Are You A Lemming | Will You Just Run Off the Cliff or Stop and Think for Yourself?

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Get Off the Sidelines, Ken's Blogs

Are You A Lemming | Will You Just Run Off the Cliff or Stop and Think for Yourself?

A crazy thought came into my mind this week about the similarities between lemmings and people. Do you remember the lemming story from when you were growing up? My first thought was to go to Wikipedia and look it up, then I realized that it would be better to go from memory. In early grade school, I was taught that for some reason, lemmings all gather together at some point and run off the edge of a cliff to their deaths. I don’t remember if there was an explanation as to why, I just remember this part of the story.

This week I got to thinking that a lot of humans are doing the same thing. Many are simply following the masses unquestioningly, and there’s an argument to be made that they are following those masses to the edge of a cliff, ready to plunge to their certain deaths.

I also have this crazy cartoon image in my mind of millions of lemmings running toward a cliff, and one of them stands up very conspicuously, and the bubble thought pops up above his head “Where are we going, and why?” In the next frame a few more stand up with the same thought.

This seems strikingly close to humanity. We follow along, believing what we’re told unquestioningly, and run off the cliff. The good news is that there are a lot of those “one off” lemmings that are starting to ask why.

It can be argued that we have been lemmings as far as our food supply goes for a number of years. Not all that long ago, most of our food supply came from local farmers and nobody really questioned the quality of the food. In the last number of years many things have happened to our food supply. For example:

  • Many of today’s products are made with corn, soy, and other products that have been genetically modified (GMO). While this was unquestioned for a long time, there is now growing evidence showing a link between GMO foods and disease in the human population as well as evidence that animals like bees and butterflies are being adversely affected and dying off because of their inability to deal with the “new” food supply. Many countries around the world have banned GMO foods, yet in Canada and the United States, they are still “considered safe”.
  • Antibiotics are given to farm animals in order to protect them from disease, and growth hormones in order to help grow more lean muscle mass. These practices are “considered safe”, yet there is growing evidence about the effect on the human body as a result of eating these foods.
  • Over recent years, sugar, fat and salt have been labelled as the “bad boys” of our food supply and many companies have come up with “new and improved” products that are marketed to make the consumer feel they are making healthier choices. Many products are sweetened with aspartame and the product is sold as a diet product. Again, mounting research indicates that aspartame is one of the “most dangerous substances on the planet”, yet we are told that it is safe to eat, and even told that it is healthy for us.

This is but a small sampling of practices that are happening with our food supply, seemingly primarily influenced by the ability to generate the greatest profit for food manufacturers. A few questions come to mind for me. If there is so much controversy around these practices, who are the people marking the products as “considered safe”? If other countries are banning products, what do they know that we don’t seem to know? Are the people in charge of our food supply really acting in our best interests?

It can also be argued that we have been lemmings in how we see and utilize our health care system. For many people, when symptoms arise they see a doctor and often walk out with a prescription drug to treat the symptoms. In our desire to deal with symptoms quickly, we rarely take the time to consider the root cause of the symptoms. While many conditions could have been traced back to stress-related issues in a person’s life, this exercise often is left uncompleted because the symptoms “went away” with the prescription drug. But if the root cause doesn’t get treated, symptoms often return or show up in different ways. The process gets repeated and another prescription drug gets dispensed. In a desire to deal with the symptoms quickly, the side effects of the prescription drug are often not even considered. While there is lots of evidence indicating that we can figure out root causes of many conditions and treat them with lifestyle changes, the desire for quick-fix solutions has turned us into a society of habitual pill-poppers.

Is it time to start asking questions?

I was a lemming. In 2008, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called rheumatoid arthritis. My doctor told me that diet did not have an impact and that the only solution was a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs. And I believed everything she told me. I didn’t look for root causes, I started the drug cocktail. Then one day as my hair started falling out (that wasn’t supposed to happen for the low dosage of chemotherapy drugs I was on), this bubble popped above my head “Where am I going and why?” I’m not a lemming any more. I may still fall off a cliff one day, but it will be along a path of my choosing, and I will have asked a lot of questions along the way.

