SAVE THE BUTTERFLIES: Why It Matters What You Do

SAVE THE BUTTERFLIES! : Why It Matters What You Do

INTRODUCTION: Just One of Nature’s Many Philosophy Lessons

It was another hectic day, one of those days that it seems there is no end to movement by vehicle or by foot.  As I exited off Interstate 95 I was held up at the red light and as I resigned to this unavoidable wait I looked to my left where the grassy field was alive with activity.  There were little yellow butterflies dancing in the air over the flowers that were some sort of weed by their appearance and random placement.  I chuckled to myself wondering why I was suddenly paying attention to this seemingly useless enterprise.  After a couple more moments, a lesson in life began to affect my mind as I noticed how the butterflies not only traveled in a dizzy flight to each flower, they also interacted with each other: sometimes just two, sometimes three or more and then they would go about their own business again.  How interesting that they would correspond not just to mate but to check in with each other as they went about their mundane grind to pollinate.  For more random facts by the experts: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/butterflies.shtml

DOMESTIC: Where Are We Americans?

It seems like the past 15 years or more have been filled with anxiety concerning finances and national security.  We’ve been saturated with fast-success moments like the “dot.com” burgeoning era following the launch of the World Wide Web only to have the “tech bubble” burst.  Y2K was the big talk leading up to New Year’s 2000 and then by September 11, 2001 our secular society was shocked by the actions of people that truly made no sense.  With the stock market being too uncertain, the housing market became the new bargaining tool for quick riches and today most Americans are affected one way or another by the housing market bust of the mid-Aughts.

Our political landscape has been entertaining to say the least, I have admitted more than once in my public writing that I was an employee of the former U.S. Representative Mark A. Foley.  I don’t regret it and I will always say that he was a great congressman for our Florida district 16 and his bipartisan way of working on the Hill kept me having faith in the system of government we have in place.  Nevertheless, the personal and ill-acted professional antics of many politicians have rocked the public’s conscience in the past several years.  We have triumphed in having the first biracial President of the United States that was elected in 2008.  Yet as we approach this year’s election our jaded multimedia is still focusing on subjects that are not important and petty.  It doesn’t help that we’ve also had unfortunate voting decisions like the recent one in North Carolina concerning gay marriage: really folks, it’s the year 2012 and we have kids coming out of college with degrees having extreme difficulty finding jobs they can enjoy and thrive in—in my humble opinion, whether homosexual or bisexual individuals decide to marry should literally be up to them, their families and their faiths.  I guess it’s just there’s such more critical issues for our American society to sort through like our undoubted rising debt, inflation and general lack of cohesive national strategy of what our country wants to better itself in like level of education, business direction (should we be more supportive of fair trade, environmentally friendly, innovative energy sources) and the list can go on nearly endlessly.

The butterflies reminded me that even you and I if we seem to be just the “little players” on this busy world stage, we still very much have a major effect on the flow of things in how we relate to others in our field of range.  When I go to the grocery store I do my best to engage with everyone I come in contact with-especially the cashier- you never know how that simple, genuine chat with another human being may bless the both of you.  The relationships you maintain with family and friends is an obvious example of how dynamic we can be with each other and how many times we don’t even see the true aftermath of those countless interactions.

So the economy here in America has us all repeating the same refrain: things are tough, the economy is hurting…but guess what? You do have the power to help those businesses down the road from you.  You can start your own little business with friends to follow a passion and serve a need in the demand for supply locally.  How about that person you know who makes something from hand and sells it?  What about that family restaurant that’s been on the corner forever? Truly if we all began to look at each other and pay a little more mind it would send a ripple effect through the American economy that may not send people into wealthy categories but at least encourage hearts and stoke more activity in business and progress.  As humans we crave and need each other and in America we are diverse and often decisive but we remain somewhat invincible when we really stick together UNITED.

INTERNATIONAL:  My Greece-Ellada Mou

I am not very well informed on the specifics of the political parties warring with each other in Greece at this moment as the Greek government and “powers that be” try to sort out what is the next elections plan for the country.  What I do understand is the general opinion of those in America who feel that Greece is a nation that was irresponsible in its fiscal policy and lacks direction in its own national strategy.  How very similar this sounds as the United States and many other countries around the globe are wrestling with these same issues.

Beyond the story told by video footage and photographs at Greek hotspots like Syntagma Square, it depends on who you speak with in Greece as to how violent and unruly things have become in everyday life there.  There is definitely no argument if you summed up the population as being emotionally drained and financially struggling.  What can we do?

If you’re Greek or American I think the answer is simple and powerful if everyone participates.  In Greece, this time of uncertainty and fiscal pain can be paralyzing but if could also be empowering in driving people to do something completely different.  The country is known for its tourism appeal but if you’ve gone to some of the shorelines, especially south and east of Athens, you’ll find a disgusting amount of garbage.  If there are no beach cleanups, why not start?  It would be great way to get young people involved, aware and build pride in the physical state of their nation.  When it comes to economy, why not start small with local business and build out with companies that can help provide exports like organic feta, olives and wine (a major fad in current foodies’ cycles)?  As for the Greeks abroad, we can help our mother nation by assisting friends and family in financial and emotional support. Again, the reality is even the smallest player can affect the general direction of a nation if we only start with each other, those around us whether or not we know them personally.

