Unification News for August - September 1999
This month we’re going to discuss physical health, and people’s efforts to maintain it. The Earth is a physical world, and we all have mortal bodies. When, inevitably, we’re faced with illness and pain, we tend to seek help wherever it’s offered.
With good reason, most people feel strongly about this subject. I will try to be sensitive in my writing.
Overall, the news about health is good. Many once-fatal illnesses can now be cured. American life expectancy has increased for decades, and is now among the highest on the planet, and in history.
Americans worry about their bodies. The slightest alleged health risk is greeted with dire headlines. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on health care, and consume more prescriptions, vitamins, and supposedly natural tonics than anyone.
Even educated people fall, in droves, for phony treatments. As Dr. Dean Edell points out, Americans will eagerly consume potent "cure du joirs" that, if claimed for our cars, would be scoffed at. (Catch him on his radio show.) Some criticize doctors harshly, believing that cancer cures are being hidden for crass financial gain.
Many people work at high stress jobs, for 60-plus hours per week. Women trying to "have it all" will then take care of their children, too. And now, catching an amazing number of people by surprise, "fatigue" is the most common medical complaint.
Some middle-aged folks dread every little ache and twinge, instead of accepting them as normal signs of aging. Observers have coined the term "the worried well" to describe such people.
People in the Third World desire modern medicine: vaccines, antibiotics, and recently, affordable AIDS drugs. With these, infant mortality has plummeted, while in some places life expectancy has doubled.
At the same time, many prosperous Westerners shun these same medicines! Instead they’re trying from primitive, "traditional" remedies like Peruvian herbs, and India’s Ayurveda. Many Unificationists, due to their Oriental roots, have embraced such practices.
This truck driving author can testify to the benefits of Shiatsu massage for an aching back. His lovely wife swears by Chinese skin treatments, for an irritating skin condition that stumped the dermatologists completely.
Due to the perceived arrogance of modern doctors, Congress recently granted "alternative" practices and "food supplements" virtually free reign. (Some doctors wanted to make vitamins prescription only!) This new law has boosted these practices, but also fueled a vast number of frauds.
In describing common frauds, I may very well offend someone. That’s unfortunate, but if it’s you, then I invite you to consider things very carefully.
Some frauds (coffee enemas) date back well over a century. Benjamin Franklin debunked magnetic therapy over 200 years ago! "Tachyon emitters" sound like the new, but dimly understood, modern physics. A few (drinking urine) are so foolish they’d be laughable—if they weren’t diverting ill people from legitimate treatments.
Several popular "supplements" are genuine, and very potent, human hormones. While legal, they have powerful effects. Caution is needed!
Certain trendy therapies (Kundalini yoga, energy springs) straddle a line. They cannot be measured—yet neither can the spirit world itself. And if the Holy Trees at Chungpyung aren’t spiritual vortexes, then what is?
Unfortunately, many "alternative" providers are cold-hearted rip-off artists. Lately they’ve adjusted their lingo, claiming that everything they sell has been "clinically proven." Even if it was one sloppy, century-old study, done by some unknown doctor.
I’ve seen 55 gallon drum shipments of Mexican pond scum, which was processed into tiny spirulina tablets, and sold at a markup that would make an honest capitalist blush. Some providers show infomercials that feature a pretty but naive young woman. They’ll impress her with the "amazing results" of their stuff. Nice to watch, but hardly scientific.
If anyone proposes a cure-all, they can put it to the test: controlled, double-blind studies, with follow-ups. Done by a reputable institution, and never by the very people who want to sell you the stuff. Hucksters rarely submit to such trials, and don’t stop their sales even after they’re proven useless . . .
Doctor-patient relationships are crucial. Friendly but sloppy doctors are less likely to get sued for malpractice than brusque yet competent ones.
Humanity is under assault from deadly, antibiotic-resistant pathogens. This is because of heavy overuse; doctors even prescribed antibiotics for viruses that could not possibly be affected.
Patients expect a prescription; no one wants to be told they’ll just "get better with time." Also, the placebo effect allows even useless medicine to provide real comfort.
This author has realized he doesn’t have to buy and swallow every pill a doctor prescribes. However, I cannot recommend that attitude! I know men my age who dropped dead because they refused medication for serious conditions like high blood pressure.
In a way, the entire "health fad" premise is flawed. I’ve never met a health enthusiast older than 90, and I’ve known "meat and potatoes" types who were older still. Sorry to say, but they all died of something.
The idea of Biblical figures living to be hundreds of years old is probably a misunderstanding. The genetic basis for longevity is fixed; for example, the number of heartbeats during any mammal’s lifetime is a general constant.
Rev. Moon once explained that Noah’s Ark was actually built in 10 years, not 120, because their [prehistoric, lunar] calendar months were later recorded as years.
I can recall my grandparents saying: "If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything." Only now, having passed 40, do I understand what they meant.
Attitude does matter. Hard-driving Type A people really do die sooner. Married, religious people long outlive their neighbors.
Finnish doctors studied 1,200 men who were, to put it plainly, fat slobs. They let half continue their piggish habits. The other half was lectured, checked up on, and urged to reform.
When the doctors counted up, five years later, twice as many of the "reformed" guys had died! They were, quite literally, nagged to death. (This may be because stress produces the hormone cortisol, which shuts down the immune system.)
For people of all ages, having faith, and a secure family, makes a tremendous difference.
America’s health care system itself needs treatment. Reportedly, many nations provide equal, or better, care for their citizens—at a mere fraction of the cost.
Half of all medical dollars now go for paperwork. Some 150 people shuffle every claim filed. Medicare, and many HMOs, have become so huge and unwieldy that fraud is rampant.
America gets chastised for not providing "adequate health care" to all its citizens. Most of the critics are touting costly "improvements" of their own. But it’s not that simple: a crack addict who lives on a corner shared by three hospitals is never going to receive sufficient care.
Many of the several million uninsured you constantly hear about are poor children, half of whom who don’t have it because their parents (though qualified) haven’t bothered to sign up. Ditto for millions of confident, healthy young workers.
Medical costs are rising faster than inflation. In virtually every place government money is available (college tuitions, military contracts), prices skyrocket. And the Feds pay a large portion of America’s medical bills.
Even more government involvement would probably get us a system like England’s: nationalized, where suffering people often wait months for operations that are routine in America.
In reaction, a growing number of doctors are rejecting both HMOs and Medicare, and returning to simple "fee for service" practices. Can house calls be far behind?
In reality, plumbers and garbage men have been the greatest health providers in history. Only later did doctors isolate factors such as cholera germs and plague rats.
Medical science is progressing rapidly. The human genome has been mapped. The factors underlying cellular aging and cancer are understood. It’s just a matter of time before practical treatments become available.
Beyond this, many scientists are working on nanotechnology, which would enable billions tiny, robotic doctors to swim through our bodies, repairing (and improving) as they go. Ultimately, the human life span may far exceed that attributed to Methuselah.
In the meantime, our lives are vulnerable, but good common sense will go a long way toward maintaining our health. In matters of health, people should trust the recognized experts.
Rev. Moon speaks of simple things. He exercises daily, and drinks plenty of ordinary water. He urges us to pray much, and to keep a hopeful attitude. He supports and consults experts in many fields. In these tumultuous Last Days, he steers a steady course.
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