In the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark, several school children and families gathered around to watch the body of a perfectly healthy baby giraffe named Marius be skinned and chopped up before being fed to the lions. According to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Marius was genetically too similar to the other giraffes in its breeding program. Because captive animals are bred from a limited gene pool, zoos are monitored to prevent inbreeding and ensure the health of future generations.
Despite protests, online petitions, rescue offers, and tenders of up to $680,000 from outside sources hoping to spare Marius’s young life, this peaceful 18-month-old giraffe was deemed “surplus” by the zoo administrators and sentenced to death with a bolt gun. Lethal injection would have contaminated the flesh, making its carcass unusable and inedible.
A spokesman from the Copenhagen Zoo said parents were given the option to decide whether their children should watch what they have labeled “an important display of scientific knowledge about animals.” Many parents thought the butchering of this baby giraffe was an experience that their children would benefit from watching. And just as families are known to gather alongside the street to watch a parade, these parents gathered together and encircled the horrific event with their kids at their sides, some grimacing, some taking photos.
“I’m actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn’t have had from watching a giraffe in a photo,” Tobias Stenbaek Bro told The Associated Press.
Bengt Holst, the zoo’s scientific director, compared the situation to the way parks cull deer to keep the whole population healthy. He said, “Giraffes today breed very well, and when they do, you have to choose and make sure the ones you keep are the ones with the best genes. The most important factor must be that the animals are healthy physically and behaviorally and that they have a good life while they are living, whether this life is long or short.”
According to Danish media, Copenhagen Zoo destroys 20-30 animals a year, including bears, tigers and zebras. Elisa Allen, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the U.K., said Marius’ case should serve as a wake-up call for anyone who “still harbors the illusion that zoos serve any purpose beyond incarcerating intelligent animals for profit.”
Undoubtedly, this story is stirring up strong feelings and igniting conversations around the world over whether the zoo’s actions were cruel, unnecessary, and inhumane, and also whether the young children who witnessed the slaughtering of Marius experienced it as an “educational opportunity” or something much more alarming and life-changing.
Within the messages of Conversations With God, we were told that “you shall know that you have taken the path to God, and you shall know that you have found God, for there will be these signs, these indications, these changes in you” – The 10 Commitments. Number 5 in those Commitments is the following:
“You know you have found God when you observe that you will not murder (that is, willfully kill, without cause). For while you will understand that you cannot end another’s life in any event (all life is eternal), you will not choose to terminate any particular incarnation, nor change any life energy from one form to another, without the most sacred justification. Your new reverence for life will cause you to honor all life forms – including plants, trees and animals – and to impact them only when it is for the highest good.”
When we intentionally kill a baby giraffe – or any life form, for that matter – because it no longer enhances the gene pool, does that serve the highest good? When we teach our children that some forms of life are more important or less important than other life forms, does that serve the highest good? When we demonstrate to our children that “less valuable” or “surplus” life forms are easily and uncaringly disposed of, does that serve the highest good? What is the highest good in this situation? Are we able to stretch our spiritual understandings far enough and wide enough to see what that highest good or sacred justification may actually be?
(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and lives in Orlando, Florida. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
I attended a spiritual retreat earlier this year. Afterward, I had all this strength and clarity and felt so strong! I made a decision to leave my husband, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time because the marriage was a mistake from the beginning. When I got home I told him, and it felt really good to start living my truth and moving my life in the right direction. But then I lost my resolve and let him talk me out of it, because trying to figure out all the details of a divorce seems overwhelming. I feel terrible because I really don’t want to be with him anymore. How can I get back on track and stay there?… Carly
It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When making a big change in your life, don’t try to figure it all out at once. Just take it one step at a time, thanking God for guiding you every step of the way. Your feelings are your guidance and they come directly from God, via your Soul. God puts them there to guide you toward the most joyous life you can live, but the longer you continue to disregard the feelings that don’t feel good to you, the longer you postpone your joy.
