We can’t be healthy alone

We can’t be healthy alone

In America, we frame our ability to succeed in terms of our own skills and hard work. We are typically incentivized to win, to become that next big star, to reach that next milestone, or to become famous.

This constant competitiveness creates an us vs. them mentality. It has made us reward and idolize those that have made it, and neglect those that struggle.

And for those who have made it, well, it’s been great for them. But meanwhile more and more of us are living paycheck to paycheck. More and more of us are facing homelessness. More and more of us are becoming depressed, addicted and suicidal.

Individualist vs. Collectivist Cultures

We live in an individualistic culture. But there is another way to frame how we live in this world. We could begin to think more like a collectivist culture as many Asian countries do.

Collective

What would that look like? In Japan, in a movie like Finding Nemo, the youngsters are taught that Nemo shouldn’t have left the pack. That he should have valued the group over his own individual success.

In America, kids are taught to celebrate the fish that leaves its pack to go out on his own.

Is one better than the other?

It depends.

In the context of where we need to compete to survive as individuals, a fish that leaves its pack could do better, or worse than the others.

However, what if the pack of fish was in the middle of danger? What if it was in the middle of a war, a natural disaster, or a pandemic? One roaming fish could endanger the lives in the group.

Collectivist

Applying individualism vs. collectivism to solve problems:

When it comes to our environment, if we are all so focused on our own success, then we might fail to stop industries from polluting our food, water and air. This in turn results in rising cases of cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple chemical sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, autism, and increased risk of dying from COVID-19.

In the aftermath of a tornado or earthquake, if those who have the means all leave, the community may struggle indefinitely.

When it comes to the pandemic, if we are focused on only ourselves, then we can become a super-spreader if we throw all precautions to the wind.

If in a democracy, if we are too busy with our own lives to vote or to stand up for what we believe in, those with power and money will make the decisions for us. The steady eroding of social services and the tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations have left too many just one paycheck away from bankruptcy. As the power of corporations has grown, and the power of workers has decreased, more and more people are working harder for less. How can we be healthy if we never have time to rest? To spend time with our friends and family? Or to take care of our own needs?

The constant competition for a piece of the pie puts us in a constant state of stress and struggle. It fosters narcissistic behaviour, a decline in empathy, and makes us feel disconnected and isolated. And in contrast, being a collectivist and working in a team for a purpose helps us feel more interconnected and makes our lives more meaningful. Together, we are stronger.

How to make our world a healthy place

Collective

As a Holistic Healer, I regularly am helping clients who’ve been poisoned by toxins in our air and food. What I find frustrating is that even though I can help them detox, I alone cannot protect them from our polluted air, food and water.   But collectively, we can do something about this!  We can fight for an environment that is safe for our children and future generations.  In fact, we have a social responsibility to do so!  We simply cannot thrive alone. We must balance individualism with collectivism!

So if you haven’t already, please vote. Vote for a better world. Vote for democracy and vote for our planet.  And be prepared to fight for your country and your fellow citizens. Fighting for what you believe in will give you a sense of agency, help you will feel more connected, and give your life more meaning and purpose!  Fight for the collective we so that we can all thrive!

1 Comment

  1. Sandy Freschi
    Nov 13, 2020

    Very timely article. Thanks.

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