My friends know that February 10 is a tough day for me and my family. On that day we said goodbye to my youngest son, Hugh, who passed away after a long and difficult battle with lymphoma. This year, I chose to treat February 10 as any other day, not wanting to remember my son on the day of his death, but, instead, on his birthday. However, on the morning of February 10, I was jarred to reality by expressions of remembrance from loving and thoughtful friends and family. I was not going to be allowed to forget this day. As I sat at the kitchen counter amidst the bouquets of flowers and emails remembering my son, I had a choice: to give in to the sadness or to be happy with my life’s many blessings and move on with my day in a productive manner.
Life is a series of learning events…we will ALL face difficult events and challenges throughout our lives. The loss of a family member and a child is, probably, foremost among those difficult events and, indeed, one of life’s greatest challenges. But, I believe that our lives are defined not by these events and challenges, but by the choices that we make as a result of them. We all have a choice as to how and whether we will move forward. Will we choose to to be bitter, angry, overwhelmingly sad and without direction? Or will we choose to find courage, happiness, determination and purpose? We ALL have the power to chose.
On the morning of February 10, amidst the remembrances for Hugh, I came across a press release that Monsanto/Dow are re-releasing dicamba and 2,4-D herbicides (both carcinogens and can travel beyond sprayed areas) to replace Roundup as weeds have become resistant to Roundup. So, on February 10, as a result of the Monsanto press release, I chose to be grateful for the many ways my life has been blessed and chose a purpose for the day: to honor Hugh by providing information about the “choices” we make as a society and how those choices impact the health of our children.
The incidences of health issues in children have risen dramatically in the last 30 years. Allergies, asthma, autism, autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity are reaching epidemic proportions. Children absorb environmental toxins are a higher rate than adults due to their metabolic rates. Studies show a correlation of these diseases to environmental exposures in our water, food and environment. It is clear that we are not making the right choices as a society for our children. We are at a crossroads. Do we choose to accept increased childhood disease events as the new “normal” – that more and more children will simply spend life bald and in a hospital instead of on a playground? Or do we choose to demand better for our children. It is our choice.
Corporations make choices regarding how they make profits. I do not understand why corporate profits and the health of our children are mutually exclusive, but historically they have been, and continue to be. To say that I am disappointed with the choices that many corporations make is an understatement. Pfizer supplies the arsenic that is fed to chickens so that farmers can increase weight gain with less feed and so that the meat is “healthy” pink. (Think of how many chicken fingers your child eats. Arsenic is more toxic than mercury.) Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta etc. all contribute to the exposure of our children to GMOs, herbicides and pesticides. (If those chicken fingers are also contain GMO corn, Roundup and other pesticides and herbicides.) Oil and other companies contaminate our drinking water supply and water used to irrigate crops. (The corn fed to the chickens for those chicken fingers likely contains petroleum from irrigation sources.) Speaking of petroleum, General Mills, Nabisco, and Kraft all produce snack products marketed to children that actually contain petroleum. And Coca Cola and Pepsi have used carcinogenic preservatives in beverages until recently. I could go on and on, but time and time again, corporate profits are placed above the health of our children.
[Note: These corporations routinely maintain that their products are “safe”. But, there is no way to test product safety in children. We simply cannot conduct double-blind trials by feeding petroleum to control groups of children to see how safe petroleum is for children to ingest and in what quantities over the long term. True product safety studies prior to release of many “safe” products are non-existent. Instead, the “product safety testing” occurs “in the field” in the lives of our children. Common sense is missing, i.e., I think we know that it’s probably not a good idea to feed children the petroleum that is present in Cheetos, Pringles, Cheez-its, Teddy Grahams and Kraft Mac and Cheese and M&M’s, to name a few, but those products continue to be sold. So with regard to the previously-cited Monsanto herbicides that prompted this writing, there is no safety testing on children. Our children are guinea pigs.]
I would like to suggest that we encourage each other and corporations to use common sense and humanity to make choices that promote children’s health. We have the choice to invest in, purchase goods from, support and donate to corporations, organizations and legislators that are making the right choices for children, and now, more than ever, is the time to do so.
We can choose to invest in corporations that choose to make health products for our children. Lists of sustainable and child-friendly product companies are listed in financial publications or available by a simple internet search. If enough of us make healthy choices in our investments, investments yields will favor companies making the healthy choices. Will we choose investment in a company for gain or for the health of our children? The choice is ours.
We can choose to reward corporations and small farmers that utilize sustainable practices and produce healthy products for children by purchasing their products. Yes, organic and other sustainable products may cost a bit more. Will we choose convenience and cost or our children’s health? The choice is ours.
We can choose to provide the much-needed, grass-roots support to those organizations on the front lines who demand better for our children daily. These organizations cannot take donations from large corporate sponsors because of a conflict of interest with their mission. Whether its for our own national organization “Less Cancer”, or the non-GMO Project, or Mamavation or your own advocacy group, we can choose to donate to these organizations to sustain their critical mission. The choice is ours.
And, we can choose to demand that our local, state and federal representatives make the right choices for our children. Whether to vote against the approval for Dominion Energy to dump coal ash/waste into the James River (its going to be drinking water for someone) or to vote against the Dark Act in the US Senate (a bill that would prohibit GMO labeling sponsored by the GMO lobby) or to initiate legislation similar to that proposed by New Hampshire to provide incentives to reward sustainable farming, or to outlaw Roundup and prohibit GMO’s as many European countries have already done, we can choose to support and lobby favorable legislation and legislators for children’s health, the choice is ours.
Or we can choose to do nothing at all.
Unfortunately, I know first hand how chemicals in food, water and the environment can affect the health of a child and, unfortunately, I know that we all have a false sense of security that “something like that will not happen to me” and, unfortunately, I know that the choices we make today often cause irreversible consequences for our children. I also know that we cannot rely on others to make choices for us… choices that help our children will not occur unless and until we ALL choose to demand better.
So I will ask all of you to make one of life’s choices: the choice to demand better for our children…so that the choice regarding how we live our lives in the face of one of life’s greatest challenges becomes, perhaps, unnecessary.
The choice is ours.
RELATED LINKS: Less Cancer