Before the rain stops we can hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth. – Shunryu Suzuki
There & Back Again
When my wife and I were first married, we spent a summer on Madeira Island with her family. They lived three hours from the airport in a small, poor farming village, high up in the mountains. After a hair raising 3 hour taxi ride on winding, narrow mountain roads with drops of 1,000 feet or more, we arrived at the family home. I noticed quickly that there were no phones, no TVs or radios, no refrigeration, and only sporadic electricity. There was one road in and the same road out.
In my time there, I discovered many interesting things about the skills and attitudes of the villagers. One characteristic in particular has stayed with me all these years. The shortcut to the center of town was a narrow, single file path along the side of a ridge with a drop of about twenty feet to the ravine below. In pitch darkness, townspeople could travel barefoot along this path at high speed, with no flashlights and without hesitation. No one, including the older folk, seemed to fall or fear the trek. It was as if they could see in the dark. My attempts to do this myself were met with polite smiles and giggles as I stumbled and demanded a flashlight. They couldn’t quite grasp what my problem was.
Three weeks into our stay, we were visiting relatives higher up the mountain. We stayed longer than anticipated and had to start down the mountain in the pitch dark. There was no road, only a primitive path with crevices, holes and boulders jutting into the path. It was a steep descent. As we started down, I could feel the fear of falling and being injured growing. In spite of that, I was moving faster and faster down the mountain. And then it happened. It was as if one part of my mind turned off and another turned on. I began to run. Incredibly, it all seemed to be in slow motion. I could see every crevice, every stone along the path. I neither tripped nor stumbled during the entire descent. Some part of me knew where to step. I leaped over crevices, dodged boulders and all at top speed. I saw the world in a totally new way; somehow I was aware of everything around me despite the darkness. My mind was clear, focused and in command. But it was not my conscious, everyday mind. There were no words or concepts, only awareness. It was what I have come to call the Instinctual Mind. A mind in which the world appears seamless and our senses fully integrated. But more of that later. Let me get back to the story.
Upon arriving at the relative’s home, we partook of the obligatory homemade Madeiran wine and crackers while sitting for hours talking about the farm, the children and past experiences. There was little food to share but the Portuguese hospitality was magnificent. My mind was placid and content in the here and now, primed for a new experience.
Years later, after a career at the university and in private psychotherapy practice marked with the stresses of incessant multitasking, sitting for hours at computers, and driving in massive traffic jams, I began to jealously reflect on the extraordinary skill of the Madeirans. How could we be so different? Was their ability to use the Instinctual Mind inherently human but lost to us through some social or mental atrophy? Could regaining this ability contribute a clarity and focus to life that seemed long lost in my fast paced, technology dominated world? I couldn’t help but wonder if the ability of the Madeirans to harness the Instinctual Mind could in some way rekindle a sense of place, a deeper awareness of my surroundings, of purpose and a greater sensuality. I began to look into ways, some common, some not so common that could contribute to awakening that other mind that seemed so hidden and elusive.
Hiking the Mountain
It may be helpful to look at hiking the mountain as a way of awakening the Instinctual Mind. If you have ever gone hiking, you know that it takes some preparation. You need supplies and proper clothing and a sense of direction. For me the preparation for ascending the mountain was three weeks of being free of all technology or knowledge of the world. Only the simple facts of everyday life were real. Once on the path upward, you need water, food and proper shoes so the journey can be completed. For us the hike up was hot and demanding. We had to negotiate the crevices, holes and boulders. All of this to reach our goal.
Many believe once you reach your goal at the summit the journey is over. You see the sky and the vistas. But for me reaching the top was only the prelude to the descent. Sometimes what we think is the goal is only the gateway to something more. It was the descent that shattered my mind and opened it to a new dimension. Each of us must find the path and journey that suits us. For some it may be the climb up or reaching the peak. For others it will be the journey down. The only way to know is to start preparing and taking the first steps along the way.
Awakening the Instinctual Mind is allowing what is already in you its full expression. You are not adding something new to yourself. This awakening can bring changes in your relationships, worldview and health. Instinctual Mind is a mind of compassion and healing. But those are stories for another day.
