Drug Safety and Media Shaped by Big Pharma
In this article, we look at the “Ghost in the Machine” – the murderous forces in our health care system that harm patients instead of help them. This article will expose the deceptions that occur in almost all facets of health care today for no reason other than money. It will also expose the identities of the ghost’s “puppet masters” who perpetrate health misinformation and unethical drug marketing for profit, whether it’s Big Pharma or its helpers in academia, government and nongovernment agencies.
It should surprise no one that, in most cases, promotion of dangerous drugs and misleading health information is a direct result of conflicts of interest. For example, with the exception of CBS, every major U.S. media outlet keeps at least one person from the drug industry on its board, which clearly explains the dearth of reporting on Pharma dangers and corruption.1
The drug industry also spends billions a year on TV ads — revenue from just nine prescription drugs was worth $100 million in one year — which also stifles negative news stories about Pharma.2
Even so-called “public” media like PBS and NPR have accepted money from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and UnitedHealthcare.3 Similar conflicts of interest exist at medical journals, universities, medical associations, advocacy groups and government agencies, including those that are supposed to regulate the drug industry. The result is the Ghost in the Machine that we live with today — deceived patients taking expensive, often dangerous drugs and soaring health costs.
Revolving Doors Between Pharma and Government
One of the most damaging conflicts of interest is the revolving door between industry and government. It allows the worst forms of cronyism, quid pro quo arrangements and approval of dangerous drugs. Both Robert Califf, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, and Scott Gottlieb, the current FDA Commissioner, are shining examples of conflicts of interest.
Before his appointment by President Obama in 2015, Califf received money from 23 drug companies including giants like Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Schering-Plough and GSK, according to a disclosure statement on the website of Duke Clinical Research Institute.4 He even praised the involvement of Pharma in government affairs.
Gottlieb was named FDA commissioner this year by President Trump, despite his high-profile work as a Pharma consultant and stock trader. While serving as FDA deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs before becoming commissioner, Gottlieb had to recuse himself from work related to nine drug companies, including Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Eli Lilly and Proctor & Gamble, because of his financial links.5,6
Another example of the “revolving door” between government and industry is former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Julie Gerberding, who left the agency in 2009 where she had overseen vaccine decisions to head Merck’s vaccines division.7,8 In 2015, she sold 38,368 shares of her Merck stock valued at $2 million.9,10 Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also used the revolving door, leaving government for industry in 2015.11
And who can forget former Texas governor Rick Perry, who mandated that all girls in Texas be vaccinated with Gardasil, an HPV vaccine made by Merck, after his former chief of staff became a Merck lobbyist?12 Stipends from industry to government also skew drug messages. Gilead Sciences, an aggressive marketer of hepatitis C drugs, likely earned the right to add the CDC’s name to its ads because of its gifts to the CDC Foundation.13
Pharma/Academia Partnerships Are Lucrative Thanks to Taxpayers
Academia was once a source of unbiased drug and health information, untainted by Big Pharma and Big Pharma’s money. Not anymore. Universities now have a “renewed interest in partnering with pharmaceutical companies and are investing resources to ensure successful collaborations,” writes Pharma Voice.14 This is how Dr. Terrence Norchi, president and CEO of Arch Therapeutics, explains the profitable new partnerships.15
“For the past 15 years, the pipelines of the big [drug] companies have been drying up … At the same time, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on academic institutions in this country and abroad. To survive, many universities will have to find creative ways to make themselves more relevant. There are opportunities to mutually solve these challenges between academia and industry.”
Such Pharma/academia partnerships date back to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which allowed universities to “patent discoveries that stem from government-funded research and then license them exclusively to companies in return for royalties,” wrote Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and Harvard lecturer, in the Boston Review.16,17
Similar laws also allow industry to co-opt and profit from NIH-funded research, which is also taxpayer supported, says Angell. Before the Bayh-Dole Act, government-funded discoveries were in the public domain — as they should be. Between 2000 and 2011 more than half of all new drugs approved in the United States were developed by collaborations with other entities such as universities.18
Increasingly, academia does not even attempt to hide its dual allegiances. Susan Desmond-Hellmann was invited to apply to be Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which includes a medical school, while serving as president of product development at Genentech.19 She remained at UCSF until 2014 after which she joined the Gates Foundation, which has its own serious conflicts of interest that you will read about in the Ghost in the Machine series.
Drug Trials Now Riddled With Conflicts of Interest
The faster Pharma can get a drug to market, the more money it makes — even if safety problems emerge later. Legal settlements from injury suits are simply built into the cost of the product launch and marketing. Gag orders with injured parties keep the dangerous side effects from reaching the public and dampening sales.
There are many examples of drugs rushed to market before they were proven safe, such as the painkiller Vioxx, estimated to have killed over 60,000 people, and the new, expensive hepatitis C drugs that were marketed before their ability to reactivate pre-existing hepatitis B was known.20,21
One way in which dangerous drugs are now rushed to market is the fast work of contract research organizations (CROs) to which Pharma increasingly outsources drug trials. CROs conduct drug trial design, recruitment, enrollment and consent of subjects, as well as preparation of the final drug submission package to the FDA in turnkey operations. If and when the new drug is approved, they will also take care of marketing and branding.
Another compromise in drug safety comes from the changing face of institutional review boards (IRBs), groups of medical professionals, laypeople and ethicists who monitor human safety during drug trials. Once linked to academic settings or hospital, IRBs have become for-profit ventures paid by the companies who do the research. When the financial livelihoods of members of IRBs depend on the company that hires them, that is a huge conflict of interest.
One example of the changing face of IRBs was revealed in a sting operation devised by Congress and the General Accountability Office. When they asked a Colorado review board to oversee a study of Adhesiabloc, a product designed to reduce scar tissue after surgery, it agreed to the work though neither the drug, developer nor lead researcher even existed.22
How can human subjects be protected in such eagerness to acquire new work? To cut costs, Pharma also increasingly runs trials in poor countries where informed consent is not easily explained and subjects sometimes think they are receiving real medical care.23
Conflicts of Interest Abound in Research
In the Ghost in the Machine series, we will review conflicts of interest in publishing that skews the perception of a drug’s safety in the public’s eyes as well as among medical professionals. Research and scientific papers boosting the benefits of new drugs and downplaying their risks often appears in medical journals, ghostwritten by the drug industry with a medical professional’s name attached for credibility.24
For example, the popularity of the withdrawn Vioxx, the birth defect-linked Paxil, Neurontin, and the cancer and heart disease-linked hormone replacement therapy drugs all stemmed from papers ghostwritten by industry. In 2016, the National Press Club in Washington held a half-day conference for reporters, scientists and business executives to discuss how well the news covered science called “Lost in Translation: Is Science Explained Fairly in the Media?”
But it was clear that the conference was biased as it grew from a partnership between Scientific American magazine, Johnson & Johnson and GMO Answers, a group funded by members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Syngenta and Monsanto.25 The event represented a popular new trend, wrote Paul Raeburn:26
“The conference was an example of what is now a widespread and growing practice in the publishing industry: the use of ‘branded partnerships’ to extended publishers’ reach and boost their income. While these arrangements might generate revenue, they also raise important questions about journalistic credibility.
After all, how can news outlets like Scientific American, a respected — even revered — source of science news, maintain the appearance of impartiality while accepting checks from companies they cover? And should respected journalists lend their names and reputations to such conferences by participating on the panels?”
Examples of branded and ghostwritten content invading publishing are not hard to find. Recently, ProPublica and Consumer Reports reported that hepatitis C drugmaker AbbVie funded a special issue of the American Journal of Managed Care on hepatitis C research, using a Stanford professor as guest editor-in-chief.27
Even books are funded by Pharma. A 1999 textbook written to help primary care doctors diagnose psychiatric conditions was funded entirely by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which makes pills for psychiatric conditions. Its authors were two prominent psychiatrists, one of whom was on GSK’s speaker’s bureau; the other was investigated by Congress for undeclared GSK income.28
Nonprofit Organizations Push the Pharma Agenda
Recently I wrote that philanthropist Bill Gates was leading the pack as one of the most destructive “do-gooders” on the planet, and that his views on addressing poverty and disease in poor countries were shortsighted and misinformed. Why? Because the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF) is one of the world’s foremost promoters of mass-vaccination efforts, which are a major part of the Pharma agenda.
Two of the B&MGF’s research heads were hired right out of Pharma — one from GlaxoSmithKline, with whom the B&MGF had a long-standing collaboration, and the other from Novartis.29 In 2002, B&MGF began buying billions in drug stocks and subsequently added huge amounts of Monsanto stock as well. Not surprisingly, the foundation is also a leading international promoter of GMO crops and technology.
“The Bill & Melinda Gates ‘Foundation’ is essentially a huge tax-avoidance scheme for enormously-wealthy capitalists who have made billions from exploiting the world’s people,” writes Ruben Rosenberg Colorni. “The foundation invests, tax free, money from Gates and the ‘donations’ from others, in the very companies in which Gates owns millions in stocks, thus guaranteeing returns through both sales as well as intellectual-property rights.”
In a 2011 Forbes interview, Bill Gates admitted the new profitability of vaccines. “Ten or 15 years ago, nobody in the drug business would have held up vaccines as profit centers,” he said, conceding that “vaccines are so tough, particularly because of liability issues.” But now, “people are making money in the vaccine business,” he noted. His statements characterize the Ghost in the Machine well.
There Is a Final Irony to the Ghost in the Machine
While mainstream medicine, which is dominated and influenced by Pharma, assails natural, nonprescription treatments that are less expensive and usually safer as worthless and untrustworthy, many Pharma companies are trying to enter the vitamin and supplement industry themselves. It is easy to see why. Supplements and natural products often treat or prevent the conditions on which Pharma makes most of its money.
They are used by the most desirable customers to Pharma — patients who say they have “excellent” or “very good” health and have high discretionary income.30 Such patients often prefer natural treatments like probiotic-rich fermented food for heartburn instead of Pharma’s dangerous proton pump inhibitors. They are not deceived by the Ghost in the Machine.
Part 2: Success Breeds Greed, Which Gets in the Way of Ethics, Common Sense and Caution
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising, which began in 1997, has done a lot more than make Pharma arguably the most profitable industry in the world and a Wall Street success story. It has greatly increased the number of prescription drugs that Americans take. In 1992, five years before DTC advertising began, Americans took an average of seven prescription drugs a year. A mere 15 years later that number had nearly doubled to 12 per year.31,32
To sell drugs, aggressive drug advertising whips up fears over rare diseases like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (introduced at the 2017 Super Bowl) and make a disease out of common, nearly universal conditions to frighten and motivate people into taking prescription drugs.
Another DTC advertising tactic is convincing people to take drugs simply because they might be “at risk” of a condition. Sadly, drug advertising is not the only way Pharma gets dangerous drugs into the nation’s medicine chests. Thanks to outrageous conflicts of interest at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — the new FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is a drug company consultant — drugs that would once have not been approved fly through their approvals.
DTC Advertising Does More Harm Than Good
Pharma-funded “patient groups” also create a false sense of demand for an expensive drug. And, last year, the FDA began clearing the way for Pharma “off-label” speech, once illegal.33 Now marketers and drug reps can claim benefits to their drugs not backed by the FDA, raising the question of “why have an FDA?”
Aggressive drug ads telling people to get medication from their doctors are especially unethical in the middle of an opioid epidemic and war on drugs. Moreover, the 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, allocates $1 million to “opioid addiction” treatment drugs to address the opioid crisis Big Pharma created, allowing the industry to profit twice.34
Pharma’s marketing of dangerous drugs, often which is often completely unnecessary, does not just harm overmedicated people. Poor people who legitimately need medical care and medication are also neglected because no profits can be made from them.
DTC Advertising Creates Patients
As previously noted, DTC advertising has greatly increased the number of prescription drugs taken in the U.S. A decade and a half after DTC began, the use of prescription medication went up 71 percent, adding $180 billion to U.S. medical spending.35
By 2014, 70 percent of adults and 25 percent of children in the U.S. were on at least one prescription drug.36 Today, 20 percent of Americans are on five or more prescription drugs.37 DTC drug advertising “is now the most prominent type of health communication that the public encounters,” reported Pharmacy and Therapeutics, adding:38
“The average American television viewer watches as many as nine drug ads a day, totaling 16 hours per year, which far exceeds the amount of time the average individual spends with a primary care physician.”
Pharma is legally required to include risk information about drugs in its ads, but the info seldom scares patients away. Everything from actors who use an appealing voice tone, to beautiful images and music choices is designed to make you tune out the risks.
