“Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.”
The wellness and self-help movements rest upon the idea that health and wellness is a choice.
Want something different in your life? Then, do something different.
It’s a noble, empowering concept that puts a person in charge of his or her life, but what if it’s all a big, fat, fucking lie?
Was health a choice to me when I was a baby being fed sugar by my parents and then, as a result of that, given loads of pharmaceutical drugs for asthma? NO.
Is health a choice to a recovering addict in Baltimore where the only grocery store is the convenience store at a gas station? NO.
Is health a choice to Native Americans and Aborigines who have had their lands, rituals, and spirits stolen from them? NO.
Is health a choice to veterans living on the streets with post-traumatic stress disorder? NO.
Is health a choice to a single mother struggling to raise her children? NO.
Is health a choice to people living and working in buildings with toxic mold? No.
Is health a choice to a mother birthing her baby in a hospital where she’s hooked up to machines monitoring everything happening in her body, all the while she’s told to be quiet, essentially saying that the machine has more of a voice than the woman? NO.
Is health a choice to people living in Flint, Michigan who drink contaminated water? No.
Is health a choice to a shiftworker? NO.
Is health a choice to a farmer who’s coerced into growing genetically modified foods and has to use toxic pesticides? NO.
Is health a choice to a kid who has to eat in the school cafeteria? NO.
Is health a choice to an elderly person overly medicated in a nursing home? NO.
Is health a choice to a teenage girl whose mother is pressured to give her the HPV vaccine for the sake of preventing cancer? NO.
Is health a choice to a woman whose only hope of a job is to clean houses or hotels with toxic chemicals everyday? NO.
My entire body is screaming NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
And that’s a short list.
The reality is that you get to choose health when you have resources – money in the bank and time on your hands. You don’t get to choose health when you are trying to survive.
I get that there are exceptions to EVERYTHING, including people who are able to turn their situations around. But exceptions are nothing more than exceptions, when way too many more people continue to suffer than succeed.
If you still buy the idea that “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” or that all you have to do is work hard and everything will be ok, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success and you will begin to understand that every single success story (and I would include healing in this) involves lots of help. People simply don’t succeed on their own. They don’t. And if they say they do, they are fucking delusional.
Even if it’s just the grace of God supporting you and moving you along then that, too, needs to be acknowledged. That's no little thing.
I couldn’t figure out how to fully address this issue when I wrote my book Eat in Peace to Live in Peace: Your Handbook for Vitality. All I could say was that there are socioeconomic factors outside the scope of this book that need to be addressed and that is true.
It’s just that this thing I’m talking about here feels so BIG, and it has to do with something that I’ve avoided much of my life: politics.
One of my spiritual teachers Rob Bell defines politics as how we share our resources together. That makes good sense to me. We have to decide how we are going to use our common space and things (water, roads, mail, etc), but it has obviously been distorted to mean something else. Just yesterday I was driving along and saw this bumper sticker:
“Republicans work hard so you don’t have to.”
If my lizard brain had been running the show, I would have rear-ended the car, but fortunately, my cerebral cortex, also known as the thinking part of the brain, was in tact so I didn’t. I just sighed a deep sigh of despair because politics has become this, and people can reject this bullshit for very good reasons (All political parties are guilty too. I’m not taking sides.)
But what you can’t reject is this: we live in a world of abundance. There is enough food, water, and shelter for everyone. We don’t have a lack of resources, we have a problem with their distribution.
And what many perceive as lazy is, in reality, exhaustion and malnutrition.
Is this the land of the motherfucking free where people are overfed and undernourished and totally exhausted from an economic and medical system that treats people like machines and favors one sex (male) and one color (white) above all else?
No, it’s not.
So let’s take a moment to thank someone who truly embodies what it means to be an American: Mr Rogers. Last week, we saw his documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I highly recommend it. He was a true leader. When he struggled with how to comfort the nation after 9/11, here’s what he came up with:
“We are repairers of creation.”
I almost started clapping, instead I cried.
“We are repairers of creation.”
I love that. It fills me with hope.
Yeah, shit gets fucked up, and we get to make it whole again, or better yet, we get to make it holy again.
So what do you say…Can we please find a way to take better care of each other? Can we live in a country where people can actually choose health?
I sure hope so.
Repair creation in peace, my friends!
PS - If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy my weekly newsletter where I strive to bring clarity to the confusing world of wellness. You can sign up here. And I think my book is worth checking out, too - Eat in Peace to Live in Peace: Your Handbook for Vitality. Thanks for reading!