Beginning The Climb
Here are a few ways to begin preparing for the climb:
- Make a decision to free yourself, temporarily, from your cell phone and IPad or all technology for that matter. You might choose one hour a day so you can sit without the devices. Wean yourself from the constant clatter. Start to become accustomed to sitting, speaking to family, friends and colleagues without technical interruptions. You can expand this time as you grow stronger.
- Limit your time listening to the news. All the calamities of the world will still be there when you get back. Cut the ties to 24 hour cable network news. Re-traumatizing yourself all day long is unhealthy and destroys composure.
- Learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Relaxing is a good preparation to stilling your everyday mind that chatters on and on.
- Go hiking, take up Tai Chi. These practices allow you to put aside the ordinary mind. Being in nature can be very helpful in the journey.
- Start a meditation practice. There are many forms of meditation. Choose one that suits your temperament. Sitting is a path to awakening. Meditation is a way of scratching away at all the obstacles to knowing and giving expression to our true mind.
- Find a teacher, group or someone you trust who can help you along the way.
Tools for the Hike
Ram Das: https://www.ramdass.org/
Original Mind: http://www.originalmindbrilliance.com/
Centering Prayer: http://www.centeringprayer.com/
Beginner’s Mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCOVusLqXmk
Go Wild: http://www.johnratey.com/Books.php
European Union Approval of Glyphosate Found To Be Based On Plagiarized Science From Monsanto
- The Facts:
Glyphosate, an active ingredient within Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, was recently re-licensed and approved by the European Parliament. However, MEPs found the science given to them was plagiarized, full of industry science written by Monsanto.
- Reflect On:
With so much science showing it's harmful to humans and the environment, and the fact that several dozen countries have made it illegal, why is it still approved in the UK, Canada, and US? Among a few other places.
It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to glyphosate, an active ingredient used in Monsanto’s infamous ‘Roundup herbicide,’ a product that’s illegal in many countries (not including Canada and the United States). For a number of years, these countries have been citing the devastating health and environmental effects of Roundup herbicide, namely regarding glyphosate. Sri Lanka, for example, completely banned the product because of it’s link to deadly kidney disease, whereas many other countries have cited its carcinogenic effects. The science is quite clear, and it’s been coming out for decades. Fernando Manas, Ph.D. at the National University of Rio Cuarto in Argentina, outlines how “There is evidence of high levels of genetic damage in people of Marcos Juarez (Argentina), which may result from unintentional exposure to pesticides.” (source)
Nobody can really argue against why glyphosate shouldn’t be approved anywhere in the world, especially when you take a look at the science. Glyphosate recently made headlines, as the case regarding school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit claiming that glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. There are thousands upon thousands of similar pending cases. Any jury that reviews all of the scientific evidence will not be able to rule otherwise, and Johnson’s case was a great example that showed glyphosate caused his cancer.
How are these products approved? It comes as a result of corrupt regulatory agencies here in Canada as well as within the US, specifically the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The list of examples is very long when it comes to corruption and government connections to corporations like Monsanto. This is the only way these products get approved, it’s not science, it’s simply lobbying efforts and shady politics.
“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014), article ID 179691
EU regulators recently decided to relicense glyphosate, and it came based on an assessment that was plagiarized from industry reports. It’s quite backwards that for years, health regulators have been relying on the scientific reports from the company that manufactures these products, instead of seeking out independent scientific studies.
A group of MEPs decides to commission an investigation into claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (bFr) copy-and-pasted tracts from Monsanto studies.
As the Guardian points out:
The study’s findings have been released hours before a parliamentary vote on tightening independent scrutiny of the pesticides approvals process. The authors said they found “clear evidence of BfR’s deliberate pretence of an independent assessment, whereas in reality the authority was only echoing the industry applicant’s assessment. Molly ScottCato, a Green MEP, said the scale of alleged plagiarism by the BfR authors shown by the new paper was “extremely alarming.”
Molly Scott Cato, a member of European Parliament, went on to tell the Guardian:
“This helps explain why the World Health Organization assessment on glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen was so at odds with EU assessors, who awarded this toxic pesticide a clean bill of health, brushing off warnings of its dangers.”
