Dedicated to the many who died for the greed of a few in Genoa.
There are many of us who run away with the idea that to be healthy one needs to keep a balanced diet, exercise regularly and do regular medical checks. Likewise we regard health as an individual commitment to ourselves. But is it?
Since 1946, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined health as a “state of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” As a result, the body that monitors health globally has been advocating a universal perspective of health for decades. Alas, it has been ignored.
For any individual to hope for a healthy existence, he/she must not only have a healthy supply of food, a decent dwelling and a job to be able to sustain it but also have the peace of mind that the world he/she is living in is safe in every sense of the word. This means no threat to our existence whatsoever.
A cursory glance at our life today puts our health in a very bleak place indeed even in the most developed of countries. Many of us do not have a job and many of us who do, either work back-crashing hours for meagre wages or gingerly hold on to employments that are as secure as a 20 euro note in the pockets of a gambler. In many countries this is compounded by a glaring mismatch between the average citizen’s wage and the cost of living, leaving many struggling for a decent survival and having to make do without even the most basic sanitary requirements let alone the daily healthy nutritious intake and other necessary health priorities like vaccination. Those who can afford even good quality standards of living and healthcare, still cannot guarantee themselves clean air and seas, food free of pesticides, preservatives/additives or growth enhancers, safe water or unthreatened streets.
Unfortunately, we have become so self-centred and individualistic that we have completely forgotten how much we rely on each other and the world around us to survive. Relationships have become ‘liquid’ (Bauman, 2000) and many of us struggle daily with the scourge of loneliness in an overcrowded world or suffer in insecure and abusive relationships in a desperate attempt to avoid it. People shoot at each other or run each other over for no particular reason both in the real and the virtual worlds, loyalty and honesty have become pre-history and family has stopped being the backbone of whatever is left of society since the last episode of Little House on the Prairie.
And when we are not destroying each other we turn our greedy aggression to the world around us milking every sap of life we can out of it for our personal gain. Even though we were warned time and time again by our scientists of the deleterious outcome of this senseless ravaging of our planet and worse still, even though we are living through these outcomes day after day with every forest fire, every flood, every drought and every man-made disaster, we still float in the eternal haze of healthy lifestyles brimming with organic fodder and GI workouts at the gym.
The only way we can have a healthy existence is to appreciate the importance of respecting the three factions that maintain it – namely ourselves, each other and the world around us and most of all to acknowledge that health is about the balance between the three. Anything other than that is a sheepskin cover to destruction.