March 2004 Vol. 4 Issue 3

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Editor's Column

The True Standard of Living

     Probably since the beginning of civilization, the standard of living has been equated mainly with the standard of spending. Many of us readily assume that if one's standard of spending is high, his standard of living must also be high. But we all know or at least heard of someone who may be enjoying a relatively high standard of living, yet is chronically unhappy. Don't get me wrong. Money is very essential in life, but it should not be our sole determination of our standard of living, let alone our life's enjoyment, happiness and self-fulfillment. Because if it does, then most likely many of us would be caught short especially these days when the stock market still has not recovered even a third of what it had lost. Moreover, such standard is hard if not impossible to reach and maintain, for things we buy readily become obsolete in a matter of a change of season. Keeping up with such standard could mean ulcers, hypertension and heart attacks. Our happiness would not be coming from within but from without that would come and go like a candle in the wind. One moment it would burn brightly, the next it would flicker and die.

    Every now and then, we all should do what we are doing for our financial holdings: prepare a balance sheet of our assets and liabilities as they apply to our true standard of living. On one side we would list our major assets - things like the joys of a good marriage, rewards we enjoy from family, fun with friends, classmates and colleagues, good health, personal satisfaction derived from our work and extracurricular activities, and so on. On the liability side, we would list those unresolved problems, grudges, gripes, anxieties, worries and fears that disrupt our peace of mind, poison us with prejudices and diminish our self-respect and self-esteem. The bottom-line of such inventory might prove revealing. We may well conclude that we are a lot richer than we thought - or a lot poorer.

The Illusions of Comparison
     All of us at least at one time or another, have compared ourselves with others. In fact, I would not hesitate to bet that in many of us, comparison has become a significant part of our life. We should not blame ourselves for doing so because as we grew up, even our own parents were constantly telling us to be like our own brother or sister or to be like so and so and often criticized us if we fell short of being so and so. These comparisons and criticisms have rocked and ruined the self-image of many that has kept them from realizing their true potentials. Fortunately, they did not ruin the self-image of many of us probably because our choices when we were kids were limited - mainly to survive. And to survive means to obey our parents, follow whatever they told us to do, and swallow their criticisms and comparisons. Also, comparisons and criticisms seemed to be the norms in our culture or society at the time. We really could not blame our parents because they were not aware that the frequent criticisms and comparisons create resentments and jealousies between siblings that can darken their relationship with each other and can dampen their love and respect of their parents for a lifetime.

    Furthermore, most of the magazines we read particularly nowadays, let alone televisions, are devoting their covers and pages to attractive and beautiful people, the rich and famous, and other people with money and fast cars. They send the message that we should aspire to be like them, act or look like them. Many of us end up believing that if we wear what they wear, eat what they eat, fix our face with their make up and our hair like theirs, put our hard-earned money in risky investments, then we can be like them - rich, good looking or pretty, lean with flat abdomen or with muscles bulging in our chests and arms. Our subconscious had picked up these messages that say: "Don't be yourself. That's not good enough. Be like someone else - someone better than you!" So we were programmed to always measure ourselves against others and we always come up short. Thus many people have continued to struggle trying to be someone else. Some became anorexic, others became bulimic. They could not make up their mind to simply be themselves.

     Comparison makes it hard if not impossible to convince yourself that you are just fine the way you are. With comparison, you would always come out on the short end of the deal and as a result, you become bitter and even envious and jealous of others, if not indignant or resentful of them. If you get carried away with bitterness of your own situation, you would rejoice on your friends' or classmates' mistakes and misfortunes, or harbor a secret desire for them to fail somehow. Oftentimes, however, you would look down on yourself losing your self-respect and becoming very sensitive to any of your friends' and other people's comments. Like d'Artagnan in the The Three Musketeers who, initially took every smile as an insult and every look as a challenge, when you become overly sensitive and overly concern of what you are, you would easily consider every inquiry about you as a source of suspicion and every negative comment as a source of resentment. Like Don Quixote who took windmills for giants and sheep for armies, if you constantly look down on yourself against the backdrop of your fellow alumni simply because you don't have a prestigious specialty or practice, or you only work as a nurse, for example, you would ultimately consider, if you haven't yet, your medical degree or specialty as bad judgment and your situation as bad luck. You'd end up perpetually regretting your past decision regarding your choice in relation to your profession instead of simply singing the Sinatra song: "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention..." The only difference between you and Don Quixote or d'Artagnan is that Don Quixote and d'Artagnan were willing to fight for what and who they were, while you have probably been looking for excuses to justify shying away from your classmates and colleagues and avoiding our reunion.

