The NIMBY Lie, part II: self-destructive consequences

The NIMBY (not in my backyard) stance assumes we can obliterate an “enemy” without attacking our own well being in the process. The reasoning goes like this:  we are separate and distinct and very different from our enemies. We can build a fence to keep them out– or attack them given our superior intelligence/strength/higher status if they broach the boundaries of our yards or borders.

A corollary of this is that our enemy “outsiders” are good for nothing.

But this NIMBY model does not fit reality– in social or environmental terms.

Take the modern assault or  “warfare” on germs.  Attacking bacteria as the “enemy”, we went after them to staunch disease.  Alleviating suffering is hardly a bad thing: indeed, those who have devoted their lives to this deserve commendation.  But here is the problem that is emerging:  wholesale and inappropriate antibiotic use (in feed lots, for instance, to compensate for lack of cleanliness and in factory farming, to push the growth of animals just a bit more) allow bacteria to develop resistance.  In one scenario, we consume such resistant bacteria in the meat of animals fed antibiotics and when we get a dangerous bacterial infection antibiotics no longer work on it.  The Keep Antibiotics Working campaign has been working to address this problem in a number of arenas.

But we don’t need to consume such meat to feel this effect.  The NIMBY attitude  is based on false assumptions– that we live in a world in which we CAN partition our backyard from anyone else’s , but in fact we can’t isolate ourselves from the pesticides or antibiotics we create and use everywhere. There are now antibiotics in most municipal water systems in the US.   Still those who thought they could separate themselves from the effects on their workers, for instance, have caused others irreparable harm, as indicated in the wrenching expose, Trade Secrets. This Bill Moyers documentary uses the memos of chemical company CEOs in the 1950s to expose how they conspired to hide the clear medical knowledge of their own doctors that their workers’ bones were dissolving from the inside out.  Such memos would never have been made public but for the courageous suit of families of a worker in one of these companies who died of brain cancer.

Seeing this film, I could not help but wonder whether these CEOs really thought they lived in a totally different world from their workers– in which such environmental effects would never touch them.  Evidently so.

But five decades later, antibiotic resistance is proving them wrong.  This is a special problem among those with weakened immune systems in hospitals. But now “super-bugs” are infecting perfectly healthy folks outside of hospitals, as outlined in the latest issue of the Nutrition Action Newsletter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Moreover, germs aren’t all bad– as the enemy scenario would have it.  Indeed, we could not survive without them. And one of the best ways to forestall dangerous infections before they start is to carry a healthy load of good bacteria.  However, most antibacterial soaps and household disinfectants carry a double whammy in this respect:  they help disease-promoting bacteria develop more resistance while killing off health-promoting bacteria.

There are other repercussions to our assault on germs and dirt. Children who have limited exposure to germs have increased rates of auto-immune diseases such as asthma later in life. Altogether, germs are not really the enemy our modern worldview makes them out to be.  And maintaining our pristine NIMBY homes and yards free of germs is a serious problem for our children’s health.

Here is something else about the NIMBY view:  it partitions time as well as space, seeing things only in the here and now. We need a little future perspective to address what might happen in a holistic interdependent world.

Take the case of insecticides.  Serious as rising cancer rates are (and the majority of all cancer has environmental causes), we should also note that pesticides have the same ineffective traits as antibiotics.  We have created resistant pests.  For instance, a study of Colorado grain crops done in the 1990s showed that pest loss in those crops was double the percentage it had been before pesticide use began a few decades before.  Now most of our crops are loaded with toxins–and less nutritious in the bargain.

Moreover, pesticides attack essential insects just as antibiotics attack essential bacteria.  Take the insects necessary to pollinate our crops:  honey bees are suffering from colony collapse disorder–and pollinating bats are following suit.

Ultimately, attacking this particular “enemy” leads to attacking ourselves. And we are learning the hard way that parts of the natural world we assumed unnecessary  have functions essential to our own lives.

In trying to make things more convenient for ourselves, we are creating self-destructive results.

To address the crises outlined above, we need to revise the worldview which isolates us from others;  we need to do science which is holistic, consciously value-laden, and mindful of future generations.

And we need to take a hard look at the ways in which we might truly need (and need to learn from) those whom we label enemies.

This goes for the social as well as environmental sphere. It is clear to me that the ways in which we treat other humans parallel the ways in which we treat the natural world.  I witnessed how the dualism of friend/enemy created self-destructive actions the year I taught under the Israeli military occupation at BirZeit University.

Following the NIMBY reasoning,  once an enemy is designated as such, one must keep oneself and one’s people away from them at all costs–even if the costs include one’s own security. In this context, the attempt to draw and enforce a “green line” of military occupation caused some bizarre results. For one thing, the occupation administration declared university teachers such as myself and other foreign nationals at BirZeit “illegal” despite the intersession of then US Secretary of State George Schultz on our behalf.  The reasoning:  no “outsiders” should witness the Occupation.  But then, according to Occupation strategy, neither should Israelis themselves. That same year I watched the Occupation cultivate fear of the “dangerous other” living behind the green line — making even those good people who formed the Solidarity with BirZeit Committee at Hebrew University afraid to cross that line to share dinner with civilian Palestinians.

The twisted logic of maintaining the green line was illustrated when a group of Hebrew University students came in buses to have lunch with their peers at BirZeit only to be held up and made to stand for hours in the winter sleet by occupation soldiers for their attempted breach of the separation between them. That year was the year of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre:  and some decent and courageous Israeli soldiers refused medals of commendations for military service as a result. The Jerusalem Post told us they were jailed for their unpatriotic behavior.

None of this enabled the true security of the Israelis–and certainly not the Palestinians (see my earlier article, “Supporting the Heart of Palestine”).  For a searching, honest and wise analysis of the difficult task of truly seeing the “other” in a holistic ways, I recommend Farid Asack’s “To whom shall we give access to our water holes?” The title poses a challenging question at any time– but especially when it is asked in the South African desert which is Asack’s homeland.  But this is Asack’s conclusion:

“There are many ways of dying.

There is, however, only one way to live: through discovering what the other is really about and what we have in common in the struggle to recreate a world of justice, a world of dignity for all the inhabitants of the earth.”

I am very touched by this Jewish parable with which he begins his article:

“The story is told of a Jewish rabbi whose disciples were debating the question of when precisely ‘daylight’ commenced. The one ventured the proposal: ‘It is when one can see the difference between a sheep and a goat at a distance.’ Another suggested, ‘It is when you can see the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree at a distance.’ And so it went on. When they eventually asked the Rabbi for his view, he said, ‘When one human being looks into the face of another and says, ‘This is my sister, or this is my brother,’ then the night is over and the day has begun.”

Our world is a whole, and should we ignore this or refuse to see this, we only make ourselves small as a result.

304 Responses

  1. Dr. Holden, your current article is eye opening. No more soaps with “anti-bacterial” label for me.

    Whenever there is a food scare, there is always something about a bateria that somehow escaped USDA inspection. Firstly, for the amount of meat produced and packed, there are not enough inspectors. Second reason is the government’s permission to have the cattle injected with an array of antibiotics.

    As you said, these drugs certainly affect the health of meat passed on to us. And the antibiotics, instead of eliminating germs, strengthen them. One can compare this scenario to weightlifters who take steroids. The germs, absorbing the antibiotics, develop resistance and strength without lifting a finger(albeit microscopically tiny one).

    Another thing is the strong lobbying by drug manufacturers . Plus the recommendation of “experts” telling ranchers and the public that our and our animals’ health depend on antibiotics, that they are indispensable.

    Speaking of pesticides, I am reminded of the Fukouka method of farming, healthy for us and the farm in the long term. He would allow all the insects residing in the soil to work for the benefit of the farmer, with no plowing, or pesticide use. Mr Fukouka used to say, “If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork.” Hence, the ever increasing sickness from drug resistant bateria, which actually means “small staff” in Greek, not scary stuff.

  2. I read Mr Esack’s lengthy but thought-provoking article. I truly is a challenge to know who really is a believer, especially in the absense of tolerance. Today is not the time to argue and bicker over the minutest of issues, but to gather our strength for achieving justice on a worldwide scale, not just in our neighborhood.
    Without justice there is no peace.

    “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath
    of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across
    the grass and loses itself in the sunset,” said Eagle Chief. All the conflicts can be summed up to have risen from self-centered interpretations of sacred books, because thoughtlessly we humans think we will last forever, on earth! “One hour of reflection equals one year of worship.”

    The earlier peoples’ lives, compared to our age, was not so complicated. They were only reminded of their simplistic interactions in the context of their isolated community.
    But in our highly complicated, inter-connected world(global trade, immigration, exchange students), it is not that simple to dismiss a person or a community by a hand wave or a nod. Action speaks louder than words, and there would no “enemy” that would not become our friend given his/her due respect and good behavior.

    Islam’s prophet said that faith consists of more than seventy branches, and modesty is a part of faith. Therefore, what’s needed these days is modesty in our physical approach as well as mental. I could be smiling while passing someone yet have enmity within. The mirror of the heart needs continuous polishing. My belief is that those who interpret the law and sacred books for immediate gain are far from believers. Their hearts needs dusting over.

    It is also the people’s sometimes blind way of following “leaders” who direct our attention away from mainstream toward extremism. That is because most leaders, secular, religious or otherwise, have ulterior motives, having nothing to do with human ethics or welfare.

  3. Very thoughtful comments once again, Sayed. Thank you– I appreciate the dialogue.
    I’m not sure I feel negative toward all leaders: I have seen good leaders who are elders, for instance. What do you think of the characteristics of leaders in the cultural worldviews contrast on the cultural and environment page here (and on your blackboard site)?
    Thank you for such an broadening response: I would certainly agree with you in terms of the business we need to work on together. Profound points here, I think!
    I’m glad to see you mention Masanobu Fukuoka, author of the One Straw Revolution. I was graced to be at a permaculture conference in which he was one of the featured speakers some twenty years ago. Touching indeed to hear this elder Japanese man describe (in translation) his work reclaiming the hillside orchard ravaged by pesticides one step at a time.

  4. Than you Dr. Holden for correcting me. Thanks to a few good leaders that through their insight and lofty ideals we feel hopeful and optimistic.

    The Dalai Lama puts it best: “There is suffering on this planet and there is a need to strengthen our love for our planet and our service to the living Earth,” he says. “We think we can control nature, which is a false perception.” His are words of wisdom, which comes from first-hand impression and a good amount of reflection. As a world and the occupied Tibet leader, he knows how to bring peace and restore respect for the environment. I firmly believe that the ruthless Chinese destruction of Tibet and its people have caused the multiple earthquakes, SARS, and the latest milk poisoning. No doubt these are punishments for the Chinese government’s long record of human rights abuse.

    The Qur’an says, “It is He who has appointed you viceroys in the earth.” Combing through this book, not once have I been confronted by a sentence commanding us to use this planet “as we wish.” These three letters are the boon of humanity. We are here to serve the Power behind the wind and the rain, not the whims originating from our hearts. The human heart needs constant polishing for it to maintain its reflection upon God’s nature. The recipe for this polishing is prayer and thankfulness.

    “We are more than friends of the Earth – we are its guardians. Although we are equal partners with everything else in the natural world we have added responsibilities. We are decidedly not its lords and masters,” says another leader, Fazlun Khalid. And I thoroughly agree.

    Leaders like Khalid tell us that we are responsible for every action that follows a decision. If it is good, we see the results, and if it is bad, we will suffer the consequences. A simple destruction of a beehive can lead to death, depending of the type of bees, let alone digging out a piece of land that is a burial site of the Natives. And when a tornado decends and uproots houses and businesses, we know why it happened. So, yes, what goes around does come around.

    I don’t believe that these leaders are one-sided with a narrow vision. Their outlook on life is accumulated through maturity and observation and ponderings on issues we generally ignore or take for granted.

  5. Great point that those who choose religion as license for arrogance and greed are merely self-aggrandizing rather than spiritual.
    Thanks for reminding us what good leadership looks like: a central point here is that we must choose our authorities carefully– with criteria such as authority as service. I think we also know wise leaders by the ways in which they honor our own authenticity-and expand rather than take away our own decision-making ability.
    For myself, I would be careful about attributing earthquakes, etc., to human misdeeds on a one on one level. I want to be careful of blaming the victim: for instance, climate change is causing the oceans to rise, harming those who may have the longest tradition of caring for the seas– and live more sustainable lives than those who consume so much in the US. Katrina hurt many of the poor in New Orleans– partially because of the uneven power distribution in infrastructure stability in the poor neighborhoods. We also saw how difficult it was for the poor to leave the danger zones compared to the more well to do. Those we hurt with our unwise environmental choices are often the most vulnerable among us– like those currently carried in their mother’s wombs along with flame retardants and pesticides.
    This is not to say that humans are not responsible for what we might be tempted to call “natural disaster” I like this article on “five things we should know about hurricanes” for perspective at http://www.alternet.org/story/98026/.
    I did want to add a recognition of your sense of reciprocity (what goes around, comes around): I do believe that when we enact destructive behavior it ultimately becomes self-destructive. But I think natural reciprocity has some mystery to it: it is not quite so simple as a one on one accounting from our perspective. I have an article coming out in Parabola November 1 which looks at the mythic complexity of reciprocity: look it up if you like.
    Thank you as always for your thoughtful responses.

  6. I understand that these catastrophes hurt those least blameworthy. I meant them as ways that the communist government is repeatedly humiliated by those forces beyond their control. The Chinese government can control people but they have no power against forces that damages their reputation as a progressive nation.

    Certainly their arrogance in banning demonstrations in Tibet or at the Olympics are proofs of their lack of confidence in the minorities from Tibetans to Uyghurs, both of whom are prevented from attending their respective places of worship. I don’t believe that earthquakes and floods are just because of human intervention. As a Muslim, I believe God is in complete control of the environmental events, but he lets or directs certain events according to his wisdom. We lived by God’s hand through nature and evaluated the changing winds to tell us or warn us of what was ahead.

    “Today we are again evaluating the changing winds. May we be strong in spirit and equal to our Fathers of another day in reading the signs accurately and interpreting them wisely. May Wah-Kon-Tah, the Great Spirit, look down upon us, guide us, inspire us, and give us courage and wisdom. Above all, may He look down upon us and be pleased.” This is what a Native American speaker said at a ceremony. All the indigenous peoples from Assyrians to the American Indians have believed in God’s power and wisdom.

    I do not believe for one minute that this planet is simply left to its own after its creation. Perhaps you may disagree, but Darwin himself was confused about how a human eye could evolve without the lubricating tears. Did the tears come first or the eyes ? If the eyes came first, how could it survive without tear glands to lubricate them? No doubt the God who created the eyes created for them tears glands at the same time.

    The eyes, just like the oceans, although alive with cells and atoms, have no clue about their existence.”..and [in His] directing of the winds, there are Signs for people who use their intellect” (Qur’an, 45:5)
    It is the Creator, the force behind the hurricanes and the tear glands that guide and sustain them. That’s the difference.

    Finally, if a group of poor innocent people lost their lives as a result of a hurricane because the levees in their area was purposely destroyed or were shoddily built, then the justice of God will reward them with a new life in the Hereafter.

    “It is He Who giveth life and who taketh it, and to Him shall ye all be brought back.” Besides, we are tested by one another. So, if one group oppresses another, the punishment can be, per God’s wisdom, almost immediate or withheld until a certain time. That is why a day of judgment is needed, to reward the innocent and pure and punish the unjust and greedy.

  7. correction:
    “We lived by God’s hand through nature and evaluated the changing winds to tell us or warn us of what was ahead.” This was part of the quote from Native America speaker.

    Also, my argument about eyes, continued. And if the tear glands appeared first before the eyes, how could the tear glands predict that the eyes will follow?

  8. Thank you for your thoughtful elaborations on the idea of justice here.
    I do believe that we as a species are suffering and will continue to suffer tragic consequences for our mistreatment of the environment.
    And though I do believe in evolution, I also do not believe that God or Creator left the world to its own devices– instead I believe that spirit is everywhere on this earth.

  9. Yes, Dr. Holden, I also believe that the Spirit is everywhere because this is what the Qur’an says: “And to God belongs the east and the west. So wherever you turn, there is the Face of God. Indeed, God is all Encompassing, All-Knowing.” And, we are not alive but for the spirit of God inside every one of us, the same spirit the Native Americans believe in. “We created the human, and we know what he whispers to himself. We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” 50:16

    What is puzzling the difficulty people have to simply confess that this spirit is God, Creator, Sustainer, the Omnipotent, the Seer, the Hearer, and so on. Why do you think we continue to refuse naming who this spirit is? Is it so difficult for us to have a high regard for nature and not for God who created it?

    Respectfully Dr. Holden, I would like to say evolution as Darwin and his contemporaries have forwarded are the principal cause of the law of the jungle we witness among ourselves.

    No wonder those in power will continue to climb on the shoulders of those with no power and eat their way to the top, because Darwin said so.
    If one just thinks about all the spices for our benefit that no animal cares for, we know that the God who created our food, wanted us to make our food aromatic and flavorful.

    Imagine all the legumes at our disposal that the animal kingdom does not touch, let alone how to cultivate and bake them. How could these things evolve without knowing what they are in the first place?

    If one assumes that the earth thought of providing these fruits, legumes, spices, grains, coffee, tea, etc of its own accord, you know he lying. How and why would the earth predict that some day mankind will appear and will need these items.

    If the earth could predict, it would be God. And again if it was God, could it not control the destructive earthquakes on its surface or force a meteor out of its direction toward earth? No God would want to be pounded by meteorites and tolerate so much volatility within itself and without. These are things I have reflected upon, the Qur’an encourages reflection and meditation, not blind imitation.

    The earth is not God and neither are the organisms within it. If it was, how did it create the sun and the moon? The sun being in just the right proportion and a safe distant that does not burn life?

    Ask any scientist if our sun has ever changed course or our earth changed course. Plus, the ants and insects frozen in amber for millions of years have the exact same shape(inside and out) of the ants and insects we see today. No change and no evolution.

    The fragrant flowers, are they for our pleasure or their own or for animals? How could the cell of a flower know to design itself in that shape and where did it get its fragrance? If you say it is built in its DNA, you answered your own question.

    Every living creature has its DNA pre-programmed to do what it ought to do, except that humans have free will. In order to make it easy for us to use this free will, we are endowed with intellect and a conscience to moderate our actions.

    Why would evolution not allow the chimpanzees the “experts” tell us share “98%” of our DNA to be able to write, cultivate grains, or to analyze mathematical formulas? This is obviously a blatant lie.

    How is it that we stopped evolving more than two legs and two hands, two eyes, etc? Doctors tell us out of two hundred bones in a human body, not one is out of place and not one more is needed. That is proof we have a Creator. Once that is settled, then our hearts will open to guidance, not before.

    “He Who has created all things in the best possible way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then produced his seed from an extract of base fluid; then formed him and breathed His Spirit into him and gave you hearing, sight, and hearts. What little thanks you show! (Surat as-Sajda: 7-9)

    Sayed Husaini

  10. An eloquent statement of this perspective.
    Just an added note: Darwin only mentioned competition once or twice. He emphasized cooperation between species in his own work. The idea of the “fittest” to survive as justification for social oppression was developed by Herbert Spencer as “social Darwinism”. The common idea in our culture we have inherited from this does not do justice to Darwin’s science–nor, I think to the operation of the natural world. As current science is revealing, those actually fittest to survive as a species are the ones whose lives and actions help the most others within their ecosystems to survive.
    Whereas post-industrial society used their view of “nature” as for licensing arrogance and greed (“the cream rises to the top” view), many peoples throughout the world who lived closely with the natural world saw it as teaching the necessity of balance, sharing, reciprocity, and harmony in human actions.

  11. Earlier today I went to the store to get cleaning supplies to tidy up the apartment before my husband got home. I remember seeing all the different products full of germ-killing power. Lysol products claim that it kills 99% of household germs. Automatically I think to myself, “Oooo…flu season’s coming up.” Every winter I always pick up some horrible cold or flu and I always use antibacterial cleaners, thinking that it’s killing all the harmful germs. After reading this article, I’m reminded the fact that the flu and the cold are caused by a virus and not bacteria. Antibacterial cleaners are meant to kill bacteria. I wonder how many other people out there have the same misconception as I did about bacteria and viruses. I’m sure a lot of people feel all warm and fuzzy when they purchase antibacterial products and think that they have the upper-hand on the war on germs while protecting their loved ones living in the house. Also, if the cleaners kill 99% of the bacteria, what happens to the 1% the cleaners leave behind? They slowly become resistant to the cleaners and over time, the cleaners may become useless to killing bacteria.

    Antibiotics in farming are overly used through out the country. Honestly, I find it disgusting that hormones and antibiotics are being pumped into livestock, with the intent of creating healthy animals. Whatever happened to clean, humane, and devoted farming? If the animals are properly taken care of, is it really necessary to use antibiotics?
    Antibiotics are used to increase growth in livestock, particularly chickens. I’m sorry but I want my animals natural. I don’t my meat all beefed up (no pun intended) with hormones and antibiotics. Just take care of the animals and those injections won’t be necessary. We are already exposed to chemicals with pollution and household cleaners. We don’t need the added chemicals from eating foods pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals. McDonalds declared back in 2003 that it wants its meat producers to stop using antibiotics in their livestock. The company is one of the world’s largest meat buyers and bought more than 2.5 billion pounds in meat in 2002 (Barboza). I think the more we consume meat and vegetation containing antibiotics, the more likely we will me more resistant to antibiotic medication when we become ill. Bacteria have been growing more resistant with the abundant use to antibiotic products. The stronger bacteria becomes, the stronger medication will have to be. It seems like it’s a never ending cycle.

    I think we are afraid of everything that potentially can be bad for us. When we think of bacteria, we may think of dirty little germs that cause pneumonia, respiratory infections, and food borne illnesses. However, we need bacteria in order to live. Bacteria are used to preserve milk, in dietary supplements, and are responsible for breaking down and absorb foods in our digestion system. I think we freak out about the bad bacteria that we use antibiotics as weapons of mass destruction, which kill the good bacteria needed to sustain life as well as the bad bacteria. I think we stop the antibiotic addiction and realize we’re doing more harm than good. If we continue relying on antibiotics in our food as well as in our homes, we may be screwing over future generations because of their bodies have become resistant to most antibiotics as well as the bacteria.

