by Michael Braunstein
California in the twentieth century was consistently the harbinger of cultural and political change. When a trend emerged in California, it would usually show up in the rest of America sooner or later. Take for example, skateboards; in California in the ‘50s; Omaha in the ‘60s. Then there is the economic evil known as TIF financing. First in California in 1952. Arrived in Nebraska a quarter-century later, 1978. (Note: California outlawed TIF in 2011. Hello, Nebraska. Are you paying attention?) Of course, as communications and modes of travel became faster, it takes far less time for trends to make it cross-country than it did 25 or 60 years ago.
Heartland Healing was incorporated in 1994 shortly after my return to hometown Omaha. In 20 years living in Los Angeles, I found some good things that were commonplace in California were largely undiscovered in the Heartland. In the field of healing, many modalities were unknown in the Midwest. In 1994, most Nebraskans couldn’t spell echinacea let alone know what it was for, even though it is the common prairie coneflower used by native Americans for centuries.
In Los Angeles I was accustomed to visiting the vet with my Scotties for acupuncture to treat their allergies, patronizing my local herbalist who had hundreds of bins of raw herbs from all around the world, doing yoga in Larchmont Village, sweat lodges in Malibu, and vision quests in Joshua Tree. It’s not that those things were entirely absent in 1990s Midwest but certainly not known to the general public. If one wanted echinacea tincture, you either made it yourself (like my friend Ed Pfeffer,) or were lucky enough to find it at the rare health food stores like No Name Nutrition. Heartland Healing was established to increase public knowledge of natural and holistic therapies not provided by conventional Western medicine and certainly not easily found in Omaha in the 1990s.
Omaha in 1995 had a small community of dedicated people providing healing alternatives but their presence went mostly unknown for a couple reasons. The public in general had not yet become reacquainted with the tradition of therapies that have existed for thousands of years. Mind/body medicine, natural therapies and holistic modalities had been relegated to dusty bookshelves of history or the small groups still aware of them. Secondly, too many Midwestern practitioners were self-censoring. Alternatives to the mainstream medical dictums risked the heavy hand of state and local agencies that would “investigate” and intimidate practitioners. Even something as commonplace as yoga is now, was then condemned as some foreign un-American religious practice to be avoided at the risk of being considered a heathen. Doctors integrating progressive holistic modalities with their medical practice were often dragged before unelected medical boards to be censured. It often came at great expense for the doctors who faced inquest.
Things have changed. For better and worse. In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association, though not without its own corrupt history, devoted an entire issue describing America’s move toward holistic or “alternative” medicine as JAMA called it. As all institutions invariably do, the AMA was reflecting cultural change, not leading it. But the point was made. Americans were turning to medicine not provided by the mainstream techno-pharmaceutical industry. The shelves at your local drugstore began looking like the health store aisles from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s with extracts, tinctures and tablets of herbs and supplements. People gained a glimmer of self-responsibility for their health. But a recoil effect was coming.
Club Med is now Big Med. The medical industry has become more powerful than government. In fact, it has become government. Throughout most of human history, hospitals were buildings. Before moving to Los Angeles, I worked at many of them in Omaha, ultimately as a respiratory therapist at the old St. Joseph’s on 10th Street. The building there covered a couple blocks. Methodist Hospital, even with its teaching wing and dormitories, barely covered two blocks on Cuming Street. I had my tonsils removed at Children’s Hospital, a single building on 42nd Street. But in 2021 Omaha, hospitals are campuses covering tens of square miles. They are giant complexes, rivaling military bases in size and operation. The halo effect on the surrounding area is profound. How did this happen?
In the real estate crash of 2008, homes were lost, buildings closed, factories went under. But two sectors of American industry swelled like turgid cesspools: hospital facilities and universities. Land grabs ensued. While many industries were losing livelihoods, those two sectors were gaining. Anyone with a memory can attest to that.
Big Med or you’re dead. Controversial and contradictory research aside, the influence of Western medicine has swollen to the point where irony prevails. Non-elected medical bureaucrats use the threat of physical harm to supposedly protect us from physical harm. They claim curfews, mandates and quarantines will keep us healthy then enforce their belief system with armed police. If you are not wearing a mask at a grocery store, a handful of men with guns will show up to enforce the will of the medicos.
That’s a lot of power for any office holder, particularly one appointed rather than elected. That power is drawn from modern mankind’s obsession with the secular, the human fear of death and the false belief that only one source has the silver bullet to secure salvation.
When any sector of society grows so strong that it controls all the other sectors, it becomes totalitarian. It is time to take a holistic view of the course of humanity.
Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com.