Toward a Healthy Society
It’s no secret. The poor get the short end of the stick in multiple ways. They live shorter lives and suffer from almost every social problem from lack of decent housing to lousy food to no healthcare to being isolated and reviled. Poverty results in toxic levels of stress. Among the countries in the world, the U.S. ranks in the “top” five in measurable stress, according to an ongoing Gallup survey. Consumerism and the so-called good life are elevated to an almost idyllic plain. But selfish me tooism lead a lot of people to an emotional dead end. It’s time to move beyond vacuous slogans such as Looking Out for Number One. Cooperation and collaboration are salubrious. Why does it make good medical as well as moral sense to have a healthy society?
Stephen Bezruchka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. His particular areas of research are population health and societal hierarchy. He has spent over 10 years in Nepal working in various health programs, and teaching in remote regions. He is author of numerous articles and essays. He is a contributor to Divided: the perils of our growing inequality, New Press, 2014.