Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Health, Justice, Freedom and the Sabbath

Until this point we have discussed health and disease as though each were opposed to the other, locked in manicheistic conflict, but this is only the way the two appear to be related. A closer analysis reveals that health and disease are in actuality two aspects of a larger unity - that of radiance, or healing.

Like justice, which is forever in flux and adjusting - overcoming that which opposes it - its stasis marking its dissipation - health is also forever adjusting to and overcoming disease. This dynamic process, which we have referred to earlier as 'radiance', may also be regarded as healing; for 'health' refers to a more or less static thing, negated by disease and so in certain respects concluded. But this does not reflect the actual dynamic interplaying between health and disease. This continuity and flux - health's actual manifestation in the world in relation with disease - is properly healing. The distinction is vital, because to refer to healing/radiance as health neglects its dynamism and treats it as an abstraction. Still, people are perpetually healing. Even in conditions of disease people, and other organisms and ecosystems, are healing to some degree. This healing in the midst of conditions of disease is analogous to resistance - physiological as well as political.

Within conditions of disease one uses a large part of one's energy simply resisting impositions and trespasses to one's health. Because of this one has little energy left with which to develop one's potentialities. One's energies and health are depleted merely resisting, holding ground as it were. In such conditions of disease, potentialities have little opportunity to manifest. For these to flourish, one needs supportive conditions - the conditions of health.  Since the health of the people is the supreme law, compliance with the supreme law requires the production - and reproduction - of these conditions.

But of what are these conditions comprised? These conditions are the presences of certain entities - the elements of health - which, of course, can also be regarded, in some situations, as the absences of other entities - the presence of clean air requires the absence of pollutants, etc.

Here is an example. As I am writing this, unprecedented wild fires are raging in Colorado. Among the other disasters attending global warming, we are witnessing more and more fires, of greater and greater intensity, breaking out with greater and greater frequency. It is easy for most of us to forget, but just last summer there were similarly unprecedented fires raging throughout Texas, among other places. And just two summers ago we saw monumental wild fires consume much of Russia, which were in turn linked with unprecedented flooding and misery in Pakistan. Needless to say, these are not conditions of health.

For conditions of health to arise, the presences giving rise to these conditions of disease need to be removed. And just what are these 'presences'? Among other pollutants, these conditions of disease are caused largely by the presence of C02 in our atmosphere, tons of which are spewed into the air every hour. In order to begin to dismantle the conditions of disease - which is at the same time the strengthening of conditions of health, which will allow the biosphere to heal itself - we must stop the ceaseless introduction of these harmful chemicals. The supreme law requires this. Moreover, this is not difficult; there is a very simple way to do it.

One would see a reduction in significant amounts of air pollution immediately by instituting a day each week, or even two days per week, during which fossil fuels were banned from being burned. Like the sabbath, unless it is because of a medical emergency, cars won't be driven, airplanes won't be flown, industrial plants will not operate, electricity will not burn, and people will not work. Indeed, when the eruption of volcanoes in Iceland several years ago resulted in the cessation of air traffic over Europe, the improvement in air quality was observable immediately. Because the ceaseless introduction of harms was halted, the biosphere was able to - temporarily - heal itself to some degree. Some might counter that this would harm the economy. It certainly would. However, the economy is itself very much part of the conditions of disease - and needs to be dismantled. Introducing such a sabbath would be a good first step. We need to have our priorities here. Justice, the health of the people, and the supreme law require it.

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