Letter to the Editor: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

This week, almost 60 people who went to Las Vegas to enjoy a concert will never return home to see their families. Their lives, their hopes, and their dreams will stay in Vegas forever, while hundreds more undergo intensive surgeries at local hospitals, all because one man was able to amass a military grade stockpile of deadly weapons that have no other use apart from killing large numbers of living things from a distance at high speed. The gunman’s twisted spirit will also remain in Vegas, in the heart of a state that says private citizens have a “natural right” to own the same firepower trained soldiers use in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But it’s not just Vegas. It’s Sandy Hook too, and San Bernardino, and Orlando, and Aurora, and Charleston, and Columbine, and the list goes on. And already we’re back to the same stale routine of arguing whether more guns, or fewer guns, would prevent these atrocities. This, as we ignore the basic truth that this mostly seems to happen in America, the land of the spree, and home of the grave.
There are a lot more graves today. Some of those graves have old bodies. Some have young bodies. Some have white bodies. Some have brown bodies. Some have women. Some have men. But they all share one thing in common: if America had the same gun laws as Australia, England, Germany, Canada, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Egypt, or the island nations of the South Pacific, or the FSM in the North Pacific, they would all be alive today, and the only thing to stay in Vegas would’ve been their hard-earned money, pumped quarter by quarter into flashy slot machines.
I believe Americans are exceptional in many things, but probably none more so than our continued willingness to sacrifice innocent lives for the sake of a few lines of text that probably never should have made it into the Constitution to begin with.
Liam Cummings
(Editor’s note: Liam Cummings was visiting Pohnpei from the United States when the news of yet another horrendous mass murder by firearms in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” arrived.

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Health Corner 1

SEP 30, 2017

Welcome to the Health Corner.
As a visitor in Pohnpei I have had the opportunity to learn some things about Micronesian identity and history. As a Doctor, I think it is essential to have those facets in mind when doing health services.
I am an Integrative Medicine (IM) practitioner and would like to share with you some thoughts and information. I hope that you’ll find it useful.
Integrative Medicine is based on looking at person as a whole, influenced by physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental factors.
When I think of health, I think of identity. Understanding who I am, where I come from, and the story of each; identifying us each by name, a nationality, and purpose in life. Knowing who I am, accepting who I am not, being aware of my potential, and having a meaningful life are all elements of good health.
Integrative Medicine unites western and traditional medicine and other practices as complementary parts of a unique strategy for each individual. The human being is permanently nourishing his body and senses, so IM considers nutrition essential. Diseases can be the result of an imbalanced nutrition on three cases: having excess, deficit or having a poor quality of nutrients. Nutrients can be food or sensorial stimuli: sound, sight, touch, smell, taste.
If we consider sickness as an imbalance or loss of identity; the cure is to restore the balance by gaining wholeness, self-sufficiency and freewill.
In the healthcare system there are many people involved, however you are the only person responsible for your health. The process of healing starts with the awareness of being sick and the understanding of what the illness is and where it really comes from.
Diseases can be an opportunity not only to restore a lost function in your body, to heal a sick cell, or to prevent further damage. Sometimes it can change your entire family’s behavior. For example, a family who deals with a father who is diagnosed with mouth cancer is forever changed. If it is an early diagnosis and everything goes well, the sick father may have the malignant tumor removed, he could stop the habit that caused the cancer (beetle nut chewing, for example) and the family might start practicing healthy life habits; local and diverse food, food free of preservatives and right portions, regular workouts, and the elimination of risk factors (beetle nut, alcohol, tobacco). This cancer has impacted a whole family to become healthier.
How are we connected to any sick person in FSM, or in another country? Humanity is all connected. The same way our heart cells are connected to the liver cells. Micronesians, Americans, Ecuadorians, and all nationalities are connected beings on Planet Earth.
Our Planet is sick. The most recent symptoms of our sickness on Planet Earth are the hurricanes affecting Central and North America. What are the symptoms in FSM? Fishermen and divers are experiencing the changes to our ocean.
How is the health of human beings related to this? Health is about wholeness, communion, harmony, cleanliness and balance not only inside our bodies, but also our personal relationships, our spiritual life and our interaction with nature and life in general.
A healthy cell can function properly. A healthy organ will function better. A healthy body can maintain basic functions, and the energy to be happy. A happy person is able to contribute to a better planet.
Next time I’ll write about Non Communicable Diseases (NCD).
Mabel Loján, MD
Integrative Medicine

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Letter to the Editor: Advance preparation vital when faced with natural disasters

For the past few weeks, television and internet news channels have been literally awash in images of the aftermath of deadly hurricane Harvey and its path of destruction throughout the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. Although we are two years removed from Typhoon Maysak, rebuilding work still continues in the Outer Islands of Chuuk and Yap States to recover from its savage fury. These recent events underscore the need for advance preparedness well before the next storm strikes your island. The best preparation involves planning long before the next dangerous threat arises.
The first step involves getting supplies long before a storm and having them readily available when needed. Most people wait until the day before to buy supplies, and by then stores will usually quickly run out of the most important necessities. Take the time to buy needed supplies before the first typhoon watch issues. This simple step will save you much time, stress, and money in the future. Essential supplies include non-refrigerated and non-frozen food, bottled water, water containers, candles, matches, a kerosene stove, kerosene, a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, and a backup generator, fuel. You should also invest in a DC-only powered telephone; a cell phone will not be of much use once its battery runs out and there is no way to charge it again. These items will help you tremendously and make like much more comfortable if your house loses power for an extended period of time.
While staying inside your home is usually recommended during most tropical storms, in the event of a powerful typhoon, this may not be your best or safest option. Many internet websites emphasize the importance of evacuation plans and routes to reach safe havens. It will prove critical to have this information on-hand well in advance, in case existing conditions require immediate action. Think now of where you will go if you have to relocate your family as the storm approaches. Know where your nearest “go to” shelter is in case you need to leave in a hurry to reach it. Print out an evacuation plan and an exit route and have them posted or kept handy at home. Remember, you may not be at your house or you may even be off-island when it happens. Also, the weather, limited bandwidth, or heavy online usage may significantly impair your ability to connect to the internet.
Finally, it is important to prepare and protect your personal property now before a storm strikes. Make copies of important documents and store them in a safe place. Back up your electronic data in at least two formats. Carefully examine the outside exterior of your home, looking for any existing damage. Strong winds and storm surge will increase the scope and extent of any pre-existing problems, resulting in major structural damage. Make sure all gates and doors are kept securely locked, to reduce the chances of strong winds ripping them from their hinges. Most importantly, talk now with your other family members and friends to ensure they and their homes are also prepared.
The FSM OEED, your State Disaster Coordinator’s Office, and the Micronesia Red Cross all have additional information and handouts on emergency and disaster preparedness which they will gladly share with you. Find their local office on your island and contact them now.
Each and every year carries the potential for severe storms due to our location in the Typhoon Belt of the Western Pacific. While we can never predict the next typhoon, getting ready in advance will help keep you and your loved ones ASAP (as safe as possible).
Plan now; act now. Later you will be very glad that you did.
Gary Bloom, Area Director,
Area III (FSM)
Office United States Department of Agriculture
Rural Development

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