Monday, March 2, 2009

“Why We’re Going Nuts”

Last week, Time magazine printed a great article about peanut allergies, called “Why We’re Going Nuts Over Nut Allergies), by Alice Park. (Read it here.) It’s one of the more balanced, informative, and all-encompassing articles I’ve read in a while. It goes through each aspect of food allergy one by one – what it is, what might be causing it, who is suffering from it, possible on-the-horizon therapies, the hysteria backlash, how airlines are reacting, and how schools are dealing with it, and so on.

If someone you know doesn’t understand much about food allergies, showing them this article would be a good place to start. And the fact that it’s in Time gives it a little more credence for those who are a tad skeptical.

One of the things I like about the article is its moderate voice and impartial stand. It simply states that yes, it’s a real concern, and there are things we can do about it. But in a year when there’s starting to be huge backlash, it breathes a nice sense of calm into the debate.

As with all situations, hysteria and cries for extreme measures do nothing to help our cause. Instead, they incite the other side to react just as strongly the other direction, just as unreasonably. But taking a calm, practical approach, with an eye towards seeing that both sides are able to live with reasonable precautions makes everyone more willing to work together to find a compromise.

Politicians, lawyers, and religious extremists have been proving this to us for thousands of years – scream, and the world will scream back at you. Smile and offer ideas, and the world might just listen. It takes a lot of smiles and a lot of patience, but usually lasting change happens slowly, with reasonable people having reasonable ideas, not through violent people insisting we think their way.

Some folks might say that you can’t get anyone’s attention until you scream. They’re entitled to their opinion. But that’s never worked for me. Being helpful and reasonable, yet steadfast, has gotten me a lot farther. Look at Trace Adkins last year – he raised a huge amount of awareness last year by choosing the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network as his charity on “The Apprentice.”

And the only time he raised his voice was to sing.

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