Peace and Justice - Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston

Peace and Justice - Health


Who would not take reasonable care of one's own health and that of her/his loved ones? Healthy citizens can better make this a world more in accord with God's Word. We need to make health a priority in our educational and political systems. A nation some are prejudiced against has a health clinic in every neighborhood and the clinic's doctors knows the health issues of each person in the neighborhood. Certainly health care should not be a political or economic dogma with which we upset ourselves much less enrich a few and impoverish many.

Physical health is certainly related to peace. I have always been advised to do nothing concerning health without the approval of a medical doctor, and I find that good advice. On the other hand, doctors usually don't have a great deal of time for each patient, and I think it helps to read, discuss, and take an active role in your health. Ordinary health care is a basic human right. Ordinary care of our health is also a responsibility for each individual. As citizens, insuring basic health care promotes the common good. Disease spreads. Health care is a common responsibility. Healthy citizens can contribute more to the common good.

Given the Supreme Court decision that our present efforts to improve health care is constitutional, we can now make a small step forward toward an enormous challenge. But we need a city solution, a state solution, a national solution, and a global solution. We are one human family, and we need to care for one another as well as ourselves.

When St. Paul met with St. Peter, James, and John, "their only stipulation was that we should be mindful of the poor--the one thing I was making every effort to do." (Galatians 2.10) If each member of our human family, does not have primary health care, I don't think we're making every effort to be mindful of the poor.

An intriguing approach to health in a special sense is promoted by Deb Reich in No More Enemies.p.40 "Terrorism is a painful side effect of a medication, official, state-sponsored violence that we have prescribed for a preventable disease, enemies-driven thinking."

Accentuate the Positive, Laughter is healthy. We don't have to have a particular reason to laugh. God's love is reason enough.

Forks Over Knives, The Plant-based Way to Health, edited by Gene Stone with foreward by t. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. MD author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. States that a Plant-based diet is good for health, animals, and the environment.

Using Psychology to Help Abolish Nuclear Weapons; A Handbook

By Marc Pilisuk and Jamie Rowen

"Mental Health Benefits of Activism A number of studies support the view that participation in an activist group is beneficial to one's mental health and can serve as an antidote to depression· and despair·. Participation in activity with others to control the proliferation of the most destructive weapons known can represent a confidence in overcoming deeply entrenched giants. It can make people more powerful in matters that count in their roles as parents and as citizens and give them a psychological sense of community and of empowerment·. Psychological health requires such feelings of efficacy. Good mental health is not the absence of problems but rather the capacity to work on them constructively. Large threats to humanity can only be addressed by cooperative action and by working together with other caring people. This can be as rewarding as it is empowering. Cooperative action encourages creativity and aligning people with what is healthy in the world." Catholic Health-care West

Our Values

Dignity Health is committed to providing high-quality, affordable health care to the communities we serve. Above all else we value:
  • Dignity - Respecting the inherent value and worth of each person.
  • Collaboration - Working together with people who support common values and vision to achieve shared goals.
  • Justice - Advocating for social change and acting in ways that promote respect for all persons and demonstrate compassion for our sisters and brothers who are powerless.
  • Stewardship - Cultivating the resources entrusted to us to promote healing and wholeness.
  • Excellence - Exceeding expectations through teamwork and innovation.


Perhaps the most obvious place to start promoting health is to examine tobacco. Action on Smoking and Health says "secondhand tobacco smoke kills over 6,000 children each year, and adds more than $8 billion dollars to their medical care costs. Maine just passed a law protecting foster children from tobacco smoke, and the Maine authorities have adopted rules banning smoking in cars and rooms when foster children are present. ASH is asking other states to follow Maine's example. Thousands of young lives are being snuffed out each year. Innocent young children--including infants--are forced to unnecessarily suffer from asthma, painful ear aches, lower respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. We need to ban smoking everywhere, private cars and homes, hotels, motels, nursing homes, university dormitories."

"The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 6 Major Conclusions of the Surgeon General Report
Smoking is the single greatest avoidable cause of disease and death. In this report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, the Surgeon General has concluded that:
Many millions of Americans, both children and adults, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces despite substantial progress in tobacco control.

Supporting Evidence

Levels of a chemical called cotinine, a biomarker of secondhand smoke exposure, fell by 70 percent from 1988-91 to 2001-02. In national surveys, however, 43 percent of U.S. nonsmokers still have detectable levels of cotinine.
Almost 60 percent of U.S. children aged 3-11 years - or almost 22 million children - are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Approximately 30 percent of indoor workers in the United States are not covered by smoke-free workplace policies.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.

Supporting Evidence

Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.

Secondhand smoke has been designated as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that secondhand smoke is an occupational carcinogen.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.

Supporting Evidence

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances and poisons as smokers. Because their bodies are developing, infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke.

Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.
Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than unexposed babies, which increases the risk for many health problems.

Among infants and children, secondhand smoke cause bronchitis and pneumonia, and increases the risk of ear infections.

Secondhand smoke exposure can cause children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe attacks.

Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

Supporting Evidence

Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.

Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of a heart attack.

Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 - 30 percent.

Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 - 30 percent.

The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Supporting Evidence

Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can quickly irritate and damage the lining of the airways. Even brief exposure can result in upper airway changes in healthy persons and can lead to more frequent and more asthma attacks in children who already have asthma.

Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.

Supporting Evidence

Conventional air cleaning systems can remove large particles, but not the smaller particles or the gases found in secondhand smoke.

Routine operation of a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system can distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the preeminent U.S. body on ventilation issues, has concluded that ventilation technology cannot be relied on to control health risks from secondhand smoke exposure.

The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General was prepared by the Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Report was written by 22 national experts who were selected as primary authors. The Report chapters were reviewed by 40 peer reviewers, and the entire Report was reviewed by 30 independent scientists and by lead scientists within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout the review process, the Report was revised to address reviewers' comments.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.
For more information, please refer to the Resources page. Additional highlight sheets are also available at the Center for Disease Control.

I suggest we all reflect on the results of abundant research on the use of tobacco products.

More than four thousand chemical compounds have been identified in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Many of these chemicals are toxic. Several are carcinogenic or tumor initiators. Tobacco smoke includes at least 43 different carcinogenic substances.

The exposure of nonsmokers to tobacco smoke is referred to as involuntary smoking, passive smoking, and secondhand smoke. Although the smoke to which an involuntary smoker is exposed is less concentrated than that inhaled by smokers, research has shown that the health risk from inhaling smoke is significant. Scientists estimate that involuntary smoking cause about 3000 lung cancer deaths each year among nonsmokers.

Nicotine has been scientifically shown to be one of the most addictive substances known. Addiction to nicotine remains a life-long craving that never goes away even when using the helps available, a person has quit smoking. Young adults need to be aware of the subliminal images used in advertising and the media implying that smoking is hip or cool, or for strong people. The power of this addiction needs to be considered before deciding to smoke or before habitual smoking becomes addicted smoking.

Health insurance is a significant cost to everyone. Eventually smokers increase health insurance rates which in turn makes health care unaffordable even for middle-class households.

Laws concerning smoking in public protect everyone from an irrational national and world health risk.

Besides being a health issue and an economic issue, not smoking is a moral value. Can we say we love ourselves and our neighbor if we smoke in public?

Considering the lives tobacco harms on a world-wide basis, in a sense tobacco is a weapon of mass destruction. We discover this deadly substance only when we are thoroughly honest with ourselves. Trying to lessen the health risk of smoking is a task all of us need to embrace.

A Plant-based Diet

I have found a plant-based diet to be healthy for our planet, healthy for animals, and healthy for ourselves. Books I have found helpful are Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, the Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery; Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D., Love and Survival, the Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy; Eat More, Weigh Less; Paul A. Stitt, The Real Cause of Heart Disease; years ago I liked Anthony J. Sattilaro, M.D. Living Well Naturally. See:

From The Real Cause of Heart Disease p. 12: "Recent research by Dr. William Castelli, director of the world famous Framingham Cardiovascular Institute in Framingham, Massachusetts, has shown that heart disease is really due to an out of control immune system. Reported in the November 26, 1998 issue of the American journal of Cardiology, Castelli's research showed that malfunctions in the body's immune system showed that certain chemical compounds that cause lesion on the inner walls of the arteries. These lesions provide a place for soft plaque to attach itself. Calcium then infiltrates the plaque, causing it to harden--a process known as arteriosclerosis. Alternatively, a piece of soft plaque can break free of the arterial wall. When this happens the loose plaque is carried to another part of the artery where it can block the flow of blood. If the blocked vessels are those that provide blood to the heart, the result is a heart attack. If the blocked vessels provide blood to the brain, the result is a stroke.

The question is: Why does the immune system malfunction and cause lesions? And where does the plaque come from? There are many contributory factors, but research shows that the primary cause of immune system malfunction is improper nutrition; too much processed food and oxidized fat, and too little of certain necessary nutrients such as fiber; Omega-3 fatty acid (found in flax and fish), vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Too little of these nutrients can trigger devastating abnormal immune responses, then lesions, the plaque, then a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease. As for the plaque, we've already mentioned one source: trans fats, which are found in the partially hydrogenated fats used in producing many common processed and convenience foods."

p. 14 "cholesterol is but one of several contributing factors. Only a few types of heart disease are caused by high cholesterol alone. . . In the 1950's Dr. Ancel Keys of the University of Minnesota advanced the theory that excess dietary fat and cholesterol were the principal cause of heart disease. . .The problem with Keys's theory is that it is an over-simplification of a very complex problem. , , Cholesterol is just one part of a cascade of problems that can be stopped immediately by adding proper nutrients in the diet."

p. 50 WE-FOBAM W=Water, essential for life; E=Exercise, to keep fit and strong; F=Fiber, nature's greatest cleaning aid; O=Omega-3's the fatty acids that work miracles; B=B-vitamins, including folic acid; A=antioxidants, to wipe out nasty free radicals; M=Minerals, essential building blocks of health.

