WYSONG HEALTH LETTER
Dr. R. L. Wysong
Most of us would like to make our decisions after we can marshal all of the hard facts and data together and be overwhelmed with the compelling logic of a particular choice. Unfortunately, life is not always that way. We are faced with issues and decisions that require sorting between fact, emotions and fears. We must project ourselves back historically to gather relevant experience. We must transpose our self into the future to weigh potential consequences. Nevertheless, we often just don't have enough hard facts to compel us to any particular decision.
But when the force of facts is not present, we are not left with no further tools. We can make many of our decisions based on another mechanism, intuition. Intuition is the hunch, that gut feeling, that sense that you know but you really don't know where your decision came from you just know.
Intuition is something that can be cultivated and used far more than it is. It can be trusted with more confidence than rationalists believe it should be. It is not something apart from reason, rather it is an integration of feelings, subjectivity, and rationality. It is something that springs out of the back-and-forth communication between our right and left cerebral hemispheres. It is that thing that can lead to discovery and creativity. It can assist us in evaluating various choices. It can be predictive, helping us to get a feel for future consequences.
If we are aware of it, and believe it to be an actual functioning mechanism within us, it can be made to work even better. We can, in fact, ask our unconscious for a response. This is not to say that we can contrive it. Intuition it is not something that we can manipulate. It comes when it's ready, but we must be ready when it does come. To receive it requires peace, relaxation, and less background noise from the hum-drum of our busy days.
Most of us can identify certain times during the day when we are more likely to be able to make decisions. These intuitive ideas or decisions, or premonitions if you will, can kind of come over us like a wave, and when they do they create a feeling of surety and even excitement. It does not come from simply contemplating facts and data. Perhaps the best time is a morning walk, in the shower, on the toilet, lying in bed, driving a car, riding a bicycle, or while eating alone undisturbed. (The idea to write the Health Letter was a morning shower revelation for me.) The real trick is to recall when your intuition is the most active and look for opportunities during these times.
Women are traditionally thought to be more intuitive, although there is no direct evidence they are. Men are simply conditioned not to believe in this so-called emotional sense.
To cultivate intuition, to sharpen it, to utilize it more readily, and to make it more functioning in our lives requires several things. First off, be open to unorthodox ideas, and explore them, thus widening our horizons. We also should be willing to take risks, because it is through such risks that we gain valuable experience that provides fuel intuition can work with. It is also important not to resist change or uncertainty, but rather to yield to what our intuition is telling us in terms of constructive creative ideas and not be led by fear of change or difference. We need to be flexible and not just do things because they are safe and secure and known. We need to continually question ourselves, and others, to not be afraid to challenge ideas and to be ever open to new information. By broadening our horizons, we can give our intuition more raw material to work on to conjure up intuitive ideas and intuitive direction.
Sometimes by working hard on a problem, continuing to deliberate on it, weighing pros and cons, we become overwhelmed by the problem itself and our intuition is not given an opportunity to express itself. By getting away from the problem, thinking about other things, relaxing, recreating, we allow that intuition to incubate and permit it an opportunity to come back to us with its revelation. When it does come, many say that there is a subtle premonition, a feeling that it is coming before it comes, but that it is not something that can be manipulated or hurried. It's a case where we must be prey, waiting for it to strike, rather than the predator going after it.
Not every hunch, or idea that simply flips into the mind, is valuable intuition. It is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that such ideas are, or should be, the basis for an important decision.
The way to make sure that our intuition is working properly, and that we can rely on it with more confidence, is to cultivate it. Cultivating it by the things mentioned earlier, which broaden our horizons and create more risk and adventure in our lives, is one thing. Another is to keep a journal of ideas that come to you during the course of the day. Simply jot these ideas down and reflect upon them periodically. Sometimes intuition will bring us ideas at an inopportune time. If the idea is not written down it can be lost for long periods of time, even forever. So we have to be aware and be ready to capture it when it does come. (Many things come to me during night wake periods. If I don't scribble them down on the pad by the bed, I often lose them.)
Ways to coax our intuition are to ask questions about the subject we are interested in exercising our intuition on, such as:
What I know about this situation is...
What I don't know is...
The thing that bothers me is...
Some of the things I'm unsure about are...
Some of the things that might happen are...
If I had my way...
Other people involved think...
Under no circumstances will I...
I have a feeling that...