The study found plagiarism in half of the chapters assessing published studies on the health risk, which means that half of the science came directly from Monsanto themselves, because the plagiarism was of industry science. And what does the industry do? Jane Goodall, although referencing GMOs, hammers home the point:
As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals – and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe. (source)
This quote came from a book written by Lawyer Steven Druker, who sued the FDA and uncovered documents showing how the agency manipulated the science and corrupted scientists in order to get GMOs approved. You can read more about that in detail here.
The same thing goes for glyphosate.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe for public use on the BfR’s assessment.
According to the EFSA, “The report does not provide any new scientific information that calls into question the assessment and conclusions of glyphosate. EFSA stands firmly behind the integrity of its risk assessment process and its conclusions on glyphosate.”
Jo Lewis, the Soil Associations policy director told the Guardian:
“It is unacceptable that pesticide-industry studies receive greater recognition than scientific peer-reviewed open literature in regulatory decision-making. Whilst this paper focuses on the US EPA, similar criticisms have been made of EU decisions and we fear that outside the EU, pressure to approve pesticides will increase.”
Again, it’s weird how this is even a debate. This has been known for a very long time, and we’ve seen similar happenings with DDT in the past.
“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” – October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) (source)(source)
Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate has skyrocketed, a 1500% increase from 1995 to 2005 was seen, and 100 million pounds of this stuff is used every year on more than a billion acres in the United States alone.
It’s found in our food, our beverages, our favourite snacks, etc.
It’s even been found in the breast milk of mothers, and in urine samples of people across Europe. (source)
The main toxic effects of glyphosate as identified by MIT’s Dr. Stephanie Seneff include:
- Kills beneficial gut bacteria and allows pathogens to overgrow
- Interferes with function of cytochrome p450 (CYP enzymes)
- Chelates important minerals (iron, cobalt, manganese, etc)
- Interferes with synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine – leads to shortages in critical neurotransmitters and folate
- Disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport
Need I write more?
At the end of the day, despite the power these corporations hold over government regulatory agencies, it’s human beings that are actually spraying this stuff. This is why change needs to occur at an individual level. One day, no human will agree to spray or use Roundup herbicide, because our lives literally depend on it. We’re simply being used as tools by these corporations, and they profit off our ignorance. Our own consciousness is being used against us. The lies and the scientific fraud that occur in order to get these products on the market actually convince people that they are safe. It’s still hard for some people to accept let alone entertain the idea that our regulatory agencies would ever knowingly do something to harm us.
This is why awareness is so important, and why we must do our own research.
Gillette’s New Ad On “Toxic Masculinity” Is Incredible – And Necessary, But…
- The Facts:
A new commercial from Gillette tackles the issue of 'toxic masculinity.' The commercial asks us deep questions about male culture and challenges us to step up and change what we're doing.
- Reflect On:
What else can we take from the commentary of this commercial? Where else can we find these same behaviours in our society? Further, what is the purpose of the extreme, identity-based politics we see today? Is it causing more harm than good?
In an age of extremes, the nuance of this article is going to be what helps us understand what we are truly seeing in terms of the challenges we face and how we can solve them without generating a strong opinion on these issues. I encourage you all to carefully read this article as if we want to help move away from things like “toxic masculinity,” “toxic femininity,” racism and so forth, but we must do so wisely by truly understanding the depth of what is being said.
Before I continue on, I want to say that in many cases, when talking about issues regarding men, women, or any particular race as politics and media often do today, we must remember that what is talked about does not represent the whole of any group. In fact, in many cases, it only represents a very small percentage of the group being discussed.
As a result of aspects of our consciousness, which we will discuss further in this article, there is no shortage of extremism in society right now when it comes to the discussion of gender. The #MeToo movement helped the greater population recognize that sexism is a huge problem within prominent industries, like music and film, where women are being harassed or abused sexually by men. This then extended to a greater discussion about sexual abuse in society in general, which I feel anyone can agree is an important topic to bring awareness to. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever come across anyone who actually opposes putting a stop to something like this, yet due to extreme positions, many are being wrongfully accused of such opposition. This is where we need to have a deeper discussion.
