Say NO to GMOs

Food&WaterWatch.org has started a petition to raise awareness about Wal-Mart’s use of Monsanto’s GE (genetically engineered) sweet corn and is urging Wal-Mart to stop selling and to reject Monsanto’s GE Sweet Corn by April 1, 2012.

For those of you who do not know, Monsanto is the world’s largest seed company focused in biotechnology (genetically engineered foods).  According to gmwatch.org, “Based on industry statistics, ETC Group estimates that Monsanto’s biotech seeds and traits (including those licensed to other companies) accounted for 87% of the total world area devoted to genetically engineered seeds in 2007.”  This is serious business people!  Many of us are not concerned with all the specifics of foods unless we are trying to lose weight or experiencing some pressing health problem.  We still eat a lot of junk, fast foods, and other things that are far from conducive to our quality of health and longevity of life.  And that’s okay because it’s your choice. There is enough information out there about those foods to make an informed decision. On the other hand, I understand that sometimes vesting in deeper thinking can incite fear because it then petitions your conscience for change, but I ask you, is this not the time for true, chokehold breaking change in your life?  What are you creating for yourself, your future?  Many of us have been guilty of taking an Ambien to the more arduous aspects of our journey, in hopes of tapping into the “ignorance is bliss,” paradigm.  We would like to believe, if we just go to sleep it will all be over when we wake up, but it won’t.  Those same challenges will be here, waiting to greet us with open arms.  I do not mean to sound preachy and I apologize if I do, but I am passionate about our right to choose and I am passionate about your health. What we resist, persists, and can even worsen since it has been left to fester; therefore, I encourage you to face what you deem adverse with feet firmly planted, take it head on, and let come what may.

It’s Just Corn, right? How Much Harm Could it Do? With greater technology comes greater responsibility and food just isn’t what it used to be.  Some may say, “I don’t even eat that much corn or I don’t even like corn or okay, I’ll just stay away from corn then,” that is not the point and it’s not that simple.  Did you know that most of us eat an alarming amount of corn every day?  You can pick up almost any product, read the labeling and you will rarely find one without mention of high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or corn sugar, all of which is the same product?  The primary argument is no longer whether corn syrup or the likes of it disrupts normal metabolic function, but whether those corn products in your cereals, sauces, dressings, canned vegetables, etc., is derived from a corn source that has been genetically modified (GMO/GE). If that’s not enough our food is also threatened by genetically engineered soy, alfalfa, potatoes, etc. Are you aware of the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)? Oh, this goes deep! “rBGH is a genetically engineered artificial hormone injected into dairy cows to make them produce more milk.”1 What repercussions do you think will and has come of this? Have we looked at or even considered the long term effects it will have on congenital birth defects, genetic mutation (physiologically visible and non-visible)? And this list, again, goes on and on. Monasanto and its affiliates, including those in the White House administration that we look to for security and justice, are creating known teratogens at the expense of generations, just to line their pockets and maintain power over the world. Remember this, those who control the food control the people!

I know this information is intense and exhausting, but I applaud you for your concern, effort and persistence to continue reading and discovering.

Do you really think Monsanto cares about any of this? Well, if you think so check out the size of the cojones they are sporting these days; according to a 1998 NY Times article, “Playing God in the Garden,” Phil Angell (Monsanto’s director of corporate communications) told Michael Pollan (American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the US Berkley Graduate School of Journalism), “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” he said. ”Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job.”2 There you have it folks, loud and proud! I can hear the logical minds churning, weighing responsibility and playing devil’s advocate saying, “I see their point.” Well, I might too, if they weren’t playing both sides of the fence. How? I’ll explain later.

Why is this, a big deal?  On a larger scale, our freedom of choice is being robbed of us!  We have to DEMAND labeling of genetically modified foods; therefore, if we do eat GMOs, it will be choice not force.  The Obama Administration (The Dept of Agriculture (USDA)) tiptoed through legislation during the Christmas break and silently approved the drought-resistant corn by Monsanto (Mon 87460).  This is but one of the varieties that you are now subject to in your food content.  What is scary about this?  If I may digress slightly, for just a moment, I will explain.  For one, the approval of this droid food is very reminiscent of the many concerns we shared regarding former decisions made by this administration, which questioned and threatened current and prospective integrity of our government’s views of public safety and health interests and what roads those decisions would lead us down.  What am I talking about?  Let’s go back for a minute, shall we, and reflect on other decisions the Obama Administration has made respective to another food regulatory agency.  Can you say FDA?  On or about July 7, 2009, Michael R. Taylor, Monsanto’s former Vice President for Public Policy became senior adviser to the FDA Commissioner.  To add insult to injury, in just six short months, January 2010, our noble administration thought Mr. Taylor needed a larger role and appointed Taylor to the newly created post of Deputy Commissioner of Foods, overseeing the office of Foods that was created in August 2009, according to the FDA.3 *Buck-eyed with two blinks* In my humble opinion, this decision was likened to leaving our children with a known child molester.  I apologize for my strong analogy, but that is how paradox this appointment was and I say this not simply because Taylor is a former player for team Monsanto, but moreover due to his CONSISTENT history of double-minded two-faced game play in the world of politics, biotechnology and so-called public interest.