If push comes to shove I...
If responses to each of these questions related to the subject are written down and then this is reviewed after a few hours and analyzed, we give our intuition the fuel it needs to bring our decisions to us. Some attempt to force intuition by posing an ultimatum to themselves, that they have a back-to-the-wall decision. They then attempt to relax in a peaceful, quiet setting and visualize places like an oasis, woods, or an ocean, in an attempt to relax the mind to allow the intuitive senses to work and bring the revelation out.
None of this is to suggest that rationality should not be exercised at every opportunity. The problem is that pure logic or sufficient data is not always accessible to us. We're often torn by many emotional subjective factors which make decision making very difficult.
Think about intuition as a real tool which can be used as an important guide through life. Refine it, cultivate it, and use it when faced with difficult problems and choices.
60 Minutes to...Unlocking Your Intuition, Philip Goldberg, 1987
Trans-Fats Evidence Increases
Fatty acids consist of carbon chains which may, or may not, have unsaturated double-bonds spaced at intervals along the chain. When these double bonds do appear, there remains one hydrogen attached to each of the carbons on each side of the double bond. In healthy biological systems the cis- configuration of these hydrogens is predominant. That is, one hydrogen will be on one side of one carbon adjacent to the double bond, and the hydrogen attached to the other adjacent carbon will be on the same side of the double bond. This cis- configuration causes the fatty acid to bend the double bond. It is not a static situation but really a dynamic one with the bend actually creating a vibration, or oscillation, or flipping if you will, at something like a million vibrations per second.
Fatty acids, as you may recall, comprise a significant portion of the membranes enclosing all of the cells within the body. They also form the membranes of the organelles within cells. This cis- configuration has meaning, as do all other biological characteristics. Life is not wasteful. It does not develop particular features without there being meaning and purpose. Some scientists believe the cis- configuration, its resultant dynamic wiggling, and its tendency to increase the fluidity of cell membranes is essential for the proper healthy functioning of living tissue. Dr. Budwig in Germany, for example, describes the quantum mechanics of this configuration and its relationship to the light energy within foods we eat, as well as the light energy coming directly from the sun. She argues that these cis-fatty acid configurations are essential for the proper transmission of energy within the body.
We have discussed before the potential dangers of trans-fatty acids that result from artificially manipulating unsaturated fatty acids by hydrogenation. This results in the hydrogens on the carbons adjacent to the double bond being on opposite sides. Consequently, a straightening of the fatty acid occurs, making it more rigid, similar to straightening hair, if you will, with a straightening iron.
The food industry, which is using hydrogenated oils because they create more crunch in certain foodstuffs and increase shelf life, has by and large pooh-poohed the dangers of trans-fatty acids that result from this hydrogenation. This is a classic example of food processing making manipulations not for the right purposes. Food is for good nutrition, for enhancing, even optimizing health. It is not simply a branch of chemistry, cosmetics, and mortuary science. Manipulating natural foods such that the chemical structure of basic biochemical compounds is altered in order to achieve shelf life, mouth feel, or crunch is food processing gone amuck.
Recent articles in The New England Journal of Medicine, The American College of Nutrition, and in Food Chemical News argue the potential dangers of trans-fatty acids resulting from hydrogenation. They are now known to adversely effect the immune system, increase free radical production, alter hormone production, influence reproductive capability, and impede in one way or another basically all cellular membranes. The result is cells do not process biochemicals as they are intended to, nor permit the flow of nutrients, energy, and messengers as occurs in healthy living tissue.
Trans-fatty acids lurk in almost every processed food you buy. Read the labels. When a food states its fats or oils are composed of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils you know that these trans-fatty acids lurk within. Almost all cookies, candies, desserts, bakery items, snack foods, popcorn, and even microwaveable products are laden with trans-fatty acids.
As I have emphasized before, lipids are a dynamic, complex, and fragile biochemical class, and not simply an inert, lard-like substance which functions only to grease pans, or create mouth feel. They are the most under-rated of all health-giving biochemicals. They are treated with impunity in processing, and as a result are altered significantly, laying the basis for a broad range of degenerative fatty diseases which are plaguing modern populations.
Lipids are a health-giving class of nutrients if consumed in their raw, natural state, but are potential serious toxins when fractionated from their natural protective sources and allowed to degrade, or are chemically altered through modern physical and chemical food processing manipulations.