DTC Ads Are Highly Effective
DTC ads are so effective, the average number of prescriptions for advertised drugs is nine times greater than prescriptions for non-DTC advertised products.39
DTC ads have put tremendous pressure on doctors who are aware that denying a prescription request can decrease patient satisfaction and cause patients to switch doctors. “Refusal skills” have even been taught to doctors, says an article at the Center for Health Journalism:40
“Writing a prescription may seem quicker but ‘explaining to a patient why a highly-advertised drug might not be appropriate only takes three minutes,’ said [Dr.] Richard Pinckney, professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine where such a program existed.
‘The insurance savings could pay for programs like these,’ he said. The Vermont project included ‘secret shoppers’ who asked doctors for an expensive brand name drug they had seen on TV after the refusal training.
‘Doctors have a hard time saying no if a drug is effective, even if it is expensive,’ said [Dr.] Audiey Kao, vice president of ethics at the American Medical Association at a 2010 conference. Doctors are ‘nervous’ that rebuffed patients will go elsewhere, agreed Dr. Pinckney.”
Highlighting Symptoms Sells Pills
Once upon a time, a medical professional sought to reassure patients and tell them they were not sick. Who remembers, “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning?” Today, thanks to DTC advertising, patients receive the exact opposite message: You probably are sick and should see your doctor.
Normal conditions like sad moods or indigestion are now said to signify potentially serious conditions, and when someone has no symptoms at all they could still be “at risk” of silent killer diseases, say DTC ads. Some DTC ads even tell you what to tell your doctor when you visit him or her and provide coupons to provide a discount for the drug being promoted.
This type of advertising is called “disease awareness” and Pharma says it is “educational” since it acquaints people with conditions and symptoms they may not know about. The truth is it increases hypochondria, self-diagnosis and the pool of patients who might use a new, advertised drug.
Sometimes disease awareness ads are “unbranded,” meaning they do not even mention the drug they are selling. This leads people to believe they are hearing public service messages from a government agency instead of calculated Pharma messages to make people think they are sick.
One example of a disease “grown” by DTC advertising is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, peptic ulcer disease or any acid-related condition, chances are you’ve been offered a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like the best-selling Prilosec.
Contrary to Pharma marketing, PPIs actually cause the very symptoms they’re intended to prevent by creating “rebound acid hypersecretion” when you stop taking them; built-up acid can be unleashed with a vengeance. In one study, more than 40 percent of healthy volunteers experienced heartburn, acid regurgitation and dyspepsia (pain and fullness in your abdomen) in the weeks after stopping PPIs; these were symptoms they did not have before.
Other Diseases Grown by DTC Advertising
One of the clearest examples of how DTC advertising “grows” the amount of people identifying with a condition has been the statin drug class, prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Until it went off patent, Pfizer’s Lipitor was the best-selling drug in the world.41 The popularity of statins reflects Americans’ and medical practitioners’ impulse to treat a condition quickly with a pill rather than more slowly but more effectively with lifestyle changes. Needless to say, Pharma makes no money on better lifestyle choices. Here is how AlterNet described the success of statins.42
“Patients loved statins because they could ignore diet and exercise advice and still, apparently, reduce heart attack risks; their body would ‘forgive’ the bacon cheeseburger. But not all medical voices agreed. Some wondered why the nation spent approximately $20 billion a year on cholesterol-lowering drugs instead of effective, less dangerous and less expensive lifestyle and diet changes.”
Another example of an overexposed condition is erectile dysfunction (ED). According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 12 percent of men younger than 60 and 30 percent older than 70 suffer from ED. However, the market for the top three ED drugs is over $1 billion annually and expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2022. This means many men are treating a condition that may be well within the range of normal.
The same overdiagnosis and overtreatment can be seen with low testosterone or “low T.” Rather than making diet and exercise changes, men are erroneously told they need to treat their testosterone decline with drugs.
Pills for Rare Diseases Are Pharma’s Biggest Profit Center
If you have noticed aggressive DTC advertising for drugs that treat rare diseases, you are right. Approximately 1.2 percent of Americans (3.2 million) have schizophrenia, yet drugs that treat the condition have been among Pharma’s bestsellers.43 Specialized, highly expensive drugs that treat rare mental disorders, cancers, autoimmune diseases and other specialized ailments “have been growing in leaps and bounds in recent years,” says the financial site Motley Fool:44
“[That] means that volume may not necessarily be driving sales of these therapies higher so much as price hikes. A good example would be Amgen’s … anti-inflammatory drug Enbrel, which grew revenue by 14 [percent] in 2016, but actually had units sold of the drug fall by 6 [percent] year-over-year. This means price increases drove its 14 [percent] total growth.”
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which also afflicts a small number of people, is very aggressively advertised because of the high price tags of the drugs that treat it. As I have often warned, rheumatoid arthritis drugs are among the most dangerous drugs available. Humira, Remicade and similar drugs double your chances of getting a serious infection and triple your risk of some cancers. They also fail miserably in not addressing the underlying foundational reasons why the condition began in the first place.
The drugs are linked to lymphoma, tuberculosis, pneumonia and skin, gastrointestinal, breast and lung tumors. Older patients who take the drug for long periods are at highest risk.
These dangerous drugs are almost always unnecessary for most people taking them. It has been my experience that virtually all rheumatologists are clueless about the root cause of the disease they are treating. Because they don’t have a clue about the cause, they have to rely on toxic concoctions that can devastate your health.
Over the past 16 years, however, I’ve treated more than 3,000 patients safely by using my extensive RA protocol, which does address the underlying conditions, as does my new book “Fat for Fuel,” which helps you optimize your mitochondrial function.
Greed Sends Health Care Costs Soaring
In the past few years, the public, health care professionals and Congress itself have been appalled at Pharma’s profiteering. Many remember how Martin Shkreli, former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, crucial for AIDS patients, from $13.50 a tablet to $750 per tablet, and the similar EpiPen price hikes.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. hiked the price of a once-daily form of Wellbutrin, a 30-year-old antidepressant, to $1,400 a month despite the existence of a $30 generic, and refused to lower prices on the millions hospitals pay for its life-saving heart medicines.45
The ruse of patient assistance for expensive drugs is just that: a ruse. Pharma, trying to look like it has a heart, simply shifts the high cost to privately insured patients and still gets its high prices. Taxpayers also pay. A Senate committee found that the hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni cost taxpayers $5 billion in 2014. Of course, there are cheaper drugs, but they are not the ones promoted, reported Pharmacy and Therapeutics:46
“Another common complaint is that manufacturers often use DTCPA [direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising] to promote expensive ‘me-too’ or ‘copycat’ drugs that might not offer any significant benefits over older and cheaper medications.
For example, two heavily promoted diabetes treatments, rosiglitazone (Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline) and pioglitazone (Actos, Takeda), were found to be no more effective — or safe — than older drugs, even though they were much more expensive.
In another study, older drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia were found to be equally effective and to cost as much as $600 per month less than olanzapine (Zyprexa, Eli Lilly), quetiapine (Seroquel, AstraZeneca), or risperidone (Risperdal, Janssen).”
Other Ways Pharma Ensures Its High Prices
As mentioned, outrageous conflicts of interest at the FDA allow drugs that once might not have been approved to fly through their approvals and onto Wall Street.47
It is no surprise, then, when rushed-to-market drugs are withdrawn, since an insufficient amount of time was allotted for safety problems to emerge. Patient front groups — a typical “astroturf” strategy, since they are not really grassroots — keep drug prices high. According to AlterNet:48
“More than 80 percent of patient groups are Pharma-funded … including the National Hemophilia Foundation, the American Diabetes Association and the National Psoriasis Foundation.
But the most insidious are the mental health front groups like the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) and Mental Health America. Not only do psychiatric drugs represent four-digit outlays per month per patient, and sometimes much more, patients are kept on them for decades or for life, with few medical attempts to determine if patients still need them or ever needed them.
Side effects of the drug cocktails are viewed, thanks to Pharma spin, as confirmation of the ‘mental illness,’ not the side effects they almost always are. The use of such drugs in the elderly, despite their links to death in those with dementia, has become epidemic and is an underreported cause of falls.”
To defend its high prices, Pharma has also rolled out PR campaigns targeting lawmakers who want to stop the profiteering. They are designed to show the “value” that drugs that cost five and six figures represent. The prices are always presented as fixed and non-negotiable, but the Senate Finance Committee said last year they do not reflect research and development but are simply an opportunistic and arbitrary “revenue” push.49
The message of the campaigns, showing patients whose lives were saved or lengthened by expensive Pharma medicines, is that questioning Pharma’s outrageous drug prices means you’re heartless and don’t care about these patients’ lives. Even as Pharma companies seek to incorporate overseas to duck U.S. taxes, and manufacture almost all their drugs overseas, these campaigns also claim its high-priced medicines help the U.S. economy by creating jobs, like for “sheet metal workers.”50
Part 3: Pride and the Politics of Vaccines
There needs to be an open, rational discussion about vaccination, infectious diseases and health. After all, don’t all of us want our children to be healthy and safe from unnecessary harm?
If we want to protect the health of all children, we cannot continue to ignore the signs that public health policies making mandatory use of multiple vaccines in early childhood as our nation’s No. 1 disease prevention strategy have gotten to the point where we have no idea how children’s lives are being sacrificed in the name of “the greater good.”
From my point of view, there can be little doubt that we need to review the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccination program in the U.S., and that this review needs to include methodologically sound investigative studies that are not compromised by conflicts of interest within industry and government. If we don’t do that now, we may not be able to stop further damage to the health of future generations.
Vaccine History is Shameful
Many are aware of the unethical and manipulative marketing of today’s vaccines. But the roots of the greed-based marketing — battling over markets, patents, intellectual property, profits, “turf” and prestige — could be seen 20 years ago with the Children’s Vaccine Initiative (CVI).51
The CVI was founded in 1990 after the World Children’s Summit in New York City by the Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) with an overarching goal of vaccinating all the children in the world with vaccines endorsed by the WHO and governments.52
Reportedly, CVI has been marked by a rivalry for leadership between the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the U.S. The CVI was created as a means for UNICEF to fund research and development of vaccines for distribution globally without directly giving money to WHO.
There were difficulties inherent in coordinating the efforts of different governments and public-private partnerships. Also, there were questions about vaccine production itself, such as would the ability of drug companies and governments to quickly produce large quantities of vaccines end up compromising the quality of vaccines?
According to the book, “The Politics of International Health: The Children’s Vaccine Initiative and the Struggle to Develop Vaccines for the Third World,” the U.S. Department of Defense was a cooperative partner with CVI:53 “The Army, unlike the public sector generally, worked closely with private pharmaceutical companies to make sure that the vaccines it needs were actually produced. It could not afford to leave decisions to the marketplace.”
Overseas Vaccine Disasters
Increasingly, Big Pharma produces, tests and sells its vaccines in poorer, undeveloped countries — sometimes with disastrous results. This is what happened with Gardasil, a Merck vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is linked to venereal warts and cervical cancer. As reported by Counterpunch:54
“Merck attempted to cast the vaccine as lifesaving — even in poor countries with much more pressing disease risks — but Pap smear tests are equally effective in preventing [through detection] cervical cancer and cost much less. Nor are the vaccines clearly safe. [In 2015], judges in India’s Supreme Court demanded answers after children died during a trial of Gardasil and Cervarix, GlaxoSmithKline’s counterpart vaccine.” 55
Young tribal girls as young as 9 were given Gardasil and Cervarix HPV vaccines with no informed consent or even awareness that they were participating in an experimental vaccine trial. The study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.56
The pharmaceutical industry likes overseas clinical trials because regulations are less strict and sometimes nonexistent, and product liability lawsuits involving personal injury are unlikely. In fact, trial participants often welcome the test drugs thinking they are being given important or needed medical care.
Clinical trial participants in foreign countries, especially those who live in poverty with little education or access to medical care, are also “drug-naïve” — they have not used the antibiotics, statins, psychiatric and GERD medications so common in industrialized countries.57 Clinical trials require that participants have a “washout” period to ensure any drug residues in their bodies do not confound the trial results, and subjects in poor countries have no drugs to “wash out.”
Many medical ethicists also question whether trials of pharmaceutical products should be conducted on people who don’t need them or won’t receive them after the trial. If the drug (or vaccine) will not be available free or for a reasonable cost for a significant time afterward, the trial itself is unethical in that it is “exporting the risk of research to those who will, in the end, not be able to afford the resulting medical products,”58 say ethicists.