By now we know it happens, we don’t need another article exposing it, we need one talking about solutions, so that is what I’m going to focus on.
We exist in very polarized states of consciousness, and because we are a society who has not put a large focus on emotional intelligence, many issues that come to the forefront go through a long period of extremism before/if we become grounded again in order to truly understand what’s going on.
Of course, what I am talking about doesn’t relate only to what occurred after the #MeToo movement began, but with anything, including people’s views on government conspiracies, race, politics and other societal issues. In short, we attempt to apply blanket statements to issues instead of viewing things on a case by case basis or through the properly grounded facts that we do have about an issue.
As Stefan Molyneux puts it,
“The general leftist approach is that all disparities in group outcomes are the result of prejudice, of racism, of sexism, of colonialism, of exploitation of generally bad white male behaviour.”
Ultimately he goes on to say that if you choose not to look at the larger reasons as to why certain things are happening in our world, you will always be stuck blaming racism, sexism, the patriarchy, men, women, or any particular race. We must preface our discussion with this gnosis before discussing what’s next because it is only in the grounded understandings of our world that we actually can tell where we are at.
Gillette Aims To Help Raise Awareness About “Toxic Masculinity”
I’ve put the terms toxic masculinity and toxic femininity in quotations both times thus far because many people have very different ideas of what those things look like and mean. In fact, some people don’t even think “toxic masculinity” exists, similar to the way they feel only white people are capable of being racist.
For the purposes of this article, I refer to the term toxic masculinity as partaking in a destructive form of male culture that does not operate on the basis of respect, equality and self-responsibility, and that will often exude overly strong behaviours of sexualizing women and competing with others to maintain egoic power. In short, much of what we have seen as male culture through pop culture, movies, music, and so forth can tinker on promoting this form of masculinity. It’s seen in situations where a female is marginalized down to simply being a sex object or situations where male dominance is valued and strived for.
Let’s have a look at this great Gillette ad before we continue the conversation.
As Gillette accurately illustrates in its new ad, justifying certain behaviours that are not self-responsible and that do not create a harmonious world with statements like “boys will be boys,” is not something we can continue to do if we want to create a better world. Furthermore, leading by example and being able to speak up about behaviours you observe in others is important. It’s important not to do so in a condescending and judgemental tone, but rather by using a compassionate tone instead that truly questions the behavior and allows you to empathize with how the other may feel in a situation.
As Gillette brand director Pankaj Bhalla told the Wall Street Journal,
“This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own, … “We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying ‘boys will be boys’ is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our ‘best’ together.”
I have been in a number of situations where I’m in an all-male setting and one or two males are talking disrespectfully about females and I will observe other males join in simply so they feel included in the conversation or so that the other men don’t judge them. I personally know the men who joined in on the conversation don’t actually agree with the others, but do so because they feel they have to. Or better put, they do not know themselves or are comfortable enough with themselves to take the potential backlash that can sometimes come from not joining in.
This is why I say the way through these challenges is not by creating an enemy, judging their behaviour, and casting them out like many are doing, but instead by helping people question what they are doing and encouraging a culture of self-responsibility, empathy, and a deeper relationship with self. These sorts of conversations can be openly had, but it’s challenging because of our societal norms. Instead, our culture is often either that of the ‘toxic masculinity’ in question or that of extreme judgement towards unfavorable behaviours. Both are extremes, and neither help change the individual in a deep manner.
To be clear, any gender, any race and any person from a socio-economic class can take part in the disconnected behaviours mentioned above. It is not just men.
This is also where the nuance comes in. It’s important to recognize that not all men represent characteristics of “toxic masculinity.” Male pop culture might, and male pop culture does affect a certain subset of people, but it is not representative of the whole. This leads to my one small issue with the Gillette commercial. It, like many people today seem to be doing, is throwing the baby out with the bath water, i.e. not paying attention to nuance. In the case of #MeToo and this commercial, this behaviour does not apply to all men, perhaps not even to most men. We must remember that societal issues don’t apply to everyone within any particular subset of people, yet that is what people often focus on. This is also why so many enemies are being created. It’s like how some will view all Muslims as terrorists, for example.