    We need to broaden our horizons and do more research on things we may not know rather than declare war on what we already do know. Germs and the example you used about the Hebrew University students and BirZeit are examples of us having a narrow-minded world view where we isolate ourselves from learning what we do not know. Seems like there’s a reason why we are made to be afraid of the unknown that are in our backyards, but we are hurting ourselves and our future with this mindset.

    Sources: Barboza, David. “McDonald’s Seeking Cut in Antibiotics in its Meat.” New York Times. 2003. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E7DE1F38F933A15755C0A9659C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

  12. Hi Ashley,
    Thanks for this comment and a personal statement about household cleaners that many of us can relate to. I like the way that you tied into the way we are “made to be afraid of the unknown”– in both the social and environmental arena. This group of women from a number of cultural backgrounds provide information on the dangers of household cleaning products–and offer alternatives.
    http://www.womenandenvironment.org/
    You might also be interested to know that antibiotics cannot be injected daily into chickens by FDA rules– so chickens advertised as antibiotic free are not saying anything special. However this does not relate to antibiotics in feed– still prevalent.
    Thanks for doing a bit of your own research here.

  13. It is ironic how we have employed technology and science to reduce the likelihood of succumbing to malevolent microorganisms to a point where we may be inviting them back with a vengeance.
    Along those lines, I wonder if our independent survival instinct contributes to the NIMBY phenomenon.

    While the natural order takes care of the weak, the old, and the sick, by recycling and controlling unhealthy populations in other biological organisms, we humans use technology and science to preserve and protect our global citizens in ways unavailable to other life forms.

    We may be successful in cheating Mother Nature in the short term, but I wonder if there will be a day of reckoning on the horizon from our cumulative efforts to assert each individual’s “right” to a healthy, and convenient life.

    The examples that you cite in your post might be yet another mortgage of our future that we are leaving for our children to pay.

    I hope that through greater awareness such as you are bringing to the magnitude of issues like these; we can reverse the trend and insure a brighter future.

  14. Thoughtful questions, Jay. There is obviously–as we are finding out– considerable irony in attempting to “control” nature.
    Thanks for ending on a hopeful point– and joining the community that spreads knowledge and awareness.

  15. The artificial lines we create between ourselves and our enemies seem only to destroy us in the end. As you discuss, germs were viewed as the enemy, but in attempting to destroy them we only have created more powerful and deadly germs.

    These same lines are created between humans: as you again discuss the line between Jews and Palestinians. This very line has simply served as a point to launch attacks. It has devistated both peoples, killed thousands, and has no end in sight. This line creates tension, eliminates kinship between humans, and somehow makes the lack of empathy demonstrated on both sides easier to tolerate.

    Yet people do cross this line. Israeli and Palestinian doctors routinely share information to help aid the sick and injured. There are many more examples just like this.

    The NIMBY philosophy will always backfire… it is a basic law of nature: action – reaction.

  16. Thanks for your comment, Justin. It is both a compassionate and thoughtful statement about crossing the artificial lines that we create to separate us.

  17. Isn’t it funny (in a sick sort of way) how we think that we have to purchase items that television commercials tell us will make our lives better. Many people do not realize that many of the basic items that we have in our bathrooms and kitchens work just as well or even better than the t.v. commerical pushed items. For example, baking soda works just as good as any scrubbing cleaner you may have. Hydrogen peroxide diluted with water makes a great mouth wash/tooth whitener and also works on the kitchen and bathroom counters to disinfect. Baking soda works wonderfully as a toothpaste. Vinegar works great for cleaning windows and leaving them streak-free. It also works well for eliminating pet urine odors in carpeting. The uses for these basic ingredients is practically limitless. However, we have been programmed, in a sense, through brilliant advertising campaigns to believe that these natural items are inferior to what is being produced commercially and that by purchasing an item being produced commerically it will somehow be better for us and will give us better results. The part they forget to tell us about is the devastating effects it is having on us and our environment.

    • Good cues on healthy alternatives to those expensive and often dangerous cleaning chemicals. Thanks for your comment, Pam. As consumers in general we could be more alert to what we need and don’t need (and what we want to support) as we buy. These folks have investigated the effects of household products and offer a list of healthy alternatives: http://www.womenandenvironment.org/.

  18. This is another example of us being insulated by our belief in the power of our technology and science, and the ignorance of the power and mystery of nature. Bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics is a great example of nature taking charge and showing us who’s boss. We put far too much stock in the abilities of medical science, when in reality they are trumped by nature. Contrary to what many believe, it is advances in sanitation that extended life-expectancy in the twentieth century, not advances in medicine. Also, most medicines that we have today are derived from nature.

    What a harrowing experience for you at BirZeit, but a great example of the utter idiocy of not recognizing “others” as fellow human beings. I am interested in your opinion on solutions for that conflict. I know this is an incredibly complex and difficult question, but I feel that any information I can get will help me form a better opinion. This is important to me because I believe that tensions there are at a crucial point for not just the Middle East, but the world.

  19. I had not thought about the NIMBY view partitioning time. It makes great sense as the views of each generation change in response to societal events. It is always amazing to me that once science disproves an environmental action, such as the anitbiotlics and pesticides used in our food sources, the amount of work which is needed to change the status quo. Society has been shown time and again the delicate balance that exists bewteen the evnironmnent and humans. What needs to happen for the “powers that be” in governments to accept the need to promote a partnership with nature. Even in a profit driven system I would think someone would listen to the information about the decreasing crops yields and wish to implement change. However, there is also the circumstances surrounding the corn crops. It is my understanding that many farms recieve subsidies for these crops making it inticing to grow. Where will the repercussions end as we are seeing high fructose corn syrup in the majority of the foods processed? The word that this additive has been linked to the rise in obesity is fast advancing as can be evidenced through the new commercials popping up on television. We now live in a society that has to stay informed but has a myriad of “waste information” in the way of becoming educated on a controversial topic.
    Sometimes I believe that as technology advances we are actually taking steps backward. I think we as society need to begin to think of our neighbors and not just the ones next door but those across the world from us as well. That is a great parable at the end of your essay. If we thought of every other human as a sister or brother how much better we could make our world and our environment.

    • Very thoughtful points in terms of these complex issues, Colleen. We obviously need a more flexible/responsive system–and one that does not reward special interests (corn growers) in ways that make it almost impossible to change such subsidies once they are in place. I think the ethanol requirement in Oregon gas expresses this problem. Now that ALL biofuels have been found to be among the least environmentally desirable according to a
      Standford University study released last month, time to shift gears on that one.

  20. I found your discussion of the NIMBY school of thought relating to Israel/Gaza/Palestine particularly relevant to what is currently happening in the region.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Jason. It is interesting to me how cultural assessments continue to predict future situations as long as the cultural values and actions involved in those assessments remain the same. A very sad result in this case!

    • The more I have read about the NIMBY principle in respect the the Israel vs Palestine issue the more it reminds me of the Hitler vs Jews issue of the holocaust. As history tells us, the lines Hitler and Germany drew between themselves and the Jews ultimately came back to bite them in the behind considering they lost the war and their country was physically and economically devastated. I feel like no matter how many times this has played out in history, people keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

      • My hope lies in the fact that whereas some of us make the same mistakes (with tragic results), other express compassion in the most desperate of situations– which shows what we are capable of, and points the way to the potential for peace here. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Kellie.

  21. Your article here has many interesting points. I see two consistent threads throughout the entire article, people would do well to remember the theory of evolution when trying to deal with a pest, and the short term satisfaction tend to lead to long term pains in the rear! The old saying “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is so true.

  22. Dr. Holden,
    The NIMBY mentality is something that seems to be a daily struggle in modern society, I especially relate with the example of antibacterial soap. I think you would agree that sadly, fear is a powerful driving force with this issue, especially when it comes to the social and scientific spectrum. I find it interesting that in a sad and strange sort of irony, we are having to learn, as humans, how to be primitive again. We have to be enticed and instructed to eat natures raw food sources, play in the dirt, and subject ourselves to physical stress in order to stay healthy.

  23. I found this article to be very thought provoking.

    In our house we have a phrase called “stomach of steel”. I was forced (older brother and sister) to eat everything/anything you can imagine. Bugs, dirt, can cat food, rocks, if you can think of it – they probably made me eat it.

    30 years later I thank them for this – I’ve never had food poisoning, and nothing phases my stomach. I eat things that I shouldn’t, and that some people wouldn’t even get near.
    I believe that this exposure early in my life gave me a “gut flora” that will just about dissolve steel.

    Outside of the antibacterial soaps killing off good and bad bugs, we scrub and disinfect our homes and our children. We do not give them a chance to develop their own immunity to their environments. We don’t allow them to play in the dirt with all the microbes; we don’t allow them to swim in the lakes (of course that is now where the pharmaceuticals are), and we don’t allow them to eat a common group of foods. We now have a generation with exponentially higher cases of serious food allergy’s, and asthma – do we see a connection?

    We are not doing our children any favors with this over protection. We need to give their bodies a chance to develop an adaptive immunity…. Let them play in the dirt, and we all need to move back to simple soap and water. It’s like vaccinations; you have to expose them with little bits, for them to acquire their own protections.

    Dr. Holden, thank you for the links … I found them very interesting.

    • You are quite welcome, Angie. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think I would recommend forcing kids to each rocks! But good for you in your stomach of steel! Obviously over-protecting our kids doesn’t do them any favors.

  24. Response for Part I & II
    I think it is highly interesting how the environmental component of NIMBY is connected to social or political issues. Again, this essay clarifies that decisions which are made by us in our family homes and neighborhoods are also made in chambers of political decision-making with the difference that those decisions affect the lives of millions of people. From the perspective of social development, I consider NIMBY to be a huge disadvantage which is a result of growing egoism and individualism in our societies. Fences wherever they are raised can only provide a short-term protection, but they can never replace a policy of knowing the truth. Psychologically, some might calm down by seeing these huge walls, but the truth cannot be hidden by fences especially in a globalized world with such a sophisticated media.

    • Thoughtful comment, Nick. I like your perceptions on fences as well as on the links between social and environmental wall building (it is the same worldview by which we see both of these.)

  25. I found this article very interesting in that it relates well with where I live today. When I first arrived in Mexico, from the U.S., some 3 years ago, I knew that it was bad to drink the local water because of the bacteria.

    Since then, I have gained a better knowledge surrounding all food in Mexico. For instance, I do not eat any vegetables or fruits that have not been sanitized with a concentrated sanitizer. This is a pain because, many times, it can add up to 30 minutes in meal preparation time. I drink only bottled water and I do not use tap water when brushing my teeth; I must use botttled water.

    I have also learned to “pick out” the best street-food stands in which to eat as some have no avenue for washing their hands while they cook. Others, even though it is not extremely clean, dip their hand into a bucket of water over and over again throughout the day.

    After arriving in Mexico initially, it was very common for me to get sick a couple or three days a month. But, now, I eat street food daily and I do not suffer this same sickness. I am guessing that my body is getting used to all the “germs” that surround me. It can be a bit scary; but, the food is GREAT! 🙂

    Paul

  26. Bascially, what I am saying is that we cannot escape the bacteria around us. It is a reality. Although, I take many precautions in Mexico, I cannot 100% avoid the bateria in the food and water, etc….. I was just trying to relate personal experiences of how I try to avoid the bacteria to prevent personal sickness, but, in reality, I can only partially fight this battle.

    Thanks,

    Paul

  27. Reading this article reminded me of the numerous news stories regarding hormones in milk and the recent outbreaks of the MRSA and our cities contaminated drinking water. All of which are archetypal examples of NIMBY.

    Adverse effects of cancer and extremely early occurrences of puberty in young girls are still undergoing observation and have not yet been proven to be linked to synthetic hormones in milk. However, logic tells us that even without concrete scientific evidence, it kind of makes sense. Dairy cows are part of the big machine, exploited for our consumption. A human’s breast milk has about 4-5 times LESS protein and minerals and much higher content of essential fatty acids than does cow milk. That’s because breast milk is produced to sustain the life of roughly a 7lb infant. A baby cow on the other hand weighs in at about 100 lbs, so it needs more of pretty much everything. I would say it’s probably a safe assumption that we weren’t really meant to drink from a cow. However, humans are adaptive and in earlier times, a family may have had a small heard and milked and drank from the cow, when she able to produce milk with no real side effects or issues. Today’s milk is a totally different story. Cows are kept pregnant all the time in order to produce more milk and injected with synthetic hormones to increase that production. Many are kept in crowded and unsanitary conditions, causing rampant sickness and disease. Yet they keep on milking. Eventually that milk harvested from an overworked, unhealthy cow makes it to our dinner tables. Now there are arguments over the cancer causing hormones that milk may have or why girls are entering puberty at younger and younger ages, some maybe even as early as 6! There is no hard evidence yet that the milk is causing it, but if it’s not the milk, something is. We ignore the abuse endured by these animals because really, how many of us have a dairy farm in our backyards? The studies are starting to be done though, and I bet eventually, we’ll find that our cows aren’t so “happy”, and their unhappiness may be the cause of some serious health issues for us.

    Another classic example of NIMBY is the outbreak of the MRSA virus. MRSA has commonly been found mainly in hospitals where there is a constant battle for cleanliness due to the nature of the businesses. However, it has also spread in schools and gyms more recently and been a great cause for concern. Due to the abuse of antibacterial cleaners and the over zealousness of our health care professionals prescribing antibiotics for everything, even when you have a virus, has created this resistant strain of bacteria that is now killing people. The threat of carrying a little bacterium is now a real threat and the bacteria is a lot stronger than it used to be! It doesn’t matter what or where, you can’t partition yourself from things you can’t even see.

    Also, last year the story broke where in many American cities, our tap water has become contaminated with prescription drugs. Who knows, maybe it’s not the milk after all, maybe it’s the water! Apparently, people are flushing their medications; be it pain killers, birth control pills, or maybe just expired aspirin into the sewer system and the water treatment plants are having a difficult time getting all these drugs out of the water supply. In the war against drugs, we medicate for everything and even the drugs we don’t want anymore, are now coming back to get us. Of course they are in minute amounts, but don’t they build up in your system? If you take minute amounts of cyanide everyday, eventually you’ll see some bad side effects come out of it. If you’ve ever watched FBI files, you can say that with a degree of certainty.

    I could go on and on, kind of have already, but the bottom line is, everything we do effects everything we do. I don’t think I can say it any more simply. Maybe today the consequences of our actions may not be in our backyards, but eventually it will make it there.

    • Thanks for the comment and the examples, Allyson. I find it interesting–though, as you say, not a conclusive scientific study– that my daughter, who drank only organic milk (and breast milk), reached puberty at thirteen, as did I. What we do know is that pesticides and plastics with chlorine in their chemical formulas act as “proto-estrogens”, replacing estrogen in the human body. They have been linked to cancer of the breast and reproductive organs, as well as the decline of human male sperm motility.
      As you say, in an interdependent system everything we do/produce enters the whole circle of life. That is why I think it is so important to use the precautionary principle as a standard of behavior.

  28. As I read this article, one thing that came to mind was the long, long years that cigarette and cigar smoking was promoted as being so cool and perfectly ok with no adverse health problems related to it. Next I think of the Erin Brockovich movie and how the water was contaminated and how people’s lives were damaged or ruined because of it. Next it took my breath away to realize how pesticides have been hurting the honey bees and the bats. I am a champion of bees, but I also realize how many bugs a bat can eat and do such a good service in a very natural way.

    This article goes the next step to describe how hurtful it is to see other people as outsiders or as a dangerous other. I have known the merit of overcoming this type of thinking but your article here has some magic in it to make me grasp better the need for a more holistic way of thinking. I will definitely read the Farid Asack article you recommend. Thank you, Dr. Holden!

    The NIMBY lie is destructive. The point is well made that NIMBY partitions time as well as space. The future generations must be considered in what we decide and what we do today, and the quick buck and quickly laid plans must be done away with so that our children and all future peoples do not suffer as a result of our lack of understanding and compassion.

    Jim Jarrad

    • Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. You likely know that bees are suffering from a “colony collapse disorder” that is suspiciously linked to pesticides on the flowers they visit and in the pollen (since some of the pesticides they ingest are systemic: that is, they enter the whole system of the plant) they gather.
      A powerful point in your last sentence. My hope lies in the fact that there seem to be a growing number of people who think like this–and thus move in the right direction to leave a whole and vital earth for our children.

  29. I think the bottom line when it comes to NIMBY is that isolating so-called “threats” only brings negative outcomes. If we have learned anything, it is that a true understanding of our “enemy” provides the best intelligence on how to deal with it. Whether bacteria, disease, or citizens of a forgein state, the best attitude to adopt in dealing with them is one that acknowledges their presence and the fact that there may be nothing we can do to influence their course in the world. Having said that, erecting some kind of barrier to keep them away is ignorant of the fact that in most cases such a barrier will have little effect in the long run. I hope we can shed this ignorant attitude and adopt a more thoughtful approach to these “problems.”

    • A perceptive perspective, Allison. As per your points, the NIMBY attitude is a bit like driving through an intersection not looking at the oncoming traffic in the hopes that what you don’t see won’t be there.

  30. Strong thoughts here, Professor. And, I so appreciate your perspective on this matter of germs and bacteria. Indeed, we need them. And, in a way, I think they’re meant to curb the exploding population we see today.

    The lesson here is that we cannot separate ourselves socially or ecologically. As my youth pastor used to say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” In this instance of NIMBY, we could understand that all which we use and dispose of comes back to us. It sounds much like a Chinese proverb or something.

    I was just having a conversation this morning with my Mother about vinegar. I suggested I would not feel comfortable cutting up a raw chicken, cleaning it with vinegar, then cutting up an apple and eating it off the same surface. I use Lysol–anti-bacterial. But thinking of this just gave me an epiphany. I’ll bet you like that. Would I rather injest vinegar or Lysol? Hmmm…. By the way, is vinegar anti-viral or anti-bacterial?

    However, we still do have problems with bacteria which can deeply affect food sources and world crops where others cannot afford the depletion. A paradox.

    Because it speaks directly to your words above, I will mention this story. Because of a DPT vaccine, my daughter became epileptic at 2. She had Lennox-Gaustaut. And, later after many anti-seizure medications, she was admitted into a hospital, and put on a respirator. She had an auto-immune, IGG2 immune deficiency. I don’t think this was because my home was too clean. And, opposite of what you’re lending here, I was told to wash my hands a lot throughout the day and be very careful. That, I have done and she has gotten much better over the years. So, I’m not sure eliminating anti-bacterial components from my household is a wise choice speaking for the health of people and our food crops.

    However, I do understand the idea that with overuse we cut off our own leg.

    Thanks for the epiphany! Lysol smells pretty toxic and it had not even occured to me lately about anti-viral vs. anti-bacterial. In the plant world, I wonder if we could use plants with allelopathy and natural combatants rather than pesticides or insecticides.

    • Thanks for your comment, Tina. Obviously, balance is an important issue here. I wasn’t implying (I hope) that anyone consciously introduce bacteria into their environments (expect maybe yogurt?) There are many environmental correlates of auto-immune diseases: dust is one of those. So if an auto-immune reaction has dust or mold as a trigger, washing your hands is a good bet. But preventative anti-bacterial agents (like regular antibiotics given crowded chicken and cows) is something else again. There have been some correlations with links between mercury (a neural toxin) as a vaccine preservative with neural disorders. Now there are more than one study that have linked asthma to lack of exposure to certainly bacteria as babies. A linkage does not, of course, mean that there can be no other cause: it is just a statistical correlation. Check out this links for the results of a hard-working group of multi-cultural women working to find out the best non-toxic cleaning products for our modern households. http://www.womenshealthandenvironment.org/
      This international group has many members that share up to date research on health and the environment:http://www.healthandenvironment.org/

  31. Hello Sayed,

    Can you tell me a little about the Fukouka method of farming? I’m always interested in methods of farming that feed hungry people while not using insecticides or pesticides. My problem with that is that while this is best, how do we avoid complete crop failures? The potato blight is still very prevalent today as are many other things such as noxious weeds; Russian knapweed, yellow starthistle, and so forth not to mention rusts and pathogens which have built up tolerance to our methods. How does this method avoid these possible threats? Could it be implemented worldwide while still preparing for threat?

    Thanks much for your thoughts. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts.

    Tina

  32. Hi Professor,

    I’ve replied to so many of these, I’m losing track of where I’ve been! 🙂 But, I asked somewhere about the use of vinegar and if it had anti-bacterial capabilities. That would be a good alternative I should think.

    You mention preventative antibacterial agents. Does that include antibacterial hand washing soaps, dishsoaps or laundry soaps or detergent?
    I’ll check out that website now. Thank you.

    • Tina,
      Antibacterial soaps are a problem in causing build up of antibacterial resistance. Just plan soap and hot water is a better alternative. Vinegar changes the environment on which it is used to make it unfriendly for bacteria and viruses. Do check out the website link I gave. And for wound cleaning, check out Melissa (lemon balm), which is both antibacterial and antiviral. Good tea for colds and interestingly, for relaxation (it is mildly
      antispasmodic). It is sold as a standardized medicinal tea in Europe. One of the best sites I know for herbal information of all types is http://www.henriettesherbal.com.
      Of course, anything can be overused, herbal or not. I worry about the fact that honey has been touted to help MRSA patients (it is antibacterial), as I wouldn’t want that overused! Better to keep your immune system in good balance–which takes caring for our environment.
      Thanks for your comments, Tina.

  33. Thanks for the links concerning farming. I’ll check them out.

    Thank you for your thoughts above. I will check out the lemon balm. I’m became somewhat familiar with henriettes herbal while doing a paper on Foxglove. I’ll check that out again as well.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Tina, I just learned about something called “Four Thieves Oil” that is supposed to be a very strong herbal disinfectant. I can’t vouch for it personally, but the woman who told me about this runs a day care center and regularly uses it to disinfect the things that children touch–with good results over the last several years. She doesn’t use the expensive online Young People’s version, but one available in the local natural foods store. She puts thirty drops in an eight ounce spray bottle and spritzes the surfaces she wishes to disinfect.

  34. Professor Holden,

    Yes, that is what I am saying. With your replies, I must be missing the main point. HELP? I want to know more so please fill in any gaps I am missing and how to get there?

    Thanks,

    Paul

  35. A lot has been said here. I wonder if say, half the children in the U.S. were trained in this philosophy (Ecofeminism type) and treated this way, and taught to live this way, who or what would come along and crush them? We live with these destructive forces, LARGE destructive forces, so it seems very tricky how the ways of peaceful people can ever be allowed to remain. The “other” are always envious of the happiness of those who live in peace, and they always try to take it away. Well, even still, that is not a good enough reason to be like them.

