Letters To The Editor: Anti-Semitism, Premarin, LFA Sonar

Dear Ms. Bedrosian,
This is a love letter to your publisher's Musings (Jan/Feb '02). I have read the last two with interest and great pleasure. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person left in the world who sees more to the current situation than "rah-rah –go-America-kick-the-bad-guys'-butts." So it is a relief to find another — and very articulate — voice clearly describing an alternative way to view today's occurrences.

I am a patriotic American who loves this country. But if we want to continue to have a relatively free and open culture to practice our life choices in, we must change. And everything I hear, from our weak leader cleaving to black and white dichotomies, to the most individual of citizens, is old, old thinking. Old reactions. It's all dedicated to the status quo and to imposing our views upon the "others," who have had the temerity to behave so badly.

I don't condone the horrible methods used. (I sound so defensive, and I wish I didn't have to.) But I do try to liken today's world mess to a family situation — something you might call a "geo-psychological" approach. If you are a parent and one of your children suddenly behaves in an appalling manner, is your first reaction to kill that child? Or is it to restrain him or her, sit the child down, and spend as long as it takes trying to find out what is wrong?

I tried this thought out on a WBUR radio email forum, and was so reviled in return emails I couldn't believe it. I was told "killing 7000 people is worse than a child misbehaving." I was accused of condoning terrorism. I was accused of trying to eliminate Israel by advocating the understanding of Arabs. I was accused of fuzzy thinking.

If we look at the world as a family unit, can we not look at violent acting-out as a scream for help? Can we look at the 20th century genocides (I was glad to see your mention of Armenia; there is also Rowanda, India in 1947, and the Congo) as what happens — and will happen again — if we continue to ignore the non-white, non-European, non-first world people we share the globe with? Can we look at the Marshall Plan and how it did enough healing for the warlike German spirit to keep this people peaceful and constructively occupied for more than 50 years now?

I heard a caller to some Larry King-like show say in a terribly offended, quavering, fear-laden voice: "Well, I still have not heard a reason that satisfies me for why these evil people did what they did." I am haunted by that comment. If this woman and I had a face to face talk, and I suggested to her that the frustration, disempowerment, and utter despair in which Arab Muslims live drove some of them — however misguidedly — to fly numerous planes into American buildings, would she hear me? If you have nothing, and no hope of change, what do you care if structures or societies are destroyed? If you are a black slave living in the South of 1850, do you care if the South is destroyed? If you are a ghetto kid in the 1960's, do you care if Chicago burns down?

Preservation is only of interest to the franchised. The way to make people care about building and maintaining society, to have and keep a social contract, is to enfranchise them. That old TV show "The Jeffersons" said it well: "Movin' on up to the east side…finally got a piece of the pie."

So we have to figure out how to enfranchise the Afghanis, the Arab Muslims, and the many other peoples around the globe who are still suffering in silence. But it is so threatening to most Americans even to discuss this question that I despair.

If there are no questions, there is no hope. If there is no willingness to change, to re-think ("re-pent" in its Latin root), we will lose the planet to the warlords, whether Afghani or American.

Christina Kasica
Arlington, MA

Thank you, Christina, for your strong words of support. Here's some more food for thought: According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 35,600 children around the world died from conditions of starvation on September 11, 2001. And the next day. And the next day. And the next…

Dear Editor,
Although it was of great spirit during this time to spread peace through your "Prayers for Peace" section in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue, I was disappointed to see that a prayer from Judaism was not represented amongst the major religions of the world.

Mira L. Burack
On-line submission

Dear Mira,
Thank you for your observation. We received those prayers as an on-line submission at the very last minute before sending our Nov/Dec issue to the printer and were grateful for their timely inclusion. However, we did not notice the omission of a Jewish prayer until we began receiving emails, letters and phone calls after the magazine began its distribution. Unfortunately, and almost unbelievably so, a majority of these letters were threatening, angry and accusatory, even demanding an apology and the printing of a Jewish prayer in the next issue — so it was our turn to be shocked and disappointed that so many individuals immediately assumed this completely innocent omission was racially motivated with anti-Semitic intention.

In retrospect, we wonder if perhaps the omission of this prayer serves a greater purpose in increasing our awareness and helping us strengthen our oneness of spirit. It is only when each of us individually can embrace the Jew, the Christian, the Muslim, the Pagan within that peace will prevail over terrorism on the Earth. There is no other way to the brotherhood we seek except through the path of service and humility to others. No spiritual tradition or nationality is more important than any other on this planet, regardless of history or might or size. Spirit speaks all languages, hears all prayers and earnestly seeks all hearts, inspiring us to do the same.

In mid-January, the original source of these prayers for peace was discovered on-line at http://www.JamesTwyman.com , with a Jewish prayer among them. For reasons unknown to us, the Jewish prayer, along with several others, were not included in the original submission to Spirit of Change, nor the reference to James Twyman's website. We would like to take this opportunity to thank James for the many years of political and spiritual service in the name of peace which he has contributed to the world over the past decade, and in this spirit, pray that the hundreds of spiritual traditions throughout the world too numerous even to mention here, can, as John Lennon sang, "one day live as one."

Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High. And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more. And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.