And informed consent? Some ethicists have argued that videotapes of informed consent statements by trial participants would protect them much better than the current written consent forms being used because of language barriers and the fact that some trial participants in impoverished countries cannot read.
Big Pharma Conflicts of Interest Abound
Mainstream media are financially linked to Big Pharma through drug ads (estimated to account for as much as 72 percent of commercials)59 and through allowing drug company representatives to serve as board members. Here is how Organic Consumers Association (OCA) describes the conflicts:60
“There are brazen and unhidden conflicts of interest between mainstream media and vaccine makers which color reporting and discourage safety questions.
‘According to a 2009 study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, with the exception of CBS, every major media outlet in the United States shares at least one board member with at least one drug company,’ reports Mike Papantonio, of the ‘America’s Lawyer’ TV show. ‘These board members wake up, they go to a meeting at Merck or Pfizer, and then they have their driver take them over to a meeting at a TV station,’ says Papantonio.”
The government is also in the vaccine “biz.” Vaccine safety activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reported that the CDC owns more than 20 different vaccine patents and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines each year, noting that those patents create a significant undisclosed conflict of interest when it comes to the agency’s involvement in vaccine safety. It is a case of the fox guarding the henhouse.
The New York Times reported that most experts who served on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panels to evaluate flu and cervical cancer vaccines had potential conflicts that were never resolved.61 The vaccine industry also “gives millions to the Academy of Pediatrics for conferences, grants, medical education classes and even helped build their headquarters,” according to a CBS investigative report.62
Unscientific ‘Conclusions’ Reached by News Outlets
Almost all news sites parrot the Big Vax party line in shocking abdication of journalistic ethics. For example, no news outlet would declare “all drugs safe” because they clearly are not, yet they obligingly declare “all vaccines safe,” which insults the public’s intelligence. In addition to published reports of vaccine injuries,63 there are many reports of vaccines recalled for safety issues.
No, all vaccines are not “safe” and every pharmaceutical product carries a risk of injury or death that can be greater for some people than others.
To get a clearer understanding of the many safety concerns raised by vaccine researchers, get a copy of Neil Z. Miller’s book, “Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers.” In it, he reviews the vaccine safety and efficacy concerns raised by 400 peer-reviewed published studies.
Imagine a news outlet blaming motor vehicle accidents in which the motorist fell asleep and harmed others on the motorist’s refusal to take stimulants for sleepiness. As outrageous as that would be, headlines from respected news sites do exactly that when they blame disease outbreaks on “anti-vaxxers.”
As scientists and reporters with integrity know, causation can almost never be claimed; the preferred terms are “linked, “associated” and “correlated.” “Anti-vaccine activists spark a state’s worst measles outbreak in decades,” trumpeted The Washington Post in May.64“Anti-vaxxers brought their war to Minnesota — then came measles,” screamed Wired.65
“Attempts by anti-vaccine activists to influence the Somali parents of Minnesota have ended with a measles outbreak that has made dozens of kids sick,” declared The Daily Beast.66 “Anti-vaccine groups blamed in Minnesota measles outbreak,” charged CNN.67 Conveniently ignored is the fact that the CDC maintains a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that in February revealed 416 deaths from measles vaccines MEA, MER, MM, MMR or MMRV.68
The Science is Ignored
Earlier this year, Kennedy, chairman of the World Mercury Project, actor Robert De Niro and others held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., calling for an open and honest discussion about vaccine safety. Appearing in a video was the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, who was the first female director of the National Institutes of Health, serving from 1991 until 1993.
She was also professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, professor and dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health at Ohio State University and president of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.69 In the video, Healy expresses concern that no government attempts have been made to see if a population of susceptible people exists for whom vaccines are risky.
She said she did not believe “the public would lose faith in vaccines” if such a population were found, a fear she said was expressed at the Institute of Medicine. She also lamented how animal studies which suggest vaccine links to neurological damage have been ignored. One such study was savaged by pro-vaccine scientists. As reported by OCA:70
“A 2010 paper published in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, a quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal covering neuroscience, found that ‘rhesus macaque infants receiving the complete U.S. childhood vaccine schedule’ did not ‘undergo the maturational changes over time in amygdala volume that was observed in unexposed animals.’
Pro-vaccine scientists pounced. Not enough monkeys were used to establish a scientific finding, said one scientist. Opposite findings about the amygdala have been reached, which invalidate the study, said another scientist.
One angry scientist was even willing to discredit the monkey study by claiming that monkeys are not a valid model for human disease — thus annulling millions of experiments including the ones on which human drugs are approved! Of course, many in the animal welfare community have questioned the validity of animal ‘models.’”
‘Vaccine Court’ Protects Vaccine Makers’ Interests, Not the Public
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. handles contested vaccine injury and death cases in what has become known as “vaccine court.” The vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) is a “no-fault” alternative to the traditional civil court lawsuit and was established in 1986 after a string of high-profile lawsuits by parents of vaccine injured children had hauled vaccine manufacturers into court to have their cases heard in front of juries.
At the time, parents were suing vaccine manufacturers after their children were brain injured or died following federally recommended and state mandated DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccines, or children were left paralyzed by live oral polio vaccinations (OPV).
Several DPT injury lawsuits against the vaccine makers in the 1970s and early 1980s resulted in multimillion-dollar jury verdicts. At that point, vaccine manufacturers threatened to stop producing DPT, MMR and oral polio (the only childhood vaccines at the time) if civil litigation were allowed to continue.
Common sense would have dictated that such lawsuits were a sign that vaccine manufacturers needed to raise safety standards and produce less toxic vaccines. Instead, Congress buckled to industry pressure and gave vaccine manufacturers the legal protection they demanded through the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
As a result, vaccine makers have no incentive to produce the safest vaccines possible, especially when many childhood vaccines are state mandated for school attendance and 2 out of 3 vaccine injured children are turned away from the VICP with no compensation.
Vaccine Court Cases Are Usually Dismissed and Seldom Publicized
Many Americans do not even realize the vaccine court exists because the Department of Health & Human Services does not publicize the existence of a federal vaccine injury compensation program and few VICP claims are ever disclosed, let alone publicized. In fact, two-thirds of claims received are dismissed.
The desire for secrecy on the part of public health officials is understandable. If Americans were routinely informed of the vaccine injury and death claims processed through the VICP, public doubts about vaccine safety would escalate. Still, disturbing vaccine-related injuries have surfaced, often though legal firms, according to Opednews:71
“In 2011, in a report in the Pace Environmental Law Review, the researchers identified 83 NVICP cases in which victims demonstrated evidence of autism (though the cases often emphasized other injuries) resulting in more than $96.7 million in settlements.
In addition to 32 cases which included the presence of autism-like symptoms, there were 51 cases interviewed by the researchers in which parents said their child’s vaccine injury led to “an autism diagnosis, autistic features or autistic-like behaviors.”
“In another case, petitioners claim that within 48 hours after their baby received a DPT vaccine, he began to seizure and an MRI subsequently revealed suspicious black lesions. Like many children with seizure disorders he needed around the clock care and supervision. Eight years after a claim was filed, the boy received $7 million for a lifetime of medical care from the NVICP.”
In yet another case, described by Opednews, a 2-month-old baby girl “started to have seizures, abnormal breathing [and] irregular heartbeats” hours after receiving a the same, routine DPT vaccine. In the following six years, the girl suffered from cognitive delays, cerebral palsy, encephalopathy and seizures.
Mercury Is Not the Only Vaccine Risk
While Kennedy focuses on the potential role of thimerosal in vaccine damage, researchers have presented a number of other potential mechanisms of vaccine harm, including the long-acknowledged ability of vaccines to cause brain inflammation (encephalitis/encephalopathy), the toxic effects of aluminum adjuvants and other toxic vaccine ingredients, and the hazards of immune overstimulation by virtually any means.
For example, pertussis toxin and live measles virus can cause brain inflammation and permanent brain damage — regardless of thimerosal. Moreover, vaccine safety is not simply a matter of proving or disproving the link between vaccines in general and autism specifically.
There are many other, potentially severe side effects, including immune system dysfunction, that can lead to or exacerbate any number of health problems. Veterinary scientists have even noted increasing rates of autoimmune problems in dogs following vaccination.
Research has shown an increase in death following receipt of inactivated vaccines suggesting vaccine adjuvants can also be culprits. Aluminum adjuvants might be a factor, but it appears inactivated vaccines may also program your immune system in a way that decreases your body’s ability to fight off disease later.
Moreover, the gut-brain axis and the compelling synergy between compromised gut flora and autism can be triggered by vaccines. The potential for DNA fragments and retroviral contaminants in vaccines to produce an exaggerated and potentially lethal immune response is also possible and underreported. Clearly the presentation of vaccines as “always safe” and the vilification of vaccine activists comes out the greed-based vaccine business model.
Part 4: The War on Supplements, Essential Oils and Homeopathy
If you suspect that supplements are more popular than ever, you are right. More than half of American adults have used one or more supplements and more than half of women and 43 percent of men used a supplement of some kind within the last 30 days.72,73
While that means not taking vitamins or supplements is now a minority position, it also means Big Pharma is trying to get “in on” the supplement business. The U.S. retail sales of vitamins and supplements is expected to exceed $36 billion in 2017.74 While that’s less than a tenth of what Pharma rakes in annually, it has nevertheless caught the drug industry’s attention.
Also, the highest users of supplements and alternative therapies are the most desirable demographic to marketers — those reporting “excellent” or “very good” health, usually with a higher discretionary income.75 No wonder Pharma and Pharma-supported voices have launched an all-out smear campaign against supplements and alternative therapies. Both categories lack the huge price tags of drugs and encourage patient education and self-care.
Supplements and natural products also often treat or prevent the very conditions that enrich drug companies, which further explains Big Pharma’s wrath. For example, omega-3 fats such as krill oil and other nonprescription products lower heart disease risks without using dangerous statins.
Prescription drugs can also increase the need for supplements. If you take a diuretic, an acid-blocking PPI or the diabetes drug metformin, you are more likely to develop vitamin or mineral deficiencies.76
Traditional Media Outlets Question Value of Supplements
In 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a large study of U.S. supplement usage that found, according to The New York Times:77
“Americans spend more than $30 billion a year on dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals and herbal products, among others — many of which are unnecessary or of doubtful benefit to those taking them. That comes to about $100 a year for every man, woman and child for substances that are often of questionable value.”
Elsewhere in recent years, negative news articles about vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin D, calcium and multivitamins have run. Supplements like ginkgo biloba, echinacea, fish oil and ephedrine are also under attack, as are homeopathy and aromatherapy.78,79,80,81
Some articles, many written by medical professionals, say supplements are ineffective and a waste of your money; others actually accuse supplements of causing or risking physical harm and even shortening lives. Some medical specialists also accuse supplements of impeding or interfering with drugs taken for other medical conditions.82
In addition to print media and the web, TV news media have joined in the discrediting of the supplement industry, exposing alleged disreputable manufacturers and lobbyists.
While I would never defend unethical makers of supplements who put the public at risk, these same news shows largely give Big Pharma a pass even though prescription drugs put the public at a much greater risk. Prescription drug overdoses are the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the death toll continues to rise thanks to the growing opioid addiction crisis.83
Pharma Is a Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Leading Pharma’s campaign to discredit supplements is the charge that unproven health benefits, not backed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are claimed by supplement makers. Yet almost every major drug company has entered into a settlement for the same thing, known as “off-label marketing” in the prescription drug world. At least 31 drug companies have been charged with such false promotion including Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Forest, Amgen and Allergan.84
Pfizer paid a $430 million fine for off-label marketing of Neurontin for the non-FDA approved indication of bipolar disorder.85 Eli Lilly engaged in another off-label marketing scheme, trying to market the selective estrogen receptor modulator Evista for the unapproved FDA indication of prevention of breast cancer, and unleashed hundreds of drug reps to sell the unapproved use.
Reps were told to hide a disclosure page that said, “The effectiveness of [Evista] in reducing the risk of breast cancer has not yet been established,” from the doctors they were trying to sell on the drug, according to the Department of Justice.86 Scott Gottlieb, the new FDA Commissioner, drug stock trader and Pharma consultant, defended Evista’s off-label marketing in a Wall Street Journal oped.87
Questions About Product Purity Cut Both Ways
Another way that Pharma-friendly voices try to discredit supplements they have yet to sell themselves is through raising questions about their purity, label accuracy and manufacturing process. Here is a quote from Dr. Paul A. Offit, one of the nation’s leading drug and vaccine defenders, in an interview about his 2014 book “Do You Believe in Magic?” on Medscape:88
“Look at what happened with this vitamin-maker called Purity First. Purity First, a few weeks ago, had all of its products recalled by the FDA. They made three products. They made vitamin C. They made a multimineral preparation, and they made a B-complex vitamin preparation.
