SECTOR 3:00 Health & Wellness
Health & Wellness
Health and wellness is a critical foundation for the creation, maintenance and evolution of sustainable culture because most people have trouble looking beyond their immediate sphere if they do not feel well. Fear of near-term death or disability is a powerful distraction. A basic precept that all people have a fundamental right to medicine is violated in modern times as medical care is controlled by powerful corporate enterprise. While extraordinary care is available to those who can afford it, for many a serious illness represents financial ruin. The implications for social justice are obvious, the failures of an economics of sustainable culture are evident.
Thus we come to understand how important addressing sector three issues becomes for the support of long-term wellness not just of human beings but of the entire earth. People who understand and experience holistic health are able to extrapolate this felt comprehension out beyond themselves into their families, their communities, their regions, and the world as a whole. A basic premise of wellness is a felt connection to others and to the land. Therefore health and wellness are key not just for creating a conceptual appreciation and are thus a teaching vehicle, but there is a practical reality about the importance of healthy people who have extra time and energy to take care of their world, and to compassionately engage with those who need education.
Not only is it critical for individuals to be healthy so they have the ability to engage in caretaking other people and their environment, but the nature of their healthcare process has direct impact on the sustainability of their world. Many modern medical approaches are extremely resource intensive and produce remarkably damaging contaminations. For instance recent studies on the remarkable sensitivity of fish to the presence of extremely diluted estrogens from birth control emerging from waste management systems would be an example of unexpectedly profound effects from modern medicine. The Western medical industry consumes vast fractions of GDP, each dollar representing real ecological footprint, because each dollar relates to salary, commuting miles, maintenance of building square footage and so forth. Furthermore, many medical processes involve use of poisonous chemicals, solvents and other significant resources such as plastics, electricity and water. The widespread use of antibiotics for personal health are now being studied because of the results and emergence of "superbugs" such as MRSA, methycillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Health at the scale of family or community group has a great deal to do with lifestyle and diet. Norms of a given group will have profound implications on the quality of health and wellness for that family scale human system. Interestingly, choices that enhance health often are also very good for reducing ecological footprint and increasing system durability intercinnectivity. For instance, the choice of small-scale organic agriculture as a food source reduces pesticide intake and creates local agricultural economic strength. The choice of a more vegetarian diet also improves health while reducing total resource consumption.
Another dimension of wellness rather important that family and community scale is the psychological realm. More comprehensive and holistic perspectives which appear more at affiliative worldview and beyond are generally going to enable healthier inter-human relationships and better psychological support networks, as well as more sophisticated tools for dealing with psychological issues and any problems as they arise.
Sector impacts like technology, economics, and architecture provide physical infrastructure consequences for family health. A good example would be management of human waste. In Haiti, there is a simultaneous problem with soil depletion and contamination of water supply with fecal coliform. Composting toilets at the family, community, and even village scale are an obvious solution to these two problems at the same time, so various forward thinking organizations are attempting to make this solution available, which represents a sustainable culture solution to a critical health problem.
There is also a consideration of health impact at the family scale because of other lifestyle choices, like a value on exercise, or could help support choices like good sanitation for fecal waste, general good hygiene which means better dental health, less infection by parasites, fewer vermin in the house, and so forth. Sometimes a family may choose to manage trash more carefully and avoid the expense and deleterious health effects of using insecticides inside the house to manage cockroaches, for instance. This would be an example of sustainable culture operating on the health and wellness sector at the family scale.
In a sense, the village provides a check and balance for inadequacies for wellness occurring within a given family. Multiple families living together create safeguards in cases like domestic violence, inadequately supervised children, financial crisis within a given family, possible support when a given crop field fails, or other issues.
There is an important psychological benefit for those living within healthy village contexts, which include isolated villages as well as village scale communities within larger urban settlements. Young people need input from more adults than their immediate family, because they are learning how to become adults themselves and need a diversity of opinions to explore about who they are now and who they are becoming. Without a healthy and interconnected village these young people will seek other sources of perspective, which may not be nourishing or wholesome. It is much better to be surrounded with the village of uncles and onto these who know you, who love you, and who are willing to take time to share their knowledge and perspective in a caring way.
Within a village may be held traditional folk medicine cures, an assortment of plants with medical properties, and depth knowledge about their use, other specialized knowledge concerning wellness in general, and other resources important for wellness of all members in a given village, such as specialized equipment, vehicles to provide access to advanced medical care, telephony and computer equipment to access critical information, and any other resources that may be suddenly vital in a crisis.
Wellness at the regional scale is a consideration of human well-being that is possible because of a depth of resources available to a larger population among a broader spectrum of ecosystem niches, and because of a greater diversity of various health system infrastructures. Modern allopathic medicine can be essentially divided into two sectors: surgery and internal medicine with drugs. Both of these major technological systems are not possible in their full glory at the village scale. Hospitals and major pharmaceutical concerns are regional and national entities, only possible because of larger populations participating in their support. Traditional medicine also benefits from larger scale engagement, both because of greater availability of plant variety, but also because of a variety of perspectives on treatment for any given ailment, and the possibility of meaningful dialogue among practitioners, and the ability to create high quality schooling for doctors of any tradition.
Human diet also is dramatically improved when commerce among small-scale communities becomes possible and supplementation of localized foodstuffs with a greater variety of options produces a more varied diet. There is a way for a sustainable culture to draw on a broader sphere, and it is worth carefully examining real ecological footprint of food transportation systems versus boutique farming systems. Sometimes the ability to draw on broader resources actually creates greater benefit for a sustainable culture when a holistic perspective is applied in an unbiased way, perhaps especially when highly efficient transport such as rail is part of the equation. Furthermore a regional approach to food and medicine provides insurance in the case of localized shortages, further improving human health, wellness, and reducing the likelihood of anxiety, political instability and related concerns.
Human well-being can be dramatically enhanced when the entire world of resources is available. In the West the emergence of TCM, traditional Chinese medicine, and more recently, Ayurveda, the traditional medicine in India, among others, are providing important health care options, especially in the face of overpriced corporate allopathic medicine. Even though herbs may be transported from one side of the planet to another, sometimes the low tech solution comprising a traditional healthcare modality originating from faraway and a powerful adaptogenic herb results in a cure for a condition that could only be treated with significant side effects, or maybe outside of what allopathic medicine is capable of treating effectively.
Additionally, the global marketplace for food options creates an opportunity to source important food, supplements or medicine from any corner of our world. As well, sustainable culture values are coming back into local production zones, supporting sustainable harvesting practices and the use of less toxic production methods, in addition to soil husbandry practices such as reducing exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and concentration of salts. A major concern likely to emerge in future years, is the consequence of large agricultural corporations pushing genetically modified seed, sometimes against the wishes of local farmers, but having global scale political clout. The grand experiment of these GMO food crops consumed by human beings is just beginning, with unknown consequences. Perhaps the only remedy is support by a global citizenry to require labeling of these foods which could not exist without dramatic human intervention. The good news is that current research suggests that sterility caused by GM foods may be reversible within several months of discontinuing their consumption.