Oh yeah, the last frame of that cartoon collage features the first annual Lemming Hall of Fame induction ceremony with a single inductee and the caption reads “He wasn’t afraid to stand out. He stopped and asked why. Without him, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Are you a lemming? Are you going to keep following the masses or are you going to stand up and ask questions? Psst, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. The people that are standing up and asking questions just might be “the masses”.

How else do you think we are acting like lemmings? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Namaste, Ken

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Written by Ken

Ken Jaques describes himself as a Health Care Evolutionary, Community Builder, and Speaker. True healing begins when we treat root causes instead of just masking symptoms. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2008, Ken has experienced many facets of the health care system. As “the only patient who ever lost their hair on this low of a dosage of chemotherapy” – as spoken by his rheumatologist – Ken has been on an amazing journal of self-discovery, a journey of true healing. In his blog, Ken shares stories of how his beliefs have changed over the past few years, and how they are still changing. Is it possible that our bodies can heal themselves? Do we really have to live without hope after we receive a chronic illness diagnosis? These are the types of questions that Ken encourages people to ask themselves as they embark on their own physical or emotional healing journey.

Ken is creating a platform to connect People, Patients, Practitioners, Partners and Promoters, enabling a collaborative effort to help shift the focus on health from I-llness to We-llness. Check out the pilot at

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we’, even I-llness becomes WE-llness” ~ Malcolm X


  1. The way I see us being like the proverbial (not actual) lemmings is in regard to climate change. The science is clear. The disasters are already happening, e.g. huge superstorms, melting ice caps, etc. Yet idiot politicians either deny it, or ignore it, or do half-mesaures. Gov. Jerry Brown said this week that we have 5 years left to do something to mitigate this global disaster. The way we’re going, we’re all heading over that cliff,, and taking a huge part of the biosphere down with us. Sorry to be so gloomy, but – you asked!

  2. Hi Ken,

    I agree with your message and am learning.

    Here is a point about GMO food.

    The reason to oppose GMO plants is that by definition GMO plants are superior in resistance to insects, disease, predators etc over “natural plants”. They are designed to be that way. Therefore they are genetically superior for survival and will thus overcome our existing flora and fauna.

    We have had over 3000 years where we have actively modified genetics through selective breeding (story in the old testament about selective breeding of goats by picking ones by the way they drink water) but most of the genetic modification activity has been in the last 150 years since Mendel’s peas. Which has created issues (animals that used to live in nature but are so modified that they are no longer sustainable without human intervention, etc). Further we have had many examples of numerous plants that have been introduced into non-native areas with staggeringly devastating consequences to local populations (invasive species like kudzu, rats and snakes on Islands previously without these predators, starlings, rabbits in Australia, Pythons in Florida, Zebra Mussels, Flying Carp in the states etc). These have been experiments in nature with poor results because we are severely under qualified to modify nature (God’s plan)

    Next by GMO tampering we are able to dramatically accelerate this process and I might add blindly. There are some controls to allow blatant genetic disasters from occurring but the longer term issues are clearly not known. We have the ability to create severe environmental disasters with GMOs but not the knowledge to anticipate the longer terms issues. I believe we should not jeopardize our or our children’s future and now believe we should not continue with releasing GMO plants into the environment because of our history with minor genetic modifications.


  3. Hey Ken!! I aint no Lemming! LOL

    Yes, I think many of us are turning around, scratching our heads and saying “WTF am I doing?”
    Brings back the question my mom always asked me: “If your friends were all going to jump off a bridge, would you?” my answer was and still is NO!! Why?

    Thanks for this insightful post.

  4. Hi, lemmings don’t actually throw themselves off of cliffs to commit suicide. It was in a documentary that was staged and the film crew put the lemmings into a situation where they’d fall.

    Here’s the snopes article with the information:

    • Thanks Melissa,
      I often wondered if this story was really true. Having said that, it still provides a good metaphor. Humans aren’t really going to throw themselves off the cliff, though it does seem like it at times.
      Cheers, Ken

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