Seriously, what is really going on?  Mr. Taylor has a long ping-pong history of playing both sides of the table.  He stays on the private side pushing agendas and manipulating technologies, and then conveniently jumps to the public side to become part of the team that regulates the very practices and interests he lobbied to promote.  There is something very wrong with this picture my friends and I am not the only one that sees it.  The General Accountability Office led an investigation to address the conflict of interest allegations made against Mr. Taylor, but cleared him of all charges.  The GAO is the investigative arm of congress to which we look, to ensure justice and rightful practice on the political playgrounds.  Does this investigation’s finding prove that there was no wrong doing?  Were those supporting public interests during this investigation armed with the right information, asking the right questions, providing the right evidence?  Or was this smoke and mirrors propaganda to facilitate a widespread agenda for disinformation before awareness of this debauchery became epic?  What say you?

And if that’s not enough for you, do you think this is just one man from Monsanto that has done this? Think again. There’s at least a dozen more in this dance. Look at this table. (Once you click the link, click on “Monsanto’s Government Ties.”)  It’s not a complete listing for each individual’s activities, but it definitely gives you an idea of what we are up against.

Secondly, besides the obvious concerns for man-made pest-resistant, drought-resistant foods, have we not noticed that diseases and ailments are on the rise in astronomical numbers?  Our bees and other ecosystemic organisms, which we need to ensure our own survival and the health of the planet, are dying.  Not to mention there is very little information (real information) available regarding short or long-term health risks including exposure caused by transgenic pollution (cross pollination with GE sources and native ones), which risks immeasurable dangers on so many levels to all forms of life on the planet. There have been numerous reports of a significant decrease in bee populations across the world, but are more prominent in Germany and the United States with the United States’ numbers being observed in stark disparity to Germany’s. Walter Haefeker, Vice President of the European Professional Beekeepers Association, has been quoted several times regarding his speculations about the causes that may factor into this growing problem and GMOs is one of them.  There simply isn’t enough information on this topic or cross examination of the particulars to rule that GMOs have no bearing on bee population survival.  It seems odd to me, from a common sense perspective and of course that is not fact, so take it for what it’s worth, but ever since this GMO technology became commercial (more widespread) bees have mysteriously started dying in larger numbers and with greater frequency than ever before.  To stress my point even further, there was a study done a few years back that made the same observations. According to spiegel.de The study in question is a small research project conducted at the University of Jena from 2001 to 2004. The researchers examined the effects of pollen from a genetically modified maize variant called “Bt corn” on bees. A gene from a soil bacterium had been inserted into the corn that enabled the plant to produce an agent that is toxic to insect pests. The study concluded that there was no evidence of a “toxic effect of Bt corn on healthy honeybee populations.” But when, by sheer chance, the bees used in the experiments were infested with a parasite, something eerie happened. According to the Jena study, a “significantly stronger decline in the number of bees” occurred among the insects that had been fed a highly concentrated Bt poison feed.”  Do you really think this is a coincidence?  Monsanto’s choice to avoid thinking seriously about whether or not these genetic food modifiers have impacted or manipulated the natural environmental process in some way is blatantly arrogant and negligent.

Conclusion: Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on with respect to these issues I’m sure each of us would like the right to choose.  Do we really want to give the government and, or corporate interests the power to decide what is and is not important for us to know, especially when it comes to something as personal as what we put into our bodies?  To even suggest such a thing, jeopardizes our basic human rights, not to mention the constitutional rights for citizens of the United States.  Our inability to make an informed decision as to what we are consuming infringes upon our first amendment rights.  The first amendment states in part, with regard to religion, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Many theologies address diet within its doctrines as a practice and path of the spirit. When our ability to make an informed choice is removed, by a conscious and deliberate act to deceive, it inadvertently affects our freedoms to fully honor our theologies.  I urge each of you to take a closer look and educate yourselves on the dangers of GMO foods and I encourage you to get involved in the fight to keep our food clean, healthy, and our choice.

For those who are interested: Here is the link to the petition to Wal-Mart to reject Monsanto’s sweet corn

Resources used for this article:

1.) Sustainable.org or also see Cancer.org

2.)  FDA.gov

3.) NYTimes.com

4.) Organicconsumers.org (A link to a table of Monsanto’s  history and government connections). Once you click on the link, click on “Monsanto’s Government Ties.”

