(BlackDoctor.org) — I once heard a tale: If you saw a baby floating in a stream, you would certainly try to rescue it. If you then saw many babies floating in the stream, you would probably ask yourself, “Who is responsible for putting the babies there,” and you would likely seek to find the perpetrator.
In other words, you would seek to stop the problem at the source. This would be particularly urgent if you knew the stream would eventually become a large waterfall with rocks at the bottom, a potentially deadly outcome for any baby who was not rescued.
Would you change your mind about rescuing the babies if you noticed that they were smiling and giggling as they floated down the stream toward the the waterfall? I expect that you would still want to rescue the babies and stop the perpetrator.
As you approach the area where the babies are being thrown into the stream, many people begin to pressure you to turn back and tell you to mind your own business. They remind you that the babies are enjoying the ride in the stream. They also say that many livelihoods depend upon the babies being in the stream and that if the babies hit the rocks, there is appropriate care for them. In fact, there are thousands of personnel who are ready to treat the injured babies for years to come!
A few babies, however, are able to get out of the steam and then assist the other babies and then begin crawling directly toward the perpetrator. More and more babies are now rescuing themselves and attacking the perpetrator. Other babies try to pull them back into the stream, preventing them from getting to the source of the problem. They use strategies such as reminding the escaped babies how nice the stream water feels and how enjoyable it is to float with the other babies.
Who Is The Perpetrator?
Medical research is very clear regarding who is the perpetrator with regard to chronic disease for Americans, and disproportionately for African Americans: unhealthy diet and lifestyle… and everything in our country’s infrastructure – sociocultural, business, medical – that supports this. The rocks at the base of the waterfall include heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and many cancers. Too many of us are headed for the rocks, having convinced ourselves that we are enjoying the ride so much (soul food, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.) that it is worth the miserable ending. This message is reinforced to our future generations by our daily actions. More and more health professionals are now attacking the source of the problem, rather than waiting for disease to happen, then putting a small Band Aid on a gaping, hemorrhaging gash.
A few examples of such preventive health pioneers are:
• Dr. Dean Ornish (www.pmri.org), Dr. Elijah Saunders (www.umm.edu/doctors/elijah__saunders.html)
• Dr. James McDougall (www.drmcdougall.com)
• Dr. Thom LaVeist (www.thomaslaveist.com), through his groundbreaking health disparities research is finding answers to the critical question of “Why are more black babies being thrown into the stream than white babies?”
Let’s all adopt healthier lifestyles and get out of that stream, which is headed for disaster. We can also help our families and friends escape, and begin to head upstream to deal with the source of the problem, which indeed is systemic.
By Dr. Ed James, BDO Healthy Lifestyle Expert
Dr. Ed James draws inspiration from his personal experiences with healthy lifestyle changes, having overcome prediabetes and obesity several years ago. In 2011, he founded Heal2BFree to focus on helping individuals and organizations to develop and implement action plans that help close the health disparities gap between blacks and whites.
Dr. James has given many presentations, including the 2011 National Medical Association Colloquium and regularly contributes preventive health-related articles to some of the nation’s top health publications. He is also the primary author and co-editor of Getting into Medical School – A Planning Guide for Minority Students.
He received his BS in Biology from Bucknell University and earned his MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania as a participant in the Penn Med Scholars combined degree program.
For more healthy lifestyle tips and news, visit Dr. Ed at Heal 2B Free.