    • Thoughtful point about protecting ourselves in the face of the abuse of power, Lesley. This is why I think it is important to re-connect nurturance and power in another forum you just replied to. Being peaceful does not mean being passive or failing to care for ourselves…I’m not sure the “others” are always envious in this way. Colonizing societies certainly express this in ravaging the resources of indigenous peoples and working to obliterate their cultures at the same time. But for many peaceful lives are a model rather than an occasion for envy. It is also true that the very fact of making some “outsiders” to the “good life” is the cause of much violence in this world. And there is this: we can’t well protect ourselves (if need be) from those whom we know little about since we have built walls between us.

  36. What I mean to say is, just as the article points out that the NIMBY -ers don’t see that they are connected to the “trash” they throw out, we, as peacemakers, environmentalist, ecofeminists are also connected to the wrong-doers, and that connection brings us so much sickness and sadness.

  37. As I understand the whole NMBY arguement, it’s saying that we can’t turn a blind eye to what goes on in other places in the world. But we’re turning a blind eye to what goes on in our front yard. Americans aren’t getting involved in local politics, they aren’t reading the labels on their groceries, they won’t buy blemished fruit at the grocery store, some won’t even eat blemished fruit off their own trees. So in all these posts, what behaviors do you want people to change? So far, encouraging people to stop buying goods produced in the poorest nations of the world is the only suggestion I’ve seen.

    But people need to get involved in politics, not just vote for someone that said something green in the voters pamphlet. A pamphlet that probably didn’t get read until the morning they checked the boxes and dropped the envelope in the mail. Back a candidate that really cares, get on the phone and help them get elected. Visit a foreign country and get some perspective, know just how blessed we are in this nation. Donate money and time to a worthy cause, be an active volunteer. Go plant a tree, ride a bike to work, take mass transportation, use the library instead of buying paperbacks. No one thing will change the world alone, but we need to begin to make a difference in as many ways as possible. There are no benefits to carbon offsets if nobody tries to diminish their output, likewise convincing 10 people to do something green doesn’t buy us a get out of green free card. We all have to do more than our part.

    • Hi David, thanks for your comment. The fact that Americans have not been involved in elections was perhaps largely true for the last 8 years– and then there was truly striking involvement in the presidential election–and in Eugene, there was an outpouring of support to re-elect Kitty Piercy (in spite of the huge campaign contribution difference between her major opponent and herself). Paul Hawken’s recent book, Blessed Unrest, gives some solid evidence that there is a groundswell of dedication to environmental care and social justice worldwide. This doesn’t mean that we are there yet– but the signs are that there is tremendous movement in the right direction– if unremarked in mainstream media.
      In a worldview which sees all life as inter-connected (which modern industrial worldviews do not) the question is not either/or– should we attend to our local issues or global ones– since they are interdependent. What worldview analysis is asking for is NOT deciding what someone else should do (that is up to each of us and our own critical thinking and conscience). It is asking instead that we broaden our perspectives when we make our choices by developing a critical perspective on our own worldview– which is taken up with the idea of Not In MY Backyard (and the implication that anyone goes as long as it relates to someone else somewhere else).
      I think if you peruse all the comments on this site, you will find plenty of suggestions for change–which each of us need to be alert to. I think the critique of NIMBY here concurs with your example of carbon offsets– how do you tie it into this discussion?
      Can you amplify your idea about “doing more than our part”?

      • By doing more than our part, I simply mean that as Americans we have taken much more than our part, so we ought to be thinking about going way above and beyond what most of us would think is our part of solving the problems. Typically, we contribute to charitable organizations and environmental causes out of our excess. If we would really open our eyes and see just how much of our lifestyle is excess, perhaps we would start giving much more than our part back.

  38. The most important line to me in this article was: “In trying to make things more convenient for ourselves, we are creating self-destructive results.” Humans do this on a daily basis. Not only in regard to our Earth. Most people will do just about anything to avoid pain. It is easier to pass it off to someone else than endure it on your own. This is also most of the reason that so many diseases and super bugs are beginning to flourish. Somehow we have been instilled with a fear of bacteria and many products now surround us to kill off the bugs. Too bad people are not equally informed on the importance of bacteria in our bodies and its benefits to supporting a healthy immune system.
    This article talked about enemies and understanding them better. I know many philosophers and higher powers that have stated the importance of keeping your enemies close. To most this wouldn’t make sense, but really it is ingenious. The Jewish parable was enlightening. If we find the commonalities in others we can succeed in the darkest of times. If we stay behind lines and boundaries we are driving ourselves downward even further.

  39. I have two thoughts regarding germs/antibiotics. When my son was young he attended daycare while I worked and at first it seemed like he was sick every couple weeks. With each fever/infection the DR would prescribe another dose of amoxicillin. Seemed to work ok at first but the illness would always come back within a couple weeks. I ended up calling the nurse hotline (the insurance company encourages you to call before making an appointment) and the nurse suggested I take him off of milk while he went through the course of antibiotics. Turns out she was right. His fever and illness went away almost immediately. I can’t help but think about the correlation between the antibiotics in milk products and prescribe antibiotics as having an effect on the prescribed dose my son was taking. I also found that after we made it through the first year of what seemed like chronic illnesses he emerged with an amazing immune system. I can honestly say he has maybe been ill 1-2 times in the past 9 years and has had zero antibiotics since then.
    It’s unfortunate that because of costs, the easiest solution is to just pump drugs into these farm animals to get milk on our table. Rather than have a standard of cleanliness and monitoring for illness for these animals.
    I would be interested to know just how much milk is dumped each year to keep the supply and demand in line as well as the amount of subsidies these farmers receive every year from the federal government to do so. Seems like the money could be used to keep the products healthier for the population rather than keep the profits up for the giant diary “farm” corporations.

    • Thanks for your comment, Anedra. A thoughtful point. You might be interested in checking out the weblink for appropriate use of antibiotics (under consumer info on the right hand column here). And if we didn’t keep cattle in such confined and unhealthy situations, we wouldn’t need to feed them so many antibiotics to keep them well. Organic free range cattle are not feed nearly so many– usually none at all. Some folks do have a genetic sensitivity/ allergy to some milk components such as lactose, but I have also heard that some don’t have the same problem with organic milk.

  40. Bravo. Part 1 told us what NIMBY is and this part 2 is full of good examples of that attitude having extreme negative effects in all aspects of life. In a way this has been the Western way of thought for centuries; dualistic, painting ourselves as separate from any ‘other’ and having a complete disregard for our actions outside of our own small sphere of awareness.

  41. I definitely, agree that the NIMBY “partitions time as well as space, seeing things only in the here and now.” We only seem to be looking at a snapshot of the world, refusing to acknowledge that we are in a constant state of evolution. We must also understand that the rest of the Earth is also constantly in the process of evolution and we must evolve with them in a partnership, instead of fight against evolution as we seem to be doing. We seem surprised that germs evolve so quickly to be resistant from our medication; yet look at the lifecycle of a germ. Their ability to multiply and reproduce within days and weeks allows them to evolve at a much faster rate. In natural ecosystems there are many symbiotic relationships which allow species to evolve together and keep up with the evolution of other species, however the boundaries we create and our dominant attitude limit us from benefiting from any symbiotic relationship because we either objectify other species or we abuse them. We can either embrace and respect other species and work for the collective good of all, or we can keep fighting this uphill battle alone.

    • It is certainly a lonely task, as you put it, to “keep fighting this uphill battle alone.” And ultimately not productive, as all our problems will continue to return to us if we keep acting in the manner that created them in the first place. I like your point about getting a clue about co-evolution: we did evolve in concert with other natural life. And it is that process–and the knowledge that allows us to act in concert with is, that sustains us in our place in the natural environment.

  42. I couldn’t imagine having a terrible bacterial infection and having a resistance to the antibiotics. This scares me due to the fact that I would love to have children. At this point in my life, I don’t really pay attention to where my food comes from or how it was grown, but these facts have definitely heightened my attention to these details in the future.

    • Thanks for your comment; these are just the types of things we need to notice if we hope to have our children come into a vibrant world==and one in which modern technology (smarter, it must be) works for them the way it works for us.

  43. This article reminds me a lot of an experience I had when I was younger. I had a friend Olivia whose mother was a complete germ-a-phobe and kept their home practically hospital-sterile. All three of her children had terrible asthma and allergies to just about everything under the sun. My friend was the oldest of the three, and I can remember being over at their house and watching Olivia’s mother practically follow the youngest around wiping his hands and sterilizing his toys. When I was older, my own mother told me that at one point she had tried to gently persuade Olivia’s mom to let the kids expose themselves to some germs, so they would build up the immunities they needed to fight them in the future. Olivia’s mother was apparently absolutely livid with my own, and wouldn’t allow Olivia to come play over at my house anymore (she probably thought my mom was going to set us loose in a pile of garbage or something!). I actually feel quite sorry for the woman – I think she nearly drove herself mad trying to “protect” her children from everything, and actually wound up producing three incredibly vulnerable immune systems that couldn’t protect themselves from anything.

  44. Part of this article just made me mad! CEO’s do think they are above the rest of the world. Unfortunately, so does many other society levels (the wealthy and the politicians come to mind- there are always exceptions to this stereotyping). Many feel they ARE above their workers and what the workers are experiencing doesn’t affect them. The arrogance never ceases to amaze me, but it sure does make me mad!

    The article also mentioned germs and the eradication of them. Why? As studies have shown, the germs are now immune to many of our antibiotics. We have accomplished this! How many carry the hand sanitizer around and use antibiotic soaps? That stuff is probably a billion dollar industry and it’s killing the good and bad germs. Only the bad germs come back quicker than good.

    I believe combat should be hand- to-hand. This way, one must see the eyes of the one they kill. I realize this wouldn’t be a popular idea, but think about it. Wouldn’t you be less willing to fight someone and kill him or her if you knew them? Also, why is someone your enemy? Who decides this? But to have someone as my enemy because their beliefs are different than mine? I have never understood that. Just because the beliefs are different, only means they are not right for me but does not mean they are not right. Who am I to decide what is right for someone else? This, I believe, is the root of many wars.

    • Hi Christy, I think you have something with the idea of hand to hand combat (as well as face to face–or at least conscious– decision-making). Many indigenous societies worked consciously to personalize violence– which had the effect of radically limiting it.
      The irony with “good” and “bad” germs (perhaps we might better say helpful to us and detrimental as we now see it)- is that we don’t really have enough info to put things into such categories.
      Chinua Achebe– nobel prize winning novelist from Nigeria who wrote on the way traditions were undercut by colonialism, was once asked whether he thought pre-industrial societies were utopian. His answer was to the effect that no human society had ever been perfect– but some are better able to fight the human instincts of self-destructive than others.
      I would say those instincts entail arrogance and greed–which we unfortunately tend to reward in our current economic system.

  45. Two things: regarding Christy’s point about combat needing to be more personal: I couldn’t agree more, and I would remind y’all of a Star Trek episode called ‘A Taste of Armageddon’. Kirk has to deal with a pair of planets that have removed the messiness of war; if the computer simulation says that your area has been ‘hit’, you quietly walk to the annihilation box. Kirk destroys these boxes, bringing the planets to the brink of actual, messy war with explosions and blood… oddly, they quickly opt for peace. I think my general thoughts about war may have been shaped by this idea at an early age… sure it’s unrealistic, but I’d say, go back to swords. You would have to see your enemy’s face. And maybe, like that rabbi’s definition of when daylight commences, you might instead see a brother or sister there.

    The other thing I wanted to comment on was regarding antibiotics in Big Farming. There was a very interesting article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times Magazine. Back in 2002 he followed the life of a beef calf he bought to see how it lived. What he learned was that the cow, a ruminant, and hence, a grass-conversion machine, is taken away from what it is supposed to eat and instead fed grain, mainly corn, which it isn’t. To make that work, the cattle need antibiotics galore. That way they can fatten up faster than their customary grass diet would allow.
    Then they get their hormone injections (to add weight).
    All of this gives us artificially cheap beef (the corn is subsidized by the govt.), but at what cost? Grass-fed beef is sustainable and better for humans; the pesticides used to grow all the corn are creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and (back to the original point) we’re using those antibiotics that end up in us.
    Makes me crazy. I’m careful how I buy my beef; I enjoy my fast food at Burgerville, which is similarly careful, and I tell my friends. That’s a start, anyway.

    • Hi Patrick, thanks for sharing these points. Given that the Star Trek drew on a number of themes in global mythology, they illustrated a lesson some humans learned the hard way–and we need to remember. I am touched by the way you tied this metaphor into the “daylight commencing” of the traditional Rabbinic story.
      Great point about antibiotics and beef: industrial farming also needs to stuff animals with constant antibiotics because of their crowded conditions, in which disease would otherwise be rampant. Not exactly farming in line with natural selection here. I didn’t know this about Bugerville…they only use grass fed beef? I hear hamburger is problematic in other ways if it is NOT grass fed: a simple hamburger may contain body parts of a hundred cows, and for those who are fed body parts of other animals (a process still not entirely cleaned up by the FDA, though it is technically illegal), eating such a hamburger increases one’s exposure to potential mad cow disease. Unlike bacteria which effect us based on their numbers, mad cow disease is spread by prions, which are based just on their presence…

  46. In reading this article I couldn’t help but think of the recent trend of not getting your kids vaccinated. I realize that there are those that think that there are some side effects and to vaccines however I think that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Imagine if nobody got vaccinated and then we had another smallpox epidemic. I think that would be tragic especially knowing that it could have been prevented. I think that people that are choosing not to get their children vaccinated are trying to do what they think is best for their child. They are probable reasoning it by saying that the chances of their child getting smallpox are very small. However the reason that the chances are small is because of the millions of other people that got vaccinated. In effect they are getting the benefit of the vaccine without the risks of the side effects. I think that this is an unintentional way of being selfish. They are thinking in a NIMBY way their children being their backyard and they don’t want their children to get the vaccine. However this thinking is flawed because they need to be thinking of everyone’s children just as in environmental field we need to think about the whole world and not just our little backyard.

    • Hi Zane, thoughtful example about vaccination. And (as usual) the story behind this is in some cases a bit more complicated. There is substantial evidence pointing to the relationship between the incidence of autism and exposure to mercury, and some evidence (not entirely solid yet, but indicatory enough to scare some, including some doctors) of a link between the incidence of autism and the mercury used as preservatives in vaccines. Though there is an attempt by the FDA to get corporations to make vaccinations without this preservative available for the elderly and the young and some with compromised immune systems, they have made only a small bit available in some areas.
      Parents also have a long memory in terms of danger to their children. The use of live (as opposed to killed) virus in some polio vaccine originally caused some tragic incidences of polio: the thing was the live vaccine came in a sugar cube– seemed more easy to administer– than the killed virus in an injection.
      So I don’t think refusing to vaccinate your children (or get vaccines yourself) entirely rides on selfish NIMBY attitudes— unless we say that it is the NIMBY attitude of the pharmaceutical producers who find it easier to continue to use mercury in vaccines. Or for that matter, to use food coloring that may cause intense allergies in children’s cold medicine– a doctor was fired from a pharmaceutical agency some years back for refusing to do research to help put this coloring into children’s medicines.
      Etc…I think that say that we need a reason to trust our oversight agencies. I am very heartened by the new EPA’s administrator Lisa Jackson’s call to (finally after four decades) update the oversight on toxic chemicals and institute the precautionary principle.
      Thanks for your comment!

      • I am aware of the risks of vacinations, and i don’t falt any parent who would want to prtect their child from the risks. I am just saying that while the epidemics of polio ans smallpox were occuring the risk of the vacines were outweighed by the benifits.

  47. I worked for 6 years in the hospital setting. I am very aware of the “superbugs” and increased infection rates due to overuses of antibiotic and things like antibacterial soaps. I used to work with a woman what was so afraid of germs that she would wash her fruit, then eat it, but would not eat the portion which she was holding with her fingers. This was in a hospital, there are germs everywhere! She thought by protecting her little backyard, or the environment that immediately surrounded her, that she would be safe. Needless to say, she probably got sick more often that anyone else I have ever worked with! She now has a child, and I have often worried about him and how he will adjust to being in public school and worry that he may get the worst of the worst when it comes to what is going around school since he has not been exposed to good bacteria on a normal basis. Just one tiny example of NIMBY in my life.

    • Thanks for the great example, Matt. I think another thing that comes through here is the way in which NIMBY may be manipulated by fear– the perceived sense of threat that divides us from the rest of the world where things are “unsafe”.

  48. I couldn’t agree more about the overuse of antibacterials. I think that while it’s important to protect ourselves from germs, the complete fear of all bacteria is what really gets people in trouble. I’ve also had thoughts about children and their exposure to germs. It seems like during childhood is when our bodies figure out how to protect themselves from all sorts of things and germs should be included in that. It’s going to happen eventually and I think that spending the first couple years in a completely sterile environment would probably make for a very unprepared immune system. Do you have any thoughts about flu vaccinations, I’ve heard arguments that what we’re really doing by giving flu shots every year is just creating a super flu which we may or may not be able to keep up with.

    • Hi Alyssa, thanks for your comment. I don’t want to give medical advice in terms of flu shots, but check out the CHE folks (The Collaborative on Health and the Environment): they include thousands of health professionals and I think they have a searchable index.
      There is also a link on keeping antibiotics working under “consumer info” on the links page–but I don’t think they refer to flu shots. One issue with flu shots is that they are preserved with mercury–and this definitely needs to change. There is some–though not yet completely solid- evidence that such vaccinations are linked (along with neural toxins in pesticides in some flea collars) with the rising autism rate in this country. Mercury is a serious neural toxin. There is a small amount of flu vaccine not preserved in this way available to those with compromised immune systems– I don’t see any reason we couldn’t do it all in that way.
      In general, however, the philosophy behind immunizations seems to be very different from that of eradicating germs: stimulating our immune system as opposed to declaring war on something in the world.
      There are side effects from vaccines in that a small percentage of folks get sick, sometimes very sick, from the vaccine. There is also the issue of live versus dead immune stimulating material. Live polio vaccine actually caused many cases of polio; dead vaccine virtually none. The problem was that the live vaccine was administered in a sugar cube and the dead through a shot– so which do you think parents were more likely to opt for their children without more information? The live vaccine in this case became a scandal in that it crippled so many of those who received it.

  49. ‘Seperate…distinct…’ of course we are made to feel this way. How else could we morally kill, destroy and exploit the people and land around us? Whether we want to believe it or not, we are in fact feeling the effects of these actions. It is in the air, water, ground…it is all around us. We cannot escape that in which we are a part of.

    What a heartwrenching experience you had. I couldn’t help feeling incredibly emotional and upset while reading this article. It is hard to hear stories such as these, but once your eyes are open, it is hard to turn a blind eye.

    • Thanks for sharing your compassion, Dana. The point that Val Plumwood makes is that these dangerous separations are not merely “separations” but “hyper-separated” within a worldview that consciously works to make sure those thus separated never meet up with one another. Time to change that!
      It is a hopeful point that denial is hard to continue once you have actually met the “other”–and noted how much like you he or she is!

  50. I agree that many do not think about the rest of their surroundings. I have a piece of property next to me, that has been a dumping ground for years. I have no idea what is on it or what my chickens ingest from it. I also agree with the antibacterial items. I see many chicldren today that are constantly sick, yet I am asked why myself and my children are not. I truly beleive it is because we have farm animals and have ingested a good amount of dirt. I have boys and always thought they should play in the dirt. Your essay just re-enforces this belief.
    As for the friend/enemy, I never thought of it that way. That once we have declared an enemy that everything that fits that is the enemy. I hope for all that we are able to change that view.

  51. This essay is alarming! Reading it reminded me of an article I recently read by Michael Pollan called “The Power Steer”. It was horrible to see not only what we are pumping into our FOOD but also the sheer number of cattle that must be produced in order for a rancher to run a business. The number of cattle the drugs and the impact they have on our environment is devestating. Our Earth can only take so much and there is also no question that within this biosphere everything we put out there is inside us. It is a viscious cycle that will at some point reach its tipping point.

    • Hi Stacie, Michael Pollan has some very interesting research to share on our food choices. I have no love for factory farming (as you might have guessed!) The good news is that information on the health and environmental consequences of such cattle raising are getting out (Fast Food Nation was a book that stirred the pot here!) And as that is happening, consumers are demanding and getting more choices– which puts pressure on some of these producers to change their ways….we can hope. Thanks for your comment.

  52. Anti-bacterial soaps, eh? But, they help to remove dirt and grime from my hands, so that when I shake another human’s hand, I don’t transfer any germs their way. But I suppose if it kills ALL the bacteria on my hands, then my hands become a breading ground for all new bacteria, good or bad.

    The black death which killed 1/3 to 2/3 of the population in 1350’s Europe could have easily been prevented if cleanliness was better implemented in daily lives. But now we’re being told that an over-exposure to cleanliness can also be damaging. Maybe anti-bacterial soap that kills 50% of germs is the correct way to go. Ha ha. That’d be fun to market to America.

    “We need to do science which is holistic, consciously value-laden, and mindful of future generations.” Agreed. Unfortunately, I feel like this is relatively ideal in context to modern society. We’re all caught up in ourselves to see how important this idea is.

    • Hi Lincoln, thanks for your comment. I can’t relay the research in reply as well as does the website of Tufts Medical School in their “Keep Antibiotics Working” campaign, which is linked here under consumer information. It is telling indeed that a medical school would put up such a site, since the loss of the effectiveness of certain antibiotics can become a kind of medical emergency in current society. Check it out if you like…the good news from my perspective is that this information is getting out. And if all things were right, advertisers would have to pull such soaps from household advertising and sales (and certainly from cattle feed lots) and they would go into hospitals where they belong.

  53. I was astonished to read about the CEOs of the chemical company knowingly exposing their employees to deadly chemicals. This shows how close to home the fatal NIMBY mentality can hit. Due to their short-sightedness, these CEOs quickly hurt themselves by neglecting the health of their employees. I was also astonished to see how highly these CEOs thought of themselves. It was almost as if they didn’t see their workers as completely human. Their workers were a commodity, and that is sickening to think about. Hierarchies can make good people do some very, very bad things.

    • I also find it sickening to imagine that CEOs might treat their workers in this way. I think your point is right on target when you note that is because they are seen as commodities rather than fully human– anything we see as a commodity is subject to this kind of abuse.

