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I’ve recently been reflecting on the current health crises, both in terms of personal health and our physical well-being as a species. The statistics are disturbing, to say the least. Honestly, when I step back and attempt to take it all in, the implications are staggering and the fear I have for the future of humanity, very real.

A little extreme? I don’t think so; not when you take a serious look at the numbers. Let’s consider autism for starters. I remember a time when the diagnosis was rare. In the eighties there was approximately 1 autistic child per 5,000. Some of the small numbers of children who were diagnosed with autism had to travel to other states to even receive treatment. In fact, very few doctors in the US specialized in treating autism. But this all changed in the nineties with an explosive increase of cases.

Now, you can hardly go anywhere without running into a child, or two (or three) with serious neurological disorders—most of which are lumped under the autism label. You see them in restaurants, malls, schools and churches. Many parents, God bless them, are struggling to deal with children whom they deeply love and who would do anything to improve their child’s condition, yet are at a loss as to what caused it or the steps to take to try to remedy some of the symptoms. Studies now put autism at 1 in 68. That is, unbelievably, over a 600 percent increase! Is this normal? Anybody else notice?

And to add insult to injury, at the current rate of growth it’s predicted that one in every two children will be autistic by the year 2025. I know that this claim has been “debunked” by some. Yet you only have to study the graphs to see the plausibility of such a prediction. If autism rates have been steadily increasing for over two decades, why will they not continue to rise?

This should not only cause us pause, it should knock the breath out of our collective lungs. We should be jumping up and down, demanding answers, shouting in the public squares and not resting until the crisis is checked. A few are doing so. But the sad truth is, too many people only shrug their shoulders and accept it as if this is the way things are supposed to be. Or worse, they simply blow it off as lunacy to even be concerned.

What about cancer rates? According to current statistics, one in three people will contract cancer. One in four will die from it. Who doesn’t have among their relatives or close friends victims of cancer? And you are lucky if it’s only one or two. I don’t generally buy the misdiagnosis line, either for cancer or for autism—the convenient out that says, “We just didn’t know what to call these conditions before advanced diagnostic testing. I don’t believe that the doctors of the last few generations were that clueless. In one sense they probably knew more than current medical professionals because they didn’t rely on computers and high-tech equipment. They thoroughly learned and memorized the symptoms of a multitude of rare illnesses and depended on their experience and instincts.

Let’s add to this brew type 2 diabetes, childhood obesity, brain tumors, rising sterility rates and now on the upsurge, kidney failure. Anyone who cares to know can find major scientific and medical studies documenting sharp increases of incidences in all these areas. Thankfully, many people are becoming more and more concerned with their health. We are beginning to understand our bodies shouldn’t start breaking down at 25. The organic food craze, exercise and health-tip sites are all positive rumblings occurring among a substantial portion of society.

But beyond acknowledgement that there is a health crisis in the West, we need to ask why. And this is where it seems to me we miss the forest for the trees. “Yes, the figures do certainly show people are increasingly unhealthy and that neurological disorders are abnormally high. I do agree there are measures I can take as an individual to alter my eating habits and limit my exposure to certain environmental toxins.” Well said. But how did things get to this point?

Allow me to give an example to explain what I mean. Years ago I had a conversation with someone who has an autistic child. In the course of our cordial talk, I ventured to pose the question of whether they thought vaccines had anything to do with their child’s condition. I wasn’t pushy, nor was I as educated on the ins and outs of the vaccine issue as I am now. Hence, I didn’t go very far with my query. The response I got was, “Why does it matter what caused it? It’s just something we have to deal with.”

That answer bothered me then, and it bothers me now. Granted, knowing what exactly caused this particular child’s autism would not have substantially change matters. The damage was done. Yet, why would you not want to know? There are others who would obviously benefit from knowing potential causes so as to possibly avoid seeing their own children become autistic. Also there is the relative peace of mind it would bring to the suffering parent.

I’m not saying a vaccine was responsible for this child’s autism. I don’t know what caused it. But I do know if I were the parent, I would want to find answers. And if my answers led me to an uncomfortable conclusion, so be it. At least I would know.

I simply can’t understand why so many people don’t care to seek answers, whether it comes to their health, or the economy, or the state of the present geo-political landscape, or any of a dozen other pertinent matters that affect us all. Ignorance is generally not bliss. In fact, what you don’t know could very well kill you. High fructose corn syrup, GMO’s, aspartame and MSG are literally toxic to the body. Not knowing this and consistently eating food containing these can seriously compromise an individual’s health. Mercury is bad, even if it’s a “trace amount” in a vaccine. Glyphosate (weed killer) in the water supply damages the kidneys and has been linked to numerous other health problems including autism. These are things I, at least, want to know. Give me all the facts—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can handle it.

However, I do understand one reason why people remain in ignorance. And that is what is so frustrating.

The condition has been described by various names, one of the more popular being the “normalcy bias.” Simply put, this mental outlook is what allowed Germans in 1942 to ignore the fact that all the Jews in their neighborhoods had been picked up by the Gestapo and disappeared. It’s what caused “good people” to turn a blind eye (or nose) to the smell of burning flesh rising out of the smokestacks at the strange camp over yonder in the woods. It’s not that the public couldn’t figure out what was going on. They simply chose not to.

This condition occurs incrementally. It creeps and crawls, subtly fogging the brain and numbing the senses. We think everything is “normal,” when in fact if we were to step back and shake our heads clear of the layers of social conditioning, we would be appalled—terrified even—at the real state of affairs. And I guess I’m in part answering my own question. People in general would rather be ignorant than afraid, preferring deception to discomfort. We will go to tremendous links to justify a terrible situation just so as to not have to deal with it. But fear is healthy if it drives us to see how things really stand. If I’m sleeping in a burning house, I want my neighbor to scream and terrify me with the news of my impending doom. Only then will I be able to escape.

The decline in the health of Americans is not normal. The drop in IQ levels is not normal. A social life completely revolving around a screen instead of face to face, or at least voice to voice, interaction is not normal. An economic bubble much larger than it was in 2007, hence more catastrophic in the event of its eventual bursting, is not normal. Civil wars and uprisings across the globe on the scale that we are currently witnessing are not normal. Or, maybe all this is normal and I’m crazy. Maybe it’s the “new normal” and I need to get with the program.

For all that, however, I prefer health and economic stability, peace and prosperity. Healthy children, contented parents and wholesome family units bring me joy. I like my brain to function correctly and I enjoy sitting down over coffee to chat with a friend. I’ll hang on to these things, and I hope others will do so as well.

But in my plea for a reclamation of reality, I don’t want to digress too far from the question why. Why are things the way they are? I won’t presume to say I have all the answers. Each person must come to their own conclusions, anyhow. But answers never come when there are no questions allowed to draw them out. Let’s not be content with the current state of affairs. Let’s follow the truth wherever it might lead.

Nothing is hidden except to be revealed.