by: Allen B. Saxe on February 21st, 2014 | 11 Comments »
Open any local paper and you are likely to read the following headline: “Survivor Loses Battle with Cancer.”
We have adopted the language of war. Those with the disease are described as heroes. Finding a cure is a war. Our medical community leads our forces. Everyone must join the fight.
I challenge this metaphor. My former wife, Barbara, died from cancer, and my current wife, Jessica, has faced her second form of cancer.
Barbara was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer at the age of 34. She wanted to fully understand her disease, and she undertook every medical advance available.
The problem with the warrior metaphor is that it focuses less on life than death. The “courageous warrior” suggests toughness, certainty, and strength.
by: Beverly Alves on November 22nd, 2013 | 4 Comments »
(Credit: Creative Commons)
Sarah Palin has done a terrible injustice to humane, caring, and coordinated health care. Palliative care is a medical specialty which provides coordinated, comprehensive care to reduce pain and suffering, while trying to heal or cure anyone who is given a life-threatening or life altering diagnosis. Sadly, without any factual or medical knowledge of palliative care, Mrs. Palin called this essential medical care “death panels.” Because of her, and some others, palliative care was removed as a covered benefit from the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Diane Meier, Director of CAPC (The Center to Advance Palliative Care)at Mt Sinai, spent a year in DC trying to get palliative care into the Affordable Care Act; however, at the last minute it was removed as a covered benefit because of the fear created by Palin and others calling it”death panels.”
Sadly, Mrs. Palin is back on the scene and is continuing to make remarks about “death panels,” reinforcing this idea in her latest video. Unfortunately surveys indicate that many Americans believe still believe this. I have written this Open Letter to Mrs. Palin to help educate people and try to undo some of the harm she and others have done. It is my hope that people will learn about this essential care, ask for it if/when it is needed, and contact their elected officials to ensure that palliative care is part of the Affordable Care Act or any bill that provides health care.
by: Donna Swarthout on October 17th, 2013 | 5 Comments »
(Credit: Creative Commons)
Lately it’s become a little easier to answer questions about why my family decided to move from the United States to Germany. While Obama battles the Tea Party and struggles to keep the government functioning, Angela Merkel enjoys soaring popularity after Germany’s recent national elections. The mood in Berlin feels calm and optimistic while the rhetoric of brinksmanship continues in Washington.
I like the blend of capitalism and democracy found in Germany and other parts of Europe, not to mention the cafes and bakeries and amazing public transit systems.
Two years ago the members of my family became German citizens under a law that allows families who were persecuted by the Nazis to have their citizenship restored. Hundreds of German Jews from the diaspora apply to the German government each year to regain their citizenship. Once they become citizens, they can live in Germany without having to give up their original citizenship. As my husband and I thought about our future, we asked ourselves which country offers better prospects for a good standard of living now and in the future.
by: Jeff Garson on October 14th, 2013 | Comments Off
My recent blog, The Case for Radical Decency, brought the following provocative reaction – the subject of this week’s reflection:
“If ‘picking and choosing’ where to practice Radical Decency is ‘doomed to failure’ does that mean only saints can succeed? How does one incrementally improve?”
“If Radical Decency is doomed to failure unless applied at all times to everything, must I be a Buddhist monk or the equivalent?”
(Credit: Creative Commons)
How this Mindset Traps and Defeats Us
Radical Decency seeks to diverge from the culture’s wildly out of balance emphasis on competitive, win/lose values, advocating a decisive shift in priority toward a more humane set of values. That is its central purpose.
With this in mind, notice the extent to which this self-judgmental approach replicates the very values the philosophy seeks to replace. Tally up the evidence and make a judgment: Have I succeeded in being radically decent – or not? Am I a saint – or a failure?
by: Viji Sundaram on October 10th, 2013 | Comments Off
(Cross-posted from New America Media)
(Credit: New America Media)
Like most severely mentally ill patients, 23-year-old Daniel Padilla doesn’t see himself as that.
The insurance companies that cover him – Medi-Cal (California’s name for Medicaid, the federal-state-funded insurance for low-income and disabled people) and United Health Insurance — don’t see the schizophrenia he was diagnosed with at age 19, as deserving the same benefits as someone with a medical condition.
His father, Benito, must go after the insurers month after month to get them to pay Padilla’s psychiatrist to keep his schizophrenia under control.
“The insurers approve three visits and then they put you through hell,” asserted San Diego-based psychiatrist Dr. Rodrigo A. Muñoz, who has been treating Padilla all along.
by: Larry Rasmussen on October 8th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
We would all be well advised to listen to the counsel of Wendell Berry, who has been for the past fifty years America’s foremost teacher on the subject of the wholeness of creation. “To cherish the remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal,” he warns, “is our only legitimate hope for survival.” There is no more effective way to cherish the remains of the Earth than first, to recognize the primal elements of earth, air, water and fire as sacred and therefore worthy of reverence. Then, as we perceive more deeply the wholeness of creation, we understand as well that we have been born to belonging to the sacred primal elements, of which we are composed and without which we could not live.
