By James J. Gormley
Courtesy of NOW Foods Health E-News
The late William F. Buckley, Jr. ? yes, the William F. Buckley of Firing Line, The National Review and the editorial column “On the Right” ? once wrote:
“We are all increasingly anxious in America to be unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, hesitant about claiming our right; we are afraid that our cause is unjust, or that if it is not unjust, that it is ambiguous; or if not even that, that it is too trivial to justify the horrors of a confrontation with Authority; we will sit in an oven or endure a racking headache before undertaking a head-on, I’m-here-to-tell-you complaint.”
In addition to being hesitant to speak up about issues that are important to us ? such as challenges to health and health-freedom on Capitol Hill ? very often people do not know how to start or where to start in order to tackle these issues.
Here are a few of the main reasons why people don’t take action on health-freedom issues (including battles relating to dietary supplements):
- They are not even aware of the issue.
- They are aware of the issue, but they are not sure the source (organization or website) from which they learned of the issue is credible or well informed.
- They are aware of the issue, and they are sure of the source, but they don’t know what the next step to take is, whether it is a phone call to a town, city, county, state or U.S. elected official.
- They are aware of the all of the above, but they assume that “other people” will call in or write or act, so they don’t have to because others are presumably already taking action.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION NO. 1:
I WILL BE AWARE OF THE ISSUES
It is our responsibility as health conscious consumers and natural products advocates to regularly visit the websites and blogs of those organizations that are the most credible (more on this in resolution number 2), to sign up for e-newsletters and regular updates, and to friend or “like” those organizations on Facebook and Twitter. Join these organizations’ discussion groups, and regularly participate in posting comments on issues and posts. Ask questions, learn, ask more questions. Soon you will be a super-informed advocate.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION NO. 2:
I WILL GET MY INFORMATION FROM HEALTH-FREEDOM ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE CREDIBLE AND EFFECTIVE
Aside from organizations that are shills for big money interests in one segment of industry ? not common, to begin with, and less likely now given stricter FCC rules re blogs ? most health-advocacy and health-freedom organizations are well-meaning although not necessarily well informed. Sometimes a health-freedom group will intentionally use scare tactics to get consumers activated on a specific issue or campaign, never a good or ethical approach. If an organization consistently (or constantly) sends out “The sky is falling” announcements and calls to action, this group may be non-credible and not trustworthy.
I remember one group’s representative with whom I sat down at the July 2005 Codex meeting in Rome coming out with a press release (and e-mail blast) saying: “All supplements are now banned!!!” I challenged the person about this after I saw the blast go out and asked why his group said that, knowing full well that this is not at all what went down. He said that his organization thought it was important to get people activated! (I assume to donate money to an emergency “battle” fund). So be selective as to which groups you get your information from, especially if they are also always asking you to donate money and are always in “crisis mode.”
RESOLUTION NO. 3:
I WILL CONSIDER TAKING INFORMED, CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION ON ISSUES AFFECTING ME, MY FAMILY, MY COMMUNITY AND MY COUNTRY
If we are linked in to credible health advocacy organizations, most likely they will regularly recommend specific actions, which will typically involve reading an issue summary and then submitting on online letter (or petition signature) to elected officials related to the question at issue. Typically, by filling out an online form with one’s Zip code and other contact information, the correct officials’ names will be automatically generated. However, another way to verify who your legislators are (at the state and national level) is to visit USA.gov. For non-elected officials (such as at the FDA or FTC), you can contact the agencies directly.
RESOLUTION NO. 4:
I WILL NOT ASSUME THAT OTHERS WILL TAKE ACTION BUT WILL TAKE ACTION MYSELF ON IMPORTANT ISSUES IN 2011
Just as with voting, being an informed, active and participatory citizen is essential to protecting and advancing democracy. As Mr. Buckley sagely noted, we must be obtrusive, we must be committed and we must be assured in claiming our rights. By being knowledgeable and informed about the issues, we do not need to worry about our message or our cause being construed as ambiguous. We must question “Authority” since authority is merely power lent to agencies and officials to carry out the public will and to fulfill the public good.
