the Mississippi River, which carries them to the Gulf of Mexico, where it has already killed off marine life in a 12,000 square mile radius. Another environmental hazard specifically related to HFCS is that it is harmful to bees. We feed high fructose corn syrup to bees too. Farmers are selling all their honey for profit and leaving nothing left for the bees to eat. So, naturally what is the alternative, with all the corn fields around…HFCS; the possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the U.S. HFCS at a raised temperature takes the form of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), that is deadly to honeybees. Honeybees are what allow us to grow produce… If HFCS isn’t healthy for adults, what makes us think it is healthy for bees. Who will pollinate our fruit, vegetables and flowers...what will become of us without the bees.

    So let’s get to the effect it has on our bodies. One of the latest discoveries by scientists showed the presence of mercury in some commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an ingredient used in many popular processed foods. In products tested, 17 out of 55 were positive for Mercury. Mercury is toxic in all of its forms and exposure to it has been linked to an increase in birth defects, problems during pregnancy, mental retardation, kidney, lung and immune system problems. Given how much HFCS is consumed by children, something needs to be done immediately to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.  
    Nearly 10% of calories Americans consume now come from corn sweeteners and the figure is closer to 20% for many children. HFCS is in soft drinks, candy, crackers, lunch meat, fruit juices, chocolate milk, and all natural fruit snacks, just to name a few. What does this amount of HFCS do to your body? Your body processes the sugar in HFCS differently than in cane or beet sugars, which in turn alters your body’s natural ability to regulate appetite. Your digestive system has two main hormones that control hunger and appetite. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and increases your appetite. When your stomach is empty, it sends ghrelin out, requesting food. The hormone Leptin tells your brain that you’re full. HFCS inhibits leptin secretion, so you never get the message that you’re full, and HFCS never shuts off ghrelin, so even though you have food in your stomach, you constantly get the message you’re hungry. Higher fructose in the diet also decreases the amount of iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc in our bodies. It also inhibits copper metabolism…a deficiency in copper leads to bone fragility, anemia, defects of the connective tissue, arteries, and bone, infertility, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks, and an inability to control blood sugar levels.
   HFCS also metabolizes differently than other sugars, making it potentially more harmful.  This is how it works: you eat something with HFCS and the sugar goes to your liver for processing. There it is broken down into smaller components and eventually breaks down completely. All sugars are managed like this through the body. The problem is HFCS uses a lot more of the cell’s energy to breakdown and leaves the cell with less energy to properly metabolize other foods. In addition, the breakdown process of HFCS causes an increase in lipid levels and triglycerides (chemicals where fat exists) in the blood and within the cell itself, causing the fat to fill the cell. This gives it the link to an increased risk of obesity and heart disease. 
   In one study of 548 ethnically diverse eleven year olds, that were evaluated over a 19 month span, fifty-seven percent increased their intake of soda and calories from just one soda a day. This increased a child chance of becoming obese by 60%. Each daily drink was linked to an increase of .18 points to a child’s Body Mass Index (BMI).This increase was regardless of what else they ate or how much they exercised. 
We would never think to give are kids anything that would harm them. With HFCS that is exactly what we are doing. Consuming HFCS leads to fatty liver, high blood lipids and triglycerides, high blood insulin levels and a continued craving to eat even when the body doesn’t need any more calories. This is a recipe for central body obesity, heart disease, diabetes and liver failure from fatty deposits. This is exactly the outcome you get when alcohol is consumed…minus the intoxicating effect.

   We wouldn’t dream of giving our kids alcohol, but as it turns out, HFCS is metabolized in the exact same way, with the same damage done, calorie for calorie. So think of that the next time you or someone you know has a soda, or three or more (the average for a teenage boy). Ten percent of teenage boys have seven or more a day. Teenage girls have two or more a day…with ten percent up to five a day. 
   So spend that extra minute and read your labels. You could be helping your health or the health of your loved ones. Other countries, including Mexico, don’t use HFCS in their soft drinks. Because money talks, the U.S. has been putting HFCS in Pepsi and Coke since 1984.