While spending a year avoiding giving money to Big Business, it’s impossible not to think about the alternative—a future without Big Business as we know it. This turns quickly to thoughts about localism—prioritizing all things local—and community resilience.
The alternatives are quite obvious when it comes to certain budget categories such as food, utilities, and, to a certain extent, transportation. We trade mass-produced bread for local baked goods. We establish a local energy utility where profits are invested back in the community. And we construct communities that are pedestrian- and bike-friendly to move away from driving cars.
But I’ve found that health and wellness doesn’t fit this local replacement model. The goal is not to stop using Big Company sick care services and start using local sick care services. The goal is health.
Isn’t that what social change is about? Health and human dignity. It all comes back to this. It is the desired outcome of a just and equitable society.
Health and human dignity.
So rather than thinking about health as a separate line item in a budget, we need to think about it as an outcome—the outcome—of all the work we do collectively to make the world a better place.
Let me give you some examples…
- When we start eating mostly locally produced food, health will follow.
- When we start walking and biking to work or school, health will follow.
- When we provide paid family leave to all members of our society, health will follow.
- When everybody has enough, health will follow.
- When a teacher’s main role is to help students find the intersection of passion and talent, health will follow.
- When we get to live in communion with nature, health will follow.
- When new parents are embraced by a loving community, health will follow.
- When we learn how to make and mend things, health will follow.
- When people feel their work has value—and feel appreciated, health will follow.
- When we preserve biodiversity—health will follow.
So when we start thinking about organizing around different areas of focus (e.g. local food production, local energy, student-centered education, local culture), I don’t think “health care” is on this list. Health—physical, mental, spiritual—is the reason we’re doing this work in the first place.
I’m reading The New Normal by David Wann, in which he provides an agenda for responsible living. Here is a passage that seconds my sentiments (in the context of reevaluating the household budget):
What would happen if we spent more for food, less for housing; more for exercise and preventive health care and less for prescription drugs; more for meaningful experiences like classes and passion-filled hobbies and less for stuff? My belief is that we’d be happier and need to work less because we’d need less money; we’d be healthier and less anxious. The truth is, a leaner lifestyle is often healthier.
There are several powerful industries that prey on our current un-health and fear. People have become obscenely wealthy peddling fad diets, diet pills, prescription drugs for lifestyle-related illnesses, and unnecessary—and possibly harmful—medical screenings. What an enormous waste of resources.
It is clear that we need to move quickly toward the future we want—a future of health and dignity for all people. You can start today by organizing a Transition Streets group or getting involved in local politics or supporting the local economy.
When we create resilient, sustainable communities, health will follow.
Her Lost Year
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