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The School of Modern Herbal Medicine
The Cancer of Western Society
Page 2 of a Four-Part Article.
Now, let's compare cancer to Western society. First of all, while native peoples generally saw themselves as part of a whole, connected to the land and each other, most people in modern society are highly disconnected. People in the modern world are frequently so self-absorbed that they do not see how their actions are affecting the environment in which they live. It's a pretty obvious problem when you look at the way most people live in modern civilization. How can a person in a major metropolitan area connect with the idea that all his food, air and water must come from the natural environment, when everything in the world he lives in is completely artificial and man-made?
These are not new thoughts for me. I've had them since I was a teenager. In fact, in 1975, at age 21, I wrote the poem on called Boxes and Gods, which laments the disconnection modern society has with nature and the earth and tells of my longing for reconnection. You can read this poem in my Circles of Light poetry book, which can be downloaded on this site for free.
But, we are not just disconnected from the earth, we are also disconnected from each other. There is little sense of community in modern society, unless some crisis temporarily pulls us together.
Another way in which Western civilization resembles cancer is its greed. Our society, is energy hungry, gobbling up a huge amount of the worlds resources in order to sustain our “lifestyle.” We also leave a vast amount of waste in our wake. Many ecologists and environmentalists are deeply concerned about how our industrial society is poisoning the air, water and soil and destroying nature, but if changing things would hurt the “economy” or inconvenience our personal “lifestyle,” most of us are reluctant to change.
Even the modern herb industry exhibits this greed and lack of respect for the land. While Native Americans carefully harvested a few medicinal plants from an area where they were abundant, leaving others behind to repopulate the species, modern wildcrafters will take every plant in an area, leaving nothing for the next generation. This has resulted in vast populations of wild plants being completely destroyed to fuel our “industry.” Wild echinacea is almost extinct, while goldenseal and many other herbs are endangered. This is just one small aspect of this social greed that permeates our culture.
These are all reasons why I say that modern “civilization” is a cancer on the face of Mother Earth. Like cancer cells, most people in our society are disconnected from the messages of nature and society that would keep up acting harmoniously for the good of the whole.
To further elaborate, the cancer cell develops in a toxic environment in the body, which is created by the toxicity of modern society. Because this cell is not getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to sustain normal function, it mutates to survive in its toxic environment. These mutations cause it to revert to embryonic functions where the cells multiply wildly. At the same time, more pollution is created and the cancer spreads. Eventually, if unchecked, it will consume and destroy the host environment.
So, energetically, cancer is a disease of disconnection, which causes the cell, deprived of the benefits of the body as a whole, to develop an obsessive, greedy self-interest that causes it to consume more resources than it really needs, multiply out of control and eventually poison and destroy the environment that sustains it. Of course, if the immune system is functioning properly, it will recognize these mutated cells and step in to stop them. But if the immune system isn't functioning properly this won't happen.
In the next part of this article, I discuss the emotional and energetic state of the cancer victim and offer suggestions about what can be done about it.