Saturday, March 26, 2011



How many times have you heard people say nothing ever changes? How often does this fatalistic attitude serve as an excuse to be lazy, cowardly, or otherwise self-indulgent, rather than responsible, upright good citizens? How does this philosophy enable dominance?

I've written extensively about applying the public health model to societal maintenance -- a system where contributions include regularized research, education, organizing, and community action -- but it seems the notion of social engagement requires more than a mechanical formula for some. Motivation, in a world that is often overwhelming, appears to be a threshold too high for many. Dominance, in this frame of mind, is accepted as part of unchangeable reality, and thus left unchallenged. Compliance is the convenient alternative.

But let's examine the underlying hypothesis. Has nothing ever changed? Do we not have such hard-earned liberties as civil and human rights? Do we not have fought-for equalities like Social Security and Medicare? Do we not have labored-over fraternities such as environmental and world indigenous peoples movements? Did these not all come about as a result of unified challenges to dominance? Through solidarity?

Leaving aside the rhetorical, humankind has met many challenges in overcoming dominance in the economic, political, and personal realms. We haven't always won the battles, but in the war of ideas, we have secured a place for consciousness of the human condition. Building on this achievement may require diligence, but what doesn't? Should we devote less to the health of our society than we do to the health of our families?

Dominance -- be it based on gender, race, state or religion -- is a disease, one that threatens life itself. Rooting it out in our schools, our governments, and in our relations with others, is a task that can be accomplished. I've seen it happen. But like public health or personal health, social health has to be maintained. If we rest on our laurels, or those of others, it will rapidly erode.


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