  54. The self-destructive nature of NIMBY is, I feel, due in part to the willingness of some to enjoy short-term gains with no care about the consequences, perhaps because they will never suffer the consequences. In a way walls are formed that separate some people from the consequences of their actions. Time is one thing that can serve as a wall for this purpose. Air pollution was once worried about on a local level only. In London as the industrial age was booming and soot from smokestacks was a problem, so they made them higher and the problem seemed to go away. With time however many of the forests of Europe were plagued by acid rain. The inventors of the taller smokestacks did not prevent a problem they just moved it to a different location and time. The same type of thing has happened with antibiotics, the health of society benefited for a while only to cause greater health related issues at a later time.

    • Great example in London’s taller smokestacks, Brandon. Yet another reminder that we all live in one world– in which it is a wound in our social fabric that some are, as you put it, willing to enjoy short-term gains at the cost of others now and in the future.

  55. I’ve never heard direct mention of the NIMBY concept before, though obviously it would be hard to never see examples of it in our everyday lives. The central idea of this article and its predecesor are that IT IS ALL OUR BACKYARD. We all share the same, and only, planet.
    To refute this one might argue that a coastal oil spill in the Middle East does not affect a farmer in the American Midwest, and they’re probably correct. However, with the population of the planet rising as it is and environmentally unsafe practices happening frequently all over the planet in a variety of both obvious and subtly harmful ways, we can’t afford to assume that it won’t catch up with us. The food we eat, the soil it grows in, the insects that live in that soil, the animals that rely on those insects, and the animals that we hunt and fish are all connected in a cycle that is being changed, with potentially disastrous consequences.
    The problem, in my opinion, is that there are few obvious and immediate cause and effect cicumstances with which to judge our effects on the environment. A person can’t say, “oh I have cancer from eating that ear of corn when I was nineteen.” It is a long and complicated system that leaves a lot of room for hearsay.
    Furthermore, it is just as hard for a person to look at the intensity of a current infection and to realize that previous infections hadn’t been that bad. Thus, they don’t make the connection and its easy for them to distance themselves from the idea, which is the classic symptom of NIMBY. But a person like this one, as everyone else should too, should look into current research to fully understand the effects of their life decisions. And they must do this with the reminder always in the back of their minds that the backyard belongs to all of us.

    • I think that in the short term an oil spill in the Middle East might not seem to effect a farmer int he US Midwest, but in the long run, all water and air in earth is connected: which is why the DDT outlawed in the US so many years ago can be found on a mountain in New Hampshire.
      I think that epigenetics is a research area that may make it easier to pin the responsibility for particular cancers on chemicals: unfortunately,the data on chemical changes to gene expression, in its incipient stage, indicates that there are many more cancer-causing chemicals than we now recognize. And you are right that the latency time of cancer expression makes testing this very hard as we now do it.
      In light of this, your last sentence is an important one: we should remember that that “backyard belongs to all of us.” Thanks or your comment.

  56. I am one of those people who (I say “one of those people” despite the fact that I don’t know any others…) that is very distrusting of western medicine. Not to say that science hasn’t made miracles happen when it comes to healthcare, but I mean I don’t believe in dosing up on every over the counter drug available when I come down with a cold. I am sure I overreact, but I’m paranoid that taking these medications (aside from the hundreds of associated possible side-effects) will in some way compromise my immune system in its ability to naturally fight off infection – so I don’t (I believe in rest and healthy eating habits) and it seems to have worked out for me pretty well so far. This article really opened my eyes to issues that I had no idea were issues. As we can see from the sentence “In trying to make things more convenient for ourselves, we are creating self-destructive results” it seems that we are self-medicating without even knowing it!

    • You are actually joining many hundreds of thousands of folks in the US who are looking to complementary medicine to work alongside modern medicine. One problem with such self-medicating, as you put it, is the extend to which antibiotics, tranquilizers and even birth control drugs are leaching into our water supply not only thrown being improperly disposed of, but through our urine, which passes on our medications to our rivers and ultimately, our water supplies. A real rising issue. Thanks for your comment, Kate.

  57. Building up walls are never a good thing. We can lose sight of the real world, real fast. We are building up our world to think that antibiotics are the cure all end all. At some point the organisms that cause disease are developing a immunity for the antibiotics we are using to kill them. Antibiotics often act without regard for the type of bacteria they are designed to attack. The antibiotics don’t distinguish between the good bacteria we need and the bad bacteria we don’t. We need bacteria to digest food. But, when we use too much antibiotics, we lose much of the bacteria we need to digest. What are we really eating? What other illnesses are we causing by using antibiotics? What immunities are we building up? We need to evolve with the universe around us. The only way that we as a people can accomplish this is to break down the walls we put up, and live our lives to the best of our ability. We need to pay closer attention the land and people that we surround ourselves with to make the world a better place.

  58. In reading this essay I realize that my thinking has once again reflected my worldview even as I struggle to break free of it. I always considered NIMBY as a purely physical result of ever increasing waste. This is a flaw in my thinking, the piecemeal thinking that our culture’s worldview supports. You point out so many more ways in which NIMBY applies and expands my thinking and stretches, yet again, my limited worldview. Labeling things and especially people as ‘others’ does make them seem ‘less than’ which gives justification for negative actions against them. You have effectively reminded me that our worldview is limited and adopting new, more wholistic thinking is imperative.

  59. I wonder what things would be like if antibiotics weren’t overused. I know that in my childhood, and even into my adulthood, I have done probably a dozen antibiotic series. As far as mine and my parents’ education at the time, that was the one and only cure. Is it only their use in food animals that have caused the resistance? Or would this have happened eventually anyway if it were used appropriately to fight disease?

    • Important issue you raise about overuse of antibiotics, Ashley. There is a link on this site (under consumer info links): a medical school website called “keep antibiotics working”, which details the many ways we are overusing antibiotics and ways to avoid this.

  60. I like the idea of not thinking in dualistic terms, as mentioned in the essay. It’s scary to think that from eating meat bought at the local grocers can make us ill. But it’s more frightening to think that we can’t escape the chemicals that we are spraying on our lawns and orchards.
    It is alarming how chemicals, antibiotics, and drugs are so over used in our culture. The long term effects of science and technology should be explored before it is mass produced as it is. It seems that the almighty dollar rules our decisions. Drug companies put out a drug and then offer a condition or illness to go with it. I hope to learn more about natural options more.
    I feel fortunate that when I had my first baby, her pediatrician was very blunt with discussing medications with me. Even strep throat can go away without medication. The body is designed to fight off infection naturally. He also warned me about not allowing children to build up immunities and natural anti-bodies. He also had advised against the use of anti-bacterial soaps. It makes even more sense after reading in this essay how some bacteria is beneficial.
    The use of modern chemicals without studying or considering the long term effects on the ecosystem, water, and soil is irresponsible. I think educating is a good thing–I know I have been changing how I make choices after learning more. Cleaning solutions cost a lot, and there are natural ways to clean that cost less. I have been exploing this and hope to learn how to live more responsibly.

    • Thanks for your comments, Erin. There are some sites with info on natural cleaning alternatives linked under “consumer info” here. I agree that both the pharmaceutical corporations and big business too often tries to sell us something we don’t need. I do think the US public colludes in the overuse of antibiotics (see our other link here under consumer info on keeping antibiotics working). It is alarming to me that not only are these chemicals overused– but they wind up in our waste stream and from thence in our water.

  61. There were many points in this article that either prompted me to think about something for the first time, or to think more deeply about an issue that has crossed my mind or my reading list before.

    In particular, I have always believed that people like the CEOs of the chemical companies mentioned in “Trade Secrets” really *do* believe they live in another world than that of their “lesser” counterparts (as they are sure to see their employees from their dualistic worldview)… and to some extent, in reality, they do. If their world is short-term and only focuses on the here and now (rather than the healthier view of looking out for future generations and considering their own lives as enriched by the well-being of their children & grandchildren), then these 40-something year olds (typically, wealthy men) are not bound to suffer many noticeable ill-effects from their behavior when they ask poorer populations to handle dangerous chemicals for them or dump their toxic by-products in an ‘underdeveloped’ country. And while I had not thought of the “partition(ing of) time as well as space, seeing things only in the here and now” as an integral part of this belief system, I do now. It couldn’t be clearer that it’s absolutely necessary in order to protect the NIMBY / hierarchical & dualistic world-view. As mentioned in the article on Partnering with the Natural World – that adopting certain healthy mindsets can “immunize” a people against unhealthy environmental values – I believe that adopting a long-term, intergenerational way of seeing the world could make one immune to the NIMBY mindset.

  62. Blaming cattle ranchers and feedlots for the in-appropriate use of anti biotics causing us to consume resistent bacteria from the meat and therefore getting infections where antibiotics do not wirk is patently false. First of all, if the meat is properly cooked, the bacteria, if there was any in the first place, would all be dead. Secondly, as a feedlot owner, we use antibiotics ONLY when one of our animals is sick and that animal is isolated from the rest of the herd so it does not go to slaughter for 60 days after its last shot. There should be more of a concern for the use of steroids.

    They recently did a study of the water leaving the sewage treatment plant in Portland and found hundreds of different antibiotics, birth control, illicit drugs etc.

    I was recently in the hospital for an operation on my hand. I picked up a staph infection and the MRSA virus while I was in the hospital. So this problem of resistence is universal. We need to take a holistic approach to health and wellness. Blaming the consumption of meat for our problems with resistent bacteria is too narrowminded. Most of the problem stems from people not finishing their prescribed dosages of antibiotics. They think that since they are feeling better that they do not need the rest of the pills. This allows the remaing bacteria to build up resistence to that drug. Furthermore, we take too many antibiotics in the first place.

    • Hi Jeff, thanks for sharing this perspective. In fact, much cattle feed and chicken feed, for that matter, contains antibiotics and it simply a fact that a substantial percentage of the antibiotics that we all get in our drinking water is from the meat we consume. A recent experiment indicated that the resident antibiotic load on the bodies of the subjects plummeted after two weeks of consuming a vegetarian rather than meat-based diet.
      Works like Fast Food Nation document the misuse of antibiotics in “factory farming”. That said, I certainly want to thank you for NOT following the major trend in your own feedlot. As you note, bacteria will be killed by cooking. But in fact, the crowded feedlots I have reference to use antibiotics not because they are concerned about how bacteria in cattle might effect humans but in keeping cattle alive under crowded conditions, and lack of fresh air and exercise, while being fed food that is essentially inappropriate to their species.
      Steroids and other hormones (such as the growth hormone given dairy cows to increase their milk production) is indeed an issue of concern. Thanks for raising this: I am proud of Oregon farmers who collectively agreed that they would not use this hormone in their milk production.
      In your sewage example, two sources of such contaminants are human bodies (we take and excrete such drugs) and improper disposal. An important issue indeed. MRSA is an antibiotic resistant bacteria, not a virus. which brings up the problem with doctor’s prescribing antibiotics for colds caused by viruses, since antibiotics have no effects on viruses whatsoever. Check out the “keep antibiotics working” website under consumer info links here for a fuller support of your point about our misuse of antibiotics.
      But as I indicated, we can’t let meat consumption off the hook either. It is unfortunate that so many meat producers do not have your practices.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  63. Part II of the NIMBY article has an interesting take on the problems our society has when it come to viewing the world. It will be interesting to see in the future when we are all elbow to elbow, because of population growth, and we will truly have to start to confront these issues that we have used the NIMBY philosophy on for so long. I believe NIMBY will cause problems because the world is getting smaller everyday, which means our backyards are too.
    I like the author’s point of the occupation zone as an example of NIMBY being used by a government. I thought it might have got off tract a little (too conceptual), but I totally see the authors point. It seems we are all guilty of using NIMBY in some part of our lives. I believe I use the NIMBY when it comes to certain activities that I am aware of that are in my neighborhood, I don’t like them, but there not directly effecting me and so I ignore them. Sort of like an “ignorance is bliss” sort of thing I suppose.
    This article really makes me think about the kind of things that go on in our food production and the amount of what stuff we don’t know as an average American. Another reason for the antibiotics use on cattle is because we feed them corn. The corn tares-up their insides and eventually kills them. The antibiotics have to be used to allow them to live longer. I believe if there was a poster in McDonalds that explained this, there wouldn’t be too many people waiting in line for their burger.

    • I second your example on feeding cattle corn, Zachary. They are by nature grass fed beings–and we don’t do a great job by grinding up waste protein products of other animals and feeding them that either: not only does that create unhealthy cattle, it brings us problems like mad cow disease. Time to get a bit smarter: I hope that we become smart enough to stem the population growth you mention as well- in the two ways that research has shown to be effective in cutting family size: giving women economic power and giving nourishing and adequate food to communities.

  64. The use and overuse of antibacterials and pesticides has doomed our society. In our rush to combat an evil that we could easily kill, we created a monster of a disease that we can not stop except in circumstances involving luck.

    Cancer is more of a threat to us than bacteria ever was. This is because cancer is the disease we receive from our lifestyle. You can not wash your hands or be in great physical shape and hope not to “catch it”

    This disease is the product of our advancement, a mutation caused by our attempts to eradicate bacterial diseases. It is there every time you drink water, every breath you take, every time you eat. We have poisoned every aspect of our lives.

    • I think you have a point in our trade off for something worse in our attempt to deal with a “small” disease: there ARE ways to use antibiotics with care. Unfortunately, we are not following the guidelines listed on the “keep antibiotics working” site linked here. And cancer has many environmental causes which are also hard to pin down: but most of these are related to toxic chemicals such as pesticides. I am not aware of research between cancer and antibiotic use, except perhaps in that overuse of antibiotics can depress our immune systems.
      I appreciate your thoughtful response: “poisoning ourselves” is all the more tragic when it include embryos in utero.

  65. This article confirmed my belief that we should shield ourselves from all potential harms. I am against flu shots, I love the sun, and I don’t use antibacterial soap. One of my husband’s coworkers was an adamant antibacterial soap user and then she got a staff infection. Her doctor attributed it to using antibacterial soap. This happened shortly before one of my coworkers developed a staff infection on her finger. She still does not believe me when I tell her the cause is the low resistance to bacteria due to antibacterial soap. We need bacteria in our lives – good and bad, we were not meant to live in a sterile environment.

    The amount of antibiotics in our meat leads one to only two choices – don’t eat meat or eat certified organic beef. I live in a community where people are conscious of this and often buy half a cow that has been raised without antibiotics. We, as consumers, need to let it be known that this is not acceptable and voice it through our buying dollars. New and hard to fight diseases will materialize. The government needs to educate the public and crack down on this common practice.

  66. (PHL 443 Student Reply) This article brings up many valid points of the abuse of antibacterials and pesticides. However, in order to make it a more solid article, I wish it also noted some of the positive inventions and cures from our progress. In addition, it has been noted that no one knows the cause of colony collapse disorder in the bee population and this article insinuated that it is because of the pesticide use. Although, this may be one of many theories, it is instead presented in this article as fact. As a student response, I hope it’s okay to disagree with these articles. As I stated in the beginning, I agree with the overall concept and appreciate the cause.

  67. “To address the crises outlined above, we need to revise the worldview which isolates us from others; we need to do science which is holistic, consciously value-laden, and mindful of future generations.”
    The NIMBY lie creates egotism. This egotism that we have developed is isolating us from the “others.” When we can give up this superiority that we adopted then the world will harmonize. Otherwise we’ll constantly go in this circle of falling life. The “here and now attitude” has fostered the falling future generations. And falling future generations will adopt the “here and now” attitude till we become a wasteland of not only humans but nature. As pests start to resist, we’ll always rise up to their challenge. Once again it will be a never ending battle. We live to fight instead of living to live. We definitely need to develop the “in my backyard” attitude so see how egotistic we are.

  68. The NIMBY stance has allowed us to use all kinds of growth hormones to speed up the growth of livestock. Have we taken time to wonder why it was uncommon for us to see women over six feet tall and now we have enough of them to have started a women’s professional basketball league? Perhaps those same hormones that are encouraging growth in our livestock are also encouraging growth in the people who eat them. Seems to me that anytime we toy with nature there is a price to pay because humans and nature are interconnected. Just as with the antibiotic resistant pests. Well perhaps if we didn’t feed antibiotics to the cattle and let them grow naturally the pests wouldn’t have a naturally developed resistance to the antibiotics as does several strains of other diseases that afflict human beings.

  69. I was very happy to find that you mentioned Trade Secrets in this article. Throughout the course of my study I watched that movie 2 times, it is a very saddening and eye opening experience. How man kind can knowingly posion and kill other men for money is beyond my capability to understand. And your reasoning of the CEOS thinking that this did not affect them was exactly what I wondered each time in watching that movie! They are the ones allowing these chemicals into the human body and in the earth.
    Anything that can get into one mans body can get into a CEOS body also.
    I really appreciate the story about the rabi at the end. It speaks to me, I completely agree.

    • Thanks for your comment, Briana. Trade Secrets is an eye opener that is, indeed, very sad to watch. I absolutely agree with you that it is mind boggling that a CEO could orchestrate such poisoning of workers– and ignorant, since as you point out, what gets into one man’s body just as easily gets into another’s.

  70. The NIMBY attitude that is popular in the U.S. gives us an elitist feeling that we are better than every other country. To ignorant Americans, they embrace this thought, causing many countries to hate us, and in the end we are alienating ourselves. This line of thinking is an excuse for more action and less thinking, making it a more acceptable to be dumb or ignorant. Actions do speak louder than words and it gives a sense of progression, but it could very well be progressing in the wrong direction.

    As you said, antibiotics create stronger bacteria. We are creating stronger bugs that we have to develop better methods to fight off, in turn hurting ourselves. Humans need to be in contact with germs to keep a strong immune system. There is a huge craze in America for antibacterial products due to scares from sicknesses that have not lived up to anywhere close what they were made out to be.

    With our food, businesses are using chemicals for more profit which ends up destroying our bodies and environments in the process. The food, as you said, is less nutritious due to genetic engineering and selective breeding processes. Food generally has a longer shelf life, generates more profit, is less nutritious and has more chemicals. In our own human greed, we are losing common sense, regard for the lives of others and our basic human rights.

    An example of a loss of rights would be the Patriot Act, giving the government the right to search without a warrant which openly violates the fourth amendment of the constitution. This is all because of our selected “enemy” to keep them out of our backyard. With all these chemicals, allowing “enemies” to evolve into stronger forms, and giving up guaranteed rights, NIMBY is clearly the wrong view to have on everything.

    • Substantial list of NIMBY results here, Kyle– which all turn out to be self-destructive in the long run. Exclusionary tactics may make us feel “better than”, as you note– or they may stem from fear, but in the end, they don’t benefit either the excluder or the excluded.

  71. Thank you for touching on so many aspects of NIMBY falsehoods. I am the mother of two children and the antibiotic resistance and germ problems have always been problems for me. I have been told numerous times how I need to keep my children away from certain things due to germs. For example, I let my kids play with my dog from day 1. My son got his first ear infection last week and my doctor couldn’t believe he had never been on antibiotics before. If I had the time, I would have waited it out longer to avoid antibiotics. It’s a vicious cycle with antibiotics because then probiotics have to be taken to renew the good bacteria. Plus, the antibiotics as you said end up in the water and work their way up the food web and right back in our bodies. Insecticides, pesticides, synthetic chemicals, etc, all are toxic to our fragile ecosystem.

    • Thanks for sharing your own struggle with (and without) antibiotics as a mother, Megan. If we are to keep antibiotics working (as the medical school link here on this topic discusses), we must use them judiciously– otherwise we are just breeding resistant bacteria. It is sad to see all these toxins that folks unconsciously dump wind up the water our children drink. Our consumer info links have ways to minimize exposure: but the best solution is to create a system with safe and healthy alternatives (as our “green chemistry” link highlights)–and at the very least, in which we never reward corporations or individuals for negatively effecting the environment that is our shared earthly inheritance.

    • I really enjoyed your post, it really charged up my thoughts abouts the NIMBY situation. Im studying to be an elementary school teacher and I totally understand your worries as a mother and germs. I really appreciated your first hand example and ideas.

  72. I appreciate the parallel drawn about our treatment of both other humans and the natural world. I think the only way to address the exploitation of both lies in a complete restructuring of the dominant dualistic mindset that requires an inferior “other” to maintain our own sense of importance (in other words, we need to body-check our arrogance). As in the Jewish parable at the end of the essay, the only way we’ll see our way out of the simultaneous and overlapping social and environmental crises is to recognize a kinship with all others in the world. I realize many people may consider that attitude as “hippy-ish”, but our current attempts to dominate each other and the natural world is proving suicidal, and a change is clearly in order.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Crystal. It is a strange thing (and shows some defensiveness against changing our “suicidal” course) that we might dismiss a dynamic as idealistic when it fact it allowed humans to survive for thousands of years– and it is the dominator worldview that places us in danger of extinguishing ourselves–and much of the lives of the natural world along with us.

    • I really appreciate your thoughts on this article. You bring up some really great points about our need to take care of the natural world a much as possible and by dominating each other is not the best option. Some of the falsehoods that were brought up in the article were very interesting as well.

  73. Professor Holden, your comments on healthy bacteria and the Kepp Antibiotics Working Campaign reminded me of a large fish pond I made in my parents’ backyard. Talk about taking Not in My Backyard, literally! I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning or treating the fish pond in over two years, and it should not have surprised me that somehow nature decided to take over. What a lesson I learned. With all the money I had spent at the store on all kinds of products I didn’t need to keep fish healthy, I could have put ponds in every backyard in the neighborhood. Fish in the pond got bigger and reproduced without my interference (then natural selection took over – the fittest survived), frogs and crickets and beautiful dragonflies showed up, different birds than I had ever seen came around – hummingbirds, blue jays, golden finches, junkos, pine siskins to name a few, and wildlife was everywhere! Where in that house-filled neighborhood did they all come from? It could not have been better, and my mom loved it. The pond plants even reproduced!

    I decided from then on to just let nature take its course, clean the bio-filter every once in a while to keep it circulating water, but do nothing extreme. The fish were healthy, they lived off plantlife and natural buglife in the pond, and it was all great until I moved and my parents thought the pond needed to be cleaned because of the leaves at the bottom and a small amount of algae on the sides. I insisted to them that they let nature do its own thing or just get a net to remove some but not all of the leaves since they provided a thermal blanket at the bottom of the pond for the fish in the winter and may have been what kept them alive. But they wanted a clear pond, so they hired my brother in law to clean it. He took out the plants and the fish, drained the pond, removed all the leaves, and scrubbed all that good bacteria off the pond walls. He refilled it, reclimatized the fish to the new water, put the plants back in and in less than six months…. everything was dead. 😦 I went back two months ago and added four small fish and four plants. I put everything back as I felt it should be to start the process over. I told my mom not to pay anyone to clean it, that nature would take care of itself. She called me last week and told me she thought she saw baby fish already! We do need to stop fighting bacteria as though it were Enemy Number One. We need to know what is good for us and what is not good for us, not by what we are told on TV commercials, but by what we observe through life and experience.

