Reclaiming health: An essential human and planetary health (r)evolution
Nature untouched by human hands is characterized by its abundant health.
Most of us love to spend time in nature experiencing the healing effects of the wild. Nature’s vitality and harmony in diversity is our birthright and responsibility. Tragically however, we have drifted from our ability to live vital healthy lives as other species know how to do.
As we awaken to the damage we have caused by alienating ourselves from the principles of life, we find ourselves to a large extent trapped by outdated and dangerous political, ideological and economic structures that continue to spread misinformation, abuse vital resources and create havoc on the planet.
Human health and vitality lie in alignment with nature's interconnected intelligence. In wild nature we do not witness rampant stress and disease. Everything is in balance. Nature has a powerful immune and healing intelligence and the cycle of life and death is an integral part of eco-system vitality. It is the human disconnect from the wisdom of nature, and our abuse of nature that creates stress and disease for ourselves and the planet. In cutting ourselves off from the language of nature, our instincts and intuition we are functioning more and more like an auto-immune disease that attacks the very life system on which we depend.
“Health is everything” and “you only appreciate your health when you are ill” are particularly relevant phrases of today when health is becoming a luxury commodity in an increasingly sold out world. Humanity has become so illiterate about personal, community and environmental health that we are allowing the powers that be to recklessly mislead us about far reaching health related issues.
Our health illiteracy is serving the political and economic forces that are destroying and depleting people and planet. The food we eat, the unhealthy media content we devour, the abuse of people, animals, earth, oceans and atmosphere are just some examples of how we actively allow ourselves and our environment to be poisoned and violated. In ignorance, laziness and greed we are colluding with often inhumane activity that is jeopardizing the planet and fostering chronic diseases and depletion of body of soul.
Until now we have learned we are separate from each other. From this place it was easy to believe that one could attain health at the expense of others and export pollution and disease to poorer areas. For years this policy worked because the damage spread as a slow process beneath the surface and for the most part was kept out of mainstream media. Environmental destruction and peculiar phenomena were explained away by pseudo-scientific theories and clever marketing specialists.
Now information that has been hidden for years, is surfacing, and the extent of the damage is becoming frighteningly clear. It is increasingly evident that to survive and heal, we require an urgent and radical revolution in the way humans manage the health of our bodies and souls and the living interconnected environment that nourishes all of life.
It seems self-evident that the core purpose of any government would be the health and vitality of the citizens and the environment. Strangely this is far from reality.
As history shows, we have not put health as the governing purpose nor have we chosen leaders who are experts or invested in nurturing life. Health is our most basic and common resource and we have relinquished it to the greed of political and economic forces invested in power and control that in many instances go against the most precious resource that we have. It is not a fragmented part of life and cannot be managed by a health governance system disconnected from other sectors including education, economy, media, security, culture, agriculture etc.
Climate change, diabetes, cancer, poverty, violence, poisoned oceans, earth and air are among the infinite symptoms of this underlying human disconnect from nature's wisdom. Our societies are built in ways that exploit nature rather than enrich her. The immense suffering of humans and animals and the dire state of the environment is the manifestation of a human culture living out of balance and out of resonance with the healthy rhythms and intelligence of life.
Media, education, economic and political forces collude in making health an expensive and elusive commodity rather than an integral part of everyday life. As such the current health systems have contributed to the outsourcing of our health to external authorities with limited perspectives who are often invested in the creation and perpetuation of the health industry rather than in health itself.
Only now that our health and survival are in increasing jeopardy are we coming to the realization that health is not just another part of life to be managed and controlled.
The challenge in transforming this is that the key destructive institutions are in positions of power and benefit in the short term from the economic activities that destroy health. When we relinquish health to the control of external authorities we forfeit our connection to our own bodies and souls and collude with those who choose to abuse their role for self-advancement. To catalyze a healing process these structures need to be radically transformed. Reclaiming authority of our own health and the health of the planet entails rethinking every aspect of our social systems.