(CC-BY-NC-SA by www.martin-liebermann.de)
From the moment we are born until our death, we need air. Likewise water. Our body mass is, like the planet’s, 70 percent water. As the descendents of Adam, whose name derives from the Hebrew word adama (soil), we are groundlings, earthlings, the good clods who became the cultivators. We are creatures of dust, a little water, and the breath of God. Our identity is in our belonging to the sacred elements, a heritage that unites us with a past stretching back millions of years; yet, this identity has current implications as well. We live in a period of transition from an industrial-technological civilization to an ecological civilization, a transition that some have called the greatest that humans have ever faced. This transition marks the emergence from the Holocene Age to the Anthropocene Age.
by: Craig Wiesner on October 3rd, 2013 | Comments Off
Last week, while listening to the doom and gloom about what would happen if the Affordable Care Act wasn’t stopped dead in its tracks, and the other gloom and doom about what would happen if Congress failed to pass a “Continuing Resolution” to keep the government open, I had a few minutes to spare and decided to see what ObamaCare might do for me. Spoiler alert, there’s neither gloom nor doom in what I discovered when I visited Covered California at coveredca.com
I spent some time looking at the small business pages, because Derrick Kikuchi and I are both married AND we own a small business. We’ve been covered by a small business plan through Kaiser and can continue that coverage if we’d like. If we hire one more person we can get that same coverage, with tax credits thrown in to help us pay for it, through Covered California. Despite rhetoric from those who oppose the Affordable Care Act, there’s actually an incentive for us to hire someone as a Pa and Pa business! But, for now, with just the two of us, I needed to look at the possibilities of individual/family coverage.
by: Margaret Morganroth Gullette on September 27th, 2013 | Comments Off
As soon as the Battered Women’s Shelter opened in my Sister City in Nicaragua, I got to know the abused girls (all thirteen to fifteen years old), who came to live there. I have a favorite, Adelina, the silent, skinny, thirteen-year-old who came first. Adelina had been prostituted by her mother to a neighbor who paid in groceries. Social services found out, arrested Adelina’s mother and neighbor, and sent Adelina to us.
(Credit: Amnesty International/ Creative Commons)
Adelina thought she was in love with the perpetrator. I met her the next morning, after her night of wakeful tears. I knelt down, watching her draw and speaking to her through a finger puppet. “Me gusta tu dibujo,” the puppet said in a squeaky voice: “I like your drawing.” Eventually, by saying “I wish I could draw, but I don’t have any fingers,” in puppet-voice, I succeeded in making her laugh. That laugh founded an affectionate relationship.
She lived in the shelter for over a year, studied, and proudly got admitted to the Free High School for Adults. Then she was remanded back to her mother, continuing to arrive for therapy every day. Now I learn she is pregnant, by a boy three years older. He is a drunk who has been seen passed out on the waterfront. I am distraught and helpless. She is vomiting and miserable.
Radical Decency is a comprehensive approach to living. It is not about feeling better – or about treating others more decently – or about saving the world. It is about all of these things. The reason? We are profoundly creatures of habit and, as a result, each area of living is deeply and irrevocably intertwined with the others.
Thus, seeking to act differently at home but not at work, or in politics but not in our self-care, we fatally underestimate the extent to which the culture’s indecent values – its predominant habits of living – insinuate themselves into the overall texture of our lives. When we focus our healing efforts on a single area of living, these mainstream values, continuing to operate elsewhere without meaningful challenge, inexorably infiltrate and subvert our more limited islands of decency.
For this reason, healing needs to be “holistic”; a concept that many healers embrace, at least in principle. The problem, however, is that in most cases they fail to follow through on its implications.
by: Mimi Peleg on September 26th, 2013 | 58 Comments »
Mimi Peleg uses cannabis and MDMA to treat PTSD in herself and others. Credit: Ori Sharon.
The issue of drugs, and psychedelic drugs in particular, generally opens up questions which cannot be ignored by anyone seeking a more just and caring society. Current global policies towards psychedelic drugs range from the cruel to the barbaric. Every country in the world, excluding Portugal, currently prosecutes or otherwise severely penalizes individuals who use psychedelic substances.
Since the 1960s, this prosecution has come under question. This is particularly true in the U.S. To many, the pro-psychedelic movement that emerged out of the anti-war movement seems frivolous and non-essential. To observers with these attitudes, psychedelics are viewed as recreational diversions. People who see psychedelics in this way may be bewildered to know that the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization aimed at studying the medical benefits of MDMA (the pure compound in the illegal drug Ecstasy), cannabis, and other drugs, has chosen Israel as a key location for psychedelic research.
To those who follow the growing body of medical research on psychedelics, this choice is much less surprising. Increasingly, scientists have come to view psychedelics as the most powerful tool we possess in treating PTSD, radically changing the old picture of the drug. According to The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma (ICTP), a group that has been active since 1989 to contend with the growing phenomenon of psychotrauma in Israel, an estimated 9% of Israelis suffer from PTSD. While this is in the mid-range of PTSD rates in areas near Israel, it is three times the rate of PTSD in the U.S. and other Western countries. Israel’s high rate could be due to the many wars, presence of first and second generation Holocaust Survivors, and numerous other factors.