Healing Our World Commentary: The Great Deception

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

The Great Deception

For the good times come and go, but at least there’s rain;
So this won’t be barren ground when September rolls around.
So watch the field behind the plow turn to straight dark rows
Put another season’s promise in the ground.

-- Stan Rogers (Canadian singer and songwriter; 1949–1983. From his song, “The Field Behind the Plow")

Each day, millions of people around the world work hard to make a living. Some work long hours at jobs that require back breaking physical exertion, leaving them little time and energy for personal or family activities. They are trying to earn a living wage as best they can to feed and clothe themselves and their families.


A laborer washes demolition debris at Fernald Environmental Management Project, a former uranium processing facility in Ohio. (Photo courtesy Fernald)
Most of these folks do not get up in the morning with the intention of harming the Earth, making people and animals sick, or taking the future away from our children. Yet that often ends up being the result of their activities as employers and politicians try their best to convince people that their work is helping the economy, providing jobs, or keeping their countries strong. This rhetoric has resulted in making the workers of the world accomplices in what may be the greatest deception of our time.

The reality is that most work being done today by the majority of people involves extracting precious resources from the Earth to make goods that we could easily live without. That work is also generating millions of tons of toxic substances every day that are pouring into our lakes, rivers, oceans, soil, and bodies.

The average woman and man is often well aware of some of the consequences of their actions. But how can they be expected to make informed choices when their bosses tell them everything is fine, their government tells them that regulations keep businesses honest, and doctors keep recommending drugs to solve problems that lifestyle changes could cure?

The plight of the people of New York City is the most recent, pathetic example of this phenomena. In the days following the September 11th tragedies, EPA spokesperson Bonnie Bellows told ABC news that EPA officials "really don't detect any real danger" in air and dust tests and that there were "very low" levels of asbestos.

Non-government scientists knew that this was nonsense and that the air around the ruin of the World Trade Center was filled with millions of pounds of pulverized, toxic materials that were now airborne.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero, site of World Trade Center terrorist strikes, photographed 10 days after the disaster on September 21, 2001. (Photo by Michael Rieger courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency)
In a "Healing Our World" commentary published in the days after the attacks, I reported that, “Gases and smoke from the fire and explosions are also highly toxic, containing dioxins, PCBs, volatile organic compounds, jet fuel, and many other toxic compounds from the building materials and offices. These irritants can trigger breathing spasms, asthma attacks, and untold future problems for those who inhale them."

"The 2,000 degree fire that resulted when the jets that hit the World Trade Center towers exploded may also have created many combinations of toxic materials of unknown effect.”

All this has been denied by the Bush administration.

Once again, science and technology fail us and common sense is ignored. Rather than issue advisories that people not be outside in the area of the disaster without breathing protection, yet more studies are being undertaken. In the meantime, rescue workers, residents of the area, and folks on the street are at risk.

The “New York Times” summed it up well in their January 11, 2002 article, “Studies Will Take Sept. 11's Measure in Health Effects.” The newspaper said, “The blast of dust and smoke — and the toxic substances, fibers and ash that blew through New York in the days afterward — is without precedent in medical literature, which means that there are no studies to fall back on for guidance on whether to be alarmed or reassured.”

The Associated Press reported a few weeks ago that, “As many as 500 firefighters who worked at the World Trade Center site are on leave for respiratory problems and other rescue-related injuries," and a union leader warned Friday that the ailments could force many of them into retirement.

An independent laboratory found 555 times the safe level of asbestos in the air of one man’s apartment near the area. Samples from his bathroom vent showed dangerous levels of fiberglass.


EPA air monitoring of the World Trade Center disaster site (Photo courtesy EPA)
Many folks who work downtown are reporting very similar symptoms - nosebleeds, a continuous hacking cough, bronchial infections, and sore throats.

Four New York Port Authority police officers were reassigned when elevated levels of mercury were found in their blood. And the list goes on and on.

Even before September 11th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimated that more than 32 million workers are exposed to harmful substances from more than 3.5 million workplaces every year.

Each day, our jobs wreak havoc throughout our planet. Regular readers of this column will have seen this list before, but it bears repeating.

Each day on this Earth:

And in the United States alone, we:

So, we have to ask ourselves the question, “What are we working for?” The answer must be more than “just for tomorrow.” Given that most of our bosses and political leaders work only to increase their wealth for today, we must conclude that we have to take back our health and our future.

If our work is damaging to our souls and to our planet, then something must change. If you are working in an industry or in a job that is unhealthy for your spirit as well as your Earth, then begin looking for a new job now. If you don’t feel that is possible and you need or want to stay, then organize with other co-workers and decide to make a difference.

It is vitally important that we do our best to align our hearts with our jobs. The old idea that from 9 to 5 you belong to someone else never was workable and is too damaging to even consider. We have all felt the pain and personal damage that comes from working at something we hate or that we know is wrong.

And you know what? When you align your work with what is truly in your heart, you will find that your new choice will benefit the Earth and our children’s future. I don’t fear that any mentally sound person will intentionally choose the accumulation of wealth or to inflict pain as a profession. Those goals cannot truly rest in one’s heart but are distractions and denials that shield us from our true spirit.

As our world fills with toxic pollutants that are being found in the bloodstream of even indigenous people far from civilization and in nearly every woman’s breastmilk, we can no longer wait. We must ignore the rationalizations of our industrial and political leaders whose hearts are blinded by their quest for personal wealth and power at any cost. Let’s take back our world.

The Great Deception that has worked to render us powerless for so long must end. With a shifting of priorities and an unblocked heart and spirit, you and I can end it. Let’s dust off those resumes, fire our bosses, and take back the workplace. The Earth is our home, not a commodity, and our health is not for sale.


1. See the full “New York Times” article about the pending health studies at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/11/nyregion/11LAB.html You will have to sign up, but using their archive is free.

2. A “Washington Post” article detailed some of the health effects of September 11th.

3. Get help looking for a profession that feeds your soul with the help of the book, “Mindfulness and Meaningful Work,” by Matthew Fox. See an excerpt at: http://www.universalmind.com/matfox.htm

4. Learn about ways to craft a new dream from Island Press. Their website, “Redefining the American Dream,” is at: http://www.islandpress.com/ecocompass/dream.html

5. Visit the Center for a New American Dream for help at: http://www.newdream.org/

6. It may seem strange to consider, but the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui can help. Through techniques that show you how to make your home a representation of your life, you will get help bringing your dreams and aspirations into focus. Feng Shui has methods that can help you bring your dreams to life. For a pretty good explanation, visit: http://www.wofs.com/fsuk4.htm

7. Business and political leaders have banded together to rob the Earth more effectively and to bring the Great Deception to small towns. Read about their efforts and learn how to combat them at: http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v07n2/wiseuse.html

8. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and e-mail them. Tell them that they had better start thinking about our global future – or they are out! If you know your Zip code, you can find them at: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ziptoit.html

{Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle. He can be found watching his son learn to crawl and thinking about what the boy will do for a living. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at: jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his web site at: http://www.healingourworld.com}