You already followed the first two steps of Truth-telling: “Tell your truth about yourself to yourself” and “tell your truth about yourself to another”. Yet, you say you’ve wavered in your resolve to act on it. Is it still your truth that you want to leave your husband? Knowing that this is a major decision in your life, please, once again, do some deep Soul searching about it. Then if it is still your truth, you may need to repeat that to your husband, as lovingly and compassionately as you can. You might soften the blow by telling him that relationships don’t ever end—they only change form. Endings can be very hard, so sometimes it’s easier if we think of them as changes, not endings. “We’re changing the way we interact together…”
The way to stay on track is to stay in touch with your Soul, which knows all. You can’t figure this all out at the level of Mind, because the Mind’s information is so limited. However that works for you—prayer, meditation, yoga, walking in nature, chanting… whatever—make it a top priority every day. Better yet, make every waking moment a conversation with God. Learn to trust the wisdom of the Voice within you, knowing it is Divine Intelligence at work in your life. The more you follow that “still, small voice”, the happier you’ll be. And worry not about your husband, because he also has access to all the wisdom in the world. God is always with him too.
Last but not least, you might find this mantra helpful as you encounter challenges along the way:
“Thank you, God, for helping me remember that this problem has already been solved for me.”
(Annie Sims is the Global Director of CWG Advanced Programs, is a Conversations With God Life Coach and author/instructor of the CWG Online School. To connect with Annie, please email her at Annie@TheGlobalConversation.com.
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to: Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
An additional resource: The CWG Helping Outreach offers spiritual assistance from a team of non-professional/volunteer Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less. Nothing on the CCN site should be construed or is intended to take the place of or be in any way similar to professional therapeutic or counseling services. The site functions with the gracious willing assistance of lay persons without credentials or experience in the helping professions. What these volunteers possess is an awareness of the theology of Conversations with God. It is from this context that they offer insight, suggestions, and spiritual support during moments of unbidden, unexpected, or unwelcome change on the journey of life.
My heart is aching. My heart is aching for men and women all over the world who have ever been asked to kill for their country or their god.
On every medium I chance upon these days, there is some message urging support of our troops. Or support of our veterans. Or telling me of the horrible things veterans endured for my freedom. Or urging me to send money, letters, packages to active duty soldiers.
I watch television (I know, that might just be my first mistake, right?), and I see war, and violence and the glorification of dying for a “cause”. Every time I do, I see painfully accurate portrayals of what I have seen in my life. I see “that look” in the eyes of a man who has had to kill and who must bury what he really felt in order to survive. I see stories similar to when a friend of mine, after being home from Vietnam for a number of years, could not contain his secret within himself any longer…he had to unburden having videoed himself, as a gunner on a helicopter, shooting the “enemy”. I see television shows and movies putting on little “morality” plays over and over, laying out before us the real damage done by asking a person to harm another…most recently in the show “Homeland”, where a main character is actually relieved to be released from the torture in his mind from the things his country asked him to commit, and this relief shows on his face as he is hung in a public square. They show us these things over and over, but all that seems to stick is that it is good to die for your country, or your cause…the personal results are yours, as an individual, to deal with.
Then I look around and I see the literally wounded in my community. I see the statistics of the number of soldiers of recent conflicts suffering from a myriad of mental and physical diseases. I see stories of ex military snapping. I see the statistics of homeless veterans. I hear from a man who recruits for the Houston Police Department that they rarely recruit military any more because they are too damaged and too violent. I witnessed, as a juror in traffic court, a young man so traumatized by his tours in Afghanistan that even watching the video of being ticketed by a police officer caused him to tremble and fight back his tears…and this while on antidepressant and anti anxiety medication!
