Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On Growing Up...

It is coincidental that this piece came to me today, August 31st, in Paulo Coelho's Warrior of Light newsletter (and I remembered: "There are no coincidences!!")

How do we survive?

It is all very well for us to try to improve our health, our standard of living and our relation with nature, but I am beginning to think we are overdoing it a little.

In the mail they have sent me three liters of products that substitute milk; a Norwegian company would like to know if I am interested in investing in the production of this new type of food, since, according to specialist David Rietz, “ALL (his capitals) cow milk contains 59 active hormones, lots of fat, colesterol,dioxins, bacterias and viruses”.

I think of the calcium that when I was a child my mother told me was good for the bones, but the specialist already has an answer for me: "Calcium? How do cows manage to acquire enough calcium for their large bone structure? From plants!” Of course, the new product is made on the basis of plants, and milk is condemned based on an endless number of studies carried out in a variety of institutes all over the world.

How about proteins? David Rietz is implacable: "I know they call milk ‘liquid meat’ (I have never heard this expression, but he must know what he is talking about) on account of the high dose of protein it contains. But proteins prevent calcium being absorbed by the organism. Countries that have a protein-rich diet also have a high rate of osteoporosis (lack of calcium in the bones)."

In the afternoon my wife sends me a text she found on the Internet:
"People who are now between 40 and 60 years old used to go about in cars that did not have safety belts, head rests or airbags. Children were left loose in the back seat, having a good time jumping around. Cradles were painted in bright colors that are now considered “dubious” because they could contain lead or some other dangerous element.”

The text goes on:
"There were no cellular phones, our parents had no way of knowing where we were: how could that be possible? Children were never right, they were always being punished, but even so they did not have psychological problems of rejection or lack of love. At school there were good students and bad students: the good ones passed, the bad ones had to repeat the year. This was not a reason for consulting a psychotherapist – they just had to repeat the year.”

I, for example, am part of a generation that built the famous ball-bearing carts (I do not know how to explain this to today’s generation – let’s say they were metal balls held between two iron arcs) and we would roll down the hilly streets of Botafogo using our shoes as brakes, falling, hurting ourselves, but ever so proud of our high-speed adventure.

And even so we survived with some scratched knees and few traumas. Not only did we survive, but we also fondly remember the time when milk was not poison, when children had to solve their problems without any help, fought when they had to, and spent a great part of the day without electronic games, inventing their own games with their friends.

...about the children of tomorrow, with their electronic games, parents with mobile phones, psychotherapists helping at each defeat and – above all – having to drink this “magic potion” that will keep them free of cholesterol, osteoporosis, 59 active hormones, and toxins.

They will live with lots of health, lots of equilibrium, and when they grow up they will discover milk... Or will we have to get our milk from drug dealers?"

I liked this piece, but then also recalled one of my favourite quotes by one Max Lerner (he used to write column for Chicago or Los Angeles Times in the 70s).

"All generations live in two worlds – an outer and an inner one. But each generation has its own inner universe – the subjective one, furnishing a window on the world through which it looks out at the outer universe. This inner world is formed early in the teens and twenties, perhaps thirties, and while it may continue to change in open-ended personalities, its basic frame remains the same. My inner word was shaped by what happened in the 1920s, 30s and 40s; that of my son in the 1950s and 60s. We have different conditionings, hang-ups, life styles, and even vocabularies. Since the pace of social change which creates the gap is not slowing down, we shall have to learn to live with it, while making a creative leap of imagination to see the outer world through the inner windows of the other generation."

Perhaps this what the lyrics of that old song meant:

The four seasons of life
Mystic hands guiding through dark and light
An adventure you can't deny
As the sun melts the ice
The four seasons of life

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