A Hundred Men
BY BURNS MIXON
Hello to all activists and soon to be activists! I was encouraged by a friend to "do something useful today." I hope that this will be useful to anyone reading it who knows what it means to live with a rising PSA.
Another hundred men were admitted to the euthanasia machine today. They will be dead from prostate cancer within a year. Room was made for them by the hundred men who died from prostate cancer today. Around 400 or so men were ushered into various prostate cancer "waiting rooms" labeled 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and onward ....
I have read with great interest the many postings on activism and recall the "great debate" of last spring where the issues were grassroots political pressure, e-mail to Capitol Hill, petition signatures and higher visibility through media. It was a learning time when the value of signatures was placed in competition with the value of direct contact with Capitol Hill; when the value of influencing those with local power to influence Congress was pitted against a national lobbying effort; when personal visits to individual legislators were pitted against public events drawing media attention.
Then it went quiet as people mulled over the lessons, observed the results.
Now, new, bright and powerful voices have emerged and the battle-scarred come out of their foxholes to share lessons learned. All approaches have their place and it looks like the value of public events and media exposure has risen quite a few points - not as the solution, but surely as a powerful means to an end. This begins to heal a heart that was sick.
Through it all, we still skirt the edges of a sharp vision of what that "end" should be: one with punch that can be easily grasped by the new prostate cancer public that must be created. Nor have we been willing to clearly identify who the real opposition is. We know... you know we do.
We want a cure. Our goal is not simply research to extend the time on palliative treatments with miserable side effects. Not a goal for us, not a goal for our children. We will settle for that for right now, but only because it keeps us around longer to reach a better solution.
We want the killing machine of quiet euthanasia to stop. And we know where to find our opponents. They are those who derive benefit from the existing status quo. We know, and our own worst fears keep us from saying it out loud. Yet only when we say it will we set a galvanizing goal.
Imagine a group of people who derive great benefit from the status quo. Within that group is a subset of people who benefit from the quiet process through which tens of thousands of men die each year. Not an illegal benefit, but a true economic benefit; no different than those who enjoyed great profit from the reality of the Cold War, or Vietnam or Korea, or the space race, etc. There is an economic subset that derives great benefit from the quiet euthanasia machine for "old men."
Those who say there is a great waste of dollars in allowing prostate cancer to become advanced are certainly right. The drug treatments alone become very expensive. One man's waste, though, is another man's gain. This tremendous amount of money is not simply disappearing, it is going into the pockets of very real people. Hence benefit from the status quo.
No different than making money off the deaths of more than 50,000 in Southeast Asia. During a war the greatest profits come to those who manufacture the very weapons which those who died depended upon in their effort to live; and those same weapons "save the lives" of the millions who make it home without physical wounds. Guess if the focus had been on the number who "made it back" instead of the number who were dying, we would still be fighting somewhere in Cambodia or Laos. Back then, for some reason, there were those who cared about the ones who weren't going to make it home; who worried about the killing fields and figured out how to create a public that mattered to those who could act so some of the killing stopped - at least the killing of American soldiers and the killing by American soldiers.)
Remember: Another hundred men were admitted to the euthanasia machine today. They will be dead within a year. Room was made for them by the one hundred men who died today. Around four hundred men were ushered into various "waiting rooms" labeled 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 . . . .
Back to the larger group that benefits from the overall status quo. That larger group has the power to influence the core group that benefits directly from the euthanasia machine. As long as the struggle to change the dynamics around the euthanasia machine doesn't affect the larger status quo, no big deal. So the euthanasia machine must do all that it can to isolate events within its domain and avoid attention.
Those who benefit from the euthanasia machine must make sure it stays as quiet as possible. Dissent must be contained. They join and co-opt groups of dissenters. They hold out the promise of better weapons for fighting the machine and win the gratitude, allegiance, silence and/or avid support of the "majority who will survive." These people become unwitting allies of those who actively run the euthanasia machine.
I have met several of the unwitting servants of the quiet euthanasia machine. I remember the day one of them tried to usher me into one of those waiting rooms. He told me we would wait until the PSA rose to 15 or 20 or till the cancer manifested painful symptoms - and then we would start with Lupron or Zoladex. I ran right out of there and started looking for someone to make a deal with ... so I could avoid this quiet killing field for "old men."
I ran right smack into another instrument of that machine: the leader of one of the groups that claims to speak for us. A man who no doubt truly believes his group helps us. He inadvertently revealed his more unconscious role in perpetuating the euthanasia machine. He told me that the objective of the millions they donate to research is not to find a cure - it is to find the best combination of drugs for turning prostate cancer into a "managed chronic illness." I asked him "With or without the side effects from Combined Hormonal Therapy (CHT)?" and he replied "Unfortunately, with."
Great. Research to extend the time we will spend on CHT. Perhaps decades if we are lucky - and millions more dollars into someone's pocket.
My goals are very simple - Find a cure and stop the killing machine. Those in my way are easy to identify: anyone deriving economic benefit from the killing machine including those who have been unwittingly conditioned to support them. Just follow the money, folks, and see where it leads.
How do we fight this? Methods include enlisting the aid of media and other "influencers" to expose the machine for what it is and identify who benefits from it. Educate the unwitting and those who can disturb the larger status quo. Use the media to capture their attention. Then educate them. Quickly follow through by passing along the knowledge that the new prostate cancer public needs to have in its hands.
Create a new public that wants to see profit go to those who search for a cure, not to those who simply increase their own current benefit by extending the time we spend on palliative drugs. A new public that will help prime the dollar pump for a new set of entrepreneurs who make a profit by ending wars and saving lives. It can be done once we break away from those who have been co-opted.
Nixon was not in trouble when students were marching. But when he looked around the country and saw the hard hats marching against a war that was killing their sons, his silent majority had begun to erode. No accident, that. My brain is too fogged to remember who wrote the little book, but the name of it was Vietnam and the Silent Majority: The Dove's Guide. Well, the kids followed the recommendations in that book, educated the steel workers, the auto workers, the miners, the truckers, the mill workers and those hard hats about just whose sons were dying. The hard hats then mobilized their tremendous resources. Marched, lobbied, staged media events. There is a senator from Massachusetts who learned how to mobilize support among veterans and crack another pillar in Nixon's silent majority. Different times, different issues ... the lessons are timeless.) Shake up the larger status quo, because the power to rein in those who benefit from the killing machine rests with those who benefit most from the larger status quo.
Itoo feel great pain from the loss of important pieces of my life and the side effects of this palliative treatment, which I take hoping to prolong my life. Hard as it is to say, I believe that we "youngsters" are bewildered about how the hell we wound up in this euthanasia machine for "old men." Which means we too used to be among those unwitting accomplices!
Often we discuss those side effects and losses with each other. Lord knows we need to. But sometimes we need to set aside our own worst fears and discuss the greatest outrage of all - the quiet euthanasia of 40,000 "old men" every year.
Another hundred men were admitted to the euthanasia machine today. They will be dead within a year. Room for them was made by the one hundred men who died today. Another four hundred or so were ushered into various waiting rooms labeled 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.... And somewhere, someone made a legal buck off the existing status quo. Let's find a way to help someone who hates the killing machine and who is looking for a cure have a chance to pocket that money.
© 1997 by Burns Mixon. All rights reserved.