Our goal should be to find foods which have rich sources (particularly of the omega-3 class) of fatty acids and consume them fresh and raw. On the other hand we should avoid foods which have their oils hydrogenated or otherwise processed.
The New England Journal of Medicine, 1991; 323: 439-445
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1990; 9: 471-486
Food Chemical News, September 2, 1991
Health and Healing, October 1991
Ayur-Vedic medicine is an ancient healing system practiced widely in India. It is wholistic in nature, using herbs and other natural remedies, as well as transcendental meditation. A surprising article in a medical journal on Ayur-Veda was written by two MDs and the information seemed to be presented quite even handedly, with a sincere effort to document to the scientific literature the rationale for the use of this ancient healing system.
It seems that my surprise in seeing this article was not unshared. In a follow-up article in the journal entitled Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Guru's Marketing Scheme Promises the World Eternal Perfect Health, the previous authors, the Ayur-Vedic healing system, and pretty much everyone and anyone associated with the Maharishi and the ayur-veda system, were systematically bashed. The journal now feels they were mislead in not being told that the authors had some form of financial stake in this healing system. The statement the journal requires of authors is I certify that any affiliation with or involvement in any organization or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject mater or materials discussed in the manuscript (e.g., employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, expert testimony) are listed below. Otherwise signature indicates that I have no such financial interest. The authors of the article listed no involvement or affiliation.
The journal, upon discovering otherwise, required an immediate full accounting from the authors, which was then subsequently published as a financial disclosure correction. This was still not enough. The journal evidently felt they were hoodwinked, and proceeded with a several page article, as I mentioned, disparaging the authors, as well as the healing system, and anyone associated with it. This was done through demonstrating that the Maharishi is ostensibly worth approximately $2 billion and that those who participate in this healing system also make an income from it.
Then in the same journal as the bashing, probably the longest list of letters to the editor I have yet seen in the journal relevant to one topic were published. What's interesting about these letters is that those which congratulated the journal for publishing the article were required to present a disclosure statement affixed to their letter. For example, the first letter to the editor by Michael Greenwood states that Dr. Greenwood reports that he incorporates acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and Maharishi Ayur-Veda into his practice.
In this batch of letters to the editor are some highly critical letters as well. For example, one letter states I hope that a lapse in attention caused the publication of 'Letter from New Delhi' (the title of the original Ayur-Veda article) rather than fear of accusations of xenophobia. But interestingly, this critical letter required no disclosure. Another letter, Your publication of the letter from New Delhi was shocking. As the President of the American Family Foundation, an organization of professionals including lawyers, psychiatrists, and psychologists, as well as religious leaders dedicated to educating the public of the dangers of destructive cults, I am appalled that his letter found its way into your journal. This letter required no disclosure. Another letter, The 'Letter from New Delhi' did not merit publication in JAMA as a serious article. This letter did not require disclosure.
All those who had anything good to say about this alternate form of medical care had to disclose all affiliations and all financial interests. On the other hand, any who were critical were not required to make disclosures. But, alas, an alternate form of medical care such as Ayur-Veda, directly threatens the conventional allopathic system, of which the journal and most medical doctors are a part. It is of financial interest to them to prevent any gain in popularity from alternate medical systems. This is never discussed, and is evidently entirely overlooked by the journal.
Additionally, all of the main articles in the journal do not require such disclosure statements. If authors publish an article on the value of angioplasty in peripheral vascular disease, no statement has to be made about how much money they make in their medical practices, or how much they make from publishing books on the subject, or what medical affiliations they belong to that can bring personal or economic rewards from the acceptance of their article. In other words, it is not considered by the journal to be self-aggrandizing, or self-serving, as long as articles and information are published that support conventional belief systems. But if something is published contrary to these belief systems, it is assumed that a person can only be considered objective if they are doing it strictly from an academic or philanthropic position. (Who can do that?)
This is not the way the world turns. Economic reward does not automatically discount legitimacy of thought. The pages of conventional journals are filled with articles by individuals who receive direct rewards from the practice and maintenance of the conventional medical system. For those who advocate alternate medical viewpoints to derive income from alternate systems is not out of step with accepted medical practice or objectivity.
