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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lack of Choice, Loss of Freedom

President Obama has paved the road for the end of freedom and choice for parents (and others) in this country. Declaring the swine flu pandemic to be a national emergency, President Obama has given broad powers enabling the government to act as they deem appropriate to prevent and treat this illness.

Despite the CDC's own reporting that the swine flu pandemic may well have peaked out already, the President has initiated a crisis state inciting both fear and panic. But his actions are not going without criticism. Mike Adams of the Natural News ponders the motivation behind declaring a state of emergency, even more concerning coming on the heels of the rescission of NY H1N1 mandate for health care workers and growing media reports of public distrust of the vaccine and the severity of the swine flu. The more resistance to the vaccine that arises, the harder the push to enforce it.

This second of two actions to broaden government powers during a "pandemic" also "allows drug companies, health officials and anyone who gives experimental vaccines to Americans during a declared public health emergency, to be protected from liability if people get hurt." There will be no recourse despite reports of adverse flu vaccine reactions, including the tragic story of Desiree Jennings. The insert to the H1N1 vaccination itself clearly states the the potential side effects including increased risk of hospitalization and wheezing in young children, immune system disorders, Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), and gastrointestinal disorders. And there is no regard for reports of deaths from the swine flu vaccine along with hundreds of cases of GBS. And what about the swelling number of credible, informed professionals who warn of the danger of the swine flu vaccination? Do any of these factor into the equation?

Parents across the country are scared. Not by swine flu, but by the lack of choice and loss of freedom that they are facing. Most physicians are not helping matters. Anecdotal reports from Holistic Moms across the nation indicate that anyone appearing in a health care facility with flu-like symptoms are being told they have H1N1, without testing, simply because "no other flu viruses" are circulating this early in the season, inflating reports without any clinical evidence.

Will parents lose all choice in this emergency? Can we no longer decide what medical practices are or are not appropriate for our children? We have seen "mishaps" already of children given the vaccine "by mistake".

As parents, we have a right to make informed, educated decisions about the health and well-being of our children. We should be guided by the principles of informed consent. As the National Vaccine Information Center explains:

"Informed consent has been the central ethical principle of the practice of modern medicine since the Nuremberg Code was issued by the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II. Although the Nuremberg Code specifically addressed the human right for human beings to give their voluntary informed consent to participate in scientific experiments, the First Principle of the Nuremberg Code has become an ethical standard for allowing patients to give their voluntary consent to engage in medical interventions that carry a risk of harm."

Without such a guiding principle, we and our children are not only at risk but also have no legal means for justice. A national emergency indeed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just a Mom


For those of you unfamiliar with the Holistic Moms Network, we are a non-profit support and resource network for parents interested in holistic health and green living. I like to say that we are part community building, part support, and part education and information provider.

At a recent event, a man asked me about HMN and what we did. I offered my standard explanation.

And his response was, “Oh, so you’re just a mom’s group.”

Years ago this might have thrown me into a state of rage.

The feminist in me would be angered by the suggestion that moms are undervalued in our culture, that our child-rearing is not accounted for economically, much less psychologically or socially.

The political scientist in me would be frustrated by the dismissal of a “group”, particularly one of parents, and the failure to acknowledge that significant social and political change has occurred in this country because of the passion, knowledge, and dedication of parents who have rallied around an issue and demanded change from our legislators.

The mom in me would be dismayed to hear that my community was viewed as some irrelevant social club that doesn’t matter to the larger society.

But instead, I just smiled knowingly because I know the truth.

The truth is that we’re a mom’s group who calls on parents to embrace nature and all that it has to offer us for life, health, and the future.

A mom’s group that honors a woman’s natural ability to birth and to feed her baby, empowering her to be in control. To instill a mother with the confidence that her body is powerful and able.

A mom’s group that validates a mother’s desires and dreams and to realize that childbirth is a sacred rite and not an inconvenience.

A mom’s group that recognizes the power of a parent’s natural instincts. To trust in our wisdom about what is best for our children and not to be devalued by anyone, simply because they claim to be a professional, and to reinforce what a parent already knows.

A mom’s group that understands and respects children, that nurtures their needs and desires and does not push them into independence before they are ready, helping to raise a positive and powerful generation.

A mom’s group that embraces the power of the body to heal. To nurture ourselves and our children naturally and simply, allowing the body’s innate power to shine through. To be open-minded to the ways in which our bodies heal and thrive that do not come in a bottle, off a shelf, or from a prescription. And, by doing so, we empower parents to make choices to enhance their innate power to achieve wellness.

A mom’s group that understands the connection between food and health. To call on nature to provide us with nutritious, abundant food. To honor food as it should be: fresh and local, untainted by chemicals or pesticides, cultivated by the hands of farmers whose passion and commitment gives grace to our meals. To shun food that is altered in a science lab or trucked across the country at huge environmental waste. A mom’s group that protects family agriculture and the land that feeds us.

A mom’s group that accepts the idea that there is not one path for education. To recognize that our children learn in many ways and to honor their choices, their interests, and their passions, regardless of whether or not they fit into an “appropriate” curriculum. A mom’s group that helps our children learn to be the future leaders of our society.

A mom’s group that understands that holistic parenting is a journey that takes time. That some of us pursue our journey in baby steps and others speed through. We respect the journey – the places where we are and where we’ve been, the many options and choices, and the people around us, wherever they are in their journey. A mom’s group that honors diversity, refrains from judgment, and encourages respect.

