Turning Stones into Schools Posted on January 31st, 2010
When Greg Mortenson stumbled into the village of Korphe after a failed attempt at summiting K-2, he did not know that his commitment to build a school in the region would command worldwide attention.
“If you educate a boy, you educate and individual. If you educate a girl you educate a community” is the mantra that has motivated Mortenson to build 131 schools in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan that provide education to 58,000 students. Mortenson’s first book “Three Cups of Tea” remains on the New York Times best seller list after 147 weeks and chronicles his struggle to raise money to build schools in these harsh rural areas. Three cups of tea, drunk many times along the journey helps to foster important relationships with oft-times resistant leaders. Now in Greg Mortenson’s new book, Stones into Schools he introduces us to some of his courageous graduates and the important work that they are now doing to improve health care, education and standards of living in this part of the world. Mortenson believes that the way to promote peace is through books, not bombs. Three Cups of Tea stands out as one of my all-time-favorite books, now “Stones into Schools” is proving to be a close second.
I had the opportunity to hear Greg speak when he was in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. The man speaks with great conviction and from his heart. He has become a master at accomplishing much within a community by the community. Afghanistan as he terms it is a hospitality society. In three Cups of Tea the first cup is between strangers, the second cup is between friends, the third cup is between family. Those who have gone to the third cup would give their life for one another if need be.
Study Shows Placebo as Effective as Anti-Depressants Posted on January 7th, 2010
If you think that taking an anti-depressant to banish your winter woes would be a good thing, think again. Latest study by the University of Pennsylvania shows that for mild to moderate depression, a placebo (sugar pill) may be just as effective as antidepressant drugs. The study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA reviews data from previous trials. Industry-supported trials have generally found that anti-depressants reduce symptoms whereas the new study showed no significant benefits compared with placebos.
The study also showed that antidepressants inability to out-perform placebos against moderate symptoms was due to sustained attention that patients received during the drug trials. Could it be that discussions about coping strategies, lifestyle changes, being heard and understood by the therapist or doctor was really what made the difference? Study participants that took the anti-depressants and not the placebo showed marginal if any difference in mood when taking the anti-depressant drugs.
Readers of the study are reminded not to adjust medication in any way without a doctor’s approval. Anti-depressants are life-saving in cases of severe depression.
Depression in my opinion is the opposite of “expression” or lack of a positive, creative outlet. Isolation from one’s peer group or society can also affect one’s state of mind. Depression can also be caused by hormonal imbalances. Low progesterone in women accounts for depression, anxiety and post-partum depression. It is always worth having hormone levels checked before considering antidepressants. Psychotherapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Re-Patterning) can also be useful. There are almost as many causes of depression as there are people. All this is worth noting considering that over 170 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled in the United States annually.
Invite Yourself to Invictus Posted on January 1st, 2010
Invictus is based on a true story set in South Africa. Directed by Clint Eastwood, who continues to defy age, brings us the best in thought-provoking film. Invictus like Gran Torino is a nail-biter. The setting is Pretoria, South Africa right after Nelson Mandela took over as president after spending 27 years in prison. During this post-Apartheid time, who would have thought that a rugby game would galvanize the country? You watch President Mandela ably played by Morgan Freeman calculate the effect that a game of sport would have on a deeply divided population, balancing black aspirations with white fears. At a time where inspiration is needed Invictus renews ones faith in the harmonizing nature of a simple game, and offers insight into the not-so-simple game of politics. My real take away from this movie was Nelson Mandela’s (Morgan Freeman) statement ” Forgiveness will elevate the soul.” For the sake of the country, that was what Nelson was asking of his black brothers and sisters, “forgiveness” for those who were at one time their white oppressors.
Link to Invictus trailer