Posted by Michael Finkelstein | July 20th, 2020
Which Line are You On?
There is a well-known oath that physicians are ascribed to taking at the time of their commencement: “first, do no harm.” In Latin, the phrase is “primum non nocere.” What’s interesting is that the pledge, though rightly attributed to Hippocrates, is not part of the larger “Hippocratic Oath,” that in truth is what graduating medical students actually recite. That’s the first inaccuracy; seemingly minor, but part of the narrative of a cultural myth that I believe deserves attention. The second issue, of course, is that Hippocrates was Greek, and the familiar Latin translation is another sign of how “common knowledge” quite often reflects the tendency to lose something “in translation.” Again, seemingly minor. What’s the big deal?
More troubling and to the point, is that we’re assuming something that isn’t necessarily true, despite the oath. Physicians and the wider medical establishment itself, unfortunately, are capable of doing harm, though not always intentionally to be fair. Still, empowering physicians and related medical scientists (particularly those wed to the similarly sanctioned “established” medical institutions) to be the rightful and sole authority on matters of health, while on the surface making some sense, is in fact, a complete abrogation of personal responsibility for health. What is going on now in the media – the parade of medical experts that KNOW the truth and have all the answers – keeps us in the subjugated space of the poor patient. It’s time to snap out of our daze and to be far more vigilant, and substantially smarter when it comes to the matter of our personal health. I don’t relish the point to say it, but the dominant Western medical establishment is far from perfect. Thus, we need to honestly consider where it may be limiting us (and perhaps more important, hurting us), and rather than complain or rail against it (which in my view though somewhat deserved, might be a distraction that at the moment we may not be able to afford), it behooves us to figure out where the gaps are and to find a way to fill them for our own sake; disappointed as we may be that the self-anointed medical experts might let us down, but realistic about our need to not accept their word as the be all and end all.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect people of science and the scientific method and what it does offer. But I don’t appreciate individuals who openly speculate on matters as important as life and death, that demand our full-fledged attention and compliance with their recommendations; or set us up to be even more fearful if we don’t follow them — all at the same time as they also actively denigrate or dissuade us from considering other important ideas and information that might be useful. This type of manipulation is actually suggestive of another agenda (i.e. not necessarily our best interest), that might be the result of a personal or collective need to protect their own fragile egos for being fallible, or more nefariously, to serve a profit or power motive.
In this time of COVID, we are led to believe that the ultimate answer will be a vaccine. And until then, the intermediary requirement is containment and PPE; and thus, isolation and separation is the battle cry, until that wonderful day comes when there is a pharmaceutical product that will be recommended for all 7 billion people on the planet. Who do you think is most happy about this development? Again, don’t get me wrong, I want people to be protected, and I want to see the fewest casualties along the way. But…. I also see the big picture. Where we’ve been heading as a collective society — the erosion of the natural environment and the pollution and toxicity on every level that has led to this epidemic and many more to follow — is not going to be effectively treated with a COVID vaccine. Therefore, if we don’t grasp the totality of this pandemic, we will at most temporize this situation, and in the meantime, following the advice of our experts, exacerbate the effects of fear and further impair the integrity of our health which is so dependent on social connection, the complete opposite of what is now being recommended.
Indeed, I think there are two competing paradigms here. And two paths that are in front of us.
The question is: can they be integrated or do we need to choose. My honest answer is “I’m not sure.” However, I am very concerned about the pressure to quietly conform.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the line on the left reflects the “party line,” and is dominated by the paradigmatic energy of fear of losing our already limited resources and competition for them. It is what we are used to and represents our “modern” culture (i.e. the world view of the dominant “cult”). Of note, life and longevity are perhaps the most precious resources that we are apt to lose and for which we care most deeply, hence our desperation to seek security in the familiar ways. And, no surprise, as on cue, in comes the “all knowing, powerful medical establishment” to save us. How neat is that? I guess it would be if and only if medicine and the “supporting for-profit industries” could be trusted. But, there’s the rub.
Then there’s the line of the right, which by comparison seems awfully quaint, predicated on a faith that self-care has more potential that it is given credit for. It’s not particularly popular. It certainly isn’t sexy. And, there again is the rub – there is no credit, i.e. profit, in self-care. Is it any surprise then that it is not promoted? Regardless, just because it isn’t presented to us with greater appeal doesn’t mean it isn’t viable. And, that’s what I want you to think about more seriously….as if your life depended on it! Indeed, my whole book, Slow Medicine, is a study on how it works and why it is so valuable.
Let me remind you that YOU have the power and ultimately, the responsibility, to make the right choice and take back more control of your life. The fact is, your life does depend on it. And recalling that oath which is the cornerstone of our idealistic philosophy about medical practice, “first, do no harm,” shouldn’t that also apply to you, and how your “treat” your loved ones as well?
So now, assuming you’re still with me (at least you’re still reading), perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “can’t I take the vaccine, wear the mask and protect myself and others that way, as well as adopt the other self-care measures?”
And, I say: What if the vaccine is harmful? What if the mask and the fear it projects is harmful? What if remaining complacent about social injustice is harmful? What if sitting by and accepting the dominance of corporations who pollute the planet is harmful?
Are you doing enough to reasonably expect a good outcome?
Do you think this will all go away by the efforts of our leadership, and for now, you can continue with things “as usual”?
I think it’s time we take an honest look in the mirror and get on the right line. It’s time for the paradigm to shift.
I truly hope this makes sense, so much so that despite the resistance you probably feel welling up inside, you will join me and take some serious steps forward toward effective, comprehensive self-care. The fact is, there’s no harm in that!
To broaden the point and be more explicit, self-care must include consideration for all beings and the world around us in all ways. We will not do very well if we don’t dramatically shift the manner in which we live our lives and specifically take care of everyone and everything. While there might indeed be some way to weave together these two paradigms, I remain doubtful. Certainly, however, I am not going to put my faith in the old way alone. Nor should you.
To begin, we need to think about what constitutes “healthy.” Here again, I’m afraid, we’ve been misguided. As a hint, all those “healthy” people who got COVID and died, were not healthy! Therefore, you must get really clear on what it means to be healthy, or not. Most people, if they haven’t seriously committed to a wholesome diet (whole, fresh, seasonal, clean, unprocessed, unchemicalized food), nor thought about how their body has been previously infected or made toxic and specifically “corrected” the accumulated occult imbalances that result from a more casual and “convenient” approach to health are at risk. Further, the areas of mental and emotional well-being and spiritual development, as well as humanity’s collective plight and that of the earth are also critical to our vitality. To be brutally frank, many more than previously recognized are already unhealthy by these stark terms. This is not a joke. I wish I could sugar coat that for you. We’re simply not going to get there if we stand idle, waiting in the wrong line with our arms out for the inoculation. That’s actually magical thinking.
Regrettably, the dominant main-stream medical establishment, a once noble profession now co-opted and controlled by capitalistic interests focused on short term profit, has not and is not doing enough. Of course, some doctors and health care professionals are decent and sincere, and should be lauded for their efforts. But, unfortunately, they like you are up against a significant force and constrained by the corrupted system. You deserve better, but you must do more for yourself. Taking better care of yourself in ways you now know are necessary and seeