We Need to Give Ourselves a Break about Divorce Rates

Just 200 years ago, it was standard practice to marry your cousin. Your first cousin means you had the same grandparents.

Those were the “good old days”. Back then, you could beat up handicapped people and no one stopped you, and used your left hand to wipe your butt because there was no such thing as toilet paper. Next time a person says they want to go back to the “good old days”, remember those facts. And quit listening to that person.

Scientists gave us genetics, and we began to understand why so many children were born with birth defects. It took generations of arguing to get people to agree that cousins marrying was a bad idea.

Everyone did it. Who else were you supposed to marry? You were not going to spend the rest of your life with some stranger who didn’t know about Grandma’s Christmas dinners. Who didn’t inherit the same land that your family had always worked.

You weren’t going to send your daughter off to some stranger’s town where you would never see her but twice a year. How could you? That was abandonment! 20 miles was two day’s walk, one way. Who would do your chores, feed the chickens, pick vegetables, bake bread, water the sheep? Those things had to be done daily or you starved. If you were lucky enough to own horses, they worked on the farm and were certainly not available for a week’s trip from home.

You might get news from the next town once a week, probably more like once a month. If your daughter lived that far away, who would be there with her when she went into labor? Were you going to trust virtual strangers to do that for the young woman you had raised?

Now we think it’s weird and disgusting to marry a relative. But there were reasons people thought marrying a cousin was good practice.

Marriage isn’t easy anymore. You don’t just set up house together the way it’s always been done. You don’t settle disagreements the way your grandparents did. You don’t discipline children the way you were both raised. You don’t automatically eat the same foods, prepared the same way.

Now we marry people from different continents, whose ancestors spoke different languages and ate different food. This is an excellent genetic practice. We humans are stronger, bigger, and healthier than ever, especially in the Americas.

We raise children that are much more likely to live into adulthood. We are not distracted with endless grief from half a dozen stillbirths and victims of childhood epidemic.

And we are mentally healthier than ever. Abuse used to be normal; now we know better, because it’s not just kept a family secret anymore. Mental illness used to be locked away, now we get treatment and learn to live better together.

Now, if a spouse insults you, beats you, treats you like you’re crazy, expects you to care for them as tho they were a child, we can leave. Your cousin-husband could beat you if you put butter on his bread after putting it on the table, instead of at the stove like his mother did. We are not covering up our family’s reputation anymore. We let abusive relationships end.

Some marriages between good people end, too. But usually they end well, with mature people understanding that the agreement to marry just didn’t work for both partners.

Now we have new skills on marriage, methods and council that can bring near-strangers together to understand each other well. Give these new traditions time, and we will see marriage revive and succeed as never before.

All for Want of a Tire: Poor in the USA

All for Want of a Tire: Poor in the USA

Because of the nail, the tire was lost
Because of the tire, the car was lost
Because of the car, the job was lost
Because of the job, the food was lost
Because of the food, the health was lost
Because of the health, all was lost

And all for want of an automobile tire

(with apologies to Benjamin Franklin)

How Cancer Affected My Life

Hello Mr Biden,

Thank you for asking about how cancer affects us. My father died of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1996 at 64 years of age.

It was “mantle” lymphoma that grew around the lymph nodes instead of in the nodes. That made it harder to deliver the chemotherapy in a way that affected the disease. It also grew slowly, which made it harder to target and gave the chemotherapy more time to damage his healthy tissue. He was in treatment for 2 years. His medical staff did everything they possibly could to save him, but the treatments caused his lungs to retain fluid. Eventually this put him into shock and hastened his end.

During his treatments, we all had the opportunity to settle any issues and come together as a family. This was the peculiar advantage of dying from a slow disease.

My father was born in the height of the Great Depression and raised in Chicago. He served in the US Army for 30+ years as a horn player and a band director, managing Army bands at Fort Hood TX, the US bases at Ansbach and Heidelberg Germany, and for 7 years at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He was well-loved by locals everywhere he went, putting on concerts for the public and at elementary schools. He would spend hours talking to people after concerts.

Years later, I learned that I have a pretty severe intolerance to gluten. I’ve cut gluten out of my diet and am much better for it. It turns out that untreated food intolerances can raise a person’s risk of both lymphoma and colon cancer. My father had many of the same symptoms I had, symptoms that a gluten-free diet resolved for me. I wish we had known about this decades ago.

Cancer seems to come from so many sources and factors. We want cures for cancer; in order to get cures, we need honest reporting on causes of cancer. Some causes may come from exposure to plastics and other petroleum products. I think many such moneyed interests act against scientific research nowadays. We need to change that.

Thanks so much!