    PHL 443

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Odhran. Can you link this to the NIMBY attitude? How does our generalized use of antibiotics link to our dualism–how did this play into the situation in your backyard– and how did what exactly defined the backyard play into this example?

  74. This NIMBY research is very interesting, and is the first time I have read about it. Being an Elementary School Teacher in training germs and antibiotics are EXTREMELY interesting to me. Antibiotics can be very harsh on a young body, however they make us take such extreme cautions when it comes to protecting our school from specific germs. They have trained us to be germ-a-phoebes and to disinfect everything that the children touch. However sometimes children need to be exposed to certain germs in order to build up immunities to them. This article extremely interesting, i’m glad I chose to read it!

    • Thanks, Jessica. You might also be interested in checking out the website on “keeping antibiotics working” under the “consumer info” links section. It turns out that fully seventy per cent of the antibiotics used in the US are used on animals who are not sick, but for the purposes of getting them to grow faster, etc.

  75. When reading through this viewpoint of the NIMBY stance, the topic of oil procurement, and for that matter many of the sources of energy we use today come to mind. With oil there is an enormous disconnect between where people receive that which they use and the source of where that oil comes from. Over and over wars have been waged for the control of oil and oil itself has worked as a bargaining chip in huge deals that impact millions of lives and the future of our environment. However, if those deals were to involve impacting our immediate environment we would flinch at the idea of an oil field or refinery being placed so close that it could damage our surroundings or ourselves. We will pick up the pump to use more and more of this finite resource but will not take the responsibility of accepting it’s consequences upon ourselves. The NIMBY viewpoint places this miraculous barrier between what is directly in front of us (our consumption) and what problems or connection it has with what is around us. To think we are separate from our environment (and in some cases, separate from each other) will not continue long into the future when everything runs out.

    An interesting side note relating to our energy consumption as well as an example of the NIMBY mindset involves the pollution released with the use of fossil fuels. We classify that no damage is done with levels of certain toxins are below “acceptable” levels. It seems that it is with a dualistic viewpoint that we can categorize the environment and even those around us as receivers of a known damaging substance.

    • Thanks for sharing this perspective, Mathew. From a responsibility standpoint, it certainly does not work to bemoan the oil spill and continue to use gas at our current rates. And as responsible consumers we need to take take into account the processes and costs of producing whatever it is we consume– in both human labor and the natural world. Obviously such a “miraculous barrier” between ourselves and our environment and ourselves and one another (as you aptly put it) can exist only in our own minds.
      Great point about our classifying “acceptable levels” of toxins as no toxins: we are finding out more and more about the interactions of certain chemicals with one another–and not only the persistence of toxins, but their chemical transformation into other toxins as they break down.

  76. Without sounding like an advertisement, I feel like I have to discuss my experiences at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel as they relate to your comments. AIES (www.arava.org) was founded on the principle that “Nature Has No Borders” and brings together Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Americans, Europeans and others from all over the world to study environmental issues at the university level. I was so blessed to have an opportunity to spend a year learning about the environment and finding common ground with people who for most of my life were “the other”. Together we learned that we have more in common that what separates us and that our shared passion for a better earth is so powerful that we truly can change the world if we put our mind to it. Traveling together as a group in Israel and during a beach vacation to the Sinai peninsula in Egypt, I realized how strange it was for others to see us – Jews and Arabs – together joking, laughing and hugging one another like best friends do. One of the greatest hurdles facing the NIMBY ideology is exactly the hurdle you describe when Hebrew University students got stuck at a checkpoint when trying to visit BirZeit University. We have all been raised to put up walls, both physical and psychological, so we are unable to get to know “the other”. If we allowed ourselves the opportunity for interaction and ventured into our neighbor’s backyard, we would likely see that is not as toxic or dangerous as we believed. A Jewish American-Israel myself, I can now point to my lifelong friendships with Jordanians and Palestinians as proof that this is true.

    • Go ahead and sound like an advertisement (or like you really believe in what you are doing– that is certainly a gift), Hannah. Nature indeed “knows no borders”–and you are doing exemplary work in developing the relationships between people that is, I think, the greatest hope for peace and justice — not to mention solutions to environmental conundrums in this area. Keep up the good work!
      Having lived and taught in this area myself, I am touched by what I see on this website–and what you have shared.

    • It’s so amazing that you were able to experience “Nature has no borders” and such a unified approach at a university. We are all so much more a like than we think. “We all cry tears, we all bleed red” and it’s inspiring that you were able to see how similar we are in a real life setting. I feel like I can say that from a distance, but haven’t had an experience quite like yours. Your story is really uplifting, a light on a dim subject! I feel like you were able to become superman, used your X-ray vision on saw right through the walls we all tend to put up.

      • Lovely response to Hannah on this topic, Melinda. Thank you! Perhaps we can all help one another see through the walls of denial that we put up — that stop us from seeing our independent world.

  77. I just finished reading the first part of this article and I enjoyed the expansion on the attitude of NIMBY here.

    My (wonderful) girlfriend works up at OHSU, and though I am sure you’re aware of this notion, she blew my mind when she told me that there are ‘hospital diseases.’ More than simply the effects of long term exposure to certain medicines or bed rest, there are germs which exist in hospitals where they have adapted to resist antibiotics and either not (or less so?) in other places. One of these bacteria, MRSA has actually started to sprout up in communities as well, particularly in locker rooms. If anyone is not convinced of the danger of overuse of antibiotics in factory farming just look to hospitals, which, one can say, have a legitimate use for antibiotics.

    • I am aware of this, Thomas. And you are right about the implication of antibiotics in breeding super germs. One of my students some time ago sold antibiotics to hospitals and he told me of hospital sites that were abandoned (more than one reason to build those big new buildings elsewhere) because they were riddled with resistant bacteria. In fact, the third cause of death in this country after heart attack and cancer is having a medical procedure–and hospital-contracted infection is implicated in many of these.

  78. It seems like we let fear cloud our own better judement and now inherent knowledge about the world around us. We seek to sterilize ourselves biologically from germs, and pests just as we culturally and politically separate the “us” from the “other” in an attempt to delineate between that which is good and that which is bad. But as you said it is when we do this that we miss out on the truth underlying the entire world and that is that we are all one experiencing variously the trials and beautiful moments of life in a vast array of relative ways. We chose to separate when we should understand and intelligently integrate.

  79. I agree with the statement NIMBY assume we can obliterate an enemy without attacking our own well being in the process. Most humans seem to think that they are better then everything and can destroy any unwanted bacteria with no bad side effects. Bacteria are starting to develop a resistance to all the drugs and other things we have to kill them. The resistance is only creating “super” bugs which are harder to kill so humans make new drugs and the cycle starts all over again, after a certain point the bacteria will surpass the drugs and technology and humans will not be able to kill them anymore. Humans are really need to open their eyes and see that we are really affecting the world around us even if it does not happen “in our own backyard”.

    • Thoughtful point, Ayla. It is ironic indeed that our attacks on these “enemies” (such as germs or “weeds”) only makes them stronger. I think this is also true in the social realm. Obviously not a very effective strategy for creating our security.

  80. I think most of the “developed world” is over medicated. It seems that because of the “irradicate germs movement” and the financial backing of pharmacutical companies in hospital boards, most people are overperscribed. Everything in the world is evolutionary, including germs. If we weren’t taking perscribed drugs/antibiotics for every little germ, bug, and virus maybe these germs wouldn’t be evolving into something harder on our systems and harder to treat.

    • Overmedicated and overprescribed indeed, Jessika. And it is hardly doing us any good. When we use seventy per cent of our antibiotics to treat well animals (to help them grow faster) and thus create super-germs in the process, we have not only lost our sense of balance, but our perspective on our own technology. Thanks for your comment, Jessika.

    • Indeed. As a student studying to go into the medical field, this is exactly what is happening. This fight against germs is make the jobs of many doctors and medical professionals a lot harder because of the evolution. I believe these pathogens were going to evolve either way, just like humans. But the difference it they will just have slight genetic evolution like humans. Not leaps and bound changes.
      Again, this is all a business. By getting the public aware and crazy about being clean, and then creating germaphobes. This creates a multimillion dollar industry that is not going to slow down.

      • Many of the chemical industries (including pharmaceuticals) are also addiction in that the more you use, the more you need to repair the side effects (or growing resistance) to those you are using. Thanks for your comment, Will. You are going into medical school in an exciting time, when there are many new ideas (and acceptance of cross-cultural perspectives) in terms of healing.

      • Dental school =)
        But its all the same thing.
        Germs infestation everywhere.

  81. Our “war” mentality causes so many problems; where to begin…? The unintended consequences of our war on germs us something scientists and other concerned citizens have been warning about for years. Only now does it seem to be garnering the attention of policymakers – although they are still in denial because they can’t see past the profits of companies who hold way too much sway over the FDA and USDA. I have raised chickens for almost 3 years, and they have never needed medication for anything. There is no excuse for the use of prophylactic antibiotics, except greed – the desire to “have your cake and eat it too”. I refuse to buy antibacterial soap, which is surprisingly hard to do in the aisle of a conventional store. Thankfully people are becoming more demanding of “natural” products so that you are more likely to find them in conventional stores.

    There was a very scary article the other day (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39504585/) about drug-resistant bladder infections killing otherwise healthy people. I hate to say it, but until we are hit where it hurts (in our own backyard), we as a society can’t seem to change our behavior on any meaningful scale.

    I thought your story about Israel was very interesting – in this country at least, we seldom get a nuanced view of the Israeli-Palestine problem. Unfortunately, the “good guy/bad guy dichotomy prevents a meaningful discussion of the issue.

  82. You make a very important point as the world is on this war with germs. I think back to the days when were all camping outside without houses and just made good on a leaf under a tree. Cut meat off a carcass and just grill it over a fire. I imagine there were more germs back then there is today. It is completely ridiculous at how much stuff there is to keep everything clean. Our bodies are made to destroy a lot of these germs and bacteria. But due to pesticides like you say, these germs and bacteria are growing a thicker and thick our shell that protects them against us.
    Our norm society nowadays is all about protecting us against the slightest of illnesses that are just normal to everyday people. Becoming sick should be something normal. By getting it, it allows our immune system to fight against these bacteria and allow them to get a copy of the germ.
    There are certain things we want to keep out of our body, like E. Coli and other pathogens. But the common cold, flu. allowing our bodies to fight these pathogens is a good thing. Killing them all off, is just harming future generations.

    • Thoughtful response, Will. With respect to your notes on germs: our bodies evidently consist of 90 per cent non-human (mostly bacterial) dna, that perform the functions of life for us. Another reason that wiping out “germs” is non-productive– also, it is my understanding (someone here can correct me if I am wrong), that there are many types of e.coli bacteria–and some of them reside in many of our intestinal systems without doing any harm.

    • What you describe is called the “hygiene hypothesis” and is very interesting. Basically, the rise of autoimmune diseases may be caused by our immune systems not getting “exercised” enough when we are young. Even things we don’t think are autoimmune diseases, like autism, show evidence of being just that. As Professor Holden says in her comment below, there are indeed different kinds of E coli, among other things, naturally in our guts. Scientists are just now becoming aware of the “biodiversity”, if you will, of our digestive system. I suspect that our diets play a large effect in diseases in ways we do not realize, because we are feeding the “wrong” organisms by what we eat – and starving the helpful bacteria, etc.

      • Thanks for your comment, Brenda. Perhaps you know that a few have been saved from certain death in a painful digestive disorder through the surgical implantation of fecal bacteria from another human.

  83. In this essay, there were many points that really stood out to me and made an impact on my world view, including “Ultimately, attacking this particular “enemy” leads to attacking ourselves”, and “In trying to make things more convenient for ourselves, we are creating self-destructive results.” But what had the most impact was the segment about the chemical company CEOs in the 1950’s. They are the ultimate criminals in the NIMBY stance. They have been so consumed by the NIMBY concept that their fellow human being’s health and vitality concerns them less than making a pretty penny and saving their own behinds. This unethical and unmoral attitude in the business world completely disgusts me. I think the drive to gain more and more for oneself in this world is one of the main downfalls that has directly influenced the destruction and pollution of our environment.

    • I appreciate the compassion in your comment, Emily. You are appropriately outraged at such inexcusable greed. This is the basis of my concern over the recent Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited campaign contributions by corporations (without any public accountability in terms of the authors of these ads– saying who puts what on tv, for instance). IT is very important for each of us to be vigilant citizens and vote accordingly. Thanks for your comment.

  84. Reading this, i thought about the Grey Wolf in Montana, and how its very existence is dependent upon a certain few who realize that, without this predator, and entire ecosystem will be in ruin. Most people here hate wolves, and create lies and rumors to support their hatred, at the same time refusing to be educated about the Wolves’ habits and lifestyle. The wolf has a place in Montana, but many refuse to think so, and try to annihilate them the way they try to annihilate germs and anything else perceived as a threat. In our fear of the wolf, and the germ, and death in general, we may ultimately destroy the very means of our own survival.

    • Pointed example, Michele. We are in a sad state when we don’t know our friends from our enemies–and the good done for our ecosystems by animals like the gray wolf and grizzly (though some DO know– there is a quote I used from a rancher a week or two back– on “quote of the week”– who obviously understood this). Also a sad statement, I think that the only thing the nascent US government of the Willamette Valley could come together on was the fact that they wanted to annihilate the wolves, so that the government-forming meetings were known as the “wolf meetings”. Time we figured out how we belong to ecosystems instead of attempting to reign above them.

    • It’s hard for me to know what it is like to have been born into a ranching family, taught that the wolf that my grandfather killed is now protected, seeing calves killed, and my family lose money. I just know that I look at the big picture, the ecosystem, and value it more highly because I don’t have anything else that competes for elements within it, such as the family ranch.

      • What I find hopeful is the large number of ranchers who siding with solve re-introduction once they know some more information about ecosystem (and the few farm animals wolves actually take). There was a marvelous talk in Eugene recently given by a woman who has worked with wolves for years–and all with ranchers to form alliances on behalf of both of them. Another instance of partnership…thanks for a compassionate response.
        You might be interested to know that she uncovered an oral tradition about ranch hands who were supposed to be killing wolves failing to do this, since their conscience would not let them do it. The pointed thing is that stock losses did not go up enough to cause ranchers to detect these little subversions. Now if only I could remember this scientist’s name– she does not work in Yellowstone, but somewhere in that area.

  85. This article brings up some excellent points. This makes me wonder why we continue to use such high amounts of pesticides and antibiotics when the evidence is mounting that universal use of these products is actually creating more harmful “pests” and bacteria.

    I think the one explanation for this behavior is habit and our desire to control our natural world. We have used these products (pesticides and antibiotics) for so long that they are considered essential to crop production and our health and cleanliness. Commercials for antibiotic cleaning products attempt to make consumers feel like they will have a dirty home without them. Likewise, pesticides are marketed to farmers as the only solution to control crop loss to pests, causing a comedic tragedy of unintended consequences.

    A good example of this is a commercial that I see frequently for a popular home cleaning product that proudly claims it kills 99% of bacteria. Then the commercial gives a visual demonstration of this claim, showing a couple hundred bacteria on a surface prior to using the product and only 2 bacteria on the surface after using the product.
    Every time I see this commercial I laugh because it blatantly shows what is so very wrong with the product being advertised.

    What the commercial doesn’t explain is that those two bacteria that didn’t get killed by the cleaning product likely have some level of resistance to the antibiotic that the product contains. Since most bacteria replicate every 20 minutes to a few hours, those two resistant bacteria will create millions or billions of resistant bacteria in under a week. Maybe some of those bacteria will be killed by repeated use of this product or other cleaning products, but overall the antibiotic resistant bacteria will quickly become the predominant bacterial type in the homes using this product.

    • Great analysis of what this commercial actually shows us, Darcy. I wonder how much of this is due to our sense of the importance of the majority and strength in numbers– so the authors of the commercials assume that if we see the numbers being knocked back in this way, it is true evidence of control (and conquest). Thoughtful response!

      • I think the importance in the minds of consumers of the majority is an important point. Most often, if we see that something is 99% accurate or we get a 99% on an exam we think it is very good. Therefore, 99% is considered almost perfect by the average consumer.

        I also think that the commercial that I mentioned borders on false advertising because it implies that the product will continue to kill 99% of the bacteria each time it is used. Instead, the product will likely decrease in performance over time as more bacteria become resistant to it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that many consumers understand that this is a likely outcome.

        • I don’t think many viewers share your analytic view, Darcy– or the company likely wouldn’t keep running this commercial. I am also thinking how the ways in which the “minority” opinion is denigrated in our worldview may play into this “majority” perception (once we have thus weakened the “enemy”, they are inconsequential). Maybe bacteria can teach us the importance of taking all views and stances into account in a democracy =).
          The lack of sophistication with statistics is also at play here, as you point out. 99 per cent effective does not mean that there is not a MRSA infection lurking in the remaining one per cent–and as for truth in advertising, alas, I don’t know that we any longer hold folks to that– or Congressional candidates would not be buying time with corporate money for ads claiming they are not beholding to corporations!
          In fact, I doubt if anyone ever really substantiated this 99 per cent effectiveness claim in the ad you point out with any research.

      • That’s a good point, we live in a society that values the majority opinion so heavily that we forget that the majority opinion is not always right.

  86. I’ve been interested in the consequences of using anti-bacterial products since I took my first microbiology course at OSU. Occasionally I still try to find essays, online, regarding genetic mutations due to the influence of pesticides and other corporate meddling products. Many people don’t seem shocked when you’re discussing the lack of concern demonstrated by corporate CEOs in today’s “grab and go” economy. Again, I believe it comes down to education. The better people understand things like some of the basic principles of biology (i.e. symbiotic relationships for instance), the less apt they are to fall into those corporate advertising traps. I definitely believe we must take a holistic view of our world that incorporates an ideology which promotes understanding the connections between all living creatures if we wish to sustain a healthy future for our species.

    • I appreciate the way you underscore the importance of basic knowledge of the way the natural world works in order to make decent choices (and resist advertising spin), Ryan.
      A holistic view of our world surely exposes our interdependence.

  87. Antibiotics and other drugs are ending up in many of the products we consume on a daily basis. A big concern for me is the chemicals found in dairy products. All dairy begins with the cow’s milk; their diet and environment affect every aspect of the dairy products that eventually appear on grocery store shelves. Many cows are fattened with the use of antibiotics and kept in tiny pens, which creates breeding grounds for diseases, making the use of antibiotics skyrocket when raised in these poor conditions, thus creating a cycle of illness and drugs. The antibiotics given to the cows pass through their milk, and ultimately become consumed by humans. And as the article mentions, this becomes a concern to humans because we will eventually build up a resistance and a type of ‘superbug’ that cannot be defeated with antibiotics.
    Antibiotics is modern medicine’s answer and cure to everything. The negative effects of this practice can create a certain susceptibility to the same illness in the future. This creates the need for more antibiotics to be prescribed in higher doses until it doesn’t work anymore, and the cycle continues with a different type. This is what is happening to me and my chronic sinusitis every fall and winter for the past several years. Conspiracy pushing modern medicine as the only answer, while in reality causing more problems? Possibly.

    • The use of antibiotics in livestock feed is for two very bad reasons: 1) to keep animals healthy in spite of overcrowded and filthy conditions, 2) to create extra growth (guess someone found feeding antibiotics to animals regularly causes them to put on weight.
      Given the problems you cite about antibiotics leaking not only into dairy but onto our farmland through water systems, I am very much in support of an FDA proposal to stop the feeding of antibiotics to livestock willy nilly: check it out if you like; it is one of the items on the “action alert list here”: https://holdenma.wordpress.com/past-alerts/.
      Thanks for your comment and your concern on this issue.

    • Hi Kara,
      I very much agree with you that the FDA needs to crack-down on the use of antibiotics with livestock. In reference to the living conditions of livestock, I think there are many in our society that has a “NIMBY” view-point on it. It seems many people do not take the time to find out where their food comes from or how it is produced. It is somewhat like “out of sight, out of mind”. If people were able to see some of the living conditions for the livestock that their food comes from, and realize that they are supporting it, I think many would scrutinize where their food is coming from. That is why it is important to raise awareness of the livestock’s living conditions and the effects that antibiotics can have.

      • Actually, the FDA did recently ask that farmers stop feeding antibiotics to livestock with feed. So that is a good thing– I don’t know how the compliance level is. We are still overusing antibiotics to the extent that many have stopped working because of resistance.
        Animals that sacrifice their lives for ours certainly have a right to humane living conditions!

    • If I could add something to also think about is the adding of these and medical chemicals to the water supply. How does this happen? Well if you flush those down the drain a lot of the sewage treatment plants cannot take those chemicals out of the water. So then they go back into the water and food chain. To build up or mutate into something we don’t want them to.

      • Hi Bob, thanks for the reminder that it is very important NOT to flush away meds you no longer want or do not finish taking.
        Other sources of meds in our water supply include human urine of folks taking these meds and a very large contributor is antibiotics fed to animals in feed. The FDA has recently asked farmers to stop this practice, though I don’t know the details as of yet.

  88. What an excellent and through provoking essay once again. My thinking has definitely reflected my worldview. When I think of NIMBY, even after reading both NIMBY essays, I think that it is an always constant waste. My worldview is so limited and because of that your essays have been expanding my focus on a broader subject. It is very necessary that we need to adopt more of a holistic perspective on our worldviews. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Just like what you have said in your essay. We are only making things stronger the more we fight them off and eventually we won’t win. What happens if we stop giving antibiotics to plants, animals, even people? We are building walls (immunities) to continue to fight and the fight must go on as it will continue until we are out of options. Right?

    • Hi Jennifer, thoughtful comment. I think we can build immunity without their being a “wall” that fights the “enemy” (germs?)
      I was hoping to present the case for balance here. It is certainly true that antibiotics are much overused today– as in animal feed. And if we do this, bacteria will become resistant and we won’t have the antibiotics when we need them. That is why the Tufts Medical School has put together to site fighting resistance in order to (as they put it) keep antibiotics working– which we can only do by using them very carefully and selectively and building our immune systems though healthy living (and giving farm animals lives that build there rather than “factory farm” conditions).

