When Courage and Conscience Collide

When Courage and Conscience Collide

When Courage and Conscience Collide

I was raised on capitalism and the Wall Street Journal. And I trusted that the political values that my family had instilled in me would serve me well. I believed in the system.

And then one of my children got sick with a blood condition that no one could pronounce and a pediatric mandate requiring immediate enrollment at a Children’s Hospital. And I awoke.

Suddenly, everywhere I turned, there were sick children. Children with diabetes, children with cancer, children with obesity, children with asthma and children with allergies. What had happened?

As headlines in the paper warned me of environmental dangers, I began to pay attention. What was in the food? Wasn’t organics a left-leaning thing? And what about the plastics and the baby bottles and the vaccines? Should I worry? Doesn’t our system protect us from these dangers?

And without realizing it, an internal battle had silently begun.

I lay awake at night after conversations with my father who dismissed my concerns and growing awareness of our system’s shortcomings. Had a generation of grandfathers failed to recognize the health risks associated with capitalism’s profits, unintentionally jeopardizing the well being of their grandchildren?

I had been raised to support the system, to believe in it, to never question it, and certainly to never speak out. Activism was something that “radicals” did, certainly not conservative, soccer moms.

But I couldn’t shake the internal dialogue. Armed with an MBA in finance and my four children, I began to investigate the expanding role that corporations had taken in the system in which I was raised to believe. And I was stunned.

There were insecticidal toxins in crops to increase profitability for the world’s largest agrichemical corporation. There were petroleum based chemicals in my children’s toys and shampoos that were a product of an oil corporation that had recruited me in business school. How had this happened? Had we forsaken our physical health for financial wealth?

As I struggled with the responsibility that I felt for betraying my own children, I realized that it was now my responsibility to act. But the internal battle raged on – as the call from my conscience collided with the familiar comfort of conformity – and I was paralyzed.

But with sick children, paralysis was not an option.

I realized that I had to find the courage, on behalf of my children and others, to speak out against the very system in which my family believed.

And I reluctantly stepped forward.

With the words of another crusader in hand, I found my voice: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls.” (Robert F. Kennedy).

It is with that hope, and holding the hands of my four children, that I took a stand.

It is our turn to engage, to help our fathers recreate the world that their grandchildren deserve. We must not be daunted by the enormity of the task at hand.

If we dare to dream that it is possible to affect this change for our children, we will be inspired by hope and find the courage and capacity to act. Together.

It is not too late. And “…remember, during those times of doubt and frustration, that there is nothing naïve about your impulse to change the world.”

For the sake of our children, we have to.

To learn more about simple steps that you can take to protect the health of your family, please visit www.allergykids.com and www.drgreene.com

Robyn O'Brien

Article written by

As the founder of AllergyKids, Robyn has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and CNN highlighting the role that chemicals in our food supply are having on our health. Robyn is the author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About it (Random House, May 2009).

 

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a Guest Blogger of DrGreene.com and is provided in order to offer a variety of thoughtful points of view. The opinions expressed on this Perspectives Blog post do not reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com. As such, Dr. Greene and DrGreene.com are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. This post is used under Creative Commons License CC BY-ND 3.0

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