Fast forward from other times, from past conflicts, and I see aging veterans with military bumper stickers identifying the branch of the military they served in, and wearing baseball hats emblazoned with the war they served in whilst in military service. They join lodges, they have reunions of those with similar experiences…and, of course, they have to do this, because how else can they “speak” of the things that torture them, except by not having to speak at all, because all surrounding them know exactly what they know. It is also who they identify themselves as being, as powerfully as they identify themselves as being father, husband, son or daughter.
The United States (indeed, the world!) has done a good job of indoctrination. They have created a “brotherhood” (and now sisterhood), that lasts a lifetime. This brotherhood, in our current world, with relationships of all kind being ripped asunder…parents from children, husband from wife, teachers not trusted any longer…having one thing, one brotherhood, they can count on, is immensely appealing. I get that. The military teaches so many things, like discipline, selflessness, loyalty, patriotism, duty,…and that most illusive of all things, how to keep your room clean! I get that it seems to be necessary these days, but why? How is it that this mystique has been built up so successfully around killing and death? How has it become honorable to kill and die for your country?
What have we done?! What have we done to the young that one of the main bonding arenas in this world is found in institutions that promote these things? Why are we willing to sacrifice our young for patriotism? or money? or land? or God?
Further, why would I even consider asking someone to die for my freedom to be against killing…if I am not willing to stand, unarmed, passively, and die for what I believe. In other words, how can I ask someone to defend what I believe, by doing that in which I do not believe?
Because we believe it is what God does. Because we believe it is what God asks of us. “Onward Christian Soldiers” and jihad, might makes right, and all of the similar things that have been placed into our consciousness from the time we were little.
These soldiers are not monsters! They do what they do because they sincerely and completely believe they are doing the honorable thing. In fact, they ARE honorable…but are they being honorably informed and motivated? I do not believe so.
I think that we can certainly find evidence of new forms of information available to us, guiding us to our inner knowing of killing one another for “honor” of any kind is not our true nature, but we all tend to gravitate to what we know…after we have been told what we believe. Which means, to me, that we must inform the informers that their information is, as CWG says, incomplete.
Support and love the veteran now that he/she has given their gift to you…but give them a gift in return. Go to your places of worship and question out loud how a merciful, all loving, God would ever ask anyone to die for It. Ask yourself, consciously, how harming your child in any way, could ever be what God would ask of you, or direct you to do. Go to your schools and question the history books. Become involved in Spiritual Politics, requiring your elected representatives to have a broad understanding of Oneness. Suggest to elected officials that soldiers can be of “service” in many more ways than those requiring killing…natural disaster relief comes to mind.
Why? How is this your gift for their service? It is your gift, because you will refuse to ask their children to die.
I read an article recently about a pilot who, many years after his plane was shot down, met the man who shot him down. He ends the story of this reunion with this:
“There’s so much misunderstanding in the world resulting in unnecessary sorrow. Having…—a positive, joyful family—in my life has altered my perspective. It may sound trite, but if only there were a way for all the religious, cultural, and ethnic groups of the world to meet and get to know one another in a meaningful way—the way (he) and I have—how could we ever go to war again?”
Good question…how could we? Why do we? When will we give men and women something better to identify with for a lifetime?
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
So it has come to this.
More and more schools across the country are now apparently involving children in so-called Active Intruder Drills.
Complete with armed police bursting into darkened classrooms to “rescue” endangered children, the firing of blanks by fake “intruders” using real runs, and realistic enactments that in one case actually frightened students, these drills may soon become part of The New American Scene in classrooms from sea to shining sea.
So we are told in a remarkable news story revealing this latest educational development published February 8 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a column by writer Aisha Sultan headlined: Hiding in the hallways: Intruder drills get graphic
In the story, Ms. Sultan describes how some schools involve members of the high school drama club who don gruesome make-up — complete with fake blood running down faces from make-believe bullet holes in students’ temples — and then play out an entire scene, giving school officials, teachers, and first responders “a chance to practice what would happen in such a worst-case scenario.” Except for the voluntary actors, other students are not involved in such drills.