5.) Food&waterwatch.org

I would like to thank all the sites that continuously work so hard to put out solid and timely information.  Your efforts and advocacy is ineffably appreciated and some of your posts was a reference or reflection for this article.

1.) Grist.org

2.) Gmwatch.org

3.) Organicconsumers.org

4.) Sourcewatch.org

5.) Bestmeal.info

6.) Justlabelit.org

7.) Labelgmos.org

8.) Spiegel.de

9.) Cornell.edu

10) Capwiz.com  (And yes I took action while on this page)

11) Gmwatch.org

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Coconuts Are One of Our Best Allies

Did you know that the coconut is one of our best allies?  Well, it is!!! Coconuts are one of those simple blessings that many of us have come to overlook and perhaps fail to appreciate.

COCONUT MILK vs. COCONUT WATER

First, let me point out that coconut milk and coconut water are very different things.  Coconut milk is extracted from the matured meat of a coconut and coconut water is an naturally occurring liquid inside young coconuts, but is replaced in time by coconut meat and air.  A very young coconut has very little meat, the gel-like substance inside the fruit that eventually becomes firm as it whitens and matures.

WHAT KIND OF A NUT IS A COCONUT?

The term coconut is very misleading since a coconut it is not a nut at all. I’m not kidding, it’s a fruit! To be more precise it is a drupe, like that of a peach, cherry, plum, nectarine, olive,  date, or mango. Another term for a drupe is stone fruit.

Now that you have a better understanding about what a coconut is (some of you already knew  this and I thank you for your patience) and how its water is distinguished from its milk, let’s talk about the benefits of drinking coconut water, since that is the true focus of this article. You know I had to give you nuts and bolts of  it before I got to the point, right? *Awkward Grin* Yes, I realize that was corny. Hence, my attempt now to move on. I wanted to share some information with you all about a great new product that I’ve come across…

O.N.E (One Natural Experience) 100% Coconut Water!

Are you looking for a great refreshing drink that will restore your electrolytes? Are you looking for a drink with a nominal amount of sugar but still tastes great and doesn’t have an after taste?  Well look no further, O.N.E. is a phenomenal product and once you’ve tried it, you’ll be hooked, just like me. Of course, after spending a lot of time in Kauai, Hi I’ve become accustomed to drinking lots of pure coconut water straight from the fruit and now that I don’t have access to my green friends, O.N.E has been a great substitute. Yes, it really is that good and by good, I also mean good for you.  I have not been this excited about anything in a long time, but O.N.E. Coconut Water gets my vote, HANDS DOWN!

More Info For Those Who Like Detail: It is also an excellent source of naturally occurring potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure and heart function as well as balances your pH levels, amongst other things. (1)  According to O.N.E it’s “the perfect isotonic beverage and optimum hydrator.” They also tout that O.N.E “optimally contains all five electrolytes found in the blood: calcium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.” (2) It’s true!  In fact, during World War II, the water of fresh young coconuts were used as intravenous drips to rehydrate the body. There was also a recent case of a man receiving a Coconut IV in the Solomon Islands for Intravenous Hydration.(3) Chemically speaking, some experts say that young coconuts are more closely related to our intracellular fluids than blood plasma and has been used in intravenous therapies in Cuba. (4)

Do your body a favor and treat it with this wonderful alternative or complement your favorite sports drinks with it for electrolyte replacement.

More Info: If you would like more information on the benefits noted by O.N.E. Coconut Water and you didn’t notice the link provided above (O.N.E. (One Natural Experience) 100% Coconut Water!) – Then scroll back up to the link and hover your cursor above it and it will provide a preview window option off to the right or you click on the link and hyperlink to O.N.E. site’s benefits page.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with O.N.E. Coconut water or any other coconut water experiences that you would like to share.  And if you liked the article, please take a moment to rate it and, or comment. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading, enjoy and replenish!

References:

1. The Treatment and Support of Cancer: Potassium

2. Conis, Elena, Coconut Water: a health drink that’s all it’s cracked up to be?LA Times (Special) Mar (2011)

3. Campbell-Falk, D et al. The intravenous use of coconut water. Am J Emerg Med 2000 Jan;18(1):108-11

4. Goldsmith, H.S. (1962) Coco-nut water for intravenous therapy. British Journal of Surgery, pp.42-422

Sophia Grace Brownlee

Sophia Grace Brownlee is the latest craze to take the media world by storm!  Sophia Grace (as she likes to be called per the Ellen Show) is reportedly an 8 yr old who received sudden recognition and fame as an internet celebrity when her parents posted a video of her on youtube a few months ago that went viral, drawing over 8 million hits (views).  The 8 yr old and her cousin (Rosie, 5 yrs) performs the Nicki Minaj song, Super Bass.  Rosie is Sophia Grace’s hype girl for her stage performances. She says, when asked what made them decide to do this together, “Well, we like dancing together and um… Rosie makes me feel more confident when um… cause I’ve got someone with me.”  This little girl is adorable, but come on people.  It is just too much! Sigh…