Let’s recall the quote from Stefan Molyneux above, “The general leftist approach is that all disparities in group outcomes are the result of prejudice, of racism, of sexism, of colonialism, of exploitation of generally bad white male behaviour.” He is absolutely right in pointing out that the reasons for these things are not as simple as people want them to be, and thus we run in circles of extremes. I bring this point up not to turn the focus away from men, but because I actually care about seeing our culture change. I’ve spent enough time coming to understand that people have become outright extreme and misinformed about issues because we are too focused on an enemy and choosing sides. Thus, we have no clue where we actually stand. This is about changing how we live and operate as humans, not just of any particular race or gender.
If there are feelings of wanting to say or utilize some of the classic deflections of today including “easy for you to say from a white male privileged standpoint,” please save it. Let’s have the courage to have mature, grounded conversations, ones that can help us solve the challenges we face together.
If Not Careful, Our Unchecked Behaviour Divides Us
Like with any movement that begins, it often starts on a positive and helpful note. In this case, bringing awareness to sexual abuse of women is important to address. But the movement has come under fire to some extent as it appears to be going too far. The reasons for this include sweeping judgments, assumptions, and a lack of understanding of things that are said or what’s happening.
This has caused great divides amongst people whereby gender happens to be the card played when any issue is brought forth, even when gender truly has nothing to do with it. We are similarly seeing this with race.
This has given rise to grounded voices like Candace Owens, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Cassie Jaye, to name a few, who are discussing gender inequality in a way that is helping us to diagnose the problem more clearly and ultimately understand how to move forward. This is, of course, in contrast to the extremism out there where you begin to see women hating men or men hating women simply because we are always attempting to blame people for problems.
Cassie Jaye talks a lot about humanizing your ‘enemy.’ In her case, her enemy was males. As she discusses in her TEDx talk, when she released her movie The Red Pill, she received a great deal of backlash from feminists as her film explored The Men’s Right’s movement from her perspective as a feminist. As you might imagine, in her film, Cassie decided to go and speak to people directly. She learned about the people she was fighting against, and in some cases hated, only to realize that in most cases the issues and people involved were not quite who she thought they were.
She goes onto discuss that the greatest issue and challenge she faced was “having to peel back the layers of her own bias.” She goes deeper saying “it turned out I did meet my enemy while filming. It was my ego saying that I was right, and they were subhuman.”
Near the close of her talk she states “It’s no secret now that I no longer call myself a feminist, but I must clarify, I am not anti-feminist, and I am not a men’s rights activist. I still support women’s rights, and I now care about men’s rights as well. However, I believe if we want to honestly discuss gender equality, we need to invite all voices to the table. Yet this is not what is happening. Men’s groups are continually vilified, falsely referred to as hate groups and their voices are systematically silenced.”
The point here is not to pit men’s groups against women’s groups and see who is right, the point is that we have to stop creating sides and enemies. We instead must create a culture where we truly see one another beyond the physical realm. We also must see that in our own ways, we experience challenges from a system that truly does not support our growth.
When her film was released, the media entered into the popular groupthink of our modern times when it comes to gender politics, causing her to become one of the most hated filmmakers at the time. All she did in her film was explore the truth, beyond the fight of side vs side. She instead chose to see things for that they truly are, and this led to what I like to call an upheaval of emotions in viewers that struggle with neutral viewpoints, and instead are addicted to the fight and having an enemy.
This is where I believe many of us exist today. We live in a world where we’re encouraged to choose a side, accept limiting beliefs about what is going on, and ultimately become addicted to the drama of having an enemy to fight… even when they are not doing what you think they are doing.
What benefit truly comes from identifying as a certain form of activist? I’m not talking about simply saying “I’m an environmentalist” so people understand you care about the environment, I’m talking about when we identify so deeply as an environmentalist that we now filter everything we hear and learn through that lens, thus blocking us from not only hearing the truth but understanding where we stand as a collective. What benefit does that serve other than to show us what disconnection looks like?