The economic gain argument is a common tactic used to discredit any who fall outside the bounds of convention. Various articles and publications on quack busting also use the economic argument to defend their position. For example, it is often argued that people are being fleeced of their hard-earned dollars when they buy 5 or 10 dollars worth of vitamin pills at a health food store. The Ayur-Vedic system is cast as a profiteering sham because it is supposedly worth $2 billion. Why all of this concern that the public might spend so much money on these supposedly worthless and quackish schemes?
That these are rocks being thrown in glass houses becomes apparent when one compares the cost to people of sustaining the conventional medical system compared to any alternative form of therapy. The medical industrial complex is in excess of $800 billion a year strong. That reduces to insignificance the Ayur-Vedic system of $2 billion. If economic gain from a particular medical system is cause for its rejection, then obviously the conventional medical system should be rejected first. Similarly, to criticize the small health food industry because of the dollars it consumes, is likewise ridiculous since that entire industry is only a few billion dollars strong compare again to the $800+ billion in the medical industrial complex.
I'm not suggesting here that the Ayur-Vedic system does or does not have merit. My feeling is there are probably components of it which are meritorious, just as there are components of conventional medical care which are meritorious. To oppress the unconventional and to ridicule and caste as mercenaries any who have alternate view points is what is objectionable.
We do not have a perfect world. We need progress and improvement. For that to occur, there must be openness and room for revision of thought. The suppression of alternate thinking and the protection of conventional paradigms should be repugnant to any who truly desire to see human progress. It is irrational, and irrationality is the square root of all evil.
Journal of the American Medical Association, May 22, 1991: 2633-2637
Journal of the American Medical Association, October 2, 1991: 1741-1774
Losing Without Dieting
Several issues back we discussed many topics relevant to achieving and maintaining healthy weight. In that discussion I talked about the differences between the way fats, carbohydrates and proteins are metabolized.
It has been demonstrated that a calorie is not a calorie in terms of these three distinct food sources. Conventional thought has been charmed by the notion that if a food is put into a bomb calorimeter and the resulting heat is a particular value, then that heat, translated into calories, is the amount of energy that the food can deliver to the body. The figures which have been used in this regard are 9 calories per gram of fat, and approximately 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates or proteins.
I talked about how fats, or more properly termed lipids, are much more efficiently assimilated into the body than either proteins or carbohydrates. Fats require only about 3 calories to cause their assimilation and deposition in the body into adipose (fat storage) tissues. On the other hand, proteins and carbohydrates require approximately 23 calories for their assimilation. We also discussed how neither proteins nor carbohydrates readily convert into lipid depots within adipose tissue, and thus, if you are concerned about fat on the body, you must address primarily fat that is consumed.
The differences in the thermic effect of lipids, as opposed to carbohydrates and proteins, effectively changes their caloric value to 9 for lipids, and about 3, by comparison, for proteins or carbohydrates. Understanding this significant difference in caloric content between these foods can help us to understand how we can diet without ever changing the amount of food we eat.
If we use these more accurate net caloric figures for fat, that is 9 calories per gram, and for proteins and carbohydrates 3 calories per gram, it becomes apparent how weight reduction can occur without dieting.
The normal daily 2500 calorie food intake for adults consists of about 40% fat calories, and weighs about 1-1/3 pounds, or 611 grams. If you consume the same amount of food (611 grams) but reduce its fat content from 111 grams, which would be the amount of food as lipids, considering 40% of the calories are from fat, to 34 grams so that the fat consists of only 15% of the caloric intake, by increasing calories from carbohydrates and protein, the total calories for the day would decrease from 2500 to 2038. (I have detailed these calculations above.)
But even though the caloric value has decreased from 2500 to 2038, the food intake would be the same. 611 grams were being eaten when 2500 calories were consumed, and 611 grams were being eaten when 2038 calories were being consumed. The difference between the two, 462 calories per day, represents an incredible difference in fat that would have been put on the body or fat that could be lost, that is about 40 pounds of pure lard in a year. And again, it was done without dieting, by eating just as much food and getting just as full.
To recap, by simply shifting the ratio of foods in the diet so that meals contain only about 15% fat as opposed to 40% fat, one can consume the same volume of food, feel just as full, and avoid depositing 40 pounds of fat during the course of a year. This, of course, does not take into consideration variations between individuals in regard to their abilities to deposit fat, individual metabolic rates, exercise patterns, and so forth, but at least demonstrates the point that it is not necessary to go on fad, extreme diets to achieve healthy weight. The bottom line is simply decrease the amount of fats in the diet, and one of the best ways to do that is to decrease animal food products, and fat-laden processed foods.
