Do I foolishly think that Oprah needs my simple thanx? Of course not, but I think
I need to express my gratitude to her for some of the programs which I felt
were so worthwhile for me and the community at large.
If there is one woman who has everything and I mean EVERYTHING - wealth, world-
wide adulation, intelligence, respect, a caring nature, etc. etc. -of course it is Oprah.
And I doubt that anyone could be jealous of a woman who is so giving and loving. May
God continue to bless her and even raise up more like her!
I can't say that I've always been a faithful fan, but for those times that I tuned in, I
often found programs which inspired and educated me. I'm sure that many people
have shared this same experience as I have. What are some of the programs you saw
which fitted these criteria? Here are three that I recall gratefully.
Stoning of the Muslim woman caught in adultery. Before seeing this program, I only
knew about the wonderful story of Jesus coming upon a woman about to be stoned to
death because she too was caught in adultery. What a wonderful ending for her- Jesus
writing down the sins of the men who were ready to hurl a rock at her, as they slowly one
by one, dropped them and disappeared. Yes, she was saved by a loving Jesus. Sadly there
was no Savior for this poor woman who was buried in the earth -with only her head
visible. I don't remember if I saw the actual stoning or even if it was taped. But
it didn't have to be. She died a horrible, horrible death for a "crime" which is almost
universally committed and probably by the very people who stoned her to death.
Because I care deeply about how badly we treat our food animals - I applauded Oprah
for airing the segment which showed the difference between raising animals on a factory
farm type setting and one in a conventional setting. To see the CAFO battery cages jam-
packed with these poor laying hens- where each only had the standing space of a piece
of typing paper will always be heart-breaking to see for people of compassion.
The hens cannot even spread their wings for the rest of their lives which is as natural
to them as walking is to us. Is this not cruel? Wayne Pacelle of HSUS made a comment
of how this might feel for them. He asked us to imagine 7 or 8 people being trapped in
an elevator for a day. I think we would all have become stir crazy, and this was only for
24 hours. These poor hens are trapped for the rest of their natural, miserable lives.
Then a conventional chicken-raising scene. I was rivited to the TV for this part where
it showed chickens spilling out of trailers in the morning sunlight. They could walk! They
could enjoy the day pecking about in the dirt, preening their feathers, and spreading
their wings. At last freedom for them - something which should never be denied any
living creature - human or animal. And I was suprised to learn that the chickens would
return by themselves into the trailers at night. A win-win situation in our view!
There were other comparisons of raising cows, calves, and pigs in both a factory type
setting and a conventional one. And of course, to see the lucky ones out in a sunny
pasture-breathing the fresh air and being able to move around and interact with their
own was a beautiful sight to behold. Will the horrible concept of imprisoning farm
animals in cages, crates, and confined areas ever disapear? It is the hope and prayer
of all people of compassion.
The third Oprah program I found inspirational was when she and 378 Harpo staffers
engaged in a week of veganism. She had two guests - Kathy Preston, a veganist and
Michael Pollan whom the internet described as a professor, a scholar, and a writer of
books. He is also the brother of Tracy Pollan who is married to Michael J.Fox. I could
not help but wonder if a vegan lifestyle might help Michael combat his Parkinson's
disease, but I doubt that he would be persuaded by his brother-in-law to embrace it. Hearing
some of Pollan's remarks, I got the distinct impression that he was providing counterpoint
to Preston re a vegan lifestyle.
At any rate, I surely did not appreciate his comment re the viewing of the stress and
trauma of the cows which were being shown driven into a slaughterhouse. He said
something like - yes, this was a bad day for them, but all their other previous days were
happy ones. My jaw dropped. For a learned man to consider cows incarcerated in a
factory type setting for their whole natural lives- happy days? Being deprived of fresh
air, sunlight, and the company of one's own - happy days?
Re the slaughter house viewing - it was really the first time when a part of this procedure
was shown on TV. Even though the actual slaughtering wasn't shown, I think most of us
could feel for the cows being herded into that death line. They too probably realized their
fate and I pray God that none of them would go through the line alive - improperly
stunned. Imagine that this has happened in slaughterhouses before- where profit comes
before compassion, and if a cow was not properly stunned, the line would not shut down for
her. She would have her appendages cut off and she would be skinned while still conscious.
When I first read about this years ago, I could not believe that we could be so cruel. Sadly,
it seems we are.
And then Oprah's influence re veganism. I think she has helped make it a subject worth
considering. Of course, there are other influential people like Dr. Colin Campbell and
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who collaborated on the China Study. Per the dcumentary "Forks
Over Knives" this study examines diet and degenerative disease. The writers show how the
massive increase in diabetes, heart disease and cancer in America is related to a diet full
of processed food and animal protein.
Both men grew up on farms but their work at Cornell and the Cleveland Clinic made them
bcome involved in global research into nutrition and disease. The bottom line is that we all
really are what we eat.
Dr. Esselstyn's Texas firefighter son Rip wrote "The Engine 2 Diet" and if firefighters can
thrive on a vegan diet, anybody can. The idea that meat is needed for strength is a fallacy
and people like wrestlers have even adopted a vegan lifestyle.
I also read that recently in Cleveland -Whole Foods and John Carroll University hosted Dr.
Neal Barnard who hopes to enlighten the general public regarding the merits of veganism.
It's a tough sell- especially to Clevelanders and midwesterners in general, but then thanx
to Oprah's vegan show, many are at least willing to pursue it further by attending talks like
I love Dr. Barnard, but I find his vegan recipes a bit avant garde for me. I like using simple
recipes -even a throwback to the ones my Slovak mother made for us as kids. When I feel
ambitious I make stuffed cabbage using a filling of mushrooms, rice, and onions. But more
often than not, I simply make a "lazy version" which only requires cut up cabbage and onions
to which uncooked rice, parsley, and stewed tomatoes are added. Cooked until rice and
veggies are soft, I find the dish simple and delicious. Too simple for you? Then go to the
internet where there are all kinds of vegan dishes from the simple to those which use a
variety of wonderful and different ingredients which can probably be bought at stores
like Whole Foods or from your neighborhood health store.
Thanx again Oprah for making a difference. I would be very surprised indeed to find out
that there might even be one person who says he hasn't benefited from any of your programs.
And then twenty-five years on TV is also something to be justifyably proud of and I know
that you are.