As a society, most of us are weighing in with opinions of whether this child has talent or not. In my humble opinion, it is evident that she is talented, but the bigger question is, “Is she using her talents in a manner that is appropriate for her age?” Am I alone in my thinking here? Perhaps, I’m from the dinosaur ages. My children often tell me, when I’m discussing various topics with them about their lives, “mom no one thinks like that anymore,” as if I’m some ancient artifact holding wisdom that has been lost eons ago. *chuckles to self* But seriously, her parents seem intoxicated by her talents and charm and have lost their vision of parental foresight and direction. It is their responsibility to understand what doors are opening to little Sophia as a result of this recognition and how those opportunities affect her life path moving forward.  I love Ellen, I think she is hella funny (extremely funny), but I do question where the ball has been dropped in regard to public policy.

Please forgive me for being presumptuous in my thinking, if you haven’t caught wind of the details by now because in my mind everyone has seen the videos and, or heard about little Miss Sophia Grace Brownlee… or, at minimum, you are familiar enough with the Super Bass lyrics to be as DISGUSTED as I am that an eight year AND a five year old have been exposed to such trash.  Side Note:  Now don’t get me wrong, what’s trash to a child is not necessarily trash to an adult and sometimes it is, but in either case, my comments are not judging the quality or lack there of for the song in general, just the appropriation of it for children. If you want my opinion on Super Bass, you’ll have to wait for another post to hear about that. *coy smile*

Okay, since I have already slightly digressed, let’s back up for a minute. For those who haven’t seen the video, go ahead and check it out below and then we can pick up the conversation from there.

If you would like to see the rest of the clip where Nicki performs with Sophia Grace on Ellen click on link.

Have you seen the video? Have you taken a moment to catch your breath? Or were you lost on what you just saw? Either way, it’s okay because I am about to let you into my world. *wink*

Caveat: I mean no disrespect to this little girl, at all. As, I stated earlier, I think she’s adorable. She’s an innocent & extremely talented. Her timing, delivery & level of mastery over her voice for someone so young, is amazing (the clips provided here don’t let you fully appreciate the quality of this little girl’s voice as much as some of the other clips that I’ve seen when she sings the bridge). However, am I the only one concerned with the exploitation of our children?

Why Am I So Concerned? Super Bass has some very explicit lyrics. Even if you try to change what you think is considered profanity, the context of vulgarity that is streamed through this entire song comprises its foundation and most of its content, minus the hook (bridge). I cannot believe that Ellen, the network, her parents, etc., allowed her to sing such a risque song. She omitted words like “f” and “n***as” but said the versus with “hoes, hell of a guy, when he make it drip, drip (the people that are clapping & cheering in the video’s audience obviously do not understand these metaphors, right? Hmmm), he cold he dope he might sell coke (drug reference).” It’s simply inappropriate for a child! Period! But the clincher is @ 4:35 on the video (posted above) where Sophia Grace says, without shame or hesitation, “I think I like him better with the fitted cap on ~ He ain’t even gotta try to put the mac on ~ He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look then the panties comin’ off, off, uh.”

Rant: WTF People?! Seriously? I’m sorry, but she’s a LITTLE GIRL!!!! Are we really that desensitized that we would miss something this dangerous & blatantly wrong?  What has a man gained, if he gain the whole world & in the end lose his soul?

Alarming Fact: [Her parents are in the Ellen audience crying] as if they just hit the lottery or saw a real life goose that lays golden eggs! Are you serious? Perhaps I’m going in a little hard on the parents. It is possible that they are naive and simply caught up in the whirlwind of excitement and happiness of their children and not thinking clearly? I suppose it is possible that they are as lost on the layers of these verses and the metaphoric meaning as others are with Shakespeare. *Eyebrows crunched ~ thinking* Perhaps, they took the blue pill and have chosen to follow the programs of the matrix. *Long Sigh* Time will tell, as time progresses we will see how all of this is handled on their end. Remember, you shall know them by their fruit.

Reflection: It is irrelevant whether her parents are naive or not. Their behavior thus far is blatantly negligent. It is the responsibility of a child’s guardians to be aware of everything that they are allowing their children to be exposed to (as much as they reasonably can be). If Sophia Grace’s parents are uneducated to the business that she is now being exposed to (entertainment), then it is their job to either learn it or hire someone to act in that capacity for them BEFORE allowing her to move on.