If whole, natural, vegetable-based foods are emphasized in the diet, achieving 15% or less of calories as fat is almost automatic since it is rare that natural foods contain more than this. If purchasing packaged foods, a simple calculation can be made to be sure the product qualifies for less fat. Multiply the grams of fat on the label by 9, and divide the result by the total calories listed on the label. For example, if the label reads 3 grams of fat and 100 calories, 3 grams multiplied by 9 = 27 calories, and this divided by 100 calories (the total amount of calories in the food) is .27, or 27% of calories in this product would be fat. This is, then, a bad buy.
I hate to focus on such calculations and give the misleading impression that one needs to course down grocery store isles with calculator and note pad in hand, measuring calories and grams of fat and so forth. This need be done only incidentally, if at all, if the diet is being transformed into one emphasizing whole, fresh, natural foods as we continue to emphasize in the Health Letter.
A study conducted at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development observed 22 Rhesus monkeys from birth through over five years of age. Two distinct groups were set up; one which was left with their mothers from birth through six months, and one which was taken from the mothers and raised within a peer group from birth through six months. The second group, the motherless ones, were without any adult nurturing for the first six months, which is equivalent to 2 years in human terms, as they were only with other young monkeys.
After the first six months, the two groups were rejoined and housed together under identical circumstances for the next few years, up until a little over 4 years of age. So out of 50 months, only the first six months of life were different for the two groups.
Then, at 50 months of age, the monkeys were all exposed to the opportunity to consume alcohol. They received completely free choice access to two sweet drinks, one with 7% alcohol content, the other containing no alcohol.
In general, the monkeys raised with no mother or adults around during the first six months of life drank considerably more alcohol than the mother-raised ones, often to the point of intoxication. Co-author of this study, Stephen Suomi, concludes that early rearing experiences dominate the likelihood of alcohol abuse.
Previous studies have strongly indicated that peer-raised primates are more anxious and stress-inclined than their mother-reared counterparts, but according to people at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this is the first study to clearly show that psychoactive drugs somehow mimic the biological reward system involved with nurturing attachments. When the crucial nurturing time is missed, alcohol and certain drugs provide the brain with something like nurturing sensations, leaving the primates more likely to seek gratification from alcohol and other drugs. Remarkably enough, the need does not go away. If the nurturing period was missed, it appears that the first six months, for monkeys at least, was a time of critical, almost irreversible imprint on the brain. Deprived animals are likely never to be the same as mother-reared peers.
Some psychobiologists believe that the early experiences of life influence the physiological development of the brain, and shape its reaction to alcohol. The idea is that the brain in essence molds itself to our early experiences. This is called brain plasticity and is analogous to childhood deprivation in humans. An early lack of nurturing or early life deprivation experiences in humans can leave something that is imprinted on the nervous system.
To further observe stress levels and reactions of these 22 monkeys, they were at one point put through an isolation period during which they could hear, but have no contact with nor even see, other monkeys. While the mother-reared monkeys became extremely dependent on alcohol during this time of isolation, drinking at the level of the peer-raised monkeys prior to isolation, the peer-raised ones fared even worse. Many of them became so stressed that they went into near paralytic states and ignored both sweetened solutions. The mother-reared monkeys were, however, often so intoxicated that they were vomiting and staggering. When the monkeys were reunited and returned to normal living conditions, the earlier drinking differences between the two groups returned exactly; the peer-reared group remained the heavy drinkers.
What to do about this obvious need to make up for loss? Can it be corrected in primates or humans? Unfortunately, one separate study shows that once primates have been through early deprivation, the only things making significant impact on the reduction of alcohol consumption is certain antidepressant drugs. Being loved and nurtured early on in life, and indeed throughout life, is critical to health to such a degree that it is an essential piece of the puzzle, without which none of the puzzle can come together or ever be complete.
Now that I have covered this subject, I wonder if you have the same gut-sense I do regarding it. As I was discussing this topic I couldn't help but cringe at the obvious. What has been learned here? We have learned that if you take monkeys away from their mother, and, analogously it is reasoned, take children away from their parent in their early years, they will be more inclined to alcoholism. Further, if you isolate monkeys, or analogously, people, from all social contact, they will more likely become alcoholic. To give us this enlightenment has required who knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and how many dozens or hundreds of monkeys subjected to confinement, stress, alcoholism, even torture if you will. If this is an example of the necessary animal experimentation needed to enlighten us on human health, it is pathetic.