I feel it’s time we pay attention to the nuance, the facts and the feelings within our hearts and stop working so hard to find or even create an enemy.
Vaccine Mandates Results Don’t Safeguard Children’s Rights or Health: How Did We Get Here?
For decades, the U.S. government has made compulsory childhood vaccination one of the cornerstones of its public health policy. Outside the U.S., countries’ vaccination policies range from completely voluntary to “aggressive,” with some nations promoting vaccination but leaving the decision up to the individual, and others pushing a little harder by financially incentivizing vaccination. Some of the countries with mandatory vaccination have “modest” policies that focus on a single vaccine such as polio, and some—with broader mandates on the books—choose not to enforce them.
Regardless of the policy, no other country requires as many childhood vaccines as the U.S., but the legal edifice shoring up the compulsory childhood vaccine program is surprisingly flimsy. As New York University legal scholar Mary Holland explains in a 2010 working paper, this edifice relies primarily on two century-old Supreme Court decisions—from 1905 and 1922—and on the game-changing National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which fundamentally altered the legal landscape for vaccination by exempting vaccine manufacturers and medical practitioners from liability for childhood vaccine injuries.
…current childhood mandates are not only radically different from what the earlier courts and legislators envisioned but are unreasonable and oppressive and have led to…perverse results that do not safeguard children’s rights and health.
The 1986 Act, in particular, resulted in an absence of legal protections for vaccinated children that is “striking compared to almost all other medical interventions.” Examining the legal trajectory of vaccine mandates since 1905, Holland argues that current childhood mandates are not only radically different from what the earlier courts and legislators envisioned but are “unreasonable and oppressive and have led to…perverse results” that do not safeguard children’s rights and health.
From mandates for emergencies to mandates for “prevention”
The Supreme Court’s 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision, as summarized by Holland, justified the imposition of one vaccine—smallpox—on adults “on an emergency basis” and under circumstances of “imminent danger.” At the same time, the Jacobson decision established medical exemptions, reasoning that it “would be cruel and inhuman in the last degree” to vaccinate someone who was medically unfit. Jacobson also contained “robust cautionary language,” calling attention to the potential for “arbitrary and oppressive” abuse of police power and warning against going “far beyond what was reasonably required for the safety of the public.” Jacobson urged courts to be “vigilant to examine and thwart unreasonable assertions of state power.”
Despite these words of warning, state-level courts did not wait long before broadening the judicial interpretation of Jacobson beyond the notion of imminent danger or necessity—although still within the context of just the smallpox vaccine:
- In 1916, Alabama and Kentucky courts affirmed states’ right to mandate vaccination for prevention of smallpox epidemics, stating that state Boards of Health “are not required to wait until an epidemic actually exists before taking action.” The Alabama court also broadened the rationale for mandates beyond adults to children.
- In 1922, the three-paragraph Zucht v. King Supreme Court decision sanctioned vaccine mandates as a condition for public school attendance. According to Holland, this decision further shifted Jacobson’s “paradigm…by upholding a mandate exclusively for children and not for the entire population.”
- Decisions in Mississippi and Texas in the early 1930s granted public health authorities the leeway to define public health emergencies in whatever manner they saw fit.
- A New Jersey court in the late 1940s interpreted Jacobson as justifying all vaccine mandates, “disregarding its language to reject unreasonable, arbitrary or oppressive state actions.”
- An Arkansas court in the early 1950s suggested that anyone questioning vaccine safety or efficacy should “lodge [their] objections with the Board of Health rather than the court.”
Occasionally, legal officials expressed their disapproval of vaccine mandates outside of emergencies, as with the North Dakota judge who, in 1919, pronounced childhood vaccination in the absence of a smallpox epidemic an act of “barbarism.” The same judge also wrote presciently about the self-interest of the medical profession and vaccine manufacturers—“the class that reap a golden harvest from vaccination and the diseases caused by it.” In comments that bear repeating today, the judge stated,
“Every person of common sense and observation must know that it is not the welfare of the children that causes the vaccinators to preach their doctrines and to incur the expense of lobbying for vaccination statutes. …And if anyone says to the contrary, he either does not know the facts, or he has no regard for the truth.”
