(I write this in homage and as farewell to a man I never knew who helped shape my adult views on food, nutrition and life so fully.)
I’d never heard of Dick Gregory when I bought the book, didn’t know him as comedian, or activist, or actor, or at all. After reading his introduction to the book, I thought of him then — and continue to today — think of Dick Gregory as a man with an ‘inspirational lifestyle,’ as the author of the book wrote in his acknowledgements.
The book is called Survival into the 21st Century — Planetary Healers Manual, written by Viktoras Kulvinskas. As introduced in Abebooks’ synopsis of the book: Viktoras’ pioneering work is considered by many as a “New Age Bible” in the holistic and health field. Although written 27 years ago (now 42 years ago, it was first published in 1975), it was the first holistic book to be published with medical journal references ….
Dick Gregory’s introduction, added in 1981 long before the advent of the internet and cell and smart phones (words and products that could easily be used in place of Gregory’s laments about t.v. and six o’clock news), helped shape the beginnings of my own understanding in early adulthood that civil rights for all, equality for all, and “making this world work right” includes the kinds of food we eat and the kinds of attitudes we develop and live with — that the way we care for our own bodies and minds are crucial microcosm to the macrocosm of global and planetary health.
In large part thanks to Dick Gregory and Victors Kulvinskas, my own adult attitudes towards healthy food and a healthy life were shaped, my own activism around organic and unadulterated food products were formed…. and Kulvinskas' book was written long before the more mainstream acceptance of organic food and its benefits, the proliferation of food co-ops, not to mention Whole Foods and the seeming usurping of ‘good’ food by wealthy customers… as well as being published long before the introduction of GMO food products to the global food supply.
While it’s been many years since I first read and studied this book, and while some of the more extreme offerings contained within the introduction and the book were both then and now seemingly far too ‘out there’ for me and for many, there is also much wisdom for us humans contained in that book, reflection of the lifestyle practices of both Kulvinskas and Gregory.
Maybe Dick Gregory’s 1981 introduction (re-typed by me with respect and with the same paragraphs, punctuation and bold type sections, directly from my copy of the book — and no, I do not 100% agree with Gregory’s 1981 views) has something to say, today, to you — to all of us.
In his words:
“Brothers and Sisters,
What you all fixin’ to do about what’s coming down so fast? Have you figured out yet what they’re doin’ to you — how they’re manipulating your body through the food you eat and the medicine you take; manipulating your mind through what you read and watch on t.v.; manipulatin’ you through schools and churches so you ain’t got no mind to say “boo”? “They” is the CIA — FBI — One World Government, a handful of greedy, power hungry white men fixin’ to see that no one feels joy, happiness and peace within. Take a good long look at this land of the free and the home of the brave and see how it’s directed by them. They pitted the white folks and black folks against each other and sat back to watch that movie. They got you with the t.v. What’s on Saturday mornin’ for your children? Cartoons, right? Wrong. They got yellin’ and fighting’, threatenin’ and thrashing’, violence and murder right in your livin’ room. Where’s the love and friendship valued so highly in this land? Then for the big folks they got the six o’clock news — only ‘stead of cartoons they got what looks like real pictures of real folks doin’ the same thing! They got the educational system together to teach you how to make a livin’. Y’all know how to make a living’, but how come y’all don’t know how to live?
With all of what you got, are you happy? You got no cavities from usin’ toothpaste, security from buyin’ that life insurance, protection from fire, a car to drive your kids to and from wherever, frozen t.v. dinners cause you’re too busy watchin’ soap operas to get it together and there’s Kentucky Fried Chicken on the weekend or when guests unexpectedly drop in and walk over your shiny waxed floors. There’s hamburger extenders for mothers who want to feed their family the best while living on a shoe string budget. Course, it don’t matter if it’s full of saw dust and sugar. Or maybe it’d be safer to eat the shoe string: good bulk for tired Americans. So tired they need laxatives to dump out everything they dump in?
Ever read the labels on food packages? They think so little of your intelligence they list all the stuff they put in your food to kill you! You see twelve words you can’t pronounce and you eat it anyway. All of them chemicals, preservatives, sugar and poisons they add to food — that ain’t nutrition, that’s behavior modification! America is the number one hoarder of money, land, natural resources, and food. We eat more food more often than any other nation, and then carry it around inside for seven weeks, seven months, seven years, seventy years. That’s why you all stink. Your armpits, your bad breath, they’re tellin’ you that you stink from what you eat! From what’s rottin’ inside of you.
Take care of your bodies — Please! Try living seven days with no sugar. NO SUGAR. Try seven days with no poisoned, sprayed-with-insectides, pesticide-laden food. See how you feel. You’ll learn somethin’ about bein’ chemically manipulated when you give your body one weeks rest from all that poison. Remember to pray a lot too. When you start fixin’ to take care of yourself by deprogrammin’ from the poisoned robot manipulation, freedom will flourish throughout the world.
Tune into the God Force locked inside your head! The only thing they can’t manipulate is your spiritual power. They can poison the water — you can distill your own and drink pure water; they can spray all the fruits and vegies — you can grow your own sprouts and plant unradiated seed now, for fresh food and healthy seed for next year’s planting. Throw out the t.v. and tune into universal channel of love. Wear natural fibers — cotton and wool — and let your body breath(e). You can start askin’ lots of questions in your prayers and listen for the answers. They can cut off your arms and legs, blind you, and make you sick, but even the most powerful physical force on the planet cannot TOUCH your spiritual power. Choose your way: Absence of death or the presence of life.
There’s a handful of us out there committed with our lives to make this world work right, cause we believe it can be. If I had to give up my life in the mornin’ I got no problems, cause I got brothers like Viktoras who balance out all the negativity on the planet. There’s not another mind on the planet when it comes to nutrition that knows as much about the body with such integrity as Brother Viktoras. Don’t know no book that talks as much as this- “Survival Into The 21st Century”. There’s a whole lot of folks out there who love what you’re doing’, Viktor, and a whole lotta folks out there is gonna be alive when the mess comes down because of you. Whole lotta folks love your book “Love Your Body” cause that, friends, is what it is all about! Look after your bodies, your minds, and your spirits — please! You got 62,000 miles of blood vessels in your bodies — understand the beauty and mystery of its needs and its life force that keeps on keepin’ on. Treat your body right — you deserve it. Do light exercise, walk, breathe through your nose, streatch your muscles, preseve your sexual field, eat right — no chemicals, no sugar, no processed government food. And pray!
Get up early one morning, look yourself in the mirror, realize what you see — there ain’t another you in the entire universe. That should let you know you are somethin’ special. Regardless of what you think of yourself, you are somethin’ special, so treat yourself special. Take a load off your mind. Give up all hatred, violence and anger — carryin’ that around hurts you and everybody else. YOU CAN TURN IT AROUND. Get in touch with yourself from the place of protection within you and let go of fear. Love yourself and one another. That’s what it’s all about. Nothin’ else. I love you. God Bless. And peace be with you Always!
Dick Gregory — March 1, 1981 — Bristol, Rhode Island
1981 Introduction to the book: Survival into the 21st Century - A Planetary Healers Manual, by Victors Kulvinskas
(Note: with the 2010 edition, a new, more up to date introduction was added by Kulvinskas)
For more on Dick Gregory's involvement and evolvement on food, diet, black nationalism and the post-1964 culinary turn, see here.)
Farewell and R.I.P., Mr. Gregory. Thank you - and you will be missed.