Last Words: The world tells me I should think this is cute and phenomenal and on some level it is, but my spirit is exhaling. Why are we not outraged by this? I’m SPEECHLESS!!

Points of Light Forum Held at Texas A & M

On October 16, 2009,  President Barack Obama co-hosted a Points Of Light forum at Texas A & M University, with former president and Points of Light founder, George H. W. Bush.  President Obama opens the forum with a “howdy” to all the Aggies, to which they gave a resounding “howdy,” in return.  He stated that it was an honor to speak at such an outstanding university and that he understood why former President Bush decided to house his library there.  After about 5 minutes (give or take 15 to 20 secs) of acknowledgments that included names like Barbara Bush, President George H. W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Former Sen. Samuel Nunn, Ambassador Ron Kirk and this list goes on, Obama decided to recite President Bush’s career portfolio.  He highlighted Bush’s career in bullet-point fashion, as if his professional decisions were clean and admirable, full of integrity and selflessness.  If I were a canine, my ears would perk up nice and tall at this point, my head would cock to the side and there would be a piercing look of confusion in my eyes (errr roo?!).  If you cannot speak truthfully about a situation, then why mention it? Could there have been another approach to introducing former President Bush without bringing your own integrity into question? I now sit here, pondering my own question.  I am not accusing President Obama of being dishonest, but I am perplexed.  Maybe the selfishness and still controversial reasoning behind Operation Just Cause (Panamanian  Invasion), the Persian Gulf War and the continued relationships/friendships with purported terrorists (Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden) are still reigning in the backdrop of my mind. I also find it difficult to ignore Bush’s long standing relationship and business dealings with the Bin Laden family that goes as far back as the 70’s, when he and Salem Bin Laden (Osama’s brother) founded Arbusto Oil Company (also  known as Arbusto Energy). Surely these facts are better served in another post, for another time.  However, it is disturbing to listen to President Obama go on and on, about President Bush’s “ethic of service long before it was fashion,” depicting Bush as a proposed egalitarian (equalitarian not elitist) citizen whose life embodied the strengths of ethics and morality.  Now don’t get me wrong, former President Bush (GHWB) has done some good things and The Points of Light Foundation/Institute is, at least on its face, one of those things.

The Points of Light Institute is said to be a an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and empowering serviced based thinking and action in our communities around the nation. In 2007, The Points of Light Foundation and the HandsOn Network merged to become the largest volunteer management organization in the nation and became known as what we know today as, The Points of Light Institute.  I must admit, it did warm my heart to hear Bush challenge the nation by making a call for “a thousand points of light”  during his inaugural address. This is a good thing, isn’t it?  Then why am I bothered? My guess is that I am constantly challenged, as I’m sure many of you are, by the incessant mixing of poison into the nutritional meals.  I, for one, am not enjoying the Sybil-like approaches to what seemingly garners the legacy of intentionally paradoxical themes padding the political chair of our presidency and other governmental seats. Perhaps I am off base here and President Obama is simply being the “optimist” he proclaims to be.  In light of this, I must concede to the plausibility that he is collapsing on a higher truth, one that is hard to reach when factors are hazy and typically too convoluted and challenging for most of us to sift through.  Is he really choosing to see the light in the pain? Or is this some framework for decorum that better serves his point of pulling us all in with his story? You know how we love a good story.  Well, our experience and response to that question will be a subjective one and will depend solely on our ability and effort to remain unattached and unbiased in our observations.  Admittedly, this will be a task for me, considering all of what is on the table, but it is my goal.

President Obama’s political prowess is nothing to sneeze at.  Surely this is finesse at its best, but does that element alone disparage the sincerity of his words? Obviously not. Yet, there is a growing population of Obama haters that literally hold his ability to appear more human than most presidents, as a threat.  It is all the proof they need to validate that he is a fraud.  It’s terrifying, for some, to think that someone could hold the position of president and still remain approachable.  Do we want an elitist thinking government or are we just conditioned to the feel of one?  Well, like it or not, charismatic seems to be Obama’s style, a gift that he openly shares every chance he gets and his visit to Texas A & M was no exception. He did not hold back during his Points of Light speech, which has a video duration of about 23 minutes. President Obama gave example after example, in mini story format, of how we can all be of service.  He held the attention of his audience as he elicited movement within their emotional framework by drawing them in, consciously softening his tone of seriousness with an occasional interjection of comic relief, as he reminded us all of our responsibility to be of service.  It was a perfect blend of sweet and sour. Balancing the flavors of thought, he petitioned the savor of some grand idea that we as a nation can be greater than our politics.  Fact or Fiction? You decide!