     Life is a matter of substance, not speed; purpose, not just priority; principle, not just progress and prosperity. Every now and then, we should remind ourselves of how far we have come from rather than how far we have to go. There is no need to catch up with anyone. Indeed it's nice to have the prestige and possessions of others, but not necessary. As long as we are in good terms with ourselves, achieving more prestige and adding more things to our catalog of possessions would make no difference. On the other hand, if we are not convinced of our own substance, even a mansion full of new things will never be enough. Comparison never satisfies, it never nourishes, and it rarely if ever makes us feel good.

     Envy is a part of human nature which unfortunately society, religion and politics are unwittingly promoting it, if not encouraging it. Whether they are aware of it or not, society and religion promote envy by glorifying the losers, the homeless drunks and drug addicts as though they're the responsibilities of those who are better off in having a life of comfort and convenience. It's like these losers did not have the opportunity to think freely to make their own choices. Yet they bear and rear children irresponsibly as well as indulge in crime, drug abuse and alcoholism. But religion and society call them depraved lost souls being left behind, neglected and forgotten by society, instead of fools with self-imposed idleness and hopelessness. Politicians promote envy by targeting and penalizing the rich with confiscatory taxes as if the rich have become rich at the expense of the poor.

     Indeed it's hard to be a winner in a society that glorifies the loser. To be a winner is to become the subject of envy - the target of lawsuits. In other countries like the Philippines, they are the targets of robbery and kidnapping. America has been infested with lawsuits that have become like a plague particularly against doctors. So many OB wards and trauma centers have been closed nationwide as doctors are packing up to leave because they could no longer afford the malpractice insurance premium that has skyrocketed like a spaceship before reaching the outer space. This plague, however, is not carried and spread by lice, but by lawyers. The treatment recommended by Paul Greenberg in his Op/Ed column is lawyerectomy. The main contributing factor is envy. Envy is "hatred of the good for being the good." For such good makes someone feel bad.

     Everyone is free to think and one should not be envied or hated and penalized simply because he or she thinks better than other people. Instead, one should be appreciated, admired, valued and even idolized. For people who think are the movers and shakers of the world. Their ideas shake and move the world forward, while laziness and mediocrity stop and make the world fall backward. Wealth is the product of one's ability to think. Money is made by the intelligent not at the expense of the fool, by the ambitious not at the expense of the lazy, and by every honest and hard working individual to the extent of his or her ability. An honest hard working person knows that to become a good member of society, he has to be a producer before he can become a consumer. He knows only too well that he has to produce more than he can consume so he can save some for the future. If he consumes everything he produces, then his future is doomed. Except for children and family, students and severely handicapped individuals, a person who consumes without producing is not a consumer. He is a parasite.

     Envy is the effect of laziness and dishonesty that make a person impotent and incompetent. Many of us have twinges of envy and although they may bother us with frustration, we don't allow them to take control of our thoughts. In fact, the success and achievements of others often drive many of us to compare, or motivate us to compete, although they make us unhappy as comparison always does. But an envious person has more than just twinges. He has sharp stabs that turn his feelings into hate and indignation. He is not motivated to achieve and succeed, he wants you to fail and thus he rejoices on your failure. He is not interested in making a fortune with his own effort, he wants you to lose yours and thus he rejoices on your misfortune.

     An envious person hates your success, fortune and achievements not only because they are good, but also because they are threatening to him. They symbolize his impotence and incompetence. To him, your strength worsens his weakness. Your brilliance exaggerates his dullness. Your fortune puts his financial deficiency to shame. Envy is very destructive and self-defeating. An envious person spends his mental energy on the hatred of someone else's achievement and success often to the point of planning and plotting to destroy or eliminate them, instead of on concentrating on achieving his own goals. By allowing laziness and dishonesty to develop within him, he feels bad about himself and becomes consumed by hatred of the values acquired by others.