But, Ms. Sultan wrote in her Parents Talk Back column, not all such drills involve only adults. “Masked ‘intruders,’ armed with guns, fired blanks at a group of teachers in a library in a rural Oregon school last year,” her article reported. Further, she reports, a student at Central York High School in New Jersey wrote about the deafening noise when those armed police officers burst into her dark classroom to “rescue” the students during a realistic active intruder drill.
And yes, it allegedly happened that, according to Ms. Sultan’s report, “an El Paso, Texas district took it a step further with a surprise intruder drill so realistic that students sent panicked texts to parents.”
The purpose of the drills is to potentially save lives by reducing panic in the case of an actual on-site intruder attack at a school, Ms. Sultan makes clear, just as schools for decades have run fire drills, tornado and earthquake drills — and even, in the 50s, air raid drills and atomic bomb drills.
But the possibility of an intruder coming right into a classroom and killing students in could blood adds a new dimension to the model of the world with which a child grows up, one would have to conclude.
Or, as Aisha Sultan wrote: “When you have to imagine yourself getting shot, your teacher hiding you, year after year since you were five years old, that creates some sort of impression. When a threat is so real that you can hear screams and shots fired and smell sweat during the trial runs, that changes a child’s perception of what places are safe,” even though, she continued, “schools remain one of the safest places for children.”
Yes, but does the world feel safe to children who grow up made, in realistic invader drills, to line up against a wall where no one can see them so that their classroom looks empty? When they watch as their teacher quickly rolls down paper on all the windows? When they are told to not make a sound until they hear “all clear?”
“So the defense we’ve given our children since massacres at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook is very often: Turn off the lights, stay quiet, and hide,” Ms. Sultan opines. “That’s certainly easier than trying to make even the smallest reforms to the country’s gun laws.”
Changes such as restrictions on the purchase of assault weapons or even reasonable requirements for background checks for gun buyers are supported by “the vast majority of Americans,” the writer asserts, but such modest gun control measures cannot survive any legislative process “because of the power of the gun lobby,” she alleges.
Meanwhile school security “is an industry now,” she wrote in her column, “with trainers and equipment and realistic drills meant to convince us that teaching children to dodge bullets at school is somehow a normal part of growing up.”
College, for the majority of students, is a time of opportunity wasted. After filling out their applications, they arrive to the university, and are literally granted with an incredible amount of opportunities at their fingertips. Any given student, during their time here, can make groundbreaking research, become a rising star in a fortune 500 company, and start an entire new way of life. But….most students don’t do this. And why? Because they get comfortable. They find a friend group, and they stick with it. They join an initial activity, and they don’t branch out. Why? Because it’s safe. Because it’s easy. Because it’s become their official standard identity.
So, for the gift of friends, staying exactly who you are may seem like a small price to pay. BUT…sometimes, if you want to grow, if you want to truly become more of your greatest vision of the grandest version of Who You Truly Are, you need to expand yourself. In a time of deep contemplation, realize who will accelerate you forward and who will set you back.
For a majority of my life, I have been a people-pleaser. Always wanting to tell people what they wanted to hear, giving people what they wanted to have given to them. But, as a result, I was living a warped life, one that was not truly mine, but rather bent and curved by the expectations and standards of those around me. In order to keep what I had, I felt it was necessary for people to only see me in the most ideal light – even if that light was much dimmer than my real spirit.
As a result, I’ve decided to expand myself – even if it means changing from my current identity of who I am, who I spend my time with, and what I spend my time doing. I’m choosing to create a new reality everyday, one that challenges me to understand more about myself and my connection to Being. Though it comes with some change, I’ve accepted my own growth and my own self, and I’m loving every moment of it.
The message in this article may seem shocking and insensitive to some. But, in our innermost understanding, we recognize that all of us travel the path back to Oneness at different paces. Don’t shun your friends for not being as spiritually aware yet, but rather, just accept that their journeys are uniquely different and wonderfully individualized. You are not truly separating from them, but rather, learning how to connect with them on an entirely different level. Let yourself be the guardian of your own growth, and never let anyone or anything limit yourself from it.