What happened was there were 25 women in Connecticut who started to develop symptoms of increased hair where they didn’t want hair to be, deepening of the voice, and loss of menstrual cycles because they were inadvertently taking anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids had contaminated those preparations. How does that happen?… Just imagine if vaccines were inadvertently contaminated with anabolic steroids. You would never hear the end of it, but here somehow it all gets a free pass.”
Offit is dead wrong. Drugs, vaccines and medical products are frequently recalled for quality and contamination though recalls are seldom reported in the mainstream press. In April 2017, GlaxoSmithKline recalled nearly 600,000 defective Ventolin inhalers.89 In March 2017, generic giant Mylan (of EpiPen fame) said it was recalling 4,005,177 bottles of the cholesterol fighter atorvastatin because of the “potential of an elevated bioburden with identification of objectionable organisms.”90
Recalls of biologics (drugs that contain an ingredient extracted from a “biological” source such as cells from humans, animals or microorganisms) have increased significantly, especially for vaccines. From 2007 to 2010, 14 vaccine recalls and 13 recalls for immunoglobulins were made. Additionally, vaccines are not adequately tested for safety and effectiveness using methodologically sound scientific studies before they are licensed, so all of their side effects and long-term negative health outcomes are often unknown.
Examples of Supplements, Essential Oils and Homeopathy Therapy at Work
The medical literature includes notable examples of supplements and natural remedies that function as valuable medicines. Why do we so rarely, if ever, hear of them on health news sites or TV? Supplements and natural substances cannot be patented and hence present no profit potential for Pharma no matter how dramatic their actions. Here are some supplements for which there is promising evidence of effectiveness:
|Folic acid, when added to enalapril (an ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure, diabetic kidney disease and heart failure) produced a significant reduction in stroke occurrence in 2015 JAMA research.91|
|Oregano might be effective against the norovirus, say investigators at the University of Arizona.92|
|High doses of vitamin C may be useful in the treatment of ovarian cancer, boost the power of chemotherapy and ward off stroke, research indicates.93,94,95|
|Multivitamins and olive oil are under investigation for their roles in managing breast cancer.96,97|
|A compound found in a Japanese mushroom could be a cure for the currently untreatable human papilloma virus.98|
|Vitamin E likely plays an important role in deterring miscarriage.99|
|Preliminary evidence even suggests that micronutrients could be beneficial in treating adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to 2014 research published in The British Journal of Psychiatry.100|
|When children with ADHD inhaled vetiver essential oil three times a day for 30 days they had improved brain wave patterns and behavior and did better in school.|
|In patients with allergies, those using homeopathy reported improvements in nasal airflow compared with a placebo group and researchers described a “clear, significant and clinically relevant improvement in nasal inspiratory peak flow, similar to that found with topical steroids.”|
Don’t Rule Out Vitamin D
In the past few years, vitamin D has gone from a vitamin “hero” whose deficiency potentially explained many maladies, to VNG (Vitamin Non Grata).101,102 The same flip-flop has been seen with calcium, once a good guy, now potentially another supplemental bad guy.103 In fact, vitamin D has been so demonized, the pro-Pharma Forbes site actually writes:104
“Vitamin D supplements, to put it plainly, are a waste of money. (For those concerned about osteoporosis, the widely used drug alendronate (Fosamax®), has been shown to increase bone density by about 5 percent, as explained in a 2011 article by Dr. Sundeep Khosia. But Fosamax has side effects.)”
The “side effects” mentioned by Forbes are an understatement. Bisphosphonate bone drugs such as Fosamax and Boniva have been linked to esophageal cancer, jawbone death, heart problems, intractable pain and the very fractures they are supposed to prevent.105 They are one of the most dangerous drug classes ever marketed.
Far from a waste of money, vitamin D made such a difference in a 2014 breast cancer survival study, an investigator said “There is no compelling reason to wait for further studies to incorporate vitamin D supplements into standard care regimens.”106 Research suggests it may have a valuable role in multiple sclerosis management, diabetes and depression, chronic liver disease and diseases of older age.107,108,109,110
Even as the drug industry attacks the safety, reliability and effectiveness of vitamins and supplements, it creates them itself. In 2013, PGT Healthcare LLP (a venture of Procter & Gamble, Teva and Swisse Wellness) said it would expand its range of more than 100 vitamins, minerals and supplements.111
Other drug giants are also in the supplement business. Sometimes making vitamins results in drug companies making positive instead of negative statements. Here is what research funded by Roche (now DSM Nutritional Products) BASF and Pfizer found about multivitamins112
“A daily multivitamin can help a man reduce his risk of cancer, according to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The first-of-its kind study will be presented October 17 at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research and published online the same day in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”
Marketing vitamins also subjects Big Pharma to the same false claims charges it cites about the supplement industry. Pfizer, which makes Centrum products, was sued to remove its claims that the products support “energy and immunity,” “heart health,” “eye health,” “breast health,” “bone health” and “colon health.”113
And although Merck announced December 14 that it plans to sell its subsidiary, Seven Seas, a quick look at its Seven Seas Multivitamin Complete reveals claims that it contains ingredients that “provide adults with energy … as well as a healthy heart … good eye sight, healthy bones and digestion system.”114
Part 5: Lies, Denial, Deceit and Manipulative ‘Research’
In the last decade, vaccines have become Big Pharma’s biggest profit center. A report published by MarketsandMarkets estimates the global vaccine market, currently valued at $34.30 billion a year, will grow to an astounding $49.27 billion by 2022.115
Why the boom? As blockbuster drugs like Lipitor, Viagra, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singular and Concerta have gone off patent, vaccines prove a lucrative replacement. Not only are they priced much higher than pills, governments and NGOs shamelessly help market vaccines to huge swaths of the world’s population.
These unethical partnerships, using taxpayer or NGO money, advance misleading research intended to frighten the public. Worse, they discredit vaccine critics who raise legitimate safety and efficacy questions and even discredit the families and victims of vaccine injuries themselves. To cash in on vaccine profits Big Pharma, governments and NGOs have characterized all vaccines as “life-saving.” One of the clearest examples is the attempt to present vaccines against the HPV virus as vaccines “against cancer.”
“Science” articles warn that as many as 90 percent of adults, especially baby boomers, silently harbor the HPV virus much like articles that warn many baby boomers are infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
In both cases, the drug industry is trying to “grow” the market for its products by inflating the amount of estimated sufferers. Reporters either wittingly or unwittingly help in the effort by repeating the drug industry supplied “facts.” The truth is more than 90 percent of HPV infections are cleared by the body116 without symptoms and only 20 percent of HPV infections are the high-risk type that could develop into cancer if not identified and treated.117
Big Pharma’s misleading advertising is not working, though. Many families of adolescent boys and girls targeted by HPV vaccine marketing by drug companies and government health officials are refusing the vaccine.118
Reacting to the HPV vaccine dropouts, Big Pharma launched an offensive “shame” campaign last year in which young adults with cancer blame their parents for not vaccinating them when they were adolescents. The ads were so over-the-top even supporters of the vaccine complained. Twitter remarks accused the company of trying to guilt-trip parents to bolster corporate profits.119
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Promotes Vaccines and Their Profits
One of the world’s leading funders of vaccine development and promotion is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF).120 In 2002, it began buying billions in drug stocks121 and subsequently added huge amounts of Monsanto stock.122 Two of the B&MGF’s research heads were hired right out of Pharma — one from GlaxoSmithKline, with whom the B&MGF had a long-standing collaboration, and the other from Novartis.123
Even more shocking, it hired the former president of product development at Genentech to serve as its current CEO, Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann.124 This is how health writer Ruben Rosenberg Colorni describes the true nature of the foundation:125
“The Bill & Melinda Gates ‘Foundation’ is essentially a huge tax-avoidance scheme for enormously-wealthy capitalists who have made billions from exploiting the world’s people. The foundation invests, tax free, money from Gates and the ‘donations’ from others, in the very companies in which Gates owns millions in stocks, thus guaranteeing returns through both sales as well as intellectual-property rights.
To add insult to injury, the system perpetuates the spread of disease rather than aids in their eradication, thus perpetually justifying his endeavors to ‘eradicate’ them (solving a problem they are creating).”
In a 2011 Forbes interview, Bill Gates admitted the new profitability of vaccines.126 “Ten or 15 years ago, nobody in the drug business would have held up vaccines as profit centers,” he said, conceding that “vaccines are so tough, particularly because of liability issues.” But now, “people are making money in the vaccine business,” he noted.
Questions About Overseas Vaccination Programs
Questions about the ethics of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s overseas vaccination programs have swirled for years, specifically a study aimed at validating a low-cost way to screen for cervical cancer in India.127 This summer, STAT News reported that “new evidence of ethical lapses” has been published.128
“Dr. Eric Suba, a pathologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco and co-author of the paper, provided STAT with a copy and links to supporting documents. In an interview, he described the Mumbai study, which ended in 2015, in stark terms: ‘catastrophic, ‘monumentally unethical, and a radical departure from normal scientific procedures’ …
Critics of the 18-year trial said that U.S.-funded Indian researchers used ineffective screening that endangered thousands of poor women in Mumbai. They were told the test could help prevent cancer, but far fewer pre-cancerous lesions were found than expected, suggesting that some lesions were missed — possibly leading to an unknown number of deaths.”
In 2015, judges in India’s Supreme Court heard a challenge claiming the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation failed to obtain the informed consent of the children or their parents and demanded answers about juvenile deaths from the vaccine trial.129
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Is a Big Investor in Monsanto and Promoter of GMOs
In 2012, Bill Gates announced he would try to end world hunger by growing more genetically modified (GM) crops. He had already invested $27 million into Monsanto. At the time, I said Gates was leading the pack as one of the most destructive “do-gooders” on the planet and that his views on addressing poverty and disease in poor countries were short-sighted and misinformed.
Shortly thereafter, a team of 900 scientists funded by the World Bank and United Nations determined the use of GM crops is not a meaningful solution to the complex situation of world hunger. The Seattle Times also called Bill Gates’ support of GM crops as a solution for world hunger unsound science. It’s an undisputed fact that the introduction of genetically engineered crops lead to diminished biodiversity — the direct opposite of what the world needs.
To save the planet and ourselves, small-scale organic and sustainable farming not only must prevail but flourish, and GM crops do not help; rather, they threaten their existence. Seeds have always been sold and swapped freely between farmers, preserving biodiversity, and without that basis, you cannot have food sovereignty. With fewer farmers, “feeding the hungry with GM crops” is nothing but a pipe dream.
A clear example of the false promise of GM crops is seen with the GM Golden Rice designed to bring beta-carotene to the diets of people in poor countries and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s donation of $20 million. The GM crop was ill conceived for two reasons. People eating the low-fat, poor diets seen in poor countries generally cannot convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. and it was estimated that someone would have to eat 16 pounds of Golden Rice a day to receive the benefits.
Unethical Vaccine Marketing Only Tells Half the Story
As I said earlier, marketing of the HPV vaccine relies on half-truths, scare tactics and alarmist advertising. By manipulatively presenting it as a “vaccine against cancer,” which all but neglectful parents would give to their children, vaccine makers hope to occlude the real questions about safety and documented injuries.130,131 A few years after the vaccines were launched, questions about research and transparency had already arisen, according to the Huffington Post.132
“Critics ask why the primary endpoint in trials was not cervical cancer, but lesions that could become malignant and why placebo data was spun to make the vaccine look more effective … There are also transparency questions. Why did former First Lady Laura Bush work with Merck-funded citizen front groups to promote the original vaccine and why are governors like Texas’ Rick Perry trying to mandate vaccination of all girls?
University of Queensland lecturer Dr. Andrew Gunn was silenced by his university when he dared to question the vaccine and ordered to apologize to the vaccine maker, CSL, according to the Courier Mail. Dr. Gunn expressed doubts about the vaccine’s ‘marketing as a solution to cancer of the cervix when at best it’s expected to prevent about two-thirds of cases and ‘the incorrect and dangerous perception that it might make Pap smears unnecessary’…
And one of Gardasil’s and Cervarix’s [two HPV vaccines] original developers, Dr. Diane Harper, a consultant to the World Health Organization, also questioned the vaccine’s lack of safety and effectiveness … only to appear to retract her remarks later.”