     While the envious person is threatened by the presence of value, the jealous person is threatened by the loss of value. While the envious person desires to destroy or eliminate the object of envy, the jealous person desires to possess the object of jealousy. The jealous person wants the object for himself and he is willing to do what needs to be done to possess the object and to keep it in his possession. He doesn't rejoice if you lose the object unless he's got it. However, he may conspire to destroy your reputation or undermine your objectives or even get you killed if he thinks it's the best way to possess what he wants.

     A relationship that is governed by jealousy is often flawed by irony and absurdity. It's an unhappy relationship and yet the feelings that are causing the couple so much unhappiness are the feelings they call love. They would initially call their possessiveness as passion that would later on become more like a poison as they start fighting and the jealous lover starts beating up the other. What drives the jealous person to violence is not anger, but the fear of losing his partner. Jealousy comes from the feeling of insecurity. To control jealousy, the person must recognize that jealousy is not something that happens to him, it is something that he has chosen. It's not like breathing that one cannot choose to give up. Jealousy is never a sign of love, but a sign of insecurity. While love promotes freedom; jealousy puts one in prison. Havelock Ellis said: "Jealousy: that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive."


    "There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new thing that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave." -- Ernest Hemingway

    "Experience is the worst teacher. It always gives the test first and the instruction afterwards." -- Mark Twain

    "Most people would desire--if it were possible--to obtain at once the joys of lovely and perfect wisdom, without the endurance of toil in action and suffering. However, that is impossible in this mortal life...In the discipline of the human, the toil of doing the work precedes the delight of understanding the truth." -- Saint Augustine

    "The mind, in discovering truths, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition it was in before it saw it." -- Thomas Paine



The Origin of Bra
     This information is taken from the book Really Useful, the origins of everyday things by Joel Levy.

    American Mary Phelps Jacob who was known later on as Caresse Crosby, is usually credited with the invention of the brassiere in 1913, and while it is true that hers was the first successful version, there were several attempts. In 1875, George Frost and George Phelps patented Union Under-Flannel - ladies' underwear that had no stays or drawstrings. In 1889 corset-maker Heminie Cadolle sold a bra-like garment called the Bien-Erre ("Well-Being"), and in 1893 Mary Tucek patented the "breast supporter." This had all the features of the brassiere, including separate pockets for each breast, over-the-shoulder straps, and a hook-and-eye fastener, but Tucek never marketed it and ceded her place in underwear history to Jacob.

     In 1913 Mary Phelps Jacob was a young debutante preparing to attend a party in a sheer gown she had just purchased. Concerned that a traditional corset, with its bulky stays, would ruin the line of the new dress, she enlisted the help of her French maid and devised a makeshift substitute by sewing together two handkerchiefs and some ribbon. The simple new garment was popular with friends prompting Jacob to patent her "backless brassiere" in 1914. Her attempts to market it failed and soon sold out to the Warner Brothers Corset Company.

     In his book Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzlinger, Wallace Reyburn recounts how the eponymous hero, Otto, invents the bra with the help of his trusty sidekick, Hans Delving, for the benefit of one Lois Lung.

    The brassiere gained ascendancy in the world of ladies' undergarments with remarkable rapidity, quickly toppling the corset. It was helped by the onset of World War I, when women were called upon to stop buying corsets as a patriotic gesture because the metal used to make stays was needed for the war effort. As women switched to bras, more than 28,000 tons of metal were freed up.

     After the war, advances in brassiere technology made them even more popular despite the vogue for flat chests. Elastic fibers were introduced in 1920s, followed by strapless bras and the adoption of the standardized cup-size system in the 1930s.

    During the 1930s and 1940s, fashion favored an ever-increasing bust size, a trend that reached its peak in the 1950s with the invention by Howard Hughes of a special cantilevered contraption for the well-endowed starlet, Jane Russell. The bra burning of the Women's Liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s briefly threatened the popularity of the bra, but Ida Rosenthal was unfazed. Her response was simple: "…after age 35, a woman hasn't got the figure to wear no support. Time's on my side."

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