Once you get past the political red carpet that served as the preface to this thought-provoking speech and any personal blocks that you may have with Bush and, or Obama, there is a real opportunity for contemplation.  Texas A & M’s efforts to be an example of an institution of higher learning that is committed to giving back is definitely something to applaud. It is not uncommon to hear of sororities or fraternities that are engaged in community service, but there hasn’t been much buzz on schools itself doing much, outside of its chapter affiliates, unless integrally tied to some type of sports related association. A & M’s gesture of giving has truly been one without a concern for reciprocity. This was a pleasant surprise. President Obama mentioned that A & M’s students give back in a variety of ways ranging from tutoring children, to building homes, to raising money to fight cancer and aids.  Again, very refreshing. We are privy to so many negatives that it was nice to be reminded that some of us really are doing what counts. Way to go A & M!!!

President Obama’s Speech On The Festival Of Lights (Diwali)

President Barack Obama continues to astound the world with his thoughtful acknowledgments of other cultures during a time that is sacred and meaningful to them.  He has published an official White House video, wishing those who honor Diwali as a time for remembrance (Holiday), a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.  In this video, President Obama educates the American people and anyone else who chooses to listen, on the history of Diwali.  He explains that Diwali is a celebration of the Festival of Lights and states that it is a time “when some of the world’s great faiths celebrate  the triumph of good over evil.”  He speaks on behalf of the American people, wishing peace to everyone.  President Obama invites us to move beyond our differences and to look at our humanity, to move past our denominations, religions and cultures, and remember those who are not privileged to worship and speak freely of their own choosing.  He adds that this should be a time for contemplation, acknowledging those who are less fortunate and urges us to join together to make a habit of reaching out to those in need in an effort to advance world peace.

As reported by MSN News, President Obama bows with Hindu Priest Sri Narayanachar Digalakote, after lighting a diya (oil lamp) in commemoration of Diwali, in the East Room on October 14, 2009.

Whether you like  President Obama or not, whether you question the sincerity of this gesture or not, you must admit that his message was a call and an answer to hope and respect. This message was not one that the American government has conveyed so literally and deliberately in the past.  While President Bush was the first American President to introduce Diwali at the White House in 2003, it is my understanding that President Bush was always absent for the festivities and a cabinet member was left to preside over or light the diya in representation of him. More information about Bush’s regard and support of acknowledging Diwali in the US can be found at The Association of Indians in America website. President Obama is the first American president to attend a Diwali celebration and light a diya in full commemoration of the sacred holiday. What is different about Bush’s approach vs. Obama’s regarding Diwali is that Obama allowed us in, he invited the American people to get on board and share in the meaning of Diwali, if we so chose to, as a gesture of cultural movement rather than something that was done as a “technical” check off of his to-do list. This is a significant point to make. Further, he elected this moment, this celebration, as another opportunity to drive home his message of peace, emphasizing the need to build bridges of communication and empathy and not those of ignorance and separation, he encouraged contemplation and not segregation. It was a powerful move on the president’s part and I assure you, the meaning of the American flag represents something greater today, at least for a portion of Jains, Sikhs and Hindus and some Americans as well, than it did before Obama’s speech.  No other President has openly respected and acknowledged other faiths and called them great because there was always a purported belief or a stigmatization that carried a label of dishonor.  The perception was that the honor of some other country, faith, or culture denied or denigrated your own, but that belief is founded on a faulty premise and today President Obama was an example of this truth.

For those of you who did not see the speech, I have embedded it below for your convenience.

What are your feelings and thoughts on this? Let’s talk about it.

Liberation Through Limitation

We all live in a world full of challenges.  Everyone has a story.  It is true that some are more tragic than others, but we all are faced with something that requires tremendous effort on our parts, to move through. It is up to each of us to see the light in our pain and to recognize that those pains are simply flags, pointers, to help us identify, diagnose and cure the problem.  Psychic (mental) pain is no different than physical pain we just fail to see it with the same clarity.  If we cut our selves or bump our leg up against a table or stub our toe, we immediately address it by getting a band-aid or ice or some type if ointment to soothe the pain and then we quickly realize what we did wrong.  Either we weren’t paying attention or we tried a new method for doing something that did not work or something was out of place.  Whatever the reason may be, we generally identify the cause and make a decision right then and there what needs to be done next to move on and avoid meeting with that pain again. We don’t hold it. With psychic pain we seem to be more remiss about what’s going on. Most of us do not look at the emotional and mental pain the way that we would the physical.  We don’t eagerly assess and address it, most of us shut down or we try to ignore it.  What do you think would happen if we started to meet those emotional/mental ebbs with the same diligence that we do the physical ones? Give this some serious consideration.  How would your life change if you began to monitor your thoughts and feelings and responded with the same immediacy that you do to what is painful to your body?