The notion of ‘sustainability’ is not a fundamentally healthy one, but rather an exploitative and utilitarian one. It may be better than policies that are clearly not sustainable but ‘sustainability’ it is not about a vibration of replenishing exchange with the environment. Instead sustainability is often a euphemism justifying taking as much as possible from the planet while giving as little as possible back. A recipe for misery and disease.
Motivated by ignorance, greed and control, political and economic systems are designed to minimize awareness of our own mortality, of our brutality to humans and animals, and of our suffering as a result of our imbalanced lifestyles. Political lobbying with little regard to the health value of products has become a key tool for determining laws that have profound implications for health of citizens and of the planet. It is criminal that perversion of truth about economic products is justified in legal and political jargon as “free speech” irrespective of the devastating expense to health and life on the planet. The hidden health consequences are comfortably pushed out of awareness as we are indoctrinated to be unconscious consumers and continue to live in denial of the impact of our behavior on our personal and planetary health.
At a time when healthy solutions exist for many of the challenges we face, we continue to poison and exploit the land, the animals and people. With the technology we have today, many green solutions already exist and many are just around the corner. These solutions however threaten to overturn the economic status quo and powerful forces are invested in sabotaging and suppressing green developments.
It is absurd for instance that rather than doing all possible to disinvest from fossil fuel energy and chemical pesticides and fertilizers and ensure organic solutions, governments instead set up organizations to determine how to continue to enable the damaging industries to maintain their power. Committees are set up to determine what amount of poison and pollution is sustainable based on "best available current scientific information" as well as enormous lobbying pressure from corporations.
It is a violation of the planet and all its inhabitants, that in the face of severe climate change, we are setting broad goals for future dates while continuing to deplete the already fragile environment. This is in stark contrast to the possibility of collectively investing all creative and financial resources to rehabilitating the planet from the damage we have done and restore the natural health and balance of the living eco-system.
As we recognize that the planet functions as an interconnected living system, we need to put local and global health and vitality as the purpose and responsibility not only of our governments but of every citizen worldwide. Leaders and policy makers must have an understanding of how to cultivate health in living systems.
We can no longer rely on solutions that are based on outdated worldviews about separateness, hierarchy and privilege. Instead, it is essential that we invest in learning about the nature of health in interconnected living eco-systems. We need to move from reliance on political, economic, scientific, chemical and technological frameworks about the world and integrate wisdom from disciplines dedicated to nourishing life into every aspect of our governing and social systems.
We need a radically new language and structure for local and global governance that function in alignment with the principles of healthy living systems. Much of the required information and practices exist and are being developed by people on the fringes of society all over the world. The fact that this information has not penetrated our governmental and educational institutions reflects the obsolescence and rigidity of these systems as well as their abusive service of political and economic agendas rather than life itself. If we do not put local and global health and vitality as the purpose of governance and hold lawmakers accountable for health it is unlikely that anything will change. This however is only one part of a much more complex puzzle of healing and revitalizing people and planet that involves the learning and collaboration of all social sectors in this core challenge for humanity today.
The health systems
While human health is entirely interdependent with almost every other aspect of our world, health sectors are generally positioned as one among many disconnected sectors in the government. Health and vitality depend among other factors on physical security, healthy and safe environments, healthy food, clean and nourishing air, earth and water, caring communities and relevant health education. For life to flourish, health must be the core purpose of humanity and not an inconvenient afterthought.
Our fragmented notions of governance and limited concepts of health are contributing to the mushrooming health crises and costs across the world. In many cases health systems have been reduced to limited reactive systems that provide a specific range of medical solutions approved by those with scientific prejudices and vested interests.