‘Herd Immunity’ Incorrectly Used to Sell Vaccines
Vaccine makers and the governments and NGOs that help their marketing use the concept of “herd immunity” to sell mass vaccination — the idea that the vaccination rate in a given community must be kept high so that those who have not been immunized do not endanger others.
But of course, HPV, which is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), is not spread through mere close proximity to another person like non-STD diseases. You can’t transmit or get HPV infection in a public setting, like in a classroom or crowded elevator. Maybe that is why the “cancer prevention” angle is pushed.
Purveyors of the herd immunity theory never seem to be able to explain why the majority of outbreaks of diseases targeted by vaccines occur in communities thought to have already achieved herd immunity status, i.e., where the majority of people are fully vaccinated and transmission of infection “should” not occur.
In fact, health officials appear to deliberately confuse the public. Natural herd immunity certainly exists but artificial vaccine-acquired herd immunity, which is temporary at best, is a misnomer. Vaccination and natural exposure to a given disease produce two qualitatively different types of immune responses.
Vaccine Injuries Dismissed and Downplayed
Vaccine injuries are well-documented and the HPV vaccine is a case in point. Here is what the Indian Medical Journal of Medical Ethics reported in 2017.133
“The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been linked to a number of serious adverse reactions. The range of symptoms is diverse and they develop in a multi-layered manner over an extended period of time. The argument for the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine overlooks the following flaws:
(i) [No] consideration is given to the genetic basis of autoimmune diseases, and arguments that do not take this into account cannot assure the safety of the vaccine; (ii) the immune evasion mechanisms of HPV, which require the HPV vaccine to maintain an extraordinarily high antibody level for a long period of time for it to be effective, are disregarded;
and (iii) the limitations of effectiveness of the vaccine. We also discuss various issues that came up in the course of developing, promoting and distributing the vaccine, as well as the pitfalls encountered in monitoring adverse events and epidemiological verification.”
Yet vaccine makers, government regulatory agencies and doctors administering vaccines continue to insist the many injuries seen after vaccination are mere coincidences and not caused by the vaccines. Controlled clinical trials have found no causal association between HPV vaccination and different adverse effects, say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.134
In addition to inflating the number of people suffering from diseases such as HPV, vaccine promoters inflate the effectiveness of their vaccines. The HPV vaccine has cut infections by up to 90 percent in the past 10 years, brags one science website, as if cutting infections and cutting the incidence of cancer were the same thing. It is especially irresponsible because the cancer rates cannot be determined until years or decades after the vaccine is given.135
Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions
With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.
National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.
It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations, and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.
Signing up for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at http://www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your smart phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community.
Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips. So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Share Your Story With the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.
I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the “other side” of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination, will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.
We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination.
The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn’t be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), at www.NVIC.org:
- NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
- If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
- Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, and school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.
- Vaccine Failure Wall: View or post descriptions about vaccines that have failed to work and protect the vaccinated from disease.
Connect With Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination. However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents.
It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.
So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect, and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.
Sources and References:
1 Ring of Fire April 13, 2017. 2 Stat News March 9, 2016. 3,24 Ghost in the Machine, Part 1 — Drug Safety and Media Shaped by Big Pharma. 4,5 Alternet, February 24, 2016. 6 myeclinik.com May 6, 2017. 7,9 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_Gerberding. 8 Counterpunch January 27, 2017. 10 Reuters, Insider Trading. 11 Psychology Today Sept 19, 2015. 12 National Public Radio Sept 16, 2011. 13 Minneapolis Post May 28, 2015. 14,15,18 Pharma Voice October 2014. 16 Boston Review May 1-, 2010. 17 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcia_Angell. 19 Wikipedia. 20,21 New York Times, Jan 24, 2017. 22 Opednews.com Dec 6 2017. 23 Center for Health Journalism Dec 10 2014. 25,26 Undark April 22, 2016. 27 Propublica, Feb 23 2017. 28 Opednews.com Dec. 6 2017. 29 Ghost in the Machine, Part 5 — Lies, Denial, Deceit and Manipulative ‘Research’. 30 Ghost in the Machine, Part 4 — The War on Supplements, Essential Oils and Homeopathy. 31 National Public Radio October 13, 2009. 32, 33 statnews.com November 8, 2016. 34 Counterpunch June 13, 2016. 35 National Public Radio June 13, 2009. 36 Center for Health Journalism February 13, 2014. 37 Calton Nutrition May 9,2016. 38, 46 P T. 2011 Oct; 36(10): 669-674, 681-684. 39 Procon.org September 7, 2016. 40 Center for Health Journalism April 5, 2017. 41 Crains December 28, 2011. 42 AlterNet January 17, 2017. 43 Mentalhealth.net August 7, 2009. 44 The Motely Fool March 13, 2017. 45 AlterNet August 26, 2016. 47 Center for Health Journalism February 10, 2017. 48 AlterNet March 9, 2017. 49 Truthout March 28, 2016. 50 Counterpunch June 24, 2016. 51 “The Children’s Vaccine Initiative and the Struggle to Develop Vaccines for the Third World”, State University of New York Press (October 7, 1998). 52, 53 Institute of Medicine. The Children’s Vaccine Initiatives – Achieving the Vision. 1993. 54 Counterpunch January 26, 2017. 55, 56 Daily Mail January 16, 2015. 57 Vanity Fair January, 2011. 58 EMBO Reports May 2015. 59 USA Today March 16, 2017. 60, 62, 68, 70 Organic Consumers Association April 24, 2017. 61 New York Times December 17, 2009. 63, 71 April 1, 2017 Opednews. 64 Washington Post May 5, 2917. 65 Wired May 7, 2017. 66 Daily Beast May 13, 2017. 67 CNN May 6, 2017. 69 Wikipedia. 72, 77 New York Times November 14, 2016. 73, 75 Science-Based Medicine February 14, 2013. 74 Statistica 2017. 76 Dr. Oz. May 10, 2017. 78, 104 Forbes January 13, 2014. 79 Forbes December 7, 2015. 80 Quackwatch. 81 Economist April 2, 2014. 82 Health.com February 1, 2010. 83 CDC Opioid overdoses. 84 Wikipedia. 85 Center for Health Journalism September 16, 2015. 86 Department of Justice December 21, 2005. 87 Center for Health Journalism February 10, 2017. 88 Medscape October 2, 2013. 89 FiercePharma April 4, 2017. 90 FiercePharma May 30, 2017. 91 JAMA April 7, 2015. 92 All Things NICU February 18, 2014. 93 Newswise February 10, 2014. 94 Drugs.co, February 5, 2014. 95 Drugs.co, February 14, 2014. 96 Medical Daily October 10, 2013. 97 Newswise January 22, 2014. 98 Healthline November 6, 2014. 99 Science Daily December 3, 2014. 100 BBC January 30, 2014. 101 Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Jan; 2(1): 5–6. 102 Yahoo News June 21, 2017. 103 Cleveland Clinic May 27, 2014. 105 Huffington Post June 17, 2016. 106 UCSD News March 6, 2014. 107 National Institutes of Health February 3, 2014. 108 Newswise December 2, 2013. 109 J Hepatol. 2012 Oct;57(4):897-909. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.04.033. Epub 2012 May 23. 110 Aging Dis. 2012 Aug; 3(4): 313–329. 111 Businesswire November 18, 2013. 112 Science Daily October 17, 2012. 113 FiercePharma July 6, 2012. 114 Merck Multivitamins. 115 PR Newswire August 14, 2017 Newswire. 116 Huffington Post April 7, 2017. 117 Live Science April 7, 2017. 118 Medscape July 20, 2016. 119 Washington Post August 11, 2016. 120, 126 Forbes November 10, 2011. 121 Wall Street Journal May 17, 2002. 122, 123 Guardian September 29, 2010. 124 B&MGF. 125 News Junkie Post June 7, 2013. 127, 128 Stat News June 23, 2017. 129 Daily Mail. 130 AlterNet January 17, 2017. 131 Washington Times April 10, 2013. 132 Huffington Post May 25, 2011. 133 Indian Journal of Medical Ethics April-June, 2017. 134 Medscape September 18, 2013. 135 Science Alert August 29, 2013.
We are told that the “War on Drugs” is being waged, on our behalf, by our governments and their armed bureaucracies and police forces, to save us from ourselves. “Potential for abuse and harm” are supposed to be the criteria by which the use of drugs is suppressed — the greater a drug’s potential for abuse and harm, the greater and more vigorous the degree of suppression, and the more draconian the penalties applied against its users.
In line with this scheme drugs are typically ranked into a hierarchy: Schedules I, II, and III in the US, Classes A, B, and C in the UK, and so on and so forth all around the world. Thus, to be arrested for possession of a Schedule I or Class A drug results in heavier penalties than possession of a Schedule III or Class C drug. Generally if a drug is deemed to have some currently accepted medical use it is likely to be placed in a lower schedule than if it has none, notwithstanding the fact that it may have potential for abuse or harm. In the absence of any recognized therapeutic effects, drugs that are highly addictive, such as heroin or crack cocaine, or drugs that are profoundly psychotropic, including hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, or DMT, are almost universally placed in the highest schedules and their use attracts the heaviest penalties.
The notable exceptions to this system of ranking according to perceived “harms” are, of course, alcohol and tobacco, both highly addictive and harmful drugs — far more so than cannabis or psilocybin, for example — but yet socially accepted on the grounds of long customary use and thus not placed in any schedule at all.
The Failed War
When we look at the history of the “War on Drugs” over approximately the last 40 years, it must be asked whether the criminalization of the use of any of the prohibited substances has in any way been effective in terms of the stated goals that this “war” was supposedly mounted to achieve. Specifically, has there been a marked reduction in the use of illegal drugs over the past 40 years — as one would expect with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money having been spent over such a long period on their suppression — and has there been a reduction in the harms that these drugs supposedly cause to the individual and to society?
It is unnecessary here to set down screeds of statistics, facts, and figures readily available from published sources to assert that in terms of its own stated objectives the “War on Drugs” has been an abject failure and a shameful and scandalous waste of public money. Indeed, it is well known, and not disputed, that the very societies that attempt most vigorously to suppress various drugs, and in which users are subject to the most stringent penalties, have seen a vast and continuous increase in the per capita consumption of these drugs. This is tacitly admitted by the vast armed bureaucracies set up to persecute drug users in our societies, which every year demand more and more public money to fund their suppressive activities; if the suppression were working, one would expect their budgets to go down, not up.
Meanwhile the social harms caused by the “War on Drugs” itself are manifest and everywhere evident. In the United States, for example, there have been more than 20 million arrests for the possession of the Schedule I drug marijuana since 1965 and 11 million since 1990. The pace of arrests is increasing year on year, bringing us to the astonishing situation where, today, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds. The result, as Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, recently observed, is that marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for “all violent crimes combined,” meaning police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals. And it goes without saying that those who are arrested for the use of marijuana and other illegal drugs do suffer immense harm as a result of the punishments inflicted on them—including, but not limited to, personal trauma, loss of freedom, loss of reputation, loss of employment prospects, and serious, long-lasting financial damage.
Inventory of Harm
Such matters are only the beginning of the long inventory of harm caused by the “War on Drugs.”
Western industrial societies, and all those cultures around the globe that increasingly seek to emulate them, teach us to venerate above all else the alert, problem-solving state of consciousness that is particularly appropriate to the conduct of science, business, war, and logical inquiry, and to such activities as driving cars, operating machinery, performing surgery, doing accounts, drawing up plans, accumulating wealth, etc., etc., etc. But there are many other states of consciousness that the amazing and mysterious human brain is capable of embracing, and it appears to be a natural human urge, as deep-rooted as our urges for food, sex, and nurturing relationships, to seek out and explore such “altered states of consciousness.” A surprisingly wide range of methods and techniques (from breathing exercises, to meditation, to fasting, to hypnosis, to rhythmic music, to extended periods of vigorous dancing, etc.) is available to help us to achieve this goal, but there is no doubt that the consumption of those plants and substances called “drugs” in our societies is amongst the most effective and efficient means available to mankind to explore these profoundly altered states of consciousness.
The result is that people naturally seek out drugs and the temporary alterations in consciousness that they produce. Not all people in every society will do this, perhaps not even a majority, but certainly a very substantial minority — for example the 2 million Britons who are known to take illegal drugs each month  or those 20 million people in the US who have been arrested for marijuana possession since 1965. And these of course are only the tip of the iceberg of the much larger population of American marijuana users, running into many more tens of millions, who have, by luck or care, not yet fallen foul of the law and are thus not reflected in the arrest statistics.