A mom’s group that realizes that the decisions we make impact others and the earth. A group that empowers families to change their lifestyles to reduce environmental impact, to respect the power of nature, and to honor the beauty of the world around us. A group that will take the road less traveled because it is less damaging to the planet. To make simple choices every day to conserve, to live simply, to work in harmony with our environment and not against it. A mom’s group that is protecting the health and well-being of our planet, providing for a future of our children’s generation.

A mom’s group that accepts people from all walks of life and that is open to more than moms. A group that welcomes dads and partners, step-parents and expecting parents, practitioners and professionals, because we recognize that our voices are stronger if we work together and that there is power in us coming together. A mom’s group that understands that social change comes from community building and that community is the wellspring from which activism begins.

A mom’s group that is proud to take the unconventional route and to stand our ground by becoming informed and educated. A group that understands that popular wisdom is not always wise and that convention does not mean truth. A mom’s group that has created a community voice for holistic living and that helps thousands of parents across North America to stand their ground, to be unified, and to be heard.

This is who we are. This is the Holistic Moms Network.

So to the man who asked me:

Yes, we’re “just” a mom’s group. And I am “just” a mom.

Nancy Massotto, Executive Director
2009 Natural Living Conference Introductory Remarks

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Day of Education and Empowerment


With the growing popularity of all things green and natural, there seem to be expos and conferences popping up each month to support holistic living. The Holistic Moms Network's own 2009 Natural Living Conference is just a few short days away, coming up on Saturday, October 17, 2009 in Basking Ridge, NJ.

Why go to a conference? I have heard from a mom I know that she's "just not a conference person." As a person driven to research, education, and community I find this a bit baffling. What are the reasons you might want to go to a conference? For starters, education is the foundation for change. When you attend a conference, a lecture, or even a Holistic Moms monthly meeting you have the opportunity to learn and raise your awareness. Without awareness, there is no change or desire to improve. But if you are seeking better health, positive ways to parent, or want to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle the possibilities out there are endless. Interestingly, I have found that even when I think I know the topic at hand whenever I attend a conference or expo, I discover a new piece of information or a new product that alters how I live or what choices I make.

Certainly there are great websites, books, and magazines that we can all learn from. But there is nothing quite like being surrounded by like-minded people, by feeling the energy and enthusiasm of others, or the opportunity for face-to-face conversation to learn, teach, and share. Sometimes the most valuable thing I take away from a public event is a five minute conversation with an exhibitor who helps me find a new service or product, a ten minute exchange with a mom who has similar challenges with their kids, or one tidbit of information that I pick up in a lecture that leads me down an entirely different path. Or, it may be that I am the one doing the giving. Perhaps I can share my own experiences with my holistic journey, help another parent struggling with food allergies or special diets, or recommend a practitioner or product that I have used - enabling a new hope or a reassuring word that can have a significant impact. We cannot anticipate what gift we may receive (or give) by opening ourselves up to such interaction, but should know that there is always something that we can benefit from whenever communication is possible.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to be a participant in a conference or event is the sense of empowerment that you can experience as a result. Empowerment, according to Cherly Czuba of the University of Connecticut "is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power (that is, the capacity to implement) in people, for use in their own lives, their communities, and in their society, by acting on issues that they define as important." The inspiration you get from "being there" translates into the confidence to act on your instincts and to produce viable change. That sense of empowerment is worth every minute of having to rearrange schedules, set up travel plans, or negotiate babysitting. There are always excuses not to be there, but what you miss is always more than you can even anticipate.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mercury and Aluminum and Squalene, Oh My!

This week, millions of doses of the vaccine for H1N1 - or swine flu - will begin to be dispersed across the United States. Media hype has cultivated fear and anxiety over the possibility of a swine flu pandemic but what you are not hearing is what hundreds of healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, scientists, researchers, advocates and activists are learning and speaking out about the vaccination and the alleged health crises.

The Fourth International Public Conference on Vaccination hosted by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has been a powerful, empowering, and enlightening event. Dozens of professionals from all walks of life have come together to share science and research, knowledge and experience to educate and inform on vaccination. Hot among the topics is the forthcoming H1N1 (swine flu) vaccination.

Without a doubt, there are serious concerns about the safety and efficacy of this vaccination, not to mention questions about the origins of the virus and the motivation for whipping up public fear and for the mass production of the vaccination itself. Conference Speaker Dr. Joe Mercola points out that, among other concerns, adjuvants in the vaccination include thimerosal (mercury), as well as squalene which has been associated with devastating autoimmune problems as well as with arthritis, memory loss, and neuropsychiatric problems. Conference speaker and Emmy award-winning investigative reporter Gary Matsumoto published a book on the dangerous toxic effects of squalene. The new H1N1 vaccination will contain both thimerosal and aluminum, in addition to squalene, increasing the toxicity of the shot. Each shot is reported to contain 25 mcg of mercury, 250 times the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safety limit. Adding aluminum and formaldehyde to the mix complicates the possibility of adverse effects. According to an article published in the International Journal of Clinical Investigation (2005), those receiving regular flu shots for 3 to 5 years had a ten-fold increase in the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease compared to those receiving no flu shots. Click here for a recent video about the risks of these neurotoxins from an expert on infectious diseases.

Becoming educated and refusing to be part of media hype is the first step for every parent to take. Of course, staying away from the hype will be much harder this time around. Several speakers at the NVIC Conference mentioned the CDC's 12 million media campaign, including Elmo and Sesame Street, to advocate for vaccination of children. Click here for more information and find out what more and more parents are learning about the safety of the H1N1 vaccination and about the swine flu "pandemic".