Well spoken! I appreciate voices that deliver informative, concise information to help folks like me to make our voices heard in the battle for health freedom. I am not opposed however to requiring manufacturers to post ingredient info in a standardized manner on product labels.
Great article! Thanks for giving us a great focus and direction for the new year of 2011.
Dear Tony and Jim,
Thanks so much!
Maybe we should all learn from the wisdom of our forefathers.
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Yes, great article!
I agree, the people of this country are too complacent.
Concerning supplements- I heard that supplements can be labeled natural as long as there is ONLY 35% OF ANYTHING natural in them.
That is outlandish! The labels should carry information as to whether the ingredients are all natural or not and the % of the supplement that is natural. If a supplement is “SYNTHETIC” this DEFINITELY should be stated, as these are not utilized in the body because the VITAL LIFE fORCE IS NOT THERE to nourish the body cells!!!!! Perhaps the majority of people and doctors don’t know this. Also, think of what would happen with the free hand the Food Modernization Act will give to the gov. Our supplements as well as our food are in grave danger. I believe it will lead to this counrty’s people becoming sicker then they already are, which will lead to more profits for the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies.
I,too, appreciate voices that deliver informative, concise information to help folks like me to make our voices heard in the battle for health freedom. I am not opposed however to requiring manufacturers to post ingredient info in a standardized manner on product labels. I want to be able to keep some of my health care choices. Keep us posted so that we the people can speak up in support of our rights.
I think one of the most effective ways to dismantle the opposition to citizens having safe, nutritious, non-GE foods,herbs etc is to do it from the inside. Why don’t we as citizens individually and collectively buy stock/shares in the companies, accumulating enough of them to determine policies and direction of these companies. This way we would ensure that our food supply, habitat,farms etc are protected; certainly there are enough of us to make this strategy work, that way WE can determine the paths of the future.
Did you all see that very recently, the FDA stormed into an ELDERBERRY JUICE/EXTRACT company WITH GUNS PULLED, stating that “elderberry juice is an unapproved drug”??? This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Just another example of our gov’t hiding behind their statement that they are trying to PROTECT us, when all they are really doing is protecting their wallets!! If people use the FOOD in their lives to kill a virus, instead of getting an expensive, dangerous drug, suddenly they get out their stupid definition of a drug (“anything that can prevent, treat or cure an illness is a drug”), and say that the elderberry is an unapproved DRUG! It never claimed to be a drug. Just because a lot of fruits, spices, etc. have some good nutrients in them that help us get or stay healthy doesn’t make them a drug. WATER is vital to our health. We can’t go more than 3 days, or we die without it. It prevents, treats and cures dehydration…but that does NOT make it a drug!!! FDA, you really need to change your definition of a drug. You only have that definition so you can make money at every turn. God forbid, nature has something better, non-toxic, cheaper, etc, but doesn’t put a penny in your wallet, it gets pulled, after being called an unapproved drug. God made these bodies…not the FDA. He also left a host of healthy things for us to eat/drink and use for our bodies, to keep them healthy. Ever hear of HIPPOCRATES? “Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.” That’s what we’re supposed to do! Our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence right out of the Bible..did you know that?? We are a judeo-christian country, and we are supposed to be worshiping GOD, not money. Please search your souls, and I think you’ll see that this was a very immoral thing to do, not to mention almost comical “hand over your elderberry juice…it’s unapproved.” Sounds like a strip right out of a comic book to me. Come on…FDA…HONESTLY…YOU DON’T REALLY THINK SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE FROM ELDERBERRY JUICE/EXTRACT. Think about it. Money is the whole EVIL that has this country in the shape it’s in now. We all need to let go of IT, and get back to worshiping GOD instead of the dollar bill.
Dear Wendy, Jane, Katheen, Leo,
Thank you so much for your empassioned and informed comments!