Needless to say, it is of course exactly the same urge to alter consciousness that also impels even larger numbers of people to use legal (and often extremely harmful) drugs such as alcohol and tobacco — which, though they may not alter consciousness as dramatically as, say, LSD, are nevertheless undoubtedly used and sought out for the limited alterations of consciousness that they do produce.
For the hundreds of millions of people around the world whose need to experience altered states is not and cannot be satisfied by drunken oblivion or the stimulant effects of tobacco, it is therefore completely natural to turn to “drugs” — and, since the “War on Drugs” means that there is no legal source of supply of these substances, the inevitable result is that those who wish to use them must resort to illegal sources of supply.
Herein lies great and enduring harm. For it is obvious, and we may all see the effects everywhere, that the criminalization of drug use has empowered and enriched a vast and truly horrible global criminal underworld by guaranteeing that it is the only source of supply of these drugs. We have, in effect, delivered our youth — the sector within our societies that most strongly feels the need to experience altered states of consciousness — into the hands of the very worst mobsters and sleazeballs on the planet. To buy drugs our sons and daughters have no choice but to approach and associate with violent and greedy criminals. And because the proceeds from illegal drug sales are so enormous, we are all caught up in the inevitable consequences of turf wars and murders amongst the gangs and cartels competing in this blackest of black markets.
It should be completely obvious to our governments, after more than 40 years of dismal failure to suppress illegal drug use, that their policies in this area do not work and will never work. It should be completely obvious, a simple logical step, to realize that by decriminalizing drug use, and making the supply of all drugs available to those adults who wish to use them through legal and properly regulated channels, we could, at a stroke, put out of business the vast criminal enterprise that presently flourishes on the supply of illegal drugs.
It ought to be obvious, but somehow it is not.
Instead the powers that be continue to pursue the same harsh and cruel policies that they have been wedded to from the outset, ever seeking to strengthen and reinforce them rather than to replace them with something better. Indeed the only “change” that the large, armed bureaucracies that enforce these policies has ever sought since the “War on Drugs” began has, year on year, been to demand even more money, even more arms, and even more draconian legislative powers to break into homes, to confiscate property, and to deprive otherwise law-abiding citizens of liberty and wreck their lives. In the process we have seen our once free and upstanding societies — which used to respect individual choice and freedom of conscience above all else — slide remorselessly down the slippery slope that leads to the police state. And all this is being done in our name, with our money, by our own governments, to “save us from ourselves”!
Winners and Losers
Who benefits from this colossal stupidity and systematic wickedness? And who loses?
The beneficiaries are easy to spot.
First, the large and ever-expanding armed bureaucracies, funded with large and ever-growing sums of public money to suppress the use of drugs, have benefited enormously. Everyone who works for them, including the PR people and spin merchants who concoct the propaganda used to sell their policies to us, including their subcontractors both public and private, and including the (often privately run) prisons stuffed to bursting point with their victims, are the beneficiaries of this catastrophic failure on the part of our governments to think laterally, generously, and creatively. Whether you are a Drug Enforcement Administration agent or a prison guard, you naturally have a deeply vested interest in maintaining the miserable status quo, justified by the “War on Drugs,” that keeps you in your job, that ensures your monthly paychecks continue to come in, and that continuously expands your budgets.
The second main category of beneficiaries is – of course! – the criminal gangs and cartels that the present misguided official policies have empowered as the sole source of drugs in our societies. Over the past 40-plus years they have earned countless billions of dollars from the sale of illegal drugs which, had they only been legal, would not have earned them a single penny.
Who are the losers? First and most directly those millions upon millions of good, nonviolent people in our societies who have been jailed or otherwise punished for the possession and use of drugs. And second (regardless of whether or not they use illegal drugs themselves), virtually everyone else in our societies as well. For the quality of life of all of us has been diminished by the growth of the police state and by the murderous activities of the criminal gangs enfranchised, and kept in business, by the blind and mindless perpetuation of this failed and bankrupt “War on Drugs.”
So, in summary, the criminalization of drug use has brought no positive effects, only negative ones, and it has not stopped or even reduced the use of dangerous and harmful drugs. On the contrary, we have been so little “saved from ourselves” by this phony war that the use of almost all illegal drugs, far from decreasing, has dramatically increased during the past 40 years.
Learning from Tobacco
A contrary example, but one that is most instructive, concerns the use of tobacco in our societies.
Tobacco has never been illegal; far from that, its use has been actively encouraged by clever advertising campaigns mounted by the multibillion-dollar tobacco industry. But the use of tobacco does undoubtedly lead to great harms, both for the health of the individual and the health of society at large, and facts about these harms have been widely and successfully disseminated without a single tobacco user ever being arrested or persecuted.
It’s interesting in this connection to compare the success of public information campaigns about the dangers of tobacco use with the utter failure of public information campaigns about the dangers of marijuana use. The reason the anti-marijuana campaigns have failed is that millions of users know from their own direct, long-term experience that marijuana does not do them any great harm and (with reference to the most recent anti- marijuana propaganda) most definitely does not drive them mad. It may well be true that very small numbers of fragile teenagers whose mental health was already compromised have had their latent schizophrenia or other similar conditions worsened by the use of marijuana — but the vast majority of marijuana users are not at all affected in this way. Likewise efforts by government agencies to persuade us that new, stronger strains of marijuana presently available on the market (e.g., “skunk”) are more dangerous to our health than traditional strains of marijuana because they deliver much more of the active ingredient THC to our systems, have not persuaded anyone. Regular marijuana users presented with a stronger strain simply adjust their consumption, consuming far less of it than they would of a weaker strain in order to achieve the same effect, and feel intuitively that smoking less of any substance has got to be better for their lungs and general health than smoking more.
The consequence of this disconnect between personal experience and “facts” purveyed by official public information campaigns is that huge numbers of people no longer believe anything that our governments have to say to us about drugs. There is an increasingly widespread recognition that tainted, unreliable, and tendentious information is being passed on — information that cannot be trusted. And this distrust of official sources of information is, of course, only worsened by the propagandistic character, witch hunts, and scare tactics of the “War on Drugs” and by the realization that the health information purveyed in anti-drug campaigns is not underwritten by caring and nurturing official policies but instead by draconian criminal sanctions and punitive authoritarian attitudes.
Where the health hazards of tobacco use are concerned, on the other hand, since there are no criminal sanctions against tobacco users, no large, armed bureaucracies to enforce them, and no special interests to serve by the dissemination of misleading information, the evidence has been accepted and believed by most rational adults freely making up their own minds, precisely as one would expect.
The result? While the use of illegal drugs has everywhere skyrocketed over the past 40 years, regardless of the violent persecution of the users of these drugs, the use of tobacco, in a climate of free choice and reliable information, has plummeted to an all-time low. The consumption of tobacco, once seen as a socially approved, even desirable, and, indeed, “stylish” habit, has come to be regarded as a pariah-creating activity that only idiots would indulge themselves in. Although there are, of course, still many tobacco users — because nicotine is intensely addictive — their numbers continue to fall dramatically year on year as more and more of us make the free choice to give up the habit for the sake of our health.
Is it not obvious that the “tobacco model” could be applied with equal success to all illegal drugs? In other words, is it not obvious, if our governments really wish us to stop using drugs, that immediate legalization of adult personal use must follow, that the giant, armed bureaucracies that persecute drug users must be closed down, and that the whole matter must be thrown open, in the way that tobacco use has been thrown open, to the effects of good, reliable information and the sound commonsense of the vast majority of the population? If that happens then we can be certain that drugs that are genuinely harmful to health and wellbeing (in the way that tobacco certainly is) will fall out of favor with their users in exactly the way that tobacco has done. And if it turns out that some of these drugs are in fact not so harmful, then it should not concern us at all if some adults make the free choice to continue to use them.
Of course, even against a backdrop of legalization and good information, some adults will make the free choice to continue to use genuinely harmful drugs as well, just as some adults today do continue to make the free choice to continue to use tobacco. But that, too, is as it should be in a truly free society. Republican Congressman Barney Frank was spot on the truth of what a free society really means when he announced a proposal in August 2008 to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams (almost a quarter of a pound) of marijuana. “The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government’s business,” Frank said on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think it is the government’s business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.”
It goes without saying that Frank’s proposal is unlikely to succeed in the hysterical climate of disinformation that presently surrounds this subject, and we must ask ourselves why this should be so. Why are commonsense proposals for the legalization of drugs never adopted, or even seriously considered by our governments? Why, on the contrary, are such proposals dogmatically opposed with even more propaganda and tainted information emanating from the big, armed anti-drug bureaucracies?
That legalization of drugs would shrink the budgets of those selfsame bureaucracies, and ultimately put them out of business, is part of the answer. But to find the real engine that perpetuates the “War on Drugs” we need to look deeper and ask fundamental questions about the relationship between the individual and the state in modern Western democracies.
Freedom of Consciousness
What is Western civilization all about? What are its greatest achievements and highest aspirations?
It’s my guess that most people’s replies to these questions would touch—before all the other splendid achievements of science, literature, technology, and the economy—on the nurture and growth of freedom.
Including, but not limited to freedom from the unruly power of monarchs, freedom from the unwarranted intrusions of the state and its agents into our personal lives, freedom from the tyranny of the Church and its Inquisition, freedom from hunger and want, freedom from slavery and servitude, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought and speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to elect our own leaders, freedom to be homosexual — and so on and so forth.
The list of freedoms we enjoy today that were not enjoyed by our ancestors is indeed a long and impressive one. It is therefore exceedingly strange that Western civilization in the twenty- first century enjoys no real freedom of consciousness.
There can be no more intimate and elemental part of the individual than his or her own consciousness. At the deepest level, our consciousness is what we are—to the extent that if we are not sovereign over our own consciousness then we cannot in any meaningful sense be sovereign over anything else either. So it has to be highly significant that, far from encouraging freedom of consciousness, our societies in fact violently deny our right to sovereignty in this intensely personal area, and have effectively outlawed all states of consciousness other than those on a very narrowly defined and officially approved list. The “War on Drugs” has thus unexpectedly succeeded in engineering a stark reversal of the true direction of Western history by empowering faceless bureaucratic authorities to send armed agents to break into our homes, arrest us, throw us into prison, and deprive us of our income and reputation simply because we wish to explore the sometimes radical, though always temporary, alterations in our own consciousness that drugs facilitate.
Other than being against arbitrary rules that the state has imposed on us, personal drug use by adults is not a “crime” in any true moral or ethical sense and usually takes place in the privacy of our own homes, where it cannot possibly do any harm to others. For some it is a simple lifestyle choice. For others, particularly where the hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, and DMT are concerned, it is a means to make contact with alternate realms and parallel dimensions, and perhaps even with the divine. For some, drugs are an aid to creativity and focussed mental effort. For others they are a means to tune out for a while from everyday cares and worries. But in all cases it seems probable that the drive to alter consciousness, from which all drug use stems, has deep genetic roots.
Other adult lifestyle choices with deep genetic roots also used to be violently persecuted by our societies.
A notable example is homosexuality, once punishable by death or long periods of imprisonment, which is now entirely legal between consenting adults—and fully recognized as being none of the state’s business — in all Western cultures. (Although approximately thirteen US states have “anti-sodomy” laws outlawing homosexuality, these statutes have rarely been enforced in recent years, and in 2003 the US Supreme Court invalidated those laws.) The legalization of homosexuality lifted a huge burden of human misery, secretiveness, paranoia, and genuine fear from our societies, and at the same time not a single one of the homophobic lobby’s fire-and-brimstone predictions about the end of Western civilization came true.
Likewise, it was not so long ago that natural seers, mediums, and healers who felt the calling to become “witches” were burned at the stake for “crimes” that we now look back on as harmless eccentricities at worst.
Perhaps it will be the same with drugs? Perhaps in a century or two, if we have not destroyed human civilization by then, our descendants will look back with disgust on the barbaric laws of our time that punished a minority so harshly (with imprisonment, financial ruin, and worse) for responsibly, quietly, and in the privacy of their own homes seeking alterations in their own consciousness through the use of drugs. Perhaps we will even end up looking back on the persecution of drug users with the same sense of shame and horror that we now view the persecution of gays and lesbians, the burning of “witches,” and the imposition of slavery on others.
