People often ask me how and why I started Less Cancer. What was the pressing need for prevention?
My response is that my motivation came from loss and love—and the desire to see less suffering. Less Cancer focuses on the needs of those who are unheard, the disenfranchised. Our goal is to address the complicated and difficult situations that many Americans say they do not see—often because they choose to look the other way.
The tools needed to secure public health are unique. Policies make all the difference in protecting and sustaining community health. Policies can solve problems so that people who need help can get it. Policies can lower the risk of chronic diseases, even cancer, by addressing contributing factors such as poverty, homelessness and hunger. Sometimes we can legislate policy through the lawmakers we elect in our communities and on the state and national level.
The wearing of facemasks is a policy that has been proven to slow the spread of Covid-19 and has saved lives in communities across America. Still, some people find it inconvenient and an example of “big government” interference. Not all policies are perfect and not all policies become the reality they are meant to be. That doesn’t mean we should give up and throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Which brings me to January 6, 2021, and the Capitol building in Washington, DC. The stark truth is that violence has become a public health issue in the United States. In the same way that we work to prevent disease, we must also work to prevent violence. And that begins with words.
Many Americans feared cataclysmic events as the term of the current administration neared its end, but no one could imagine such a dark day. The destruction and loss of life were preventable.
The events of January 6 should not have been a surprise. Americans have been ignoring violence as the escalating health problem that it is. We have few “best practices” in place to prevent the kind of behavior we all witnessed.
As individuals we can disagree, and we have the freedom to express our beliefs in our words and actions, but we must work harder to prevent violence and hate. We must do more to protect our citizens and our leaders. To do this, we must be a united nation, not a divided one. Violence can be prevented if we guard our words and our platforms. Social media is not the place for pulling metaphoric fire alarms. Freedom of speech does not mean you can use your words to do harm or commit crimes.
We are all victims of the assaults against democracy and the assault on our nation’s capitol. In many ways it’s the worst attack on America, ever. This surreal time in history will soon be a thing of the past, but the harm is forever.
There has never been a more important time to be true to our country and the Constitution on which it is founded. We must work harder and smarter to not just be civil to each other, but to get along and be persistent in pursuing goals that advance the good of all Americans.
I remain committed to working with unlikely thinkers in health, education, and policy—people who are not looking the other way, but are addressing problems head-on and are devoted to unifying our country by solving our problems together. It’s never been easy, but it’s what we must do in order to ever be true to ourselves and our Country.
In closing, I ask that others join me in creating peaceful bonds, especially with unlikely thinkers. Together, we can peacefully rebuild and strengthen a United Country.