Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

April 1, 2009
Tricycle’s Daily Dharma

Medicine for the World

For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.

Raining down the flood of food and drink,
May I dispel the ills of thirst and famine.
And in the aeons marked by scarcity and want,
May I myself appear as drink and sustenance.

For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever-plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.

- Shantideva, from The Way of the Bodhisattva


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If you could somehow chart the nutritional years of your life, what would it look like? Would there be a continual line for meat consumption? Or would it peak here and there? What about fruits and vegetables? Would there only be small spurts or big bars? Milk and milk products? Grains? Beans? And how specific would this get? Should there be a line for cookies in general or cookies, Oreos; cookies, holiday, sugar? Where would chocolate be? Pralines vs. banal KitKat bars? And sodas, juice, wine, shots of Baileys with ice? It could get complicated.

My life would – I would like to think, anyway – have lots of good statistics. Years of absolutely rock-solid vegetarianism, even dabbling as far as veganism. (My kielbasa-infested childhood years had to be offset somehow!) Yet there are plenty of loopholes and sad dips into not-so-great eating behavior. The hardest thing to achieve in my life has been any sort of regularity. 

I’m onto this today – albeit indirectly - because of Obama’s inspiring speech the other day. His bold steps and plans to go where the nation (world?) patently needs to go sent shivers up and down my spine. One of the major obstacles to the success of his plans is health care. Something that concerns, needless to say, every human being, not just Americans. The issue is, however, as complicated and diverse as the human condition in general. 

If one could take a big step backward, and try to first get a grip on the developments in medicine in our day, we can rightly and proudly say we have come quite far. The thing that begins to murk up the picture has something in common with the trouble in the financial markets: greed. Greed across the board, across all markets and industries. (Just in case this wasn’t clear, this includes insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc.) The entire world could have enough fresh water and high-quality, safe food if we had our priorities straight. If individuals and businesses were responsible in the Obama sense of the word. Lake Erie would not have been a chemical dump and biologically dead by the time I was seven years old. Erin Brockovich would never have had reason to work up a sweat at Masry & Vititoe. No one would have to worry about peanut butter. This list goes on and on and on…

Preventative medicine is, in my eyes, primarily: clean water; decent and sanely grown/produced, non-toxic, hormone and antibiotic-free, unprocessed food; clean air; clean spaces to live, work, play and move around in that aren’t toxic; consumer products that are in no way toxic (take synthetic fibers as one significant example), personal transportation that isn’t inundated with toxins (it’s not just the tailpipe that spits out toxins, the dashboard, seats and interior are emitting unseen gases, too) - and so on. The list is too long and I get too sad thinking about my own experience with toxins and poisons.

Getting all bases covered seems almost too much to ask for. Surely one has to find this fact shocking. These are the sorts of things governments must regulate and control because corporations, let alone with their goals and interests, simply have not been responsible (with singular, laudable exceptions) in the past. If that were the case, many things would be different on the planet. They have acted as if they are not human, don’t have children, will never have to worry about cancer. Or dementia, or other debilitating diseases. I have hope that this will change. It may take another hundred years, time for seeds of initiative now being planted to blossom and several leaders more that have the same strong, just, human backbone Obama is so wonderfully exemplifying.

The one choice a person can make, day in, day out, on a personal level – and a powerful statement indeed – is the answer to “What’s for dinner?” Making it more of this is, in my experience, a good start:




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