Meanwhile it’s no accident that the “War on Drugs” has been accompanied by an unprecedented expansion of governmental power into the previously inviolable inner sanctum of individual consciousness. On the contrary, it seems to me that the state’s urge to power has all along been the real reason for this “war”—not an honest desire on the part of the authorities to rescue society and the individual from the harms caused by drugs, but the thin of a wedge intended to legitimize increasing bureaucratic control and intervention in almost every other area of our lives as well.
This is the way freedom is hijacked—not all at once, out in the open, but stealthily, little by little, behind closed doors, and with our own agreement. How will we be able to resist when so many of us have already willingly handed over the keys to our own consciousness to the state and accepted without protest that it is OK to be told what we may and may not do, what we may and may not explore, even what we may and may not experience, with this most precious, sapient, unique, and individual part of ourselves?
If we are willing to accept that then we can be persuaded to accept anything.
Look again at the title of this article. Be aware that this is about talking with Nature, not simply talking to it. Most people talk to their cats and dogs, even chickens and parrots, maybe even goldfish. But very few people talk with them. For this to happen, you need to be open to them answering you… and most people are not! And even if you are open to an answer, it is unlikely that you will be listening.
Okay, so what is this all about?
Essentially, Nature lives and expresses in and from the moment. We people, very, very rarely express in and from the moment. Nature has no choice about this, it cannot leave the conscious moment. We have a lot of choices; we call it free will! Free will… that’s a misnomer if ever I heard one! If you have free will, try being consciously in the moment for one minute. Okay… you failed. Almost certainly, you were thinking! To be consciously in the moment, you must be without thought. Why? You can think your way out of the moment, but you cannot think your way into it. Thoughts take you into the past, or the future, but thought cannot take you into the moment. Nature does not live and express in the past or future; it lives consciously in the eternal moment.
Suddenly, talking with Nature is far more than it appears to be.
It is a skill, a natural art, an inner potential inherent in all humanity. This begs the question; if it is natural to us, why is it so rarely used? To talk with Nature, you are required to use your whole-brain/heart connection. Most people seldom do this. Most people use a left-brain connection only. This means that most people attempt to have an intellectual relationship with Nature, which is not possible. Nature is not an intellectual expression. Nature is an expression of conscious intelligence . . . as are we! We just don’t live that way any more. We have lost our fundamental connection with Nature, with truly living life and, sadly, with our quintessential Self.
You need to be really clear about what I have written above. If you would like to talk with Nature, you cannot bypass the reality of needing a conscious connection with Nature. And, sorry, but there is yet another hurdle! Nature lives in the conscious moment; consciously. We are very seldom consciously conscious. We live our lives subconsciously, and you cannot be subconsciously conscious! It is estimated that the average person lives approximately ninety-five percent of each day subconsciously. In effect, this means we live ninety-five percent of our whole life subconsciously. Scary, huh! In other words, we live a continuing repeat of each day, each year, each decade, each lifetime . . . with just enough variance that we are unaware of our addiction to more-of-the-same. And yet, everyone knows that we resist change!
You cannot change and remain the same. This is normal, regular, daily, unaware, inner conflict.
Conscious Quiet Connection
I have had a relationship with Nature for most of my life. Currently, my life is a process of moving ever deeper into the metaphysical realms of Nature and life . . . and sharing this in my books. You need to realise that the Nature you see, and relate to, is no more than the physical reflection of a vast metaphysical Nature. We need to go through that mirror reflection . . . into a greater reality. Obviously, we cannot do this physically, so we need to use our metaphysical Lightbody to go into the greater metaphysical reality.
However, this article is about talking with Nature. Okay, so how do we actually do this? First and foremost, you will need patience. You will also need to learn the art of listening. We do not listen, we hear. Hearing is not listening. A cat listens. Listening comes from the moment, and is a conscious act. Hearing is happening while we are otherwise involved; this is subconscious and mostly involuntary. Think about it! You hear the noise of traffic, but you are not actually listening to it. Listening is an art most people have lost. Listening takes you into the moment. You can hear and think, but you cannot listen and think!
When, in my early forties, I decided to consciously connect with Nature, it took me six years to learn to listen. Every day I visited a nearby river, to just sit and listen. Some days for several hours, others not as long. At first, all I heard were the sounds of distant traffic, birds, the physical river, and my own mocking thoughts, but after about three years, I began to inner-hear inaudible sound. I became aware that this inner-hearing – listening – came from a much deeper, quieter, part of me; the whole-brain/heart-soul connection.
We have constant thoughts; this is the mind endlessly regurgitating mental nonsense. No thoughts, and there is Silence . . . and in this Silence there is a song of power. Not your power, or Nature’s power, just power. But, you can connect with, and use, this power, so long as you do not personalise it. To do this requires trust. You trust yourself. Not easy! To talk with Nature means that this power is the conduit between you, trust, and Nature. All are necessary. It takes a big leap in consciousness to listen to a tree communicate with you, and know that this is not the fabrication of mind. I have read quite a few other people’s Nature communications, and have known them to be false. And this is okay; neither right nor wrong. Equally, I have read quite a few others, and known them to be true communication. If you think this sounds arrogant . . . so be it! I, certainly, had my time of not knowing the difference between the subtle mind and the subtlety of innercommunication. With a lot of practice and a lot of self-trust, you eventually arrive in a good place.
Criticising and berating yourself for your lack of patience, your inattention, or inability, or your lack of self-trust, or focus – or all of these! – gets you nowhere.
One Field of Energy
Okay, one more aspect to clarify. You are a metaphysical Being. You are an immortal Being in a mortal body. The Self you are is infinite; One with the All. There is nothing outside Self. To explain this now would take too long, but I will say this; beyond the physical, you, and all lifeforms, are each a field-of-energy. All these energy-fields connect; all are finally One . . . there is nothing outside Self. Get it?
When you sit down, become silent, and consciously focus on a tree . . . you and tree energetically connect. You share One field of energy. Tree is not outside Self. This is where communicating with Nature truly begins. While you perceive the tree and yourself as separate – ‘you’ talk with ‘tree’ – you are playing mind games . . . and believe me, mind has an endless repertoire. There are no such trees as Grandfather tree, or Sister tree, or Mother tree, etc., as is commonly spoken of; this is just mind playing a game with human emotions. Trees do not think or talk. Trees are the living repository of an immense amount of conscious experience. This is not necessarily tree experience; this is Earth/life experience. As stated, trees are an expression of conscious intelligence, but have no intellect. Trees are completely impersonal, but trees are always consciously connected with us. They experience Oneness; separation does not exist in Nature. They communicate with us in their conscious expression of growth, but nobody is listening. We do not even listen to each other, we just hear each others’ words.
To talk with Nature, all this has to change within us. You cannot talk with Nature and remain the person you currently are. You have to expand in consciousness . . . and grow. If you decide you want to learn to consciously communicate with Nature . . . you will not be able to do this and remain the same; change will take place within you. You will be pushed to grow, to expand, to become more flexible; the very process will demand it. You will discover that once you get out of the box that most people live in . . . there is a huge and wonderful greater reality waiting to welcome you.
And long has it waited.
The word ’empower’ is defined as: “to give (someone) authority or power”; “to make (someone) stronger and more confident”.
As a woman living in the United States, I experience certain roles, standards, and beliefs regarding my own empowerment and my gender which were taught to me from childhood onward. These experiences are common among other women throughout the United States (and other western countries) as well. These belief systems and standards were passed down from our earlier generations to us, one cycle at a time.
Some of these inherited experiences create the opposite of the definition I shared above. They are presented in one manner and in fact are really diminishing our power. This occurs through instilling negative expectations of self and others, social pressures, perceived or real rules and laws of location, and personal fears and doubts that are systematized – and subsequently shared with others.
The focus of this article is the expectations put on women’s bodies, and what amount of authorship – and therefore empowerment – we have over our bodies.
Women and Body Hair
As our bodies mature during tween and teenaged hood, we become aware of our hair growing in places beyond our heads. And although this is a natural part of reaching physical maturity, most parents automatically teach their young girls that this natural occurrence is something to be managed and taken care of — and is therefore considered foreign, unacceptable, unattractive and unfeminine.
My parents, and others, typically provide their daughters with one option: any new hair grown must be shaved. The location generally starts with legs, armpits, and facial hair. This focus typically stems and grows as the young lady matures. This is enforced either by constant suggestion to shave, shaming the young lady to shave, normalizing hairless bodies, and providing no positive examples of women who choose to keep hair on their legs and other body parts – and who are still respected, desired romantically, and successful in life.
This normalizing of outside opinions of you, dictating and suggesting how to manage a woman’s body, tends to then be enforced by the peer group. An example of this social popularity – who is popular or not, and who is made fun of for looking ‘masculine’ or ‘un-womanly’ – just for having hair showing on body parts that are deemed not natural or acceptable. From here, potential and future romantic partners can also reinforce this belief system by complimenting a woman’s smooth hairless skin, or acting disinterested in romantic or sexual relations when the women might attempt to grow her leg hair, or has any hair on her face.
Growing up, one of my female extended-family members had visible lip hair before the age of 10 years old. Already, before getting into elementary school, her peer group was actively shaming her and teasing her for what naturally grows on her body, and her decision to keep her natural hair. She begged her mom to wax her ‘moustache’, and her mom at the time said she was too young for that and asked why she desired this – to which my young relative said “because others made fun of me for having hair there”.
Already, before the age of 10, this young woman learned through experience that she was deviant or wrong for being hairy in certain places of her body, that she had to gain approval from others outside of herself, and had to alter and present her body in an ‘acceptable’ way they (society) deemed appropriate.
From my perspective and experience, being an empowered woman entails looking at your her-story, acknowledging how your world supports certain body-image beliefs, asking yourself “is this belief serving you and lighting you up?” and taking the empowered option to reject this idea if it does not serve you.
In this context, being empowered – authoring your own life – is being a beacon of alternative choice for other women and showing, merely by walking around appearing as you choose, that there are other options than fitting the socially-normalized hair and body image. Taking back choice, power, and authorship of your body can start as simple as this, and in this way, having hair on your body can be an act of self-empowerment, spirituality and deep connection to your Creator.
In my next article I will share my personal journey of body and hair image, how I found my fiction and my truths, and ultimately reclaimed my authorship of my body.
We tend to be eager to help others help themselves. It is easy to see fault in others, to want to jump to their rescue. We can feel we know better, and all we want is the best for them. We are doing it out of kindness, of course, and we might very well know better, intellectually. We might even be able to guide them towards exactly what they express that they are looking for – but is it any of our business, really?
Have you ever done this? Felt someone needed your opinion, your evolved perspective and rescue, and grabbed the chance to spread some rescue remedy that is actually un-called for? If you have, you are not alone. I used to be a preacher on health and healing. Once I had a revelation, I knew everyone I met needed to hear about it – to be saved by me. I made everybody’s business, my business.
Even though we have the best intent, it is not our place to try to change anyone who has not asked for our help. Even when you can clearly see they aren’t choosing the best, smartest, or the most beneficial path, it is their own path. All we can do is to offer support. All we can do is to let them know we are there. That is all. Everything else is not being of service, it is being a pain and not respecting other people’s boundaries.
We also tend to project our own baggage onto other people; the “I am cold. Everybody must be freezing” syndrome.
Having the need to change other’s views or behavior comes from a need to control. So let’s take back our own control — but not by controlling others. Their path is none of our business.
Related reading: We Can’t Change Others – Or Can We?
There is an old saying that addresses this topic; Sweep outside your own front door before you try to clean someone else’s. This saying reminds us that we should bring the energy back to ourselves and focus on bettering us first. I would say leave the broom at your own front door, period. Let people use their own, whenever they see fit. We can all have a broom-party, if we so choose, by invitation only. I call it; Get rid of your own shit, then serve. I realized that what I thought was me helping them, was me being a people pleaser. It was me projecting my own wants and desires unto others, AND looking for validation at the same time.
Serving and pleasing, giving and helping. All words that easily get entangled in each other. The difference lies in the energy behind the words, not in the words themselves. We all need help now and then, and we all feel better being able to give back to the world, to the community, our family, and our friends. Through so many different ways, we can all contribute. But the bullshit belief that we need something back, a validation or a prize, is not serving any of us. It is just us trying to be perfect, while none of us ever will be. There is no such thing — and at the same time we already are perfect.
Bottom line, it doesn’t matter. Creation doesn’t give a shit. Only we do, and the need for perfection is holding us back. You might believe that you have to be in a certain place or have a special skill to help and guide others. Not so. All you have to do is be you, and there will be someone that needs what you have to offer. You are enough, always. You have a gift, you have an experience that others can benefit from, and you are able to change someone else’s life today — just by being YOU. By just being, and taking care of your own.