  89. I think this article brought up numerous points. Regarding antibiotics, I couldn’t help but to think about the malaria eradication campaign that went on from like 1947-51′. It wasn’t malaria control they were after, they wanted complete dominance–eradication. Well, first there was resistance to quinine, then chloroquine, then camoquin, then proguanil, etc. Every time they ‘created’ a new drug, the parasite would form some sort of resistance. It is the same with bacteria. Through studies they have shown that by simply manipulating one’s environment and covering and draining still water, one is able to drastically decrease the probability of one contracting malaria. So, getting back to the point, as we have literally seen that by simply relying on something to go away by masking its effects with drugs, antibiotics ,a pretty golf course on top of a landfill, couldn’t we just change our actions and thus try to eliminate the problem to begin with? As many others have already stated, the sooner we take responsibility for our actions and realize that the world is in a natural balance of give and take, the sooner we can get on with repairing the damage we have created. We were never meant to be the ‘dominant’ factor regarding the environment. We are merely a link in a larger chain.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective on the balance and interdependence of our place in a “larger chain”, Jennifer. It is a bit of disastrous human arrogance to thing we can re-shape the world for our own benefit that took millions of years to emerge as a living system.
      As you point out, attacking one thing with the attempt to completely wipe it out leads to resistance–and as with pesticide use, makes us worse off than we began, since now we not only have resistant insects (the crop loss to pests in Colorado grain fields is now twice what it was when we began using intensive pesticides in the 1960s), but the poisons we have put into our environment.
      To use antibiotics to feed animals consistently and thus keep animals alive who would otherwise become diseased in overcrowded “factory farms” is inexcusable on more than one ground.

  90. It really is a shame how much we loose when we quit looking for a solution and instead create a boundary between us and the problem. Germs, bacteria, and even rodents were made for a reason and the viewpoint that eliminating them all will fix the problem doesn’t take into consideration what use they were created for. Unfortunately we have made it to easy to create an “us vs. them” stance with anything we find remotely harmful. Instead of finding a way to work with “them”, in full realization that we may not know all the uniqueness and usefulness of there existence, we tend to just create a wall in attempt to ignore the problem. As this essay mentions “walls” are seldom a good thing when dealing with a problem. While they may be cheaper and easier to deal with they allow for the problem to grow, adapt, and advance without our knowledge. This seems to be a universal point from walls of antibiotics to the wall separating North and South Korea.

    • I very much like your framing of this dynamic as “putting a boundary between ourselves and a problem” rather than looking for a solution, Phillip.
      As your point out, things like bacteria have an essential place in ecological systems (like the system of our body– in fact we couldn’t survive without them) and we would do well to attempt to learn about this and work with them.
      Attempting to obliterate anything “remotely” inconvenient in an us vs. them stance has only proved self-defeating– as has building walls to solve a problem.

  91. The NIMBY lie….
    I really enjoyed this piece because I think that it elaborated very well on the specific dangers of utilizing this type of framework for thinking about life.
    Prior tho reading this essay, I didn’t really realize how entrenched this ideology is in mainstream thinking. It seems a lot of nations, not just the United States, might be at fault for this kind of paradigm. However, I do believe that the most pervasive and inflammatory example of this type of rhetoric, is in the States unfortunately. We can see an example of this most recently in the shooting that occurred in Arizona. Sarah Palin had inflammatory language on her website (not to mention gun sights) advocating “don’t retreat, reload” and saying the “we should take a 9mm and get rid of our enemies” this demonstrates the NIMBY concept to a “T”. Politics in our country and government in general completely embodies these types of principles, and where the chicken or the egg came first, the fact that this type of discourse is inflammatory and dangerous, became all to apparent in the recent example. Creating poles of opposition does not seem conducive to seeing a whole perspective. Dividing things into good and bad, enemy and friend, or black and white, doesn’t allow for the amazing shades of grey, that set up a gradient as opposed to a oppositional, two colored framework. The latter of the two, should only lead to more conflict in the future, so I would agree with the author that until we abandon such dichotomous values, we cannot hope to relieve the pains of polarization, and our extreme measures of adherence to one side or the other, are only going to create Martyrs out of Mole hills. literally.

    • Any time we support an us versus them ideology-and the idea that the others who share our country can be seen as objects in the way of our goals, we are in trouble. I can only place my hope in our nation if we are a community who cares for one another– after all, what else holds us together as a people?
      Diminishing or demeaning or objectifying any living creature is the first step to licensing violence toward him or her.
      Though I will admit that Sarah Palin is not my favorite US politician, I don’t think that she stands alone in responsibility here. If there were not a frontier mentality she could play off of and make such statements with some sort of following behind her, she would not be making them.
      Such us vs. them dualisms don’t only miss shades of gray, they miss the possibility of bridges between us.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  92. Yes, the unintended results of the NIMBY attitude are certainly self-destructive. We must always keep in mind how little we know about the universe. We must also keep in mind that everything we do produces a ripple-effect of unintended consequences. An example is how the removal of wolves from the Yellowstone area ended up destroying the riparian ecosystems due to overgrazing by elk who were no longer on the move to evade their natural predator, the wolf. The reintroduction of wolves to the area has begun to resolve this problem. Time and time again we are shown that we are all interconnected. When will we, as a species, finally act with wisdom instead of thoughtlessness?

    • Good example about the wolves and the elk in Yellowstone, Nichole. If we chose our actions with the fact of our interdependence in mind, we might make wiser choices.

    • That is a great example with what is happening to the ecosystem in Yellowstore and the elk that are no longer grazing. Intervention seems to be a problem in every aspect of living, and although it seems like a good idea to bring in wolves that may simply introduce more problems; what unintended consequences will come with the wolves?

      The more I begin to understand interconnectedness the more I realize every thought has energy behind it, and that energy will drive my actions and behavior. I am learning to be mindful of my thoughts so I can be more in line with healthy conscious choices that consider my place among being part of the whole. It is interesting to witness the process as I encounter others. It is easy to be in a forum such as this and be having conversations with fellow like-minded thinkers, but the challenge is to take these ideals and share them with the rest of the world who do not believe in such philosophies. Thanks for this post it is great practice to share in such communication when I am in other forums.

      • The benefit of wolf re-introduction, Angel, is that the wolves were formerly an integral part of the system–and our practices wiped them out, thus setting the negative elk deforestation cycle in play.
        Not like the cane toads imported to Australia to eat insects in the cane (also an imported crop)– who decided to move inland instead way from the can fields (which they never helped clean) and are devastating ecological systems where they go.
        Also, because wolves are (often but not always) a keystone species in areas in Canada where they can still be studies in the wild, we have a good deal of data on the benefits of re-introduction.
        And you are certainly right about speaking to non-like minded folks. You might be surprised how many of the students I have taught over the years decided to change their thinking once they got more information.
        And even if that weren’t true, there is considerable benefit to hashing these things out, learning from and supporting one another.

  93. Factory farming is a huge problem with a multitude of problems. A lot of society goes to the grocery store and does not even give a second thought to what they are buying or the process it took to get there. They see labels that read, “Farm Fresh” and think it came from a traditional farm. There are only a few large corporations that control the farming and agriculture business and the driving force behind their motivations is profit, not what gets left in anyone’s backyard. They push these factory farms further and further into the rural areas to hide and conceal the problems they create. The sewage from the factory farms pollutes the surrounding areas so badly from the fertilizers and sewage that entire cities water supplies have been polluted. Most people do not even realize they are functioning from a NIMBY mentality because they are not aware of the real problems that exist.

    • I agree with you on the issue of factory farming, Angel. And even when large grower corporations are “organic” from consumer demand, they do not make wise ethical choices. I understand that Whole Foods has come out in support of GMO foods. Their customers need to let them know they expect better!

    • I think that humans have historically had closer relationships with the animals they consumed if they were raised and butchered, and more reverence when they were hunted. It seems like industrialized agriculture and the commodification of animals and their products has disrupted the relationship and allowed immoral, environmentally degrading activities threatening public health to ensue.

    • Great example of how NIMBY is applied locally. I do think people would care and act upon this with education and direction on how they could make a positive impact. Even with that said though I know many more would just look the other way hoping that someone else would deal with it. Sad reality isn’t it?

  94. I appreciate the corollary between germs and enemies. In the NIMBY campaign to eradicate the other, whether it be a Mexican immigrant or a perceived germ, danger in turning away from the impacts of human activity can prove disastrous. The interesting thing is, that diversity in the flora of microorganisms in and on the human body can be very effective in balancing and preventing the ill effects of harmful pathogens, with antibiotics becoming ineffective with overuse and adaptation of pathogens to their intended effects. So too the homogeny and sterility of NIMBY is not only uninteresting, but dangerous in the sense that it isolates the very people causing many of the problems from the problems they are causing, thus giving them no incentive to change.

    • Good point about the use of good bacteria to help heal and balance our bodies, Amanda– shouldn’t be a surprise since, as a biologist recently asserted (see our quotes to ponder) we are only about 10 per cent “human” if you could our dna– the rest consists of things like millions of microorganisms doing all the work our bodies need done for us to survive.
      Great point about the dangers of being isolated from problems we are causing.
      Thanks for your comment.

  95. Bacteria? NIMBY? I laugh at television commercials today that show images of uber-sterile children whose parents scoff at the idea of their child becoming dirty in their backyard. The parent quickly reaches for the industrial-sized hand-pumped sanitizer. I’m thankful for the bacteria I ingested as a child in my backyard. It gave me just the right amount of immune response to make any future serious infection easier to fight off, by myself–without antibiotics. People want to get better quicker. People want to make livestock grow faster, without veterinarian bills or ‘natural losses’ due to infection. At what cost?

    Until we let go the fear of what is natural and value our health over the amount of money in our pockets I am afraid the race against bacteria won’t slow down.

    It was interesting how you connected your personal experiences at BerZeit. I imagine the sliding glass door leading to a backyard where parent won’t allow their child to play a similar comparison to the students made to stand in the sleet.

    • I appreciate your lively comment, Gabe. Our bodies grew up in natural systems in such a way that they are over 90 per cent single celled bacteria. Killing all those off would kill us off– as we are likely to do by attempting to sterilize our world of anything we deem problematic (or scary because we did not put it there).
      I understand parents wanting to protect their children– unfortunately, this impulse is manipulated by ads that make nature scary (and since we are natural creatures, well…l). I find the ads for toxic pesticides now that it is spring especially repugnant.
      Nice analogy of the sliding glass door between the backyard/enemy and these Hebrew University students standing in the sleet so as to be segregated from their Arab peers at BirZeit. At some point– not, I hope, before it is too late, we will learn that we are all in this together.

    • It does seem funny, Gabe- until it gets forced on you! Every year that my son has gone to school, his school supply list has included “antibacterial wipes” (and they always include the instructions **not baby wipes**). One teacher even admonished me for risking the health of the classroom for failing to send them in. It shocks me that despite the fact that information against antibacterial products has been around for years, educators and pediatricians still push them! It doesn’t instill much faith in the professionals! My mantra is “let them eat dirt”!

      • This is disturbing, Valerie– as if you are a bad mother for not keeping your child clean enough. I don’t suppose they could be prevailed upon to look up the Tufts U. site on our weblilnks– or perhaps read a selected page or two that is printed out from that? Hard to educate those who think they know best, I know. Keep trying in whatever way you think might work.
        My own distress is seeing the burgeoning gallons of pesticides of every ilk in all the home “improvement” stores this spring.

        • I do find that supplying people with the facts helps. It may not change their behavior, but it keeps them from pestering me.

          Pesticide spraying is so prevelant here that on some beautiful days, I have to keep my windows closed. I see my neighbors and their children playing happily and birds eating off of newly sprayed lawns and have such an overwhelming sense of grief.

          This a sad situation on so many levels. The workers themselves are being exposed to the chemicals and trust their employers with their health. I had a conversation with one the other day who was spraying my neighbors lawn. He saw me hustling my kids and their toys inside and commented that it was of no harm to my children and that I should just make sure they dont walk on it for 1/2 hour. He was a young guy just doing his job and truly believed it was safe. My father worked with lawn chemicals industry for 30 years. I can’t tell you the number of times he told me it was perfectly safe. He died of cancer last summer at 59. I told the lawn guy this but still it didn’t seem to make an impact. It seems like despite that the dishonesty and greed of corporations and the government has been revealed time and time again, people still want to trust them!

        • I am sorry to her about your dad: the latest President’s Cancer Panel findings report that cancer is almost entirely environmentally caused (the difference between that and 100 per cent is what they haven’t done the research on yet, since recent research intimates there was no evidence of cancer in ancient human societies). Good for you in hustling your kids indoors. If you lived in Oregon and the neighbor has hired someone who is spraying in a way that is drifting onto your property–and you have an organic garden or something monetary (!) like bees you want protected from spray, you can call the Oregon State Department of Agriculture and complain and the pesticide applicator can loose their license.
          Also, if you have a good relationship with the neighbors, see if you can get them to read the essay here called “The Dandelion Wars” or any useful info from the “Do not Buy” list. Otherwise, check the PAN website for actions you might take. You should not have to endure this!

      • I feel your pain Valerie, my experience with my son and his school was similar but not with antibacterial wipes.
        I remember when I was a kid making mud pies and even now I enjoy the musty smell of caves, exploring them and getting muddy. The mud washes off. I sometimes wish I could walk around more without shoes just to feel the Earth beneath my feet. I’m too tender footed to do that. 🙂 We paved the Earth over, we put on shoes and can’t feel the dirt; I wonder if our disconnect with the Earth would lessen if we would all just walk around bare footed.

        • Your metaphor indicating the importance of being in physical touch with our environment is a pointed one, Dawn.
          And when you were a kid, did you find that your feet toughened up over the summer from going barefoot?

        • I also wonder what fostering a fear in Earth will do to the psychology of children. I hope we aren’t training our next generation into obsessive compulsive disorders (mainly those of being clean). This over-protection seems to me to be a problem both for the physical and mental health of us now and future generations of humans.

        • Telling our children that earth/dirt is dangerous is a problem!

  96. I read with interest your comments about germs and our quest to disinfect our surroundings. I’ve been interested in this for some time. I have read about new strains of resistant bacteria and the related problems. We are bombarded with commercials that show frightening animated images of germs with scowling faces and how easy it is wipe them away with a disposable towel and dispose of the towel by flushing it away, as though it magically goes away somewhere. Well it goes somewhere. One of the problems the antibacterial laden wipes and chemicals are causing is with waste reduction. In waste water treatment plants the good bacteria that is used to break down waste are becoming less and less effective because of the “germ-fighting” chemicals that we are using in our soaps and cleaners. Marketing of the product really sells the idea as “any responsible parent” should use these products.

    Our over use of pesticides are causing problems with our pollinators. In the Szechwan province of China, because of their over use of pesticides, they now have to hand pollinate every pear tree in this farming community. Their over use of pesticides have made it impossible for bees to survive. At Sequoia National Park, the once common Foothills Yellow- legged frog has been extinct from the area since the 1970’s. Over use of pesticides and fertilizers from the near by farming communities have made the area uninhabitable. Visitors find this interesting, often asking how this can happen in a National Park. It is a good reminder that what we do, no matter where we live, can affect others.

    • You make an important case for the reminder that everything goes somewhere, Dawn–and there is really no “away” when we flush it away, just as the pesticides I spray (mildly called “weed and feed”) goes into the water table when we place it on our lawns.
      There are also parts of Japan where such hand pollination has been necessary for decades because of the same pesticide results. Colony Collapse Disorder is now hitting US bees to the extent that one recent year bees had to be flown in from Australia to pollinate our crops.
      The reminder that “what we do, no matter where we live, affects others” is an important one.

    • Good morning, Dawn.

      I grew up in California so your comment about Sequoia hits home. It also brings up a twist on the NIMBY attitude that I experienced growing up.

      My family would visit the park, enjoy the experience and leave–believing that the park was “in good hands” with the land and resource managers always left behind to protect it. To know that frogs are disappearing might cause the uninformed to take a NIMBY stance and blame park biologists for not doing their job…when in reality the problem lies with us, the consumers for tolerating poor agricultural practices. You are spot-on in your last comment we all affect each other in one way or another.

      • Well said, Gabe. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis from your own experience (applicable to many us, I am sure).

      • I did research on frogs for OSU for a summer and I don’t think there are probably many better examples of the NIMBY lie than frogs! They are affect by what we do to the land and the water, if not even more so by what we do to the ozone. Our poor frogs have a bleak future because we think that what floats away goes away and doesn’t sit above us allowing UV light through our ozone. We think that because we are one boat visiting a beautiful lake we can’t be the boat that brings chitrid and fungi into that lake.

        • Thanks for sharing this example with us, Caroline. It goes hand in hand with Dawn’s experience of those who come to the Sequoias to enjoy their vacation, but see no relationship between their own actions in their personal lives and the preservation of the ecological systems the Sequoias depend on.

  97. I am amazed at how this essay can go from speaking of antibiotic overuse to the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre very smoothly.
    Considering two towns near where I live had to issue warnings two years ago due to the amounts of antibiotics in their drinking water, I can relate to that. I can also understand the issue from a healthcare perspective as an EMT and MA. I see this regularly and have to take special precautions when dealing with “superbugs” such as MRSA.
    In regards to the massacre, this really does show how important ownership is and it seems to promote the idea that the one who holds the bigger gun, wins the war. I guess what I don’t understand is why there has to be a war in the first place.

    • You are not the only one who does not understand this, Loni. Perhaps there is something about holding the “bigger gun” that motivates one to attack on scant provocation. In this case, Israel assumed southern Lebanon was a physical refuge for Palestinian terrorists– but refugee camps of women and children were not terrorist strongholds– as Israeli soldiers refusing medals for taking part in that massacre insisted. What I saw while living under the Israeli Occupation was a tendency to look for and find the “enemy” everywhere. And the less they were really there, the more they were imagined. It was a kind of insanity in which hostility became a reflex response Ironically, there was also a concerted attack on the PLO — which the Occupation tried to force teachers (like myself) to certify was a “terrorist organization” by signing a statement to that effect. This was ironic and tragic both, since the PLO was the major influence against violence the year I taught in that area– the PLO wanted students to stay in school no matter what the provocation and give the Occupation Authority no excuse whatever to close the schools, since education was valued as an essential step to democratic Palestinian statehood. However, in that time (1982-83) the Occupation made it against the law to even speak of a Palestinian state. I cannot think of a better way to undermine Palestinian civil rights and Israeli security both.
      Thanks for pointing out that the attitude that creates such flawed military policy flows from the same kind of worldview that divides up the world into “cleanliness” and “germs”. In fact, there were periodic letters in the (English language) Jerusalem Post stating that the Palestinians were germs that needed to be exterminated. Fortunately, there were many more compassionate (and smarter) responses to the situation there, such as those of the Hebrew University faculty that formed the Solidarity with BirZeit Committee.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    • Wow, it’s amazing that you have jobs that deal directly with things that were discussed in this essay. I like how you said, ” Whoever holds the bigger gun, wins the war”. Sad, but true. Like whoever has the most technological advance weaponry are the ones in power. Very sad to think that those that obtain the most dangerous of weapons are the ones who are technically ” In charge” …very scary to think about. I don’t think anyone will fully understand why war was ever started, and I find myself dreaming of a day where maybe there won’t be war at all. You will read in the history books about how young men and women killed each other or land or oil, and they will think we were crazy. The way we think of the civil rights movement I guess. Yet, as much as a I hope there is a day where that comes, I think we are still hundreds of years away. People WANT too much..

  98. I feel like as a society we are so terrified of the “unknown”. We hear that germs and bacteria can get us sick, so we are automatically scared and start using hand sanitizer after we touch every door handle. It makes me think of vaccines, and how with a little bacteria you can build up immunity to fight off a disease later on. Sometimes we live in this heightened state of paranoia, and can only trust what we recognize. I feel like the world was okay before we started tampering with it, and now with every change we make, there will be repruccusions.
    What the rabi said at the end of the article was really touching, and I wish that we could eventually look at one another as a sister or a brother. If what he believes is true, we have been living in the dark for a long time, and we could all use some light..

    • Thoughtful point, Melinda: if we “can only trust what we recognize”, our worldviews shape what we recognize and a worldview that divides the world into so many unfriendly elements (including the natural processes of our own bodies) feeds the “paranoia” you describe–and prevent us from sees our potential brothers and sisters. Thanks for your comment.

    • I wonder if there would be a way to change they way people think about sickness, disease, and cleanliness. I think that things like hand sanitizer and germ eradication are so deeply embedded our society it would take a serious effort to make headway changing these perceptions. The fear corporations have created in us to keeps us addicted to “cleaning” products is absurd.

      • Absurd indeed that, for instance, a lawn is considered “neat” when full of poisons. It seems like the “fear” ads for hand sanitizer and “dangerous” bugs are in the same league. Both sell us remedies we not only don’t need, but which are bad for ourselves and for the environment.
        As you indicate, a change in worldview on this point is in order.

  99. Alright, first I have to mention a non-peer reviewed video that I think speaks well to the idea of “wholesale and inappropriate antibiotic use” and has stuck with me for a couple of years now, http://www.themeatrix.com/ . Some things that aren’t peer reviewed still have an easily accessibly story to say, especially when backed up by essays like this that give it some credibility. Anyways…

    I feel that Asack’s quote near the end of this essay is priceless and wise, stating that “through discovering what the other is really about and what we have in common in the struggle to recreate a world of justice, a world of dignity for all the inhabitants of the earth”. I think something everyone does, is talk about how bad other people are. I think instead, Asack is saying, we should learn about our common goals. I think that if we do that people will realize we all have the same, or extremely similar, fundamental beliefs, just different ways of framing those beliefs in this complex world. I have no doubt that my slightly liberal beliefs have made me prone to looking down on the “occupation soldiers” who the essay said, stopped the Hebrew University Students. I have no doubt that my extremely conservative, West Point friend has made some mistakes looking down on attendees of Eugene’s country fair. For both of us I think it is easier to simplify other people’s lives while preserving the complexity of life for those like us. Attendees of the fair are there for a variety of reasons, both brought out by personal will and the will of others just like the soldiers. I think finding common ground to move forwards on for the important issues, like natural preservation, cultural independence, and the defense of personal rights will require both sides to give up their hubris, in thinking they are right. I think finding common ground will forces us to live with everything being in our backyard.