Mainstream paradigms sever us from our fundamental connection with our bodies, the environment and the planet. We are more concerned with fixing disease than creating wellness, and on obliterating symptoms than addressing the roots of the symptoms. Western medicine has brought many advances, but has also undermined the complementary and essential value of ancient and holistic medicines based on a deep understanding of nature and interconnectedness. The scientific aura has been used to ridicule and sideline for financial benefit other natural healing techniques that are in many cases more valuable and less dangerous than certain modern medication and medical procedures.
Big pharmaceuticals industries are also often a part of this chain of disease. These industries generally focus on chemical solutions to human created disease that target symptoms rather than the roots of a problem and generate side effects that in turn require further medication in a painful spiral of addiction and dependence.
Some pharmaceutical industries use formulas derived from plants known to indigenous communities. They then patent ingredients and market products in a way that delegitimizes the use of the natural plant as unreliable and unscientific. In this way they distance people from the healing power of nature. Medical research often involves enormous suffering of animals, destruction of nature, corruption of test data and addictive ingredients.
As soon as we disconnect ourselves from resonance with the vital vibration of life, we create a spiral of trauma and disease. When we lose sight of our interdependence and become more concerned with the health of human beings than the health of the planet, the neglect of planet will manifest in our own bodies as disease. When we artificially maintain individuals life even when their organs have shut down and do not let nature takes its natural course we again interfere in the natural intelligence of nature. We are taught to fear pain disease and death rather than learn from them. We are encouraged to depend on quick chemical fixes rather than healthy lifestyles and natural healing techniques that are aligned with nature’s wisdom and rythms.
Health, media and Education
Despite the fact that health is a priority for life, mainstream education takes very little initiative or responsibility in educating for personal or environmental health. Young adults leave twelve years of schooling with little if any understanding of their own bodies or of self, community and planetary care.
We have not yet developed a discipline of health studies that addresses individual, collective and planetary health in a holistic way. Instead, we socialize children to fit into our deeply unhealthy political and consumer systems.
Children are provided with minimal knowledge and skills for creating even the most basic conditions for safety and health. They are not taught to cultivate a healthy community, self-esteem and to respect diversity. They are not given the tools for self-realization and for living in mutual enrichment with their environment. They are not given skills needed to deal with the health challenges that are facing us individually and collectively. Instead they are taught to outsource their own self-care to others, leaving them particularly vulnerable to the false seductive messaging of unhealthy ideas and products.
Economics as we know it is a core factor in disease creation and a core area of focus for the emerging health revolution. Economically driven media is often a more powerful tool in educating and socializing children than the education systems themselves. Parents and education systems feel helpless in the face of powerful unhealthy messaging sold by the advertising system and media.
The corruption of the food, health and wellness industries has made it almost impossible for people to know the consequences of products they are consuming. Our understanding of health is increasingly defined by the advertising industry that is part of the economic chain of disease based profit. Many industries often dupe consumers into buying dangerous products under the guise of healthy nutrition, useful medication, boosters of vitality, cosmetic enhancers and even destructive luxury lifestyles.
In the absence of real education about food and health, advertising becomes the key source of information about health. Mainstream media in service of its financial masters, misleads citizens about issues that affect not only our health but also the survival of life on the planet. While advertising is pervasive, accurate information about health must be intentionally researched and can be time consuming and difficult to access. We are told by smiling representatives of mining companies about their wonderful contribution to the lives of local communities while the legacies of fossil fuel industries on health is increasingly devastating. We are told by glossy celebrities about the benefits of a variety of products that are known to have dangerous side effects.
Words like "natural”, "healthy”, “green” and “energizing” have become empty buzzwords with little if any connection to what is being sold. Chemical and genetically modified products, disguised as natural, lack the direct intelligence of nature that works in resonance with the eco-system of our own bodies. We are seduced into believing that it is okay to compromise health for money or pleasure. Our economy is to a large extent based on peddling in disease forming consciousness. Military, chemical, security, media, beauty and luxury industries are some examples of the unhealthy concepts sold to us as essential on a daily basis. The food, ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ businesses themselves are big and lucrative ones. Unfortunately, many have become so corrupt that they are part of a group of dangerous industries dealing in disease related products such as genetically modified food, addictive pharmaceuticals, pesticides, food additives and sugars that are infecting people and the environment.