Part of the reasoning many of us get stuck can be attributed to how we interpret our challenges (our life training). Life’s ebbs, for most people, are considered a bad thing.  We do not enjoy what is uncomfortable.  Our society has become accustomed to thinking in terms of integers, positive and negative.  The problem is that we have taken those terms out of their context and began to label them as good and bad, respectively.  This is a grave mistake.  Negative does not constitute bad, it is simply negative and negative serves it’s purpose, as does positive. Greater education and mastery of these energies will increase your personal power.  Let’s look at the gym as an example.  We see people going to the gym all the time and it is not uncommon to see someone lifting weights, is it?  No, but how many times have you seen someone lift the weight with one intensity/speed in one direction and not repeat that action while moving in the other direction? Those who are well trained do not make this type of mistake.  They understand that the eccentric contraction (negative) and the concentric contraction (positive) are equally as important; although, they serve two very different functions.  A newer comer to the gym or someone who was never properly trained naturally focuses on the positive, squeezing tightly and really putting their best foot forward, but they relax or quit on the exercise (so to speak) on the negative portion.  What is funny about this fact is that it is the negative that is building the most muscle, not necessarily in bulk, but in strength.

It is all a part of the beautiful design of our beingness.  Transcendence is the promise.  It is there awaiting you… waiting for you to push through your boundaries and take the ride, but we must desire to move from where we are to another point within the matrix that holds something greater for us.  We must desire to move forward and then choose to do what is necessary to go towards our vision.  So often we find ourselves trapped in situations, restricted by our own beliefs, beliefs that tell us that there is no way out, only to find that we have caged ourselves within the walls of a wet paper bag.  We hold ourselves prisoner. Our attachments keep us bound to the same self deprecating patterns that have laid its welcome mat on the porch of our comfort zone.  Like an addiction we are continuously called to the emotional ditches that are filled with waste and filth, yet we cannot climb out. We want to move forward yet we can’t seem to get out of our own way! You must divorce the lie, like a bad marriage it is not serving you, just let go of the pain and find the light within the challenge so that the light within you can rise and the lie can die!

Daniel Beaty a singer, writer, playwright, actor, and poet has a poem that puts the perspectives that I shared above into motion. In his heart touching poem “Knock Knock,” Daniel takes his audience through 3 stages, childhood with his father, childhood without his father, and adulthood without his father.  He expresses his grief, his anger and his challenges, but ultimately he invites you into his journey for healing.  He shares how he got out of his own way, by identifying his emotional flags and refusing to allow his pain or past to hold him back.  Daniel used the negatives to his advantage. He achieved liberation through his so-called limitations, envisioning his future as a stronger person, a stronger man, and a stronger contributor to his community.

What did you see when you viewed, Knock Knock? I saw Daniel tell his pain, “I will not be a statistic. I will not be someone who is unstable because my foundation suffered a few cracks. I will not be lost because my leader became distracted. I will be a student of observation and learn in every way possible. Against the odds I will rise. I am not my parent’s choices or my circumstances. I am my own person and I can create what I want. I have no limitations, only challenges that will make me stronger. I AM; therefore, I will be!!”

Prayerfully, you will find light in every challenge that you face. There are not limitations, only opportunities for liberation and a greater you!  Be Blessed!!



How Are People Responding To The News About Jani Schofield?

7-year-old Jani Schofield, born August 2002, has been diagnosed with Childhood Schizophrenia.  Jani was born, “January Schofield.”  However, according to Oprah.com and the interview documented there, she prefers to be called Jani.  Apparently during their interview they found out that calling her January is one of her triggers for an onset of emotional upset. Over time Jani has become more accustomed to violent rants and outbursts. She insists on being called Jani or Jani FireFly or Blue-Eyed Tree Frog, according to her father. These points of mention are small in comparison to the larger battles that this young soul battles on a consistent basis. This condition has affected a large number of our society and will require a great deal more research to gain any viable solutions. As a community,  however, we have been sharing our expertise. I have seen many posts and blogs around the internet on this little girl and I have seen lots of video footage as well.  There is a community of folks that have commented on this news story and have done everything from praise the family for its bravery and honesty in sharing what they have experienced on their journey to bashing them and calling the parents child abusers. There are varying degrees of emotional responses flooding the internet from a slew of observers.