The legal sea change in 1986
Although vaccination mandates had become legally “well-entrenched” by the mid-1950s—regardless of emergency and “all but erasing” Jacobson’s cautionary language—Holland emphasizes that this legal framework arose in the context of a single vaccine for a contagious disease considered to be life-threatening. Even when the polio vaccine subsequently came on the scene, the nonprofit organization that helped develop and distribute the vaccine “opposed compulsion on principle.”
According to Holland, the creation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—“a federal advisory body with little public participation and no direct accountability to voters”—laid the groundwork for far more coercive vaccine policies. In fact, ACIP has become, over time, the “driving force” behind vaccine mandates. Whereas Jacobson justified mandates under specific and rare circumstances, ACIP has created an “infrastructure” that pushes mandates for any vaccine-preventable illness.
…revenue-generating vaccine development and promotion have enjoyed priority over vaccine safety science and injury compensation since the Law’s (NCVIA) inception
By 1981, after ACIP helped ensure that multiple vaccines were obligatory for school attendance in all 50 states, the number of vaccine injuries began increasing. Against this backdrop, Congress enacted the NCVIA in 1986. Although some legislators may have been well-intentioned when they passed the Act, Holland makes it clear that it has been nothing short of a disaster. In essence, the Act located “vaccine promotion, safety and compensation under one [government] umbrella,” thereby creating “the risk of trade-offs among competing goals.” The rather predictable result is that “revenue-generating vaccine development and promotion have enjoyed priority over vaccine safety science and injury compensation since the Law’s inception.”
Holland identifies the paradox at the core of the 1986 Law. On the one hand, the legislation “for the first time publicly acknowledged that universal compulsory vaccination is likely to cause permanent injury and death to some infants and children”; on the other hand, it forces healthy children to give up ordinary legal protections, including informed consent, and takes away from injured children the right to sue manufacturers directly.
Meanwhile, ACIP has continued to promote a shift away from “necessity” as the rationale for vaccine mandates. A number of the vaccines that ACIP now calls for American children to get to attend school—70 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18—are for rarely fatal illnesses and for conditions “not contagious through ordinary social contact.” Holland’s conclusion is that:
“Necessity no longer determines the validity of state childhood vaccination mandates…. New vaccine mandates are guided by financial returns on low prevalence diseases, not protection of the entire population against imminent harm.”
“Ravenous corporate greed and mindless bureaucracy”
Some of the most troubling facts come at the end of Holland’s impressive legal review and concern the power of the pharmaceutical industry. She notes:
- The pharmaceutical industry has been the most profitable industry in the U.S. since the 1980s.
- In a single year in the early 2000s, “the combined profits of the ten largest drug companies in the Fortune 500 had higher net profits…than all the other 490 companies [in the Fortune 500] combined.”
- There are more full-time pharmaceutical industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill than there are legislators in both Houses of Congress.
- The leading manufacturers of childhood vaccines in the U.S. (Merck, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur) have records of documented fraud and criminal/ethical misconduct.
Holland also tackles the extensive collusion between the pharmaceutical industry and government regulators, including a quote about “ravenous corporate greed and mindless bureaucracy” in a related article. Whereas “demonstrably predatory corporations selling compulsory products to a vulnerable population should lead to a high level of government scrutiny and skepticism,” Holland observes that “government appears to ally its interests with industry in the arena of vaccines.”
Coercion is backfiring
Fortunately, the public and even some health professionals are growing increasingly wise to this industry-government shell game. In one community, opposition to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine mandates recently put public health authorities on the defensive about the epidemic of autoimmunity in today’s youth, the “exorbitant” amount of neurotoxic aluminum in vaccines and the requirement to “get a vaccine for something that can’t be caught in a classroom.” A parent responding to the news article stated, “Why should I as a mother trust the Public Information Officer for the state Department of Health when he cannot even name the amount of aluminum in the vaccine?” Thus, it is up to the public—and ethical professionals—to engage in the “scrutiny and skepticism” that the U.S. government has unconscionably failed to exercise.
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