The meat and dairy industries invest huge sums to market apparent health of their products despite the fact that factory farmed foods are known to be toxic and cause chronic disease. People that eat animal products are ingesting a variety of artificially produced hormones, genetically modified products as well as the trauma and suffering of animals held in extremely unnatural and inhumane conditions. These products impede the ability of the digestive system to be nourished by the uncontaminated life force of nature and its vital intelligence. The sugar and wheat industries inundate with seductive messaging of comfort food, and moments of pure pleasure, while actively spreading addiction and chronic disease.
Recently there has been increasing exposure of corruption scandals regarding rigged scientific research that threatens our health. Corporations exploit scientific credibility to sell false information about food, medical, household and agricultural products.
In the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, we have seen a scurry to create lucrative patents for vaccinations, but little discussion about addressing the local and planetary conditions that cause this and other viruses to spread. We justify “scientific” killing, maiming and contamination of animals to research cures for diseases that humans create or even for cosmetic reasons alone. This means that we are absurdly damaging the health of our interconnected system under the pretext of saving and improving human lives.
It is more and more clear that ‘health’ industries have in many cases cynically used their power to promote medications and vaccinations now proved to be dangerous. In other cases they have prevented healthy natural medications on the ground that have not yet been scientifically proven valid. Given the record of abuse of “scientific” authority by policy makers in roles that impact the health of all people, people are increasingly reclaiming their own authority to make decisions for themselves about their health. They are uncovering many of the manipulations of the different sectors on public health notions and a powerful shift is in motion.
It is encouraging that social media and independent films are exposing fallacies about food and the environment and offering honest information behind the marketing campaigns. As more and more activists and creative are reclaiming responsibility for their health, we are learning the vast extent to which we have been seduced into addictive unhealthy thinking and consumer habits.
A health revolution
A health revolution is primarily a revolution of consciousness. The first thing that needs to be transformed is the cultural perspective about health that determines behavior towards ourselves, each other and the environment.
Most crucial for all is that we educate towards putting local and global health as the purpose of humanity as a whole – the right and responsibility of all governments and all individuals who live off the generosity of the planet. We cannot move towards greater health until we educate ourselves about health and vitality of interconnected eco-systems. We cannot move towards greater health until we begin to restore the planet to its natural balance, re-wild the planet with indigenous plants and animals, clean the water and the air and cease the endless exploitation.
We need to invest in learning about the impact of the invisible dynamics that compromise healthy, vital eco-systems. This includes attending to the vibrational, cognitive, emotional, physical, spiritual, community and environmental dimensions of life.
The health revolution has begun and will likely continue as a grass roots movement of global citizens. It is spreading spontaneously as people across the globe learn about the relationship of health to our collective lifestyles, and share the wisdom of reconnecting with nature and with their own bodies in deeply honoring dialogue. More and more people are taking responsibility for sharing research outside of the traditional scientific community and sharing their findings for all.
Ideally, this movement will sprout a global program that addresses the full scale health challenge of people and planet that will take into consideration the most advanced knowledge and wisdom about health in interconnected living systems from all relevant perspectives. It is time to establish and invest in an integrative discipline - the arts and sciences of health and vitality. Such an area of study can work towards organizing and cultivating current knowledge, wisdom and practices of health from the individual to the planetary dimensions.
It is essential to embed principles of maintaining planetary health into the law and education systems and to integrate into all governance systems the wisdom of healers, permaculture farmers, organic farmers, community builders, green architects and engineers, sacred traditions, scientists, educators, system thinkers, trauma specialists, artists, builders, visionaries, entrepreneurs, warriors of the heart and all those with the wisdom and skills necessary to come together to co-create and heal the psychological and physical disease that has permeated our entire global eco-system.