It would seem before such experiments were undertaken that the value of potential results could be evaluated beforehand. In other words, in this case what are the potential results? The result from isolating baby monkeys from their mothers, and isolating adults from their peers might have created no subsequent behavior. This was possible, but of what conceivable value is that to us humans? The other possibility is that by isolating baby monkeys from their mothers, and isolating adult monkeys from their peers, it might result in some aberrant behavior or even some disease condition. Isn't this something that we could easily infer without performing any experiments whatsoever?
In the latter case, if we would conclude that the experiment might show this, we would ask the question, Well , what should be done? Obviously, what should be done would be to address solutions, not causes. It is intuitively obvious and well proven by a vast body of a prior scientific evidence that children need parents, and adults need social contact. Since we already know this, why not address the political, economic, and social issues which could resolve the problem, rather than simply subject so-called subspecies to inhumane and artificial stresses and torture to establish that which we already know?
We seem to enjoy wallowing in heady experimentation and the resultant entertainment, rather than make the necessary changes in ourselves, personally, and in our society to create the solutions to the problems which we already know exist and which we already know how to solve.
Science News, August 17, 1991
Those who have seen the film Dances With Wolves will have a bit of background knowledge of the Rosebud Lakota Indians. Many of the Rosebud people appeared in the film, including Doris Leader Charge, who taught Costner and other non-Lakota members of the cast how to speak Lakota. Since the movie's success, there has been a plan to open certain parts of the reservation to tourism. Expecting keen interest and many tourists for the next few years at least, the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota opened a tourist bureau and is currently trying to develop trails and historical sites. This alone is causing a stir because many people, particularly a good number of Native Americans, disagree with commercializing and capitalizing on reservation land.
And what else new and controversial is happening here? There's a road that runs from Cherry Creek on the Cheyenne River Reservation to Rosebud, where some of the Lakota now make their home. It was once a Native American road, and is even something of a holy road because the scaffolds of the dead were once erected next to it. Long ago the customs were to place the dead body, wrapped in skins, up on scaffolds for the winds and nature to take care of. Additionally, along this road a Native American graveyard still remains where ancestors who died in the 1920's and 1930's were buried. This is the very road that Sitting Bull and Spotted Tail once traveled.
Now back to the '90's. A company known by the acronym RSW, which is a subsidiary of the huge O & G construction company from Torrington, Connecticut, is moving to widen and pave this road - in order to accommodate the convoys of huge trucks which they propose carry solid waste from cities as far away as Denver and Minneapolis. RSW has in mind building a landfill covering a total of 5,760 acres of this region.
In November, 1990, while the majority of the tribe didn't know about it, the Rosebud tribal council signed an agreement with RSW to develop a potential landfill site in the northwest corner of Mellette County, four miles from the White River. Just one year before in 1989, a company known by the initials AMCOR, another subsidiary of the O & G construction company from Connecticut, had negotiated with officials on the Pine Ridge Reservation which is west of Rosebud to build a landfill there, but had to give up under pressure from local people opposing the site. So, they waited and came again: the following year, a different company name, a neighboring tribe.
The leader of the group called the Good Road Coalition, which was hastily formed to protest the dump site, is a 40-ish decorated Vietnam veteran and a member of the Rosebud Lakota named Ronald Valandra. He is claiming payoffs and corruption and declares that the majority of the people on the reservation do not want the project. There is the consensus that someone got to the ten councilmen who are for the project.
Likewise, Senator Tom Daschle has gone public to oppose the project. He claims that many of the garbage and hazardous waste companies are deliberately trying to take advantage of unsophisticated Native American people, who typically do not have strict environmental regulations for their reservations, and lack the technical personnel to properly oversee the facilities. A June 1991 Greenpeace report, in fact, indicated that nearly every Native American reservation in the country, from Florida to Washington state, reservations like the Mohawk, Barona, Seminole and Tulalip, have been approached by waste management companies, yet to date not any of these proposals has been carried out. Why not?