So when at college, if you see yourself in this position, remember how much of an opportunity you have to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. Depending on the size of campus, you can have 400 to 40,000 individuals who are eager and willing to share their story, their journey, and their experiences with you. You have incredible opportunities present all around you – you can be the difference now.
(Lauren Rourk is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and attends Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. She can be contacted at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)
There is an idea that has been going around the so-called New Thought community over the past couple of decades that to speak of anything, thereby “giving energy to it,” only serves to “make it bigger.” Therefore, this idea goes, humans should never talk about or “focus on” anything that they believe is not okay in our society, because they are only “spreading negativity” and ensuring that those conditions remain even more firmly in place.
We should only give voice to that which we wish to see expanded in its manifestation and enlarged in our experience, this line of thinking asserts, using as its basis the oft declared New Age principle that “we create our own reality” with the power of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
It is time to debunk this notion once and for all. Holding this idea as sacred can, in fact, be dangerous, by allowing detrimental or damaging aspects of our collectively created life to continue — often by going unnoticed.
This business of never speaking a single word about what is simply not working in our collective experience is what I call a “New Age Bypass.” It is spiritual surgery that does not work, because it promotes a point of view that forever skirts the heart of the matter of what it means to be truly evolved and truly enlightened while being truly human.
If a train is clammoring down the tracks and someone in the car hears this as the family auto approaches a crossroad, is that person not to speak of what she knows is just around the bend, for fear of breaking the New Rule of not “spreading negativity”?
In other words, is simple observation of What Is So a “sign” that one is not among the Spiritually Advanced?
What is the purpose of the increased consciousness and awareness growing out of the spiritual expansion and evolution of humanity, if it cannot be used to apply spiritual wisdom to the challenges of that evolutionary process itself?
This newspaper has been criticized by some for publishing headline stories that in some cases describe what we believe to be less than desirable events or conditions in humanity’s present reality. We have been accused of “producing separation” and “creating more” of what we say we don’t want.
“Why don’t you just focus on what you do want?”, one reader recently wrote.
Yet if what we do want is to bring an end to some of the practices and behaviors of humanity, is never saying a word about those practices and behaviors the way to do it? Or is opening the door and throwing the light onto the darkness one way to change the darkness into light?
This does not mean there is no place for positive, affirmative thought, word, and action. But it does mean that observation is not judgment, and a description of circumstances or conditions is not guaranteed to enlarge them.
Life, says Conversations with God, proceeds out of our intentions for it. It is our intention that the Universe understands, and to which it responds.
So if our intention in observing that the train is coming is to avoid being hit, that observation does not increase the danger of our demise, but reduces it. If it is our intention in describing an undesirable condition or circumstance is to change it for the better, that description in and of itself does not change it for the worse.
Quite to the contrary. It makes it possible for us to make an improvement, to advance, thus to move forward in our evolution.
The Corporation For Enterprise Development (CFED) released an article on January 30 by Lebaron Sims and Sean Luechtefeld in which it placed a new light on the economy in the U.S.
In the article, the writers argued that “almost half of Americans are on the brink of financial calamity.”
Reading the news, the writers said, “it would be easy to conclude that the economy is chugging along toward full recovery.” They pointed to new government data released on Jan. 30 which revealed that the economy grew at a “healthy” 3.2% in the last quarter of 2013. “Yet,” the writers said, “ask the average middle-class American and their economic outlook is anything but healthy.
The 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, released by CFED last month, which finds that despite an improving national economy, “liquid asset poverty rates have barely budged,” the article by Sims and Luechtefeld said.
“The percentage of households in the US who lack the savings needed to weather a financial storm like a job loss or medical emergency is holding tight at 44%,” they said.
