A Cause For Pause
There is only one other cause of death that claims more victims than cardio vascular disease. Do you know what it is? Every year it claims; three times as many victims as all the cancers combined, more than seven Darfurs, fifty times the number of prostate cancer victims, and over one hundred times the number of AIDS victims. It effects males and females about equally but blacks are three times more likely to be killed than whites.
Two weeks ago, as I was checking out at the grocery store the clerk asked me, "would you like to make a donation to help fund research for Prostate cancer?" Last week I attended a concert by pop/rock musician Sheryl Crow during which she stopped in the middle of her set to bemoan the human toll of the Darfur genocide. This week, the first week of October, is the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and leaves us less than sixty days away from the Aids Awareness Month of December.
All of this got me thinking about 'causes'. Since most causes seem to start and/or end with death, I decided to do a little research on the subject.
Aids was the cause in the late 80's and 90's. In 1991, Frank Moore, a painter living and working in New York, had the idea to create a symbol of compassion for, and solidarity with, the AIDS cause. Inspired by the yellow ribbons hung in hope of Gulf War I veterans returning home safely, Mr. Moore came up with the idea of the red ribbon. Jeremy Irons was the first actor to wear it onscreen that year and it went on to make appearances on many lapels at the Democratic National Convention and the 1992 Oscars. The image of the red ribbon was even featured on a US stamp and circulation reached ranks only formerly attained by the Elvis Presley and Joe Louis stamps. Aids is responsible for the deaths of 500,000 since it was discovered about twenty five years ago. Treatments have improved greatly but in 2004, 15,798 individuals succumbed to the disease.
Who can forget Rosie O' Donnel's ambush of Tom Selleck on her talk show. Gun control has long been a celebrity cause. The NRA-ILA has a long list of celebrity gun control advocates here. Guns are used in approximately 11,000 of the 16,000 homicides nationwide. The recent spate of school shootings has lead President Bush to mention putting together a government panel to investigate why the shootings are taking place and how we might prevent them.
George Clooney recently spoke to the United Nations General Assembly about the human slaughter taking place in Darfur. The general overview is that Arab Muslims are attacking and slaughtering African (Black) Muslims with the help of the Sudanese and Syrian governments. Casualty estimates vary widely. Sheryl Crow used 200,000 as her official tally at the concert, the World Health Organization estimates the number is closer to 70,000 and some experts say it is as high as 400,000. In every case a tragedy, I do however wish that these casualties were counted in the context of Muslim violence and that George Clooney were speaking to the UN about its role in helping to end it.
The American Cancer Society reports that all cancers combined will claim approximately 560,000 lives this year. This includes 160,000 victims of Lung Cancer, the leading cause of cancer related deaths according to the American Lung Association. The Prostate Cancer Foundation, says prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America and men are 33% more likely to get prostate cancer (1 in 6) than a woman is breast cancer (1 in 10). This year 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer and statistics available at www.komen.org indicate breast cancer will claim 41,000 women. Fortunately, the American Cancer Society, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Suzan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Lung Association are doing an incredible job of making people aware of their diseases and raising money to fund research for cures.
Cardio vascular diseases are considered the leading causes of death in America. The diseases include; Coronary Heart Disease, Myocardial Infarction (MI or 'heart attack') and Stroke. Combined these diseases contribute to the deaths of approximately 1,400,000 Americans each year. Coronary Heart Disease is considered a related or underlying cause of 1 in every 5 deaths and MI is listed as the cause of death for approximately 220,000 Americans annually. Larry King wrote a book in which eighteen celebrities talked candidly about their struggles with heart disease. The celebrity list included: Larry King, Regis Philbin, Tommy Lasorda, Peggy Fleming, Joyce Carol Oates, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more.
There is only one other cause of death that claims more victims than cardio vascular disease. Do you know what it is? Every year it claims; three times as many victims as all the cancers combined, more than seven Darfurs, fifty times the number of prostate cancer victims, and over one hundred times the number of AIDS victims. It effects males and females about equally but blacks are three times more likely to be killed than whites. Yet, no one in government has suggested putting together a panel to research its causes, effects or preventability. There are a few celebrities that have spoken about it -Brooke Shields, Kathy Ireland, Mel Gibson - however, no one person has seen fit to put their full weight behind the cause.
It's not a disease - it's a choice: abortion.
The CDC estimates there are 1,500,000 abortions reported annually and about 10% of abortions go unreported bringing the total to 1,700,000 each and every year. I have to say, I was shocked that for all the press that AIDS gets, it would take 100 years of AIDS victims dying at current levels or higher to equal one year of abortions. I was shocked to read that 45% percent of abortions are repeat abortions. I was shocked to read that black woman were three times as likely to have an abortion and yet I could not find a high-profile black pro-life spokesperson. I was shocked to read that one out of every three pregnancies ends in an abortion.
Even if you believe in choice, wouldn't you like to see a reduction in the number of times that this choice is made?
Earlier this year, my wife, her sister and mother did a Breast Cancer Three Day Walk and raised over $12,000 for research for a cure. They did it because they know women who have had breast cancer, who have died of breast cancer or who are currently fighting breast cancer. Would they do the same thing for a pro-life organization? I don't know. Women who have had abortions rarely talk about it and there is no such thing as an abortion survivor to tell their story and gain sympathy. While you might be seen as sympathetic and compassionate for walking 60 miles for Breast Cancer, you might be seen as a religious zealot for doing the same thing for a pro-life organization.
So next time someone asks you, "would you like to add a dollar to your Taco Bell order as a donation to the National Colo-rectal Cancer Foundation?" Pause, and think , 'is this the cause about which I am most concerned?' Then think about making a donation, anonymously perhaps, to a pro-life organization instead.