Letters To The Editor: Overconsumption, Military Bias, Toxic Beauty

An Uncluttered Peace

Bravo on the “Musings” in this latest issue (Sep/Oct 02). I am reminded of my late husband Larkin’s comments just after September 11 last year: he was aghast at the way so many — the majority — of our fellow Americans did not have any idea how our over-consumption and materialistic ways had played a huge part in the creation of the hatred that destroyed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and killed so many of our people. He spent much of the last few months of his life on this Earth writing an essay which he courageously sent to as many leaders as he could, including the President.

I applaud your courage printing your strong words. I pray that as many of us as possible continue to nurture the silence within, slowing us down enough to hear the Earth and the love she has for us. In clearing out much of the clutter left behind by Larkin’s illness and my own stuff as well, I am reaching a new level of simplicity and respect for our blessed land. I hope others who come here can feel the opened spaces and find their own way toward renewed respect and love for themselves and the people they touch.

Keep doing the great work you are doing. Many blessings to you.

Lyndsey Watson
On-line submission

Inelegant Without Even Realizing It

I’m open-minded, I think. I sample a wide variety of viewpoints, even TV evangelists. Their thoughts are worthwhile to examine, no matter how wrong I feel they are. I also occasionally browse Spirit of Change. I don’t subscribe to some views found here, but I accept them if they are well-intentioned and have some factual basis.

Unfortunately, views expressed by Joyce Kegeles in “Elegance Without Even Trying” (Sep/Oct ’02) don’t qualify for such indulgence. Ms. Kegeles states that the military posture of standing at attention is “required to become an instrument of killing….It’s forced and unnatural.” I beg to differ.

When I became a yoga student, I was struck by the close similarity of Mountain pose to standing at attention. Extended spine, shoulders held back, and breathing from the diaphragm are prescribed for both postures. While movement should be minimized, postural stiffness (such as locking the knees) is discouraged unless one wants to faint: tight joints restrict blood flow.

My yoga classmates would be shocked to hear of their lack of “attentiveness to their own humanity” due to standing in Mountain. Maybe Ms. Kegeles is correct. In yoga class we often try to attain a mindfulness of breathing to forget our personal problems. Perhaps this mindfulness will turn us into zombie yoga assassins. When activated by the secret code word we’ll spread across the planet, butchering animal product consumers and SUV drivers. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

Ms. Kegeles seems to view military men and women as rigid, brutal warmongers whose only reason to live is to curry favor with their superiors. This is Hollywood’s view, as depicted by Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris. It’s not mine.

I never killed nor helped kill anybody while I was in the military, I’m very happy to report, even when standing at attention. (Besides, it’s really hard to shoot a gun that way.) My proudest achievement was my admittedly minor support of Operation Provide Comfort, a 1991 relief operation in which the U.S. Air Force delivered thousands of tons of food and emergency supplies to Iraqi Kurds. Most military personnel I knew felt the same as I and had little patience with the “bomb them to oblivion” types, who were relatively few and far between and restricted to the younger and more ignorant (though noisy beyond their numbers, as they are in the civilian world).

Ms. Kegeles, on the other hand, apparently has no military experience. If such is the case, I suggest she restrict her opinions to subjects on which she can comment knowledgeably. Her apparent bigotry, intentional or not, depicts a group of people as slavish killers based on the fact that they stand at attention. But as abhorrent as their existence seems to be to Ms. Kegeles, the military is necessary, as are police, politicians and undertakers.

Were I able to, and were the world such a place that it was possible, I would abolish all military organizations. But it can’t be done yet. I hope Ms. Kegeles can similarly find an accommodation with the realities of our imperfect world.

Bruce Lucier
Fitchburg, MA

Doing Our Homework

I thank you for the opportunity to respond to Nora Traviss’ concerns about my article (“Beauty and the Beast,” Jul/Aug ‘02). The first thing I’d like to address are the two mentions of SLS and propylene glycol, which, as a chemist she deems perfectly fine to use in cosmetic products. My question is this: if these two products are so safe why are they not used in the manufacture of natural and organic products? Why do some organic cosmetic manufacturers actually advertise they do not use these particular additives? Why did the CIR expert panel, quoting Ruth Winter, conclude that SLS is designed for brief skin use followed by thorough rinsing from the surface of the skin? Does that sound like something which should be in toothpastes? How thoroughly can you rinse your mouth to remove all SLS residue?

My point has been and will always be why should anyone take a risk with an artificial ingredient when there is a safe and alternative ingredient to try first? Nora mentions fear-based marketing. Fear has nothing to do with information and common sense. That is all I offer in my article.

Further and finally, since only two of the numerous ingredients I mentioned as potentially toxic were disputed by Nora, I stand by my conviction that the cosmetic manufacturers have little concern over our health issues. When one aligns oneself with the FDA, EPA, OSHA and the CDC, one risks credibility. What is considered safe today by these “experts” could be disproved tomorrow. How about the newest withdrawal of hormone replacement therapy products as an example? What is deemed safe by the “experts” today could very well be proven toxic in long term use. Common sense and responsibility will always dictate that when faced with a choice between a natural product and a synthetic product, one should always try the natural product first. Always be cautious when using a product which has to have a measure of trust in claims by the manufacturer who profits from its development and sale. We have done our homework, Nora.

We wish you wellness,
Terry Kelly & Steven Kelly
Newport, RI

Please send Letters to the Editor to: info@spiritofchange.org. Letters may be edited for clarity or length.