    • There are resources that are important, even if not peer-reviewed in an academic sense. I know many faculty are asking students to use only peer reviewed materials because it seems some students suspend their critical thinking entirely when it comes to seeing something on the internet. The illustration I have is of a woman in her forties who believed that aliens had taken over George Bush (it wasn’t even a satire or a metaphor!) and were sinking our government with an intergalactic conspiracy. This was a perfectly rational woman in her forties who had just gone back to school– and how did she know about this conspiracy? She was anxious to share her method with all she came in contact with: “You just type in, ‘the truth about…'” on Google and it comes right up!”
      I have had some very wacky papers from students who somehow felt that there wasn’t enough to read in my classes and had to come up with something extraneous from the internet– in a league with the woman above.
      To take up your other point, it wasn’t actually the occupation soldiers we should critique here, but the Occupation Administration (run in those days by Ariel Sharon), who put out the order to pull out all the stops to make sure that these students never met their Palestinian peers. This man also orchestrated a “secret” censorship list of banned books: no one but the higher ups in the Occupation knew what was on it, it changed constantly– and you could get your house blown up (as many Palestinians did, since libraries are an honored part of Palestinian culture) for having a banned book in your house.
      I think you are right about arrogance. I also think there are particular actions that make creation of peace all that much more difficult. I arrived having gotten my degree at a Jewish University in New York with the assumption that both sides were wrong and both sides were right. A few months of actually living under the Occupation disabused me of that sense– sadly so, given the circumstances it took to do this. This is not a “just” occupation.
      I am not quite sure what you mean by “attendees at the fair”– but if you are interested in looking at my own take on peace from the perspective of my personal experience, you can check this out: https://holdenma.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/supporting-the-heart-of-palestine-an-avenue-to-peace-in-the-middle-east/.
      Thank you for your comment: I especially find the work of Doctors without Borders profound and courageous in following the kinds of standards you suggest.
      And finding common ground is an essential point of “interest-based negotiation” (maybe you have heard of it, from the Harvard Negotiation Project?). The only caveat is that this method only works (or works best) when there is not a power differential between the parties at the table.

  100. The conclusion of this post is very moving indeed. While reading, I thought of the similarities of picket line crossing in the US to the Occupation. Workers are torn when a strike occurs because they have to take sides – either side with the strikers and potentially lose your job, or lose respect with your co-workers for crossing the line. My dad has worked at Boeing for over 25 years and he has had to join the picket line on many occasions. With Boeing, if you are a member of a union you are required to put your time in on the street holding a picket line without regard to your personal feelings on the striking issue.

    Going back up to the top of the reading about the warfare on germs, I completely agree that most Americans are overly concerned about germs and cleanliness compared to years past and maybe even other countries. What comes to mind when I read on this topic is that the only concern that companies have when producing a product is profit. Generally, companies aren’t concerned about how they treat their workers (i.e. Wal-Mart), aren’t concerned with repercussions on the environment and aren’t truly concerned about adverse effects of their products on the consumer. Odd to think that companies are making products that do more harm than good. For example, I did a good amount of research on beauty products for another class a year or so ago. I learned that many beauty products are addictive and make existing problems worse rather than better, which causes the consumer to continue to use the product incessantly earning the company a larger profit. An example of this is lip balm or chapstick. Many lip balms only relieve dry symptoms for a very short amount of time while actually increasing the overall dryness of lips. This can lead to obsessive usage of the lip balm causing the consumer to buy more and buy more. Other side effects can be accumulation of wax or other non-digestible materials in the body because of the consumer licking their lips while wearing the product. Same goes for the antibiotics and other hormones in dairy and meat cows. The industry wants to make the profit on the sale of the product and doesn’t care about the “side effects” of their choices (i.e. early puberty in children, soil degradation because of only sowing corn to feed cows, air pollution from methane, etc.).

    • Thanks for sharing the results of your research on cosmetics, Amy. I learned something from this– unfortunately, no something unexpected! Also a powerful parallel to the “planned obsolescence” of appliances, cars, electronics.
      Highlight another problem with a “growth” economy: motivates production of goods that do not last (or in the case of lip balm, fulfill their purpose for any decent length of time).
      This certainly says something about the cynicism of manufacturers– whose side effects in the instance of pharmaceuticals, make a situation ripe to sell more pharmaceuticals.

  101. Dr. Holden,

    I agree that the antibiotic resistance of newly emerging strains of bacteria is a huge concern today. As an animal scientist, I think that many large scale animal producers do use antibiotics as a substitute for proper management to perhaps save a little money or labor. This is backfiring in the extreme. Not only are our animals getting sicker than before, but now they are passing on these antibiotics to use in their meat and dairy. We need to be extremely careful with what we are feeding the animals we consume and I feel that that particular concern is often overlooked. The book Silent Spring brought bioaccumulation to peoples attention but only in terms of pesticides. The same effect can occur with humans eating antibiotic or hormone treated meats. Producers are so concerned with making the most profit that I think the long term health of the consumer is often overlooked.

    • Hi Kellie, I imagine that beginning the journey in learning about animal production from a scientific perspective is terrifying. But I see that you have hope that with consumer knowledge there comes power in changing the way things are done. Not only do we need to be careful with our own bodies in using anti-bacterial products, we need to protect our food sources, on land and in the waterways.

    • Hi Kellie, thanks for bringing the perspective of an animal scientist to bear on the problem of antibiotic resistance.

  102. I like the observation the NIMBY isolates time as well. People will focus on the here and now, with little thought to the time-related consequences of poisoning an ecosystem (or human body). If a symptom doesn’t manifest itself in a short amount of time, it’s easy to write it off something as safe. But then what happens 10, 20, 50, 100 years later?….

    • And then there are the chemical pollutants whose harm shows up in the grandchildren of those who are exposed. Seems like we are doing ourselves out of our legacies as humans by robbing the future.

  103. The NIMBY attitude will always remind me of how un-educated and stubborn majority of the people are who refer to this as their way of life. Coming from a rural area myself, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of these people and it is simple enough to say, that they are just not happy or satisfied with their own lives and who easier to blame for this than someone else who doesn’t talk, look, or dress like they do. Sad but true, I see them never changing, but I will always hope for the best.

  104. I agree with everything you said, but I want to play a little devil’s advocate and to check my history facts. I thought the NIMBY movements first started out in poor communities as a way to send back the waste to the people who actually created it and so, it had a bit of environmental justice to it. Perhaps, it morphed from there into the more deranged sense of keeping things “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” even for the richer communities?

    Also, in regards to the over-consumption, over-production of meat, it seems that the more global the economy gets, the more unsustainable it becomes because very few things are actually in our backyards!

    • Play away, Lindzy. I do not know how NIMBY first got started. I do know that there are now anti-NIMBY seminars offered developers to deal with neighborhood protests of their projects. I also know that in recent interviews with African-Americans in LA, they noted the community thinks NIMBY is really a stand in for PIBPBY (“put in Black peoples’ backyards). On the one hand, it is awareness-producing to deal with something in our own backyard (since we can so easily ignore it at a distance); on the other, what we don’t want in our own backyards we shouldn’t pass off to anyone else’s.
      Global awareness is not the same as global purchasing: in fact, the more aware we become of the hazards to the environment of out of season produce shipped over thousands of miles, the less likely we will be to purchase it. Thanks for your comments: important points to consider.

  105. It is very scary to me that there are antibiotics lurking even in our water system. The idea that we cannot control what we put in our bodies is very scary. You try and eat healthy and drink lots of water but are you really helping your body? What are you really consuming? This certainly makes me more aware of exactly where my food and water is coming from!

    • There are a lot of things lurking in our water system. Pharmaceuticals are “flushed” into our water system at an alarming rate with the effects still not clear. While most are “treated” away there is still no way to get rid of everything. I think the fear of the unknown is most likely worse than the reality. Decision makers have been wrong before. How sure are they that current standards are adequate for protecting the water source? And what if they are wrong?

      • What is in our water systems is sad indeed, Amanda. I think the “what if they are wrong” in terms of standards is an especially important question to ask in terms of the synergistic effects of the great number of chemicals in our bodies– which are never– in fact, cannot be ever, since there are so many of them– really tested. Thanks for your comment.

  106. I have tried to convince my best friend that people need to get sick. She is a complete germ-a-phob. She is always first in line for her flu shot every year and sanitizes her house from top to bottom weekly. While I can understand the bathroom, lets face it kids can be disgusting little creatures, the rest of the house probably doesn’t need it. I have only gotten a flu shot twice in my life, both years I was so sick that I missed twice as much time during flu-season than I did during years when I did not get the shot. I have refused to give my kids flu shots. Building an immune system is important. I’m not going as far as having flu parties. (Reference for those of us forced to go to chicken-pox parties to get it while we were young) But I am definitely not changing my habits because someday I might get the flu.

    • I never heard of the chicken pox parties, but I guess that makes many of us of a certain age in line for a shingles vaccination now. Seems like the best vaccines should boost your immune system– though my brother has the same reaction to the flu shots as you do.
      Not an easy sell to convince anyone, perhaps, that we need to get sick. But I certainly think we need balance on this issue which you seem to express.

  107. I have a couple of thoughts about this post:
    As I mentioned in a different post that my wife’s family owned and operated a farm for over 25 years, and I learned from her that there is pressure, income wise, toward using growth hormones BST and antibiotics to create a healthier herd, and using more pesticides to produce a larger crop, simply to maintain business competitively. The antibiotics and growth hormones used often in corporate farms make it difficult to farm and NOT use them. As a whole farming has changed as a way of life, many smaller family farms have become obsolete, and currently generating a higher profit is taking precedence over environmental awareness.

    “…There is only one way to live,…” I completely agree with this quote! The world is a brighter place, and life is more rewarding when we help others, when we recognize their worth, not what they are worth to us, but their entire worth as a human being, no matter what culture, and when “self” becomes secondary.

    • Your discussion of the pressure to use hormones and antibiotics and pesticides brings up a good point about the pressures (one might say they are even addictive) to use such things in this culture. One thing we can do is join together to change those pressures: as did Oregon dairymen when they collectively refused to use BST (and by the way, one of their reasons was the comparative LACK of health of dairy herds given this hormone). Sometimes it is a lonely and step by step process, but with rewarding successes in the end: I am thinking of the grape grower in the California Central Valley who changed his vineyard to organic methods (featured in the PBS Bill Moyer’s film, “Pesticides and Children”).
      Another thing we can do is know the facts: for instance, the fact that pesticide and gmo use has in fact decreased crop yield. The addictive cycle with its economic pressure consciously created by chemical industries is outlined in the now-classic, The Death of Ramon Gonzales.
      Thanks for bringing this issue up: and sharing your compassion at the end of your comment.

  108. I dislike the NIMBY stance because it sounds arrogant and ruthless. I understand that it is hard to love, or even like your enemy, but for the sake of maintaining peace in today’s society people must love their enemies. The reason why it is hard to show love to our enemies is because there is a strong sense of pride that hinders us from loving. It is essential that we humble up ourselves to our enemies because if we don’t, the pride in us will eat us up and ruin our lives for a long time. This is where I find the statement “…we can obliterate an “enemy” without attacking our own well being in the process” truly false. Some people might think that it is impossible to become humble and loving to their enemies, but I believe that anything is possible and that we all can change. We should all live by the phrase, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

    • Hello Maileen, thank you for your thoughtful response. I am not quite sure why you disagree about the quoted statement about enemies, since you seem to be strongly supporting the same idea in your comment: that is, that “obliterating an enemy” (both physically and conceptually by attempting to destroy them completely) undercuts our humanity.

    • First off, I think the idea of “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” refers to the idea of having enemies close so that you can keep an eye on them because you don’t trust them not because you actually want and love their company.

      I also disagree with the statement that we need to love our enemies. I think, personally, that we need to first find understanding of our enemies. It is through this understanding of our enemies that we can learn how to coexist on this planet together.

      • Thoughtful considerations here, Justin. Thanks for sharing your take on keeping enemies “close”. My hope would be that truly understanding our enemies might lead to their no longer being enemies. We might surely take heart from MIchael’s experience of developing a valuable friendship with a man that others might label “enemy” without even getting to know him.

      • I agree with your first statement about that particular phrase having a different meaning, but I think what Maileen meant by “loving” our enemies was more of a respect of them as our equals and by treating them with compassion and the “way we want to be treated.”
        I also agree that we need to find understanding in our differences, but I think the key is to stop altogether looking at people of differing veiwpoints as our “enemies.”

  109. It is amazing how the NIMBY attitude towards the world has changed it for the worse. Who would have guessed that using anti-bacterial soap would lead to things like asthma and that using pesticides on our crops would make them less nutritious. But now that we know these chemicals have these possible side effects people are just throwing their hands up in the air and giving up. It seems that it almost takes something happening to a persons family or close friends to get them to realize that these side effects are a possibility and not just urban legend.

    • I am sorry that you are experiencing peoples “throwing their hands in the air and giving up”, Justin. Perhaps you could model a different course of action without waiting for tragedy as a motivator, as you indicate many do.

    • Justin, I understand your frustration with the attitudes of many people. Sometimes, to be honest, I’d love to just give up, to run away to the woods with my family, be a part of nature, and let the rest of the world kill itself. But we’re not all giving up. Many of us still take our kids out to get dirty, grow our own gardens, preserve our own foods, even when we live in the city. Fight the good fight; we’ll be alright if we stick together and keep speaking out, even if our voices shake (who said that?).

      • Thanks for passing on this grit, Neyssa (pun seems appropriate). The trouble is, of course, in an interdependent world, there is no place to run away to. That is not to say that we should not each honor our need for recharging and refuge and dialogue with our authentic selves.

  110. Nature will always find a way to balance herself. We are overpopulating and destroying what nature usually uses to keep us in check: disease and starvation. So, nature is “upping the anti” by creating “super-bugs.” If that doesn’t work, eventually we will run out of land to farm and pesticides will stop working and we will starve.
    Keeping our children in these sterile environments further promotes this NIMBY idea, as well, because they are not exposed to “other,” thereby increasing ignorance and fear. I say, let them roll around in the dirt!
    We don’t even know what is becoming of our native pollinators because few people study them due to their “unimportance” in our food network. Also, GMO’s are proving themselves less useful than Monsanto wanted us to believe as the “pests” are quickly developing immunities to those as well.
    And here with our political and “moral” fighting, how will we ever learn to treat others with respect?

    • I concur that natural systems, with interdependencies built up over so many generations, tend toward balance. I would add to the issue of over-population that it has not always been nature wiping us out by disease: in fact, indigenous hunters and gatherers in most places in the world had few communicable diseases since they did not live in the concentrated populations in which their pathogens thrived.
      And with response to the sterile environment: However, many indigenous peoples also consciously limited their own populations.
      if we ever achieved such a thing, we would be dead, since the over 90 per cent non-human (mostly bacterial) cells within us do the essential work of keeping our bodies alive.

  111. You make a good point regarding CEOs not revealing to their workers the dangers inherent in certain working environments. This ideology is reflected in the large corporations of today that the government has given legal status too as individuals. These corporations don’t share their “trade secrets” of child labor, resource destruction, abuse of indigenous cultures, theft of land, toxicity in the way consumables are made, and so forth.

    The NIMBY philosophy is alive and well in the 21st Century due to laws that have been enacted to protect corporations, as well as perpetuate nationalism. A government that cares little for its constituents and more for the profits from corporations is a government that cannot survive long.

    The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius and others that followed him like Mencius, attributed the droughts, economic ruin, warfare, and national destruction of their time to the basic idea that relationship must be reciprocal. A healthy relationship was seen as taking AND giving back in order to sustain both parties. Relationship between rulers and subjects, parents and children, humans and nature were all believed to be vital forces of the universe and integral to the well-being of every individual involved.

    Perhaps the NIMBY philosophy can be deterred with the Confucian philosophy of reciprocity. By opening our yards and our borders to others we become vulnerable, but it is in this vulnerability that we humble ourselves and open our minds to other worldviews.

    • Hello Dwayne,
      You have a good point on the issue of “trade secrets”– which has been used as an industry tactic of cover-up in the ways you indicate.
      Do you mean to say that Confucius attributed social decay to LACK of reciprocity rather than reciprocity itself, given what you say next-? As you note, the idea of reciprocal balance as a guideline for our actions would certain change the tenor of modern society for the better, though I think we cannot entirely equate the notion of natural reciprocity in all societies which that which Confucius espoused. The context in which Confucius outlined his ideas is rather more hierarchical than ideas of reciprocity in many other cultures, who see it as entailing and creating egalitarianism. It might be interesting to ask whether true reciprocity undermines all ideas of hierarchy in the end.

      • Yes, I do mean that Confucius attributed social decay to a lack of reciprocity among citizens, and between citizens and their leaders. However, I do agree with you that true reciprocity would certainly undermine any form of hierarchical society. Everyone would be on equal standing and there would be no need for hierarchy. Do you think this is possible given human history?

  112. I agree that if we have enemies and have a boarder or boundary line for them not to cross that is the wrong idea. If we treat other humans like this then of course how are we going to treat the natural world? We need to take a different view on life and treat others how we want them to treat us and to think of others as our brothers and sisters not as just our friend or enemy. The thought of today is to make money not matter what the costs are that is why so many antibiotics are used in mass production of beef and poultry. They are raising so many at a time and they don’t have good husbandry for the animals that instead of treating the sick animals they give antibiotics to all the animals and they all are housed together. They feed hormones to make the animals grow quicker with less feed and time so they can make more money don’t think how it is effecting our world and our selves today. Because of all these unnatural drugs, pollutants, hormones, ECT we are giving our selves cancer and amongst other things. If more people knew what was in that steak or egg that they are eating would they eat it? This is the reason I grow my own meat, eggs, veggies and I buy organic foods. So either people just don’t care about what they are putting into their bodies or they just don’t know.

    • Hi Christi,

      I think it’s a little of both–people don’t care and don’t know. If you stop the average person on the streets and ask them about their diet, they will describe a diet very heavy in sugars and processed foods–which I call “fake” food. I’m concerned about not only the processed foods that lead to diseases–but what about this obesity issue??

      • Which is another reason to be concerned about pollutants– since a number of toxic chemicals are now being found to be “obesegens” in that they disrupt normal weight set points– recent research indicates the effects of some of these come from exposure in utero.

      • I had long discussions with a family friend who died at 95 a few years ago. We often discussed why today’s society has higher rates of disease than when he was a child. I was reminded that people used to grow and eat only “healthy” food, and they had to exert energy (exercise) in order to get that food in one way or another. It’s the processed food that has led to a lot of changes within our bodies. I used to advocate for my diabetic patients to make their dietary changes simply by reducing white foods and adding more color to their diet. Surprisingly, this was the simplest method for me to communicate less processed refined food and more fruits and vegetables.

        • Not surprisingly, I think. Adding color to one’s diet sounds like a great idea to communicate that moving from processed foods is not a matter of being deprived of anything but ill health and boredom!

      • I agree obesity is a huge problem in today’s society. But I also think that people choose to eat fast food instead of healthy food because it is fast and easy and they don’t have to cook it this is a major cause of obesity.

        • There is considerable manipulation behind this consumer choice– especially when it comes to children. But all in all, so many of us seem rushed all the time, and so grab the “fast food”– but there are ways to avoid it– by cooking ahead, for instance, soups and salads.

    • You have some points to ponder here, Christi, including how our propensity to design and define “enemies” by means of borders relates to the make-money-any-way-you-can attitude here. Do you think there is a link in seeing our world in parts–and objectifying it for our use?

      • Of course that is exactly what the attitude is that everything in the world is an object and how can we use or make money off of those objects. What a terrible way of thinking of the natural world.

  113. From the article and to your point of thinking, “… we can obliterate an “enemy” without attacking our own well being in the process.” ..and the further discussion of antibiotics, I have witnessed this first hand. As a child, we played outside much, much more than children do today and I understand there certainly are more dangers (non-withstanding chemicals), but playing outside and getting dirty was our entertainment. To take a PBJ sandwich with you, eat it in the woods and forget to wash your hands was standard. Mom wasn’t there to remind us and nothing ever happened if we didn’t. We didn’t get sick, we were not overweight and I don’t think I had an antibiotic my whole childhood. Today, my husband and I raise beef and I know for a fact, some people would wince and shudder if they worked with us side by side as we take care of them. But, our beef are healthy, without drugs and have a wonderful green pasture to eat and play in (and yes, they do play). When we are baling hay or feeding—well, sometimes we forget or there is no way to wash our hands before a lunch in the fields and I must admit, we do reach down to pet the border collies once in awhile. Neither one of us has had any antibiotics. I agree with your article in that we do not want people to suffer if an antibiotic can help them and I am not in any way advocating not washing your hands, but sometimes those little critters, known as bacteria, are a good thing.

    • Thanks for sharing this experience, Bev. Michael Pollen’s research on feedlot cattle fattened on corn indicates just why so many antibiotics are necessary to keep them healthy. Perhaps you are aware of the research indicating that children exposed to bacteria in dirt when babies have less asthma than does the general population.
      That is not to say antibiotics are not important when we need them– that is the whole point of not overusing them so they will be there when needed.

  114. I read this article with great interest. I have a background in medicine and frequently encountered antibiotic resistant organisms. There must be more personal accountability, and unfortunately much of it comes down to convenience. We don’t want to slow down to learn the truth about our food or how our daily practices impact us and our neighbors. Parents want to “protect” their children and sanitize everything possible and want antibiotics at the slightest hint of a cold. Educating ourselves and standing firm against inappropriate use of antibiotics is only a start. Medical providers need to be consistent in education, not only regarding the inappropriate use of medications, but also in discussing the long term ramifications of improper treatment.

    • Thanks for the perspective of a medical provider on the important topic of antibiotic resistance, Kristy. I also think it absolutely necessary that we stop feeding livestock antibiotics as a matter of course–as we will never address antibiotic resistance if antibiotics get into our drinking water through this route as they are currently doing.

    • I agree Kristy that medical providers need to educate their patients better and not give antibiotics to everyone that comes in with an illness. Only use antibiotics when needed, organisms build up a tolerance to these antibiotics and then what will medical providers use to treat them with.

      • Yes, both medical providers and their clients need to understand how we really should be using antibiotics in order to keep them working–and I cannot stress getting them out of cattle feed strongly enough.