From a strictly economic standpoint, the Native Americans could use the money being offered and the jobs the landfills would mean. In recent history, the only federal agency which has helped shape the economic lives of people on reservations is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Due to recent budget cuts, even that agency has now ceased trying to encourage economic development on the reservations and now functions mainly in an advisory role to Native Americans.
Native Americans choosing to remain with their tribes and families have been given land which is usually a very long way from nowhere. High unemployment and no financial power in their remote locations is a problem for most tribes. Earlier this year, the Choctaw people in eastern Mississippi turned down a bid for a hazardous waste site that reportedly would have brought them $30 million in annual revenues. The Choctaws were very divided on this issue. Even though they are one of the nation's more financially stable tribes, the promise of additional money for the tribe and 200 new jobs was tempting.
But economic considerations aren't the only issue. The question of commercial development of reservation land for economic gain runs counter to the very strong traditional beliefs which most Native Americans hold about the Earth in general and their small remaining allotments in particular. A common Lakota remark is, The Earth is our Mother and most tribes cling to this.
Even the U.S. Government has joined the waste industry in singling out tribal sites for toxic dumping. In April of this year, the Office of the Nuclear Waste Negotiator declared that they intended to find a state or Indian tribe willing to host a repository or monitored retrievable storage facility for nuclear waste.
Some tribes are fighting back. In May of this year the tribal council of the Yankton Sioux of South Dakota passed an ordinance forbidding the construction of commercial landfills on their land, and even prohibiting the transportation of hazardous waste across tribal lands.
As for the immediate problem for the Lakota; Ronald Valandra indicates that the RSW people circulated a phony petition and got many pro-landfill signatures by putting names of several people more than once, by actually adding the names of dead people, by using names without the person's permission, or after misinforming people as to what they were signing. He and Russel Eagle Bear, who is co-chairman of the Good Road Coalition, intend to continue to work toward throwing RSW off the Lakota land. Eagle Bear in fact believes that RSW is just beginning, and suspects that there are other guilty large corporations using plots, collusion and corruption with housing projects and proposed casino construction. The opponents are determined. As Eagle Bear says: The Rosebud people are a sovereign nation. We make the laws around here, not the BIA or the EPA or anyone else. This is our land, and there is no way that a dump is going to desecrate it. I'm willing to put my life on the line to stop it.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that. If there are any people who should not have to suffer the consequences of the waste and filth of modern technological society, it is the Native Americans who have had virtually no part in the creation of that waste and filth. To let them be the repository for the exhaust of the industrialization which has already taken virtually all their land and for which they have received essentially none of the economic rewards, would indeed be a travesty of justice and decency. This is an egregious example of privatizing profit and commonizing cost.
With Columbus Day just passing, further cause for reflection on the plight of the American Indian is in order. We speak of Columbus discovering America and celebrate this as a national holiday. This so-called discovery assumes that this land was undiscovered. Such was not the case. This was a land inhabited by millions of people with diverse and sophisticated cultures with ethical, legal, and moral constraints. It was not just a wilderness incidentally populated by savages worthy of no better treatment than the buffalo herds or the wild turkey.
This is another example, in a political sense, of the inclination we have toward the narrow view. World history is taught only in the light of Europeanization of the World. In other words, the notion that this is a New World, the notion that America was discovered, and the notion that Columbus was a hero is a myopic European idea which views worthwhileness of land and people only in relation to European colonization.
If a more holistic worldwide political and ethical view had been the guide, America would not have been, so-to-speak, discovered, but only visited, followed by friendly relations being established with the residents of this land. Now, so much later, with supposedly so much more savvy, it would seem appropriate that we rethink the narrowed European view of civilization. We live in one World, on one Earth. We are one People, and it is one Life that is on this planet. That life is inextricably tied to the environment. And all people will increasingly be inextricably tied to one another with the advance of communication and travel. Political and nationalistic extremes must give way to a new world that speaks to the common good of all life, be it human, animal, plant or to Earth itself.
Can you see the parallel here between our approach to the World from a political, economic, and social standpoint and our approach to health? Can you see that health cannot be best addressed by simply looking at parts and by forceful intervention? A living entity must be seen as a whole creature which is intimately linked with other life and the environment? This view helps us to see more clearly, in broader terms, our position in perspective.
The closer we can get to this broader, more aware panoramic view, the sooner we see the errors of history and learn from them, the sooner we will then advance toward the peace, happiness, and health that is possible for all.
Buzzworm, September 1991