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- Jane Ginn’s Resume
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Ignorance is blissfully kiling us, and today I’m rather angry about it. I just finished reading three articles in The New York Times regarding water safety, two of which affect you and me directly. Here are the links:
Yet in the face of these realities, relatively scant attention is being paid to this ongoing calamity. Rather, we have federal funds from taxpayer dollars fueling distant killing fields and providing for a robust bonus season on Wall St. And since business-as-usual is profitable within the food, agricultural, banking, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, go buy some stock and all will be well.
Okay, deep cleansing breath, as I try to bring it down a notch. But, as soon as I think of a really interesting correlation, my anger returns. Thirty years may seem “forever” to my teenage children, yet it’s within my lifetime and so I call it recent history. It seems that 3 decades ago we were healthier as a general American population. Since then, the rates of increase in breast cancer, leukemia in children, obesity in all age groups, and asthma have grown significantly, if not exponentially. There are many factors contributing to this phenomenon; please consider these two: 1) since World War II over 80,000 new chemicals have been produced with fewer than 20,000 thoroughly tested for health impact or toxicity to living beings. 2) Many diseases, like cancer for example, take years to develop in the human body.
So, how does Kenya and cholera fit into this article? Cholera is a water borne disease that causes severe diarrhea which, untreated, can be fatal within days. Kenya is suffering from a major drought, which tragically forces rural families to reach for whatever hydration they can find, including bacteria-filled water. Interesting to note that the last chronicled outbreak in the USA occurred 100 years ago in New York City, when an infected immigrant teen arrived by ship from Naples, Italy. Authorities quarantined the vessel and the disease was contained to 15 cases, 8 being fatal. Note that by this time in America, sewer systems and water treatment facilities were well established. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Kenya and many other countries on our planet. But, that’s another topic for discussion. Back to my anger.
Where Kenya is challenged by severe drought and lack of thorough infrastructure, the United States is burdened by water abundance and aging sewage treatment facilities. The results are the same, although timelines are dramatically different. The disease of cholera reveals itself and kills innocent victims, often within 36 hours. Cancer, on the other hand, can develop over 36 years in the human body, and then be fatal. In the mean time, corporate profits preclude human wellness. National focus is steered towards phantom terrorism and celebrity shenanigans rather than highlighting our shared responsibility to care for each other at every level. Imagine if the hundreds of billions wasted on waging war were spent on improving lives– by thoroughly policing those responsible for water treatment and food production, by removing the need for profit as the primary motive, and by bringing honor and gratitude to one’s daily motivations, rather than fear and protection.
The time is now and we are all responsible for energizing change. Our sustainability as a species depends on taking greater care of the abundance the earth provides. Awareness of our shortcomings, as individuals and as a nation, can eventually lead to betterment. In terms of water, the immediate solution is quality filtration of all taps in the home. As for food and body care, read labels and know what you are putting in and on yourself (safe to suggest that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, your body might not benefit). The inevitability of death allows each of us to care for our ourselves and others with love and compassion. This is the ultimate opportunity staring us in the face.