Dear Editor,
Thank you very much for "Premarin Foal Rescue" (Jan/Feb 2002). I wanted to let you know that there is legislation in Massachusetts pending about insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives and prescription hormone replacement. Please visit http://www.state.ma.us/legis/bills/st02139.htm for details of this legislation. The hormone replacement therapy coverage will mean more of this Premarin being sold. I wish they only covered non-Premarin hormone therapy for the benefit of the horses.

Thank you also for placing this article online (http://www.spiritofchange.org) so I can link it to people and send it to my political Reps. Please consider informing your Reps about the Premarin issue also.

Kim Hanna
On-line submission

Hi, Carol:
In her Nov/Dec article ("Are Hypnosis-Assisted Birth Techniques for Everyone?") Deborah Issokson suggests that pregnant women with histories of sexual, physical or emotional trauma may become anxious and dissociate during labor if they employ hypnosis childbirth techniques. She states "This is because many forms of hypnosis, such as HypnoBirthing®, encourage dissociation from the bodily experience in order to decrease the experience of physical pain."

I respectfully submit that, as Ms. Issokson is not a HypnoBirthing practitioner, she is unqualified to comment in this manner about HypnoBirthing. I feel it was unconscionable of SOC to run Ms. Issokson's statements undercutting HypnoBirthing without offering myself or another HypnoBirthing practitioner the opportunity to respond to her remarks.

Ms. Issokson is a protegee of the founder of another, different type of hypnotic childbirth preparation called "Body Centered Hypnosis for Pregnancy and Childbirth." The founder, Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD, believes that pain is unavoidable during labor and birthing and that her method makes it bearable. She claims that her "body centered techniques" are the way to go.

HypnoBirthing, conversely, is based on the physiological principle that, when a laboring woman relaxes, THERE IS NO PAIN. HypnoBirthing's elegance is in its ability to help a pregnant/laboring woman relax her body and her mind so completely that her instinctive "birthing body" does all the work. She learns to identify, understand, and eliminate all physical and emotional resistance to her birthing process. In the absence of resistance, she is easily able to experience physical comfort. Quite assuredly, she does experience birthing sensations because she is awake, aware and fully present in her body during all stages of labor. HypnoBirthing, rather than promoting dissociation during birthing, encourages full participation by the mother.

Ironically, the official HypnoBirthing logo accompanied Ms. Issokson's article.

Kathryn McGlynn, Certified Hypnotherapist/HypnoBirthing® Educator
On-line submission

Dear Friend,
The three of us have never teamed up like this before. But we all share something in common: a deep love of the ocean and marine mammals. That's why we're very disturbed by a U.S. military program that, if approved, will soon be bombarding millions of whales and dolphins around the world with intense noise.

You may have read about the U.S. Navy's "Low-Frequency Active" (LFA) sonar program. The military has been testing this new, high-powered system in secret for years. Now, the Navy wants to deploy it across 80 percent of our planet's oceans. LFA sonar is designed to detect enemy submarines by flooding vast expanses of the oceans with sound. Leaving aside the military wisdom of this sonar — which is still in dispute — the environmental dangers are becoming increasingly clear.

Here's the problem: LFA noise is billions of times more intense than that known to disturb whale migration and communication. Whales and dolphins depend on their sensitive hearing for survival. To put it simply, a deaf whale is a dead whale. Deafening noise from the LFA system will interfere with the vital biological activities of marine mammals. Scientists fear that long-term exposure to LFA could push entire populations over the brink into extinction. Inevitably, there will also be marine mammals unlucky enough to swim too close to LFA loudspeakers. Imagine an acoustic wave so powerful that, even at substantial distances, it can destroy your hearing, cause your lungs or ears to hemorrhage, or even kill you.

We've already seen a glimpse of the resulting carnage. Last year, whales from four different species stranded themselves and died on beaches across the northern Bahamas during a Navy military exercise. All but one of the dead animals examined by researchers had suffered hemorrhaging around the inner ear — the telltale sign of acoustic trauma. The U.S. Navy's own report concluded that it is "highly likely" that the stranding was caused by the use of mid-frequency active sonar.

But despite this tragic event, the Navy now wants to deploy LFA, the most extensive active sonar system ever devised. We know that different frequencies will affect different marine mammals and that the lower the frequency, the farther it penetrates the ocean. We believe it is unconscionable to expose marine mammals around the world to more high intensity sonar. If you agree, then please join us in taking immediate action. It will take you only a few seconds.

Just go to http://www.nrdcaction.org . The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Ocean Futures Society (OFS) have set up this web page to make it easy for you to send electronic messages of protest to your U.S. senators and representative. Congress is now deciding the Navy's funding for next year. Tell them to "Turn Off LFA Sonar" by cutting off its funding. NRDC used web activism to help generate a million messages of protest to Mitsubishi and, just last year, stopped the company from destroying the last unspoiled birthing ground of the Pacific gray whale.

Congress cannot ignore millions of us. Together, we can keep whales and dolphins safe from high-powered sonar. Thank you for your time and your concern.

Sincerely yours,
James Taylor
Pierce Brosnan
Jean-Michel Cousteau

Please send Letters to the Editor to: info@spiritofchange.org