Michael Schofield, Jani’s father, has his own blogsite where he regularly blogs the family’s journey with Jani.  There are claims that Michael Schoefield openly admitted to physically abusing and starving Jani out of frustration and as a means to an end.  Personally, I have not have not seen the comments that were allegedly made by Mr. Schofield and therefore cannot offer anything either way.  Many concerned citizens belonging to a group of onlookers that believe that Jani’s parents have been negligent and abusive in their care have gone to great lengths to express their disapproval and outrage.  Some of those who are concerned are even blogging endlessly about it and their readers, equally as put off, are commenting without cessation.  Many of which are pointing the finger at abuse and assigning it as the culprit for Jani’s condition. Apparently, quite a few people are under the assumption that Jani was a very spirited child prior to the onset of her Schizophrenia and her parents, in an uncontrolled state, physically assaulted this child as a means to controlling her, triggering her to go inside to deal. It is amazing to me how we can come up with all these conclusions about someone’s life that we lack the privilege of knowing outside of what has been observed in the media and community forums. I urge each of you to remember that without the observation of trained professionals and a proper diagnosis, no one can accurately gauge “when” Jani began to experience Schizophrenia. As we know, simply having imaginary friends and, or places does not constitute signs of a Schizophrenic, since those behaviors can be quite normal for many children. The psychiatric community currently has no documented evidence that concludes that abuse (physical or sexual) is a and, or the causative factor for this psychological disorder.

What comes to mind when I think of the speculation of abuse being the cause and, or a factor of Schizophrenia, I am reminded of the millions of Holocaust victims and the millions of slaves that were physically, sexually, and psychologically abused. The torture that was endured during these historical events were horrific and yet, there is no historical evidence that would lead us to believe that Schizophrenia was present in these populations. It would have been hard to ignore if it had. It would have also been very unproductive for their tyrants.

People seem to be hopping all over the place emotionally in response to Jani’s story because their buttons have been pushed.  Why do we always look for someone to blame?  Is this journey not challenging enough? There is too much speculation without enough evidence.  It is apparent that Jani is a very intelligent child.  She is also very verbal. If she was being abused, it seems likely that she would speak out about it. It is implausible that she would speak about it intentionally with her fragmented bouts with “our” reality, but I do find it probable that she would honestly and unintentionally speak on it or make some sort of reference within the framing of one her many outbursts and moments of sharing. Jani is very adamant about what she wants and does not. From my observation of her during some of the videos, she has no problem making her point when she is dissatisfied. I am not suggesting that this young girl can protect herself or that you should close your eyes and become unobservant to what stands out to you. I am simply saying, before you cast judgment and sentence her parents or anyone else, in any other situation for that matter, make sure your assessments are reasonable.

In addition to the personal attacks on the Schofield family, people have begun attacking, most recent interviewers, Shari Roan (LA Times) and Oprah (Harpo Productions), verbally whipping them in their commentary for allegedly omitting the facts about the physical assaults on this young girl, accusing them both of turning a blind eye.

My question is this, “why would Oprah or Shari, people whose fame largely comes from exposing truths, turn a blind eye to something like that?  What would they have to gain from doing such a thing?” I cannot conceive, with the information currently available to me, how they would gain anything. Maybe I am missing something here, but it is likely a stretch of the imagination, out of a need to justify and blame someone, anyone, to say that Shari and Oprah ignored to report Jani’s alleged abuse. It would actually have benefited them more by bringing those factors to light, considering the business that they are in, if in fact the rumors are true. 1) It adds to the drama of the story (drawing attention to a greater number of viewers/listeners) and  2) It would lend credit to the hypothesis that abuse is a precursor to the onset of this condition, offering greater evidence to the possibility of Schizophrenia as a subcategorical manifestation of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Think about it, we would be identifying abused children by a whole new checklist, not just bumps and bruises or broken bones, but mental disorder. Wow!  The criminal charges behind that would be mind blowing.

During this technological era, we have enormous bits of information at our disposal. Yet, it does not stop us from spreading invalidated rumors. We hear one person say it or we read it somewhere and we automatically assume it’s the truth. This is one of the reasons Snopes.com has become so popular, to encourage people to advocate and pass on good information, to at least attempt to get the facts before arbitrarily cosigning the rumors.  We, as a people, cast too many stones and judge too quickly.  Hasty judgments are made and nasty rumors are spread before substantiating what is real or not, never considering the damage that such accusations can cause. If there is foul play, I am prayerful that those truths will surface.  However, in the meantime, I must give the parents the benefit of the doubt and you should too.

Empathy at this point would be a far stretch in helping those of us on the outside touch the tip of  the iceberg in trying to understand what is going on in the minds, hearts, and lives of this family.  Nonetheless, it is the most realistic sense of comfort that we as a society can offer.  Please send your prayers and hold a vision for healing, not only for Jani, but for her entire family.  Regardless of what perspective you hold on the story, the bottom line is that they all need help and prayers.  Let us be compassionate and extend loving thoughts for the health of the Schofield family and our communities at large.

For those who are unfamiliar with the family and Jani’s story, I have embedded a clip below, compliments of the LA Times.