FINAL WORD:  Butterflies Live It Fully

There are many kinds of butterflies and they all have different average life spans: the common thread in truth is that on average their life spans are short in comparison to many other living beings and to us humans a mere blink of an eye.  The Monarch is a popular variety and in American can live from 2-6 weeks depending on their generation: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/butterflies.shtml

Either way, these half-dancing, half-flying creatures live their life to the fullest regardless of how perilous or repetitive their respective journeys.  As people we are certainly much more complex in our composition but I think we have the tendency to over-complicate in our mind.  There is a shot at true happiness in our daily life if we only engage fully every step of the way—even on those boring or ruthless days when we wonder how we’ll make it to the end of the day.

The light turned green and I was on my way again to the next task, the next unexpected “checking-in” with whoever came in my path as I fulfilled my personal “flight”.

R.V.S.Bean

Who is Salt?

Perhaps it’s best that one of the action flicks of the summer 2010 would be entitled “Salt”.  Although the film starring Angelina Jolie has little to nothing to do with nutrition, the connotation is valid as the concerns over sodium in our American diet has the recurring headline theme in many media pieces including today’s Palm Beach Post article in the Accent section “Is Salt At Fault”.  You can find Ms. Staci Sturrock’s report online at http://www.palmbeachpost.com/health/why-salt-in-your-diet-could-be-the-783042.html

It was probably about five years ago that I really started to pay attention to the salt buzz.  I admit I scoffed at the idea of cutting down my salt intake as I am a professed lover of salty things divine such as Greek feta, Kalamata olives, other tangy cheeses, chips and the list goes on.  

Being a busy twenty-something with nothing but career-climbing and a young husband in mind, I figured that we were healthy and didn’t need to worry about salt unless we were diagnosed with something that prescribed omission of the condiment.  How very ignorant I was, the proverbial blissful existence was what I was leading.

It wasn’t until we had family that was facing health issues that demanded attention, including cutting the salt, that we finally started to examine the idea more closely.  If you get to read Ms. Sturrock’s piece, you may learn for the first time that many of our processed foods already include an incredible amount of salt and you may not recognize it in the ingredients listed.

My daily dinner menu for my family now focuses on trying to put together meals that come from the freshest possible items.  By cutting out the processed foods I have more control over just how much seasoning is used, including salt.  In the process I’ve learned some fun tricks, like how lemon or lime can help season certain vegetables like artichokes and asparagus, thus reducing the reliance on salt.

Ms. Sturrock’s article does a good job of stating statistics sourced from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as polling from health specialists.  She reports that the FDA is “considering a plan to place restrictions on the amount of salt that manufacturers are allowed to add to processed foods.”  Toward the end of Ms. Sturrock’s piece, Dr. Andy Larson of South Florida’s JFK Medical Center brings up another valid concern about our diet saying ” ‘are we sure that we want to single out salt when the real problem is the junk calories in the food — the processed flours and unnecessary vegetable oils that have the calories.?’ ”

My one political comment concerning Ms. Sturrock’s report would be that I’m not so sure that I support government mandates on what food producers put out on the consumer market.  As a proponent of personal responsibility, I truly believe if Americans en masse start shopping for fresher or low-sodium alternatives, companies will take notice and react accordingly to supply the demand of the consumers.  More government intervention means more tax dollars out the door and so I think we are adults that can be responsible for the choice of getting the white-caked french fries or finding another choice of potato preparation.

My husband and I have noticed how the overall reduction of salt in our diet has benefited us health-wise.  Of course we’re not perfect and there are times that we probably far exceed the daily recommended 2300 mg (a teaspoon size) of sodium–especially when eating out at a restaurant or the ever-forbidden fast-food joint such as McDonald’s (you know that’s not fairy dust on the fries).

It turns out that if you can try to weed out processed foods in your daily diet, you’ll end up tackling other nutrition pitfalls.  I’m not suggesting you go for the “raw diet” that has become quite the fad in some circles, but there are ways you can incorporate more simple ingredients.  For example, when you make pasta dinners, why not reach for a can or jar of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce sans salt and then add your own Italian flare: it can be fresh or dried herbs of your own choice and perhaps just a pinch of sea salt and sugar, voila spaghetti sauce a la your creation!

Who is Salt? I still want to watch the Jolie movie, hopefully the subliminal effect of its title will help us remember to pay a little more mind to sodium’s place in our diets so that we don’t have to halt the salt completely when we hit our sixties or seventies.

Note: For those already above the aforementioned age-group, I hope you’re mitigating your diet as needed, for more information you can check our government’s guidelines: www.fda.gov

R.V.S.B.

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"