Why aren't the above discussed more? Is it the influence of drug companies?

Another book on diet is by Dr. Andrew Weil, an alternative medicine MD, Eating Well for Optimum Health. Dr. Weil's book does not follow a plant-based diet, but he does have some interesting observations: p. 71, 72 "I reject the theories and nutritional philosophies of Atkins, Montignac, Sears, and their adherents. . . The majority of carbohydrate calories should come from less refined, less processed foods with low-glycemic-index ratings. Processed foods tend to be unhealthy in several ways: They are low in fiber and other protective micronutrients, and often high in sodium and the wrong kinds of fat. . .It is desirable to eat some low-glycemic-index carbohydrate with most meals, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and low-GI fruits. . . minimize consumptions of foods and beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Although low-carbohydrate diets may work for short-term weight loss, they are not the healthiest strategy for losing weight, and I do not recommend them as an everyday way to eat. ..

p. 100, 101. "Most people can enjoy optimum health on a diet containing 30% fat. Even more fat might be acceptable, as long as it is made up of predominately monounsaturated and essential fatty acids, with a favorable low omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Reduce the amount of saturated fat by cutting back on butter, cream, whole milk, yogurt and especially cheese made from whole milk. If you like dairy products use skim milk.

Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, sesame, corn soy cottonseed) and products made from them. Avoid margarine and vegetable shortening and products made from them. Strictly avoid all products containing partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main fat. Organic, expeller-pressed canola oil may be used in moderation.

Pumpkin-seed oil, flax oil, and hemp oil are all rich in essential fatty acids, including the vital omega-3s, and can be used.

Do not eat deep-fried foods in restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants.

pp. 123, 124. If you eat eggs, use only eggs omega-3 fortified, organically grown, from free-range chickens.

Eat soybeans and foods made from them (soymilk, tofu, mock meats) for their omega-3 fatty acids. .Vegetable sources of omega-3's are walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds.

If you eat meat, never eat brains. Minimize consumption of other organ meats.

If you eat fish, it is rich in omega-3's. The best are sardines packed in water and wild Alaskan salmon. Do not eat swordfish, marlin, shark, or other large carnivorous fish. They are likely to contain unhealthful levels of environmental toxins.

Eat beans and other legumes as protein sources. Eat a variety of whole grains, preferably in less refined, less processed forms

Dr. David Fabray thinks that likes can be cured by likes. Homeopathic medicine:


Alcohol and tobacco are somewhat regulated and talked about, but little is said about caffeine. I find Caffeine Blues, Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniske, M.S. Research and Clinical Nutritionist a book that seems well-researched. "Caffeine is clearly addictive, completely unregulated, and its presence in our foods and beverages is often hidden! ... Everyone, including doctors, need to become more aware of caffeine's role in cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, and women's health. " xi Jesse Lynn Hanley, M.D.


I find positive visioning of structures and sub-structures we need to make our world more in accord with God's Word emotionally and physically healthy.

An excellent way to heal sexual, emotional, physical abuse is to form a positive vision of healthy relationships among all and then implement our vision.

Humour Jokes are subjective and I offer the story below for your reading pleasure.

The pious but naive wife of Rev. Smith took the best interpretation and saw God in all things.

"The other day I went to the local religious book store where I saw a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker. I bought it and put it on the back bumper of my car, and I'm really glad I did. What an uplifting experience followed!

I was stopped at the light of a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord, and didn't notice that the light had changed. That bumper sticker really worked! I found lots of people who love Jesus. Why, the guy behind me started to honk like crazy. He must really love the Lord, because pretty soon he leaned out his window and yelled "Jesus" as loud as he could. It was like a football game, with him shouting, "Go Jesus, Go!! Everyone else started honking too, so I leaned out my window and waved and smiled to all those loving people. There must have been a guy from Florida back there because I could hear him yelling something about a sunny beach, and I saw him waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. I had recently asked my two kids what that meant. They kind of squirmed, looked at each other, giggled and told me that was the Hawaiian Good Luck sign. So I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back.

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and were walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray, but just then I noticed that the light had changed, and I stepped on the gas. It's a good thing I did, because I was the only car to get across the intersection. I looked back at them standing there. I leaned out the window, gave them a big smile, and held up the Hawaiian Good Luck sign as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!!"