Reprinted from Nature’s Field Vol. 12 No. 4 by Steven Horne
One cannot get involved in natural health without noting environmental issues. It is probable that most of our diseases point to environmental concerns. For example, our nutritional deficiencies are the result of modern agricultural practices, which erode topsoil and rob trace minerals from the earth. These deficiencies in the soil create deficient plants (kept alive only by artificial means such as pesticides and fungicides). Eating these sickly plants results in sickly people (who are also kept alive only by artificial means such as antibiotics, medicinal drugs and surgery).
The pollution of the earth is also creating many diseases in modern man. Not only is our food laced with residues of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, it also falls victim to irradiation, artificial colorings, flavorings and food additives. Our air in every major city is periodically filled with harmful pollutants. The danger of these pollutants is evident in the fact that everywhere, forests are falling prey to insects and diseases, and are dying.
Our waterways are also polluted with chemicals and waste. And, as if this were not enough, we further pollute our water supplies with chlorine, fluorine and other chemicals to “purify” the water. Then there is the problem of electromagnetic pollution, which may be responsible for a large percentage of all cancers as well as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other immune disorders.
These poisons, and others, when coupled with nutritional deficiency, have weakened our immune systems. As a result, 90% of our population dies from degenerative diseases. In fact, our immune systems are so weak that we are now at risk for modern day plagues which could sweep through our land and kill a large percentage of our population. Movies such as Outbreak, are not fanciful tales, but actual possibilities.
All of these health hazards are created with only one purpose in mind—short term profits.
The bottom line for corporate America is profits. Money is our national god. We are more interested in the current economy than we are in the future ecology. To put it more bluntly, as one Native American did, “we kill our grandchildren to feed our children.”
The Insanity of Modern Man
How a people live (care for the land, take care of their health, etc.) is based on their belief systems. Western man, because of his belief in science, tends to see everything in parts instead of wholes. As a result, our society sees itself above and apart from nature, and so we tend to see nature as an enemy, something to be fought, conquered, and made to serve our needs.
In contrast, many traditional people (living close to the land) see themselves as part of nature. Hence, to destroy their environment is to destroy themselves. Their belief systems say nature is a friend or even a brother—co-equal to themselves. They better understand how to live in harmony with the environment.
Most of us, in contrast are scared of nature. Venturing into “nature” we are forced to carry civilization with us (in the form of campers, motor homes, fancy camping gear, etc.). It has long concerned me that the average “civilized” person would not be able to do a single practical thing (i.e., grow food, make clothing or shelter, heal oneself, etc.) if this social structure were to break down. In short, we cannot survive without the artificial “tools” of civilization.
My herbal mentor, Ed Millet, told me that the Inca’s had a tradition that if they did not plant corn and beans each spring they would go insane. According to Ed, this was such a deeply held belief that they would stop fighting a war when planting time came so that everyone, including the chief, could go into the fields to plant the corn and beans.
This has made me wonder if modern man isn’t a little bit insane. A Midwest farm family once told me that a little girl from the city told them, “I hate farmers.” She was asked, “If there weren’t any farmers, how would you get food?” She responded, “I’d buy it from the grocery store.” This accurately reflects the insanity I’m talking about. To a corporate official in his sterile office in a big city, the bottom line is money. A forest is only seen as lumber to be sold, farm land as a potential housing development.
In the West, there has been a tremendous influx of people fleeing the big cities to move to the country. Farmland is being bought up and divided into one to five acre “ranchettes” where people merely live, growing nothing. Housing divisions are put up next to dairy farms and then the people who move into these homes have the nerve to complain about the smell and seek to have the farmer evicted from his own land. Worse yet, some of these “city slickers” who can’t win by legal means actually begin sabotaging farm equipment to drive the farmer away. What will we do for food if we turn all the best farmland into housing tracts? What will we do for oxygen if we continue to pollute the air and cut down the forests? What will we drink or bathe in if we pollute all the water? Do you see what I mean about insanity?
Gardeners and Farmers
Man is to care for the plants as well as the animals. They are to be the gardeners, contending with thorns and thistles in the process. However, even these thorns and thistles are not a curse to mankind. The fact that these thorns and thistles provide us with valuable food and medicine (consider raspberry, rosehips, blessed thistle, milk thistle, stinging nettle, etc.) demonstrates that these plants are to help us, not hurt us. Thus, nature is our friend, not our enemy.
Subduing the Earth
We are also here to subdue the earth. The Hebrew word “subdue” has the same root meaning as the Hebrew word for dominion. Both mean to exert pressure. From there, they have numerous derivatives of meaning which refer to trampling the earth, plowing and the idea of squeezing or hugging (which can mean everything from violating to cherishing).
Western man seems to have interpreted the word subdue to mean “violate” or more specifically “rape.” After all, that is what we do. We “rape” the earth taking everything we can. However, I believe a more sound interpretation of this passage is to “cherish” the earth, specifically by cultivating it. Thus our mastery of the earth means we were put here to serve all the rest of creation.
If you have followed my reasoning here, then it is very clear that our purpose here is to propagate the plant kingdom, providing food and habitat so that the animal kingdom can fulfill its purpose to multiply and replenish the earth. Frankly, I think we’re doing a very poor job.
The Herb Industry
By the way, the herb industry is doing its part to damage the environment, too. Ethical wildcrafting (gathering herbs from the wilds) requires that one harvests only a portion of the plants in a given area, leaving enough behind to replenish the population. Ethical wildcrafters often deliberately scatter the seeds of the plants to ensure their propagation in the wild.
Today, the demand for certain herbs is creating a breed of very unethical wildcrafters, who are interested only in immediate financial gain and have no concern for future generations. These “corporate-minded” wildcrafters take every plant they can find. Already, wild populations of golden seal, American ginseng, echinacea angustifolia and others are disappearing at an alarming rate. Lady’s slipper has become an endangered species and has largely disappeared from the marketplace.
What can we do to help?
Well, first, we can use organically grown herbs instead of wildcrafted herbs where possible. We can also encourage people to substitute other herbs where possible for endangered species. For example, Oregon grape is currently cheaper and more plentiful than golden seal and will fight most infections just as effectively. If you would like to help preserve wild herb populations from being literally “wiped out” by the growing herb industry, you may wish to consider joining United Plant Savers, a new organization dedicated to preserving our herbal “friends.”
This information is for educational purposes only. Consult with a qualified health practictioner for all serious or persistant illness. Copyright © 1999 by Robinson & Horne, L.C., P.O. Box 1028 , Roosevelt , UT 84066. This material may be duplicated for educational purposes only (not for resale) provided it is not altered in any way.
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