The Scorecard also found that problems like growing student loan debt and high rates of consumers with subprime credit—especially among households of color—”are to blame for Americans’ lingering inability to get ahead and build a more secure financial future for themselves and their families,” the writers said.
The article went on to report that CFED President Andrea Levere has called attention to the fact that despite 50 years of progress in the War on Poverty, Americans’ economic mobility has stagnated, while household net worth continues to decline. Part of why these measures trend the wrong direction, Mr. Levere noted, “is the intergenerational transfer of wealth and the lack of policies in place to give a hand up to those who need it the most,” the article said.
The story on its website said that the Corporation For Enterprise Development’s annual “Scorecard” has, for over a decade, been the go-to source for data on household financial security in America.
“This year, however, the Scorecard includes assessments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 67 different policy measures. These measures illustrate how far states have gone—and how far they still need to go—to help their residents achieve financial stability,” the story went on.
Ranging from mandatory all-day kindergarten to the establishment of a state housing trust fund, these policies offer legislators manageable and moveable ways to expand economic opportunity in their states, the CFED story asserted.
Also new to the 2014 Scorecard are Estimated Impacts, CFED said in the article by Sims and Luechtefeld, are detailed projections of what effect improvements in 16 specific outcomes would have on the citizens of each state. “For example, Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest uninsured rate, at 4.4%. If Pennsylvania’s 11.5% uninsured rate improved to match Massachusetts’, 742,971 additional Pennsylvanians would have health insurance—no small matter. With this exciting new data tool, advocates can better illustrate the power that good policy can have on the lives of individuals and households,” the article said.
The CFED’s Scorecard offers tools for anyone wishing to look more closely at the U.S. economy as they “make the case to policymakers, community leaders and funders for asset-building strategies that create pathways to economic opportunity,” the internet story declared.
A statement on its website says: “The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a national nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, empowers low- and moderate-income households to build and preserve assets by advancing policies and programs that help them achieve the American Dream, including buying a home, pursuing higher education, starting a business and saving for the future. As a leading source for data about household financial security and policy solutions, CFED understands what families need to succeed. We promote programs on the ground and invest in social enterprises that create pathways to financial security and opportunity for millions of people.
Did you know that there is a new book that identifies the 25 most important messages of the 9-installment Conversations with God series? It then offers practical suggestions on how to apply each message in every day life. Powerful and inspirational reading. To see the first seven chapters and hear a one chapter sample of the audio book, click here.
(This is Part VIII of an extended series on being part of the change, rather than simply observing the change, that is occurring on our planet right now.)
In our last entry here we said that “the New Spirituality” that is talked about in the CwG books is based upon the following assumption: There is something we do not now fully understand about God and about Life, the understanding of which can change everything.
The process of seeking, obtaining, and sharing wisdom is what will bring us closer to that understanding. This should be a lifelong process that is never ending. That is why I speak of being “in-the-moment clear” about who we are and what we are doing here.
All true clarity is in-the-moment clarity. That is because there is nothing else but the moment. “Now” is all there is, and everything else is an illusion. Yet even if we accept the terms of the Illusion, tomorrow, for all we know, a flying saucer could land here and change everything we ever thought we understood about life.
You think I’m kidding? I’m not.
So if you really want to be Part of the Change on our planet, use whatever tools are available to you to get clear on what is true for you. Another one of those very practical tools is meditation—and we will talk more about that when we discuss Step Four of the Ten Steps to Becoming a Spiritual Helper.
More practical suggestions
After getting clear on who you are and what you choose, there is another very practical thing that you can do to implement fully Step One, which, you will remember, is to ANNOUNCE OURSELVES TO EACH OTHER. (We explored this step in our last entry here). This other practical thing you can do? Find out what is already being done, and by whom.
Make it your business to learn more about the world in which you live. Watch the news. Read the paper. Follow the Internet. Keep up with what’s happening.