  115. If we force ourselves to believe that our neighbors are our enemies we desensitize ourselves to hate, which perpetuates racism and oppression. Furthermore, if we put fear in people that instills a sense of anger or rage in the way we care for our environment than there is no room for logic that helps to protect our world. This sort of reasoning is false and repulsive. To grow as a nation and world there is much for us to learn. We are hindering our capability to expand and replenish the Earth.

    The Earth is dwindling day by day. It is dying. However, if we take the necessary steps required to care for Earth than we can build prosperity and hope for a world that is living and developing. We must leave the darkness and come to the light. In addition, we have to set aside our misfortunes and conflicts with each other to fulfill a greater purpose.

    It takes integrity and courage to up-rise and seek justice. The goal is to answer the cries from nature and make a change.

  116. I read your post Brianna and the word tolerance comes to mind. Not just tolerance of other people and their beliefs (which this planet needs real bad) but tolerance of nature too. Many Americans have gotten so accustomed to living a lifestyle that requires such little interaction with nature that we simply don’t have the ability to “see” the effects from the choices we make when they show up in another’s backyard. Nature may make us uncomfortable from time to time but that is okay. The young tomato plant needs to be hardened-off in the spring in order to grow strong and give fruit. If not, the plant will wither and die. Are we as a western society losing our ability to harden-off? Have we become too comfortable?
    You make a good observation about the lack of courage that many of us have today. It is just too easy today to assign blame to others or simply look the other way.

    • Great point about need for tolerance of nature, Scott. I think you may have an important point in our obsession with ease and convenience– looking at the natural world as if, when it does not do things exactly as we would wish, we have a right to override it.

  117. I can see the need to change the NIMBY policy of thinking but how would one go about it on a global scale? Preaching about it is one thing but without actual ideas on how to change it what are we actually accomplishing? Whether we like it or not it has to change at the top and its not going to change at the top unless its beneficial to those at the top. Too many people only look at the here and now and fail to look at what will happen later on or fail to see the bigger picture. Green energy is not the cure all for everything nor is eating an all natural diet. Everyone, whether they admit it or not will look out for themselves in the end. We as humans need to work together if we are going to change anything and leave a planet for our descendants worth living on.

    • Good question, Ryan. Stay tuned and meanwhile, peruse some of the things on this website. There are many creative models being developed everywhere even if they don’t make the evening news–and hey, maybe you are even in line to invent a few yourself!
      As for everyone’s being out for themselves, you might be interested in the recent research that indicates how humans evolved based on generosity and cooperation–and why this is a better strategy for survival (a necessity as you indicate in your last point).
      There are those who are taking up the challenge to shift their communities toward such values–though it is difficult in facing the monolith of the industrial worldview. I am thinking of the words of an environmental lawyer who worked on the initiatives to de-commission Trojan–which finally passed after several tries. He shared his experience that rigid monoliths with limited communication between the individuals who make them up (between CEOs and workers, for instance), are actually unsteady on their feet and don’t have much staying power when challenged by community concerns.
      I know that we are also saddled with a “Great Man” idea of history– that tells us that only a few large ideas and individuals were important in shaping our world. But I don’t believe it– though I do see that those are often the ones who wind up telling the story of things in hierarchical societies.
      But look at the examples in the essay on “planting a rose in wartime”– or the work of Wangari Maathai (a sketch of her work is on this site), who began life as a child in a war torn Kikuyu village, and went on, in spite of obstacles that would stop most of us cold, to found and implement a movement of women who are responsible for planting over a billion trees. I don’t think we should ever under value the potential of a committed human individual who is on the side of what so many of us truly want!
      Thanks for your comment.

      • I have never heard of the Great Man idea of history, but I do understand it. On the other hand, as Michael Parenti and others note, it is the victors that write and pass down the history. Regardless I do believe that one person can make big changes, but we will always have people that are social psycopaths that will make poor choices for the commons. Ideally, we should all be concerned about our interconnectiveness with each other and the natural world, and this would lead to a more just world. Bullies and CEO’s that continue dangerous practices that harm people and the environment would be ostracized and punished by society. Unfortunately, as we saw from the bank bailouts, the Bush/Cheney wars, the tobacco coverup, etc. – this rarely ever happens. It takes a great deal of courage to lead and take the right and just actions in the face of powerful opposition, and let’s face it, most people do not have that type of courage. So we get weak leaders, and in many cases evil ones, and most people do not have the long-term fortitude to peacefully protest to remove them. I agree with Ryan that we will all have to work together – a bottoms-up movement – to effect change. I do not think it can happen though without the people like us, who believe in a global community, a green planet, peace and equality, rising up in revolt, and unfortunately, probably violent revolt. WIth dwindling planetary resources becoming the norm (land for food, water, energy), the elite and the people in power are not going to willingly just share. It won’t happen,

        • Very thoughtful points, Mary. The large portion of those with the most economic power will not indeed “just share”– as indicated by our Congress, half of whom are millionaires and most of whom have gained that economic status since coming into office– and who have not passed such basic as equitable taxes, nor have the backed off of “perverse subsides” that benefit large corporations at the cost of the environment and often, social justice.
          As you point out, it will take a bottom up movement to address this, which begins with ourselves.

  118. At 17 months old, I was diagnosed with a severe hearing impairment. The cause to this day is still unknown. Shortly after a round of vaccinations also at 17 months, I was very ill with ear infections that were treated with drugs now known to cause degradation in hearing loss. The vaccinations, it appears made me sick. I did after all get a total of four injections only two weeks before my mom noticed I couldn’t hear, I had a fever of 104 etc. Such a strange thing to consider. Maybe my hearing loss is just fate, maybe not. OR maybe it’s fate that the drugs affected me the way they did, and maybe some day the proof will be right under my nose.

    All I do know is that I read a book 3 years back by Dr. David Kirby who looked at the phenomenon that a vaccination could cause Autism. Here is the problem, Doctors, researchers, and many of those with power have said, “where is the evidence?” After Dr. Kirby’s book came out, researchers retested the theory only finding that it was not the acting agent that was causing the 4000 children to overnight it seems begin banging their head on walls, throwing tantrums, and acting as a completely different 2 year old the parent knew before the round of vaccinations.

    Here’s the thing, I am not against vaccinations. You see I wouldn’t be here if it was not for the polio vaccination that my grandmother received when she was 21. But the questions rose in this article about antibiotics and bacteria is not to be taken lightly. How much harm do some antibiotics do? Will we ever know how much damage we have really done? The Autism and vaccination tie has long been shut up and still is, but it is not going away despite the fact that researchers are saying there is no evidence. We are to this day living apart from nature in such a way that even one who is remotely aware of it doesn’t fully comprehend. Nature is not to be taken advantage of, yet it is everyday. Which is seen in the use of drugs to promote growth stimulus farm animals for mass production. The evidence of harm is there, but does the power to stop it forever exist? No, you can only stop these kinds of things for a short while until drug companies come out with some new kind of drug (or new way) to promote their product as something that is good when it truly is not. The only thing we can do is educate.

    • I am sorry for your hearing loss, Colette.
      I appreciate the thoughtful balance in your response. As this essay indicates, if we don’t use antibiotics judiciously, we won’t have them when we need them.
      I understand that there are two issues with vaccines: firstly, the mercury preservative in the vast majority of these (even in small amounts, mercury is a neuro-toxin and not something we should willingly give developing children– especially when there are alternatives, which, by the way, parents can request– though it may taking some doing to get it, since supplies are small, but they are there). Notably, folks who critiqued silver fillings for the mercury leaching out of them were pooh-poohed for decades before the American Dental Association finally came out in agreement with them so that mercury amalgam silver fillings are no longer their standard of care.
      The second issue is live vaccines: with respect to polio, for instance, lives vaccines, given on sugar cubes, were very easy to administer, as opposed to the killed vaccines, which must be given by injection (at least this was the case two decades ago when my daughter was a baby). But all the (rare) cases of children getting polio from the vaccine in those days were from the live vaccine. So my daughter got the less pleasant injection. It pays to be informed when you are giving vaccines to your children– or yourself! Such information ought to be commonly available.

  119. It is really upsetting for me to see how people hide knowledge about the effects of chemicals for selfish, greedy reasons. I don’t think that we can change things unless we get the proper information out in the open. While it is true that there are more stories coming out about the super bugs and using antibiotics recklessly is being more discouraged I don’t think that the connections are being made that even the use of antimicrobial soap contributes to this problem of resistant bacteria. There are many times that I look at the soaps in doctor offices and hospitals to see what is provided and they are usually antimicrobial.

    The problem does exist in more than just bacteria. Local topical pesticides that are used for flea control on cats and dogs are creating populations of fleas that are now resistant to those pesticides. The process of evolution constantly changes the field of play. Which is why I don’t understand why it is that we seem to think more in terms of the here and now and not so much about the effects that continue in the future when promoting new things, ie. medicines, pesticides etc. I feel like too many times there is a short burst of information that goes out about a new product and then things calm and many times nothing will be heard about it again until there is a large problem and then the information is too little too late.

    • As far as hiding the effects of things, one thing a lot of people don;t think about is what is in the food we eat. Not just the meat, but look at the ingredients of your food. Regularly dying your hair, for example, over a life time, is carcinogenic if you are using certain hair dyes that you can bye at the store. Eating candy or processed cheese, most food that comes in boxes is really bad for you. People suffer from being overweight and are depressed becuase of the things in that food, yet instead of not eating it, they go to the doctor and get antidepressants. ??? We are not told about the effects of a lot of what is around us.

    • There is indeed a “short burst of information about a new product”, Kim— information usually put out by its manufacturer that is often not checked by a third party. Given the sad history of manufacturers’ hiding the negative effects of their products (see essay here on the “trouble with progress”), it seems we absolutely must protect ourselves, our children and life itself with the precautionary principle.
      Thanks for your comment.

  120. The NIMBY lie exposes Americans for what we really are, and it isn’t pretty. We disregard who makes our products and what conditions they’re made so long as they’re cheap. This has been going on for far too long and hopefully more will take notice. There has been improvements in the spreading of this awareness, but I don’t think they gains outweigh the losses since our consumption has continued unabated.

    Apple has recently been taking a lot of pressure because of a story in the New York Times about labor conditions in the factories that produce their products in China. Many conditions go against Apple Code of Conduct and thus they’ve been forced to begin auditing factories ensuring improved conditions. Saying you’re auditing factories sounds like you’re fixing the problem, but that is not the case as numerous hazardous conditions remain. Apple is not the only company producing products in China or elsewhere under these types of conditions, but it does raise the discussion about what we’re willing to pay for our techno-gizmos. The real price has become a human one.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-ipad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=apple,%20china&st=cse

    • The real price is indeed a human one in this case: thanks for sharing this link. PBS’s radio lab did a previous interview with a researcher who went to China and found abominable conditions in Apple’s supply factories. I am glad this got picked up by the Times. According to the radio show, Apple needs to do two things: monitor its suppliers with unannounced visits and make the economic consequences for violation serious and absolute.
      This brings up the whole issue of the outsourcing of our supply chains– Apple may actually be among the best, since at least they have a code to enforce in this regard (even if they aren’t adequately enforcing it).
      And one fact that flows from this instance is how important information is. This researcher got into the factories by posing as a US businessman–and found that any of those sharing information on what went on the factories were summarily dismissed and sometimes jailed. The most tragic part of this were the young people who suffered serious neurological damage from dealing with toxic chemicals and faced pain and poverty for the rest of their lives– as they were simply thrown out on the street when their symptoms got too bad for them to work anymore.
      How many of those who thought of Apple as a progressive corporation understood the consequences on Chinese workers when they purchased their ipads?

  121. The statistic regarding children that have limited exposure to germs and the increased risk of autoimmune and asthma makes me worry greatly for our future generations. Technology is making it easier and easier to avoid the outdoors and interaction with other actual human beings. While I won’t suggest eating dirt like I’m sure I did as a child, even though I rarely get sick, I would make a point of it to make sure children are exposed to the outdoors and give them something for their immune system to beat up on and get stronger. Otherwise, when you combine a weaker immune system, with these super strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, bad things are bound to happen.

    • Exposure to the outdoors is not only a health issues, but one of values and knowledge as well– since it seems we must be connected with the natural world in order to make wise and ethical choices concerning it. That is why the book on Nature Deficit Disorder among our children is gaining much currency, I think.
      Superbugs (whether in our crops our our bodies) and weakened immune systems is a bad combination.
      One great thing new research is finding is that honey treats some wounds caused by superbugs that nothing else can heal. One more reason to cut out the pesticides that are devastating the bees.

  122. A vey touching article and good reminder of our tendency to make enemies out of ‘the other’ even when it makes no sense at all. I think it comes down to the strength in each and every person to refuse to do this, even if it costs them jail time (in the instance of an Israeli soldier) or if it costs less (maybe social stigma), in the case of most of us. The thing that was not mentioned is that this fear and making enemies out of things that should not be enemies, is not only harmful, but it is contagious. When one group does it, it seems to be all the more easy for the next to follow step. It takes courage to step out of line and say no. But that is also contagious. Lets all try it once or twice in a situation that is truly challenging to us. See what happens. 🙂

    • Great point about the contagion of enemy-making, Summer. I love your idea that we ought to have the courage to spread another type of contagion that appreciates the ways in which the “others” are our neighbors instead.
      We have seen what happens when we make enemies– let us indeed, as you suggest, see what happens when we do the opposite.

  123. I really enjoyed this article, because animal abuse, plant abuse and human abuse are subjects dear to my heart. I have been eating organic way before it became vogue knowing there is a reason for such a dramatic change in price.
    So the more I learned about our so-called food, the smaller my circle of food choices get. And everything I learn, I share with family, friends and on Facebook. I believe that once you know the truth, and if you believe in God, then you better have a darn good story for why you supported animal and plant abuse and the temple of God, meaning yourself.
    I just read today that 1 in 54 boys in the United States are affected by autism and when including girls in is 1 in 88. According to research environmental factors play a primary role. Though vaccines have always been assumed to be the culprit, it is now suspected that vaccines are what take the autism problem over the edge. Basically that our children are so full of toxins before being vaccinated that once given vaccines they are then overloaded. This doesn’t surprise me at all. We are bombarded with toxins constantly. Therefore it is really important to at least eat as healthy as we can.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/17/aps-on-epidemic-autism-spectrum-diseases.aspx?e_cid=20120417_DNL_art_1

    Watch the video – how do these workers and farmers live with themselves!
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/15/inhumane-treatment-on-dairy-cows.aspx

    I loved your ‘I could not help but wonder whether these CEOs really thought they lived in a totally different world from their workers– in which such environmental effects would never touch them.’

    • Especially troubling is the fact that Oregon has one of the highest rates of autism increase in the nation. There is some speculation on the relationship between that and pesticide use on the many forests we have.
      I appreciate your compassion in linking to the video– and I would also state that not everyone needs to or should choose to see it. Factory farms have little to recommend them (except perhaps profit for a few), but there is some research indicating that showing (shocking) incidents of violence may actually make viewers more accepting of such violence. I was first made aware of this issue a few decades back when the Fellowship of National Reconciliation showed a film of war violence with the hopes of converting its audiences to pacifism– they stopped showing it very quickly, since their follow ups indicate a substantial part of their audience was siding with the perpetrators of the violence. It seems that this portion of the audience could not accept placing themselves in the position of the powerless victim with respect to abuse, so saw themselves as part of the more powerful perpetrators instead– even if it might make them shift their values for the worse.
      Can you see those watching this video thinking to themselves, in parallel fashion, “Those are just cows– who cares how they are treated?”
      Such films may increase the NIMBY/denial attitude in their audience by playing into the legitimate (in the short term) psychological mechanism for handling emotional distress. Films like “Not in our Town” (how a number of small towns fought racism in dramatic ways, for instance) showing people just like ourselves movingly working to change something are more effective in my experience– as were the great pieces that Bill Moyers used to do in his PBS journal, which provided an analysis as to what was wrong, why it was wrong and possibilities for change.
      Thanks for bringing up these important points to consider here.

      • I did not know that people could or would actually become more accepting to the violence of another creature’s life. I would be curious in knowing the percentage. I understand people wanting to live in denial or even wishing to remain ignorant, but to actually side with the perpetrators of such suffering after viewing or witnessing. The diseases, antibiotics in the soil and water and is there such a thing as smell pollution? If many people are accepting then why sell to the audience the perception of ‘ole McDonald’s farm?’
        No matter, I would venture to say most people would not want a conventional farm in their backyard.

        • There has been ample work done on the ways in which violence (for instance) on TV, effects its audiences. Seeing violence does not necessarily make one more liable to commit it, but it does make the audience more accepting of violence.
          In the cases I cited, the issue is that when you overwhelm an audience with an emotionally negative experience, their response may well be denial rather than action… I don’t know the numbers on the film I cited, but the audience response was prevalent enough to cause them to pull the film showings very quickly.
          What do you think of the alternative of showing films like “Not in our Town” that model powerful responses to stopping violence?
          And thanks for your follow up comment: there is much thinking we need to do as a community on such subjects.

  124. I have never watched a lot of television, maybe that is why I’m naive on violence acceptance. I had never watched or even heard of ‘Not in My Town’ so i Googled it and signed onto PBS and watched a ‘Class Action’ film about Ole Miss University and how the students decided to take action in removing the painful cheer ‘the south will rise again.’ yes, i think these are great shows, and these are the types of films I would watch. However I think the audience will be small, but if it enlightens just a few isn’t that better than none.

  125. I read this article and made me realize just how grateful I am of being vegetarian. Where in the world would humans consider injecting animals with growth hormones to help them grow bigger and faster to produce a cheaper more efficient product? My wife and I decided to become vegetarians for the same reason four years ago and have watched every documentary and read many books, researched many sites and articles we always came back to the same questions, “ Why would humans use steroids in animals and why use insecticides in our crops?” It’s hard to teach a society who does not care as much what they eat but cares more on how inexpensive it is to buy. The price of chicken, beef and other meat products have decreased significantly over the last decays, when chicken were range free and allowed to grow at their own rate and yes it was more expensive to raise chickens but the added benefits was that they would be healthier to eat. Today a single farm can raise thousands of chickens in a barn that keeps them in the dark, wet and infested with their own feces many of which die due to lack of light, movement and hormones used, yet humans consume chicken and don’t care how it was raised or cared for just how cheap it is. Many forget that the meat is already contaminated with those hormones that are harmful to humans if ingested.

    Crops are the same way, corn is cheaper to produce due to the genetically engineered seeds that allow corn to grow at a faster rate and be cheaper to sell in the market. Besides being genetically engineered there are insecticides and pesticides that are become a factor in the raise of cancer patients in the US. Science has been used for both good and harm, because many of the companies such as Monsanto that have millions perhaps billions of dollars at their disposal to pay scientists to create corn that is cheaper and harmful to humans. In reality we need insects, pest and other forms of organism because they play a role in this planet to maintain our environment free of harmful bacteria. The USDA works to protect our environment but how good of a job do they do? Every day we see another case of e.coli, salmonella and others, on the news and the USDA is working diligently on resolving this issue. The decision to eat healthy is solely the decision of the individual and how much they care of what they consume.

    • You and your wife are obviously making wise health decisions, Moises. I would add that mass producing chickens may be cheaper than raising them humanely in a free range situation but the “perverse subsides” that our government pays those who raise the cheaper chickens does not help things. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently authored a detailed report on the ways we might change our agriculture to be sustainable, healthy and humane– as well as economical. They wished to have some of those ideas incorporated into our next Farm Bill to replace those subsidies that give us results that undermine our agricultural potential.
      Many of the diseases that the USDA is not protecting us from result from the ways in which farm animals are raised and fed– time to become smarter as a society. Meanwhile, being vegetarian in the face of the alternatives is not a bad idea.

  126. I found that the fact that antibiotics are now found in most municipal water systems in the United States to be upsetting and hurtful.

    I thought that the Jewish parable with the Rabbi ending by saying “When one human being looks into the face of another and says, ‘This is my sister, or this is my brother,’ then the night is over and the day has begun” was a beautiful and healing story. It was particularly important to me because I am angry at the way that Israel treats the Palestinians but I never want to become anti-Semitic. This story reminds me of the basic humanism of most Jewish people down through the ages. Speaking of Jewish people from down through the ages, two Jewish people told me that Jesus was a rabbi. I had never thought of this concept before.

  127. How about NOME-Not On My Earth
    or NOPE-Not On Planet Earth
    or NOOP-Not On Our Earth

  128. One of the things I have to say about antibiotics is from my experience. When I was a young child, I had numerous ear infections (my last one being when I was 13) and I also had a lot of ear surgeries because the tubes would slide out of place or replace my eardrums. Now since I am older, if I get sick I prone to respiratory illnesses. During the winter storm in 2008, I caught a sinus infection and three days into the illness I had to go see the doctor because I was afraid there would be damage to my ears. They perscribed me Penicillin, but it was ineffective towards relieving my illness because that is what the doctor used to treat infections in my body before, so now my system has an immunity to it. One reason why I don’t like using medicine is because I know that if we use often for illnesses then our body becomes immune to it. When science has a cure for one thing, something else will develop that we need to find a cure for and it’s just a matter of time before some of the vaccines will no longer help us out either.

    • Thanks for sharing your personal story with regard to antibiotic use, Mary. Ear infections can be dangerous–and perhaps are one of the cases (from my limited understanding) that call for antibiotic use. The problem is not only when they are over-prescribed, but when there is so much of them in environment (due to things like putting them in daily cattle feed) they no longer work effectively. And as you rightly point out, there are many side effects that result from consistent high doses of these drugs.
      It is great that you are being proactive in your choices– I hope you have found a personally satisfactory way to deal with your personal health challenges.

  129. I am a mother. I recognize that germs are inevitable and it’s healthy to have a dose of good bacteria in your system. I have seen many moms slather their kids with hand sanitizer. Those same moms also don’t let their kids play in the dirt etc. We want to keep kids in a bubble and we think that by doing so we are protecting them. This isn’t the case. They need to encounter germs to stay healthy! I know this, my daughter went through a phase where she licked the handle of the shopping cart. Eventually she grew out of it, but it sent shivers up my spine but she’s fine! Kids need fresh air. They need to explore and be outside learning about nature. They can’t do this if we are constantly trying to keep them “healthy”.

    • I can see why you felt this way about the shopping cart handle licking.
      There are many health professionals warning that we may lose the essential benefits of modern medicine if we keep up the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed to promote growth, since we are breeding resistant bacteria everywhere (this animal feed antibiotic use causes contamination of our water and food).
      Congratulations on your healthy daughter!

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