We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
No more people pleasing: It’s time to become a recovered people pleaser. I know, I write as if you ARE a pleaser, but chances are, if you’re reading this, you know what I am talking about. We all want to be of use, validated, seen and acknowledged. There’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, we need more of that! The thing is, we are of much better use when we stop looking for validation and results, and focus on serving through living — by minding our own business, and letting others do the same; compassionately being of service, and letting others do the same.
Practice listening to yourself. Be mindful of your own thoughts and feelings. They indicate how you perceive your life. They also tell you some valuable information about your belief system in general. Let them guide you and be your friends. Emotions, thoughts and feelings are a natural part of you. Acknowledge them as your friends. Let them speak and listen.
Be humble and connected. You are a part of the God force, and as long as you stay connected, you will need no validation from others. Stop chasing the outside for what you are looking for. It was always within. Get real with your own shortcomings and strengths. Appreciate, pray and be true to yourself.
Be open and honest. Be authentic and real towards others. Stand your ground by learning how to say “no”. You have to set your own boundaries. Both yes and no have a place in your life, although no is most often the hardest to say. You are allowed to disagree with anyone about anything. Look at why you are not comfortable choosing yourself and your own needs. Let no one tell you what to do, say or feel.
Respect others. Respect other people’s feelings and choices, and expect them to do the same. Don’t preach to them or tell them what to do. Don’t help until you’re asked, and see each person as having their own journey. You are not the lead in their life. You are only the boss of your own. Stay in the service mode towards the world, without having a need to fix anything or anyone. After all, who gave you the authority to try to change anyone? Allow others the integrity to make their own decisions.
No more pleasing. We were never meant to be pleasers. We are givers. (There is a big difference!) We are all our own authorities and equally able to make our own choices. We are not meant to compromise for validation. Through mutual respect and encouragement, we can live in support of each other. You are free. Whatever you thought you had to do, or who you needed to please, or change, you are hereby off the hook. Recap that energy and use it for something that will cultivate growth and happiness.
How can you make a true impact?
Wanting to serve and give is a natural trait of human beings. It is a sign of healthy soul and an inspired spirit. Having a positive impact on the world is a blessing, and something to stretch towards for all of us. With all this crazy mind-blowing manipulation going on in the world, all givers and awakened spirits needs to step forth. The world needs you, it needs all of us.
I believe we all have that longing to make a difference. We want to matter. We want our lives to matter. But we don’t do this by imposing ourselves on others. A small act of kindness and service will make a huge impact, not only for a person or a family, but on the world in general.
I remember the first time someone wrote to me and told me that, because of me, they were no longer suicidal. Because of what I had told them and shown them, they were now on their way to a happy healthy life. A woman sent me a message saying that she was no longer diabetic, and that because of this, she had inspired her sister to help herself too. She was now cancer free. We are not all meant to work with people on this level, to strive for such outcomes, but we can all do something that will impact others. By simply living your truth, you are spreading the light. By simply walking your talk, you are leading others. By simply being loving and caring from your heart, you are helping others open their own hearts. Sharing is caring.
The world needs more fruit trees, more forests, clean water and clean air. Maybe you have a passion for the environment and can contribute to a better world by helping heal mother earth. Our children need our attention and our love, to be able to grow up feeling free in a world of chaos and stress filled living. People are suffering, starving, lost and running from war. Animals are suffering. Just by educating yourself, you are raising your awareness and the ability to positively impact a cause that is close to your heart. It will come to you, once you step out of the pleasing mode.
For years I played the phrase in my head: “How can I serve”. It revealed itself to me. It became a natural part of my life. When we contribute, we fill our cup. We are charged with love and gratitude. Expect nothing, give what you can.
Make friends with some new thoughts of abundance. Being able to give comes from the knowing that there is always enough. You are always enough, and you have more then you need: more love, more good intentions, smiles, encouraging words, enthusiastic engagement and authentic interest.
Ask yourself these questions every day;
How can I serve?
How can I add value?
How can I make a positive impact?
How can I be my very best while being of service?
What is my true calling?
Be quiet and listen for the answer. It might come right away, or show itself at the right time, as your life changes for the better. It will come from your passion and love for life, never from fear or ego-based thinking. There are no right or wrong way to contribute. While it might seem little or insignificant to you, it can be life changing to another. You don’t have to be perfect to be a mentor or a leader. You just have to be genuine.
I stared guiding others long before I was fully educated or healed. People needed my knowledge. They needed someone who was more experienced than they were. There are always people and situations that need what you can give. Chop wood, carry water, smile, show up and power up yourself. Be open and willing. It is a blessing.
By utilizing your gifts you are also being of service. They are given to us, as a service to the world. So, by using them you are blessing others, and by doing so you are blessing yourself. It will transform your whole life to let your talents flow. A musician does the world service with his or her music — touching souls and raising the vibration, just by doing what they do best.
When you express yourself though enthusiasm you are inspiring others to be of service as well. The ripple effect is unstoppable. Just by being happy, you are serving. So, you see, in turn, taking care of you is of great service to humanity. So simple, but so profound.
Create through the clarity of your own vibration. Create your desires and let the manifestations that come from it be the service to this world. Being of service does not mean you are going to fill a void of lack. Not at all. It simply means being in your own flow — and the whole world will benefit. You are unique, and the world needs you, not as a pleaser, but as a contributor of your true self and passion. You are unique, and that in itself is enough. Be true, be real, be loving and be present. You are a gift. Give it!
A life lived with passion willingness to be of service will never let you down. The power of creation will manifest a tenfold return — not as a means of thank you, but as a natural part of the flow of creation. Let your life expand beyond the daily routines of work and obligation. Let there be room to give back, and to receive. You might feel drawn to donate to a good cause, volunteer at a soup kitchen, an animal shelter or a crises center. A neighbor might need a strong hand. You might feel drawn to charity work in your community or to spend your life travelling the world sharing a message of hope and inspiration. It does not matter what. By walking your walk and talking your talk, you are always enough.
Leave your heart open to new ideas.
Be inviting and watch how life unfolds at a new level.
All you have to do is live.
Fear is what so frequently holds people back on the spiritual path. Fear of what might happen if you take a certain step. Fear of completely letting go and where that might lead. Fear of hurting others by being truly authentic.
Fear invades the mind, emotions and body. But to simply ‘over-write it’ with positive intentions or infusing ‘love and light’ can lead only to more layers of identity. The liberated flow of the soul is not something to intention, or create by a veneer of gloss. It just is, and it simply arises when we open the space for it. When the soul invites authentic choice, fear can often also arise.
So how do you deal with it most effectively?
Fear only ever comes up because it is ALREADY within.
Firstly, it’s important to say that you cannot ‘spread fear’ by raising the topic of something fearful — like fear of death for example. In a fully self-realised being, there is no fear, because there is always realisation of the One Self, which lives on through eternity. So fear can only activate where it already lies.
In other words, fear only ever comes up because it is already within. People carry it, often subconsciously. And while it exists, it’s always going to be limiting, even if the tendency is to temporarily white-wash over it with some positive gloss.
In the Openhand Approach, the only truly effective and lasting way to overcome fear (to dissolve it), is by the direct confrontation of it; to get into it, and deeply explore it.
Evolutionary Growth Through Learning and Expression
In spiritual circles and mainstream motivation groups, it’s so often the case to “imagine the best possible outcome of any given situation”. Then to work to create that. But whose creating? Who is imagining the “best possible outcome?” To me, it can only be an ego wanting a particular result.
In the Openhand perspective on the soul, there is only evolutionary growth through learning and expression. When the soul encounters a crossroads in life, with one direction marked ‘hell’ and the other ‘heaven’, the choice is made not based on what the most beautiful or desirable outcome might be; it is based on what can most be learned. And if that’s in some temporary kind of ‘hell’, then so be it. When the soul confronts some kind of situation, which causes it to contract in tightness, there represents a golden opportunity to deal with unrealised limitation.
In so doing, when the realisation through the challenge happens, it always comes with the most incredible expansion. As you shake off that which previously held you back, then your soul soars like an eagle. There’s immense joy that you reclaimed a lost aspect of Self.
How do you achieve this most effectively next time you encounter fear?
Bringing Fear to the Surface: Imagine the Worst Possible Outcome
To me, I witness that fear mostly arises because in some way, we’ve unconsciously distanced ourselves from the worst possible outcome of a given situation. Because it’s apparently too difficult to deal with, even to contemplate, the tendency is to sweep it under the rug. This has a very limiting internal effect — it creates polarity. In other words, it creates a small “I” identity, which is living in fear of that possibility and can now be victimised by it; in which case you are not being The One, which can be completely okay in ALL situations. People live their lives and shape whole realities based on such avoidance — like leaving an unfulfilling relationship for example, or ending a job which doesn’t serve.
Fear represents a golden opportunity, but only if we’re prepared to turn right into it, at the time it is arising, and work deeply through it. And the most effective way I’ve found of doing that is to contemplate the worst possible outcome from any given situation. So you literally imagine what could likely happen if you take the step your soul is guiding you into.
Explode Your Fear in 5 Steps:
Here’s how to effectively deal with your fear in 5 steps…
1. Locate your internal tightness: When you contemplate the worst possible outcome, then all your subconscious fear and constriction come up. What you’re really looking for is the internal tightness — maybe it’s in your head, your solar plexus or sacrum? Feel it, work into it, and above all, express it out into the world. This might be crying, screaming, shouting, or vigorous movement.
2. Become as-one with the pain: Now what’s happening, is you’re actually becoming as-one with the pain, with the fear. If you keep working with it, then there comes a point where you tire of it, where you’ve had enough of it, where you realise the baggage itself that you’re carrying around, is far worse than the worst possible outcome. And you might as well let it go. Thus, you’re empowering yourself by becoming The One in it.
3. Be prepared to completely fall apart: You must be prepared to completely fall apart. It’s like you’ve been controlling who you are, hanging onto who you should be — to what is expected of you. If you’re to truly penetrate through this, it will often feel like falling apart. And here’s the paradox of a liberated soul — that’s entirely okay!
4. Become The One: As you fall apart in it, as you really let go, then feel deeply through it into the sense of emptiness — into the Void. It feels like you’re touching the pure presence of complete acceptance. You’re now opening into infinite potential — the Source, from which authentic soul arises.
5. Unleash the freedom of the Soul: Finally, and here’s the great part, look for the natural expression of joy, expansiveness and rightness of the soul that wants to come through. Dance with it; sing and shout with it; give it wings by expressing it out into the world.
A Practical Example…
I recall giving a presentation to a crowded hall in Glastonbury several years ago. I tend not to plan such presentations other than the production of some slides and maybe the odd video or two. I always knew, that in coming from the source, all I needed was a thread — just a word or a feeling — from which to begin. This particular time I began with a video and as it drew to a close, I was watching for the first words to drop into mind, a place to begin, a thread to pick up. Usually they came but this time nothing — nothing at all. As the credits to the film rolled, still nothing. As the silence and expectation of the audience grew louder in my awareness still nothing. As I stood up, still nothing. All the while I was watching my inner feelings, any arising tightness — and softening into them. Yes I was feeling nervous, realsing a subconscious subtle desire for the people to appreciate me and my point of view. As that penny dropped, why would I limit myself by needing some kind of appreciation or outcome? What was wrong with how I was being? Even if nothing came? Even if I stood there in complete silence?
Time seemed to stretch right into eternity. Without need of outcome at all, any sense of fear, doubt and disbelief disappeared. I was infinitely vulnerable, and it felt completely blissful. So blissful that it felt humorous. And so I felt to begin by cracking a joke about the Pope, who just happened to be visiting the UK at the time. After the slightly uneasy silence, the audience fell about laughing and the presentation then flowed effortlessly.
Increasingly empowered, joyful and harmonious
I’m not saying it’s necessarily easy to approach your fears in this way. There will always be a myriad of opt-outs — comfortable other solutions that placate the fear rather than dealing with it. There’ll be lots of distractions and plenty of people advising how to make the best of the situation. But if you have the courage to turn into your fears in this way, you will explode the myth that they are.
Because you are The One, which has created everything by which to know itself, and therefore ultimately, fears nothing.
So, work to become the One within your fears, and they will surely burst like an exploding balloon. And your soul will expand out with empowered and joyful liberation. And what’s more, you won’t have to keep re-manifesting those fearful situations. By working through your fears, your life becomes increasingly empowered, joyful and harmonious. I wish you an empowered journey!