A lot of people in the new age community seem to feel it’s a good idea to avoid the news, to remove yourself from this “negative energy.” I disagree. I follow the news closely every day. Energy is what you call it. Or, as William Shakespeare famously noted, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
I want to know what’s going on in my world. I want to understand the issues of the day, the matters of concern, the daily developments on our globe that co-create our collective experience.
Perhaps more important, I want to discover who, if anyone, is gathering energy and doing something about the challenges we are facing, who is putting together a plan or a program, who is launching what effort to accomplish which goal.
I want to know this because I want to connect with these people. I want to use these resources. I want to increase my effectiveness as a spiritual helper by joining with others who are holding the same ideas I am nursing, and who are moving in the same direction I am going.
Now in the case of readers of CwG there already is a “game plan” for those who have taken the messages of these books to heart. The game plan is to create the space of possibility for a New Spirituality to emerge upon the earth.
This does not mean to proselytize or to start trying to “convert” everyone, and it certainly does not mean the creation of a new religion. The message of CwG is clear on this point. What the world needs now is not another religion, but an expansion, an extension, a rejuvenation and a refreshing of the thoughts and beliefs of our present religions.
CVS Caremark Corp, one of the largest drugstores in the United States, stated that as of October 2014 it will no longer carry tobacco products in any of its 7,600 stores around the country, hoping its voluntary decision will have a ripple effect among other pharmacy chains.
Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement, “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
President Barack Obama praised the pharmacy’s precedent-setting move and said in a statement, “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come.”
CVS estimates that it stands to lose upwards of $2 billion as a result of pulling cigarettes and other tobacco products off their shelves. But when weighed against a reported $123.1 billion in revenues in 2012, it doesn’t appear that CVS will be feeling much of a fiscal pinch.
Tobacco still remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death. A U.S. Surgeon General report last month linked smoking to 480,000 deaths annually, up from a previous estimate of 443,000 deaths. It attributed at least $289 billion in annual costs from smoking, including $150 billion for lost productivity and $130 billion in medical care.
But CVS is not being hailed a hero by everyone. Many critics are calling into question the mega pharmacy’s decision to pull tobacco products while at the same time continue to stock and sell unhealthy processed food choices and alcoholic beverages. Others are disgruntled over the restrictions and regulations being placed upon them as they watch their freedom of choice being chipped away at by just another big corporation.
Perhaps the drug chain is just following the breadcrumbs on the money trail, keenly aware of the significant decline in the number of cigarette smokers over the years and a steadily rising number of prescription drug sales. Stores like CVS and Walgreen’s are the gatekeepers to highly addictive and oftentimes abused prescription drugs like painkillers, tranquilizers, antidepressants, sleeping pills and stimulants, which can be just as addictive and potent as the heroin or cocaine sold on the street. And with the surging number of “pain management” clinics and pill mills popping up around the country, the business of pedaling prescription drugs has turned into a multi-billion dollar racket.
Maybe a company’s decision to remove a product known to harm people is as a result of a new world attempting to emerge, a world where the multi-million dollar corporations are forced to make changes in response to humanity’s evolution. Human beings are waking up and wising up to tobacco companies engineering addictive products and marketing them disingenuously as “cool” or “relaxing,” no longer willing to sit back and watch cigarette makers rake in billions of dollars at the expense of people dying from cancer, emphysema, and heart disease.
So what do you think? Is CVS’s decision a step in the “right’ direction, a cause for celebration? Or is it another slight-of-hand marketing ploy created to divert our attention from what is going on somewhere else in their stores? How does their declaration of “helping people on their path to better health” feel to you? Authenticate? Genuine? Promising? Contradictory? How long will financial benefit continue to be a dominating factor in the way people and businesses operate and function in our communities? In our world? Are we well on our way or at least beginning to see the day where the collective desires and longings for a better world, a freer world, a healthier and happier world, a more spiritually aware and conscious world, will produce and bring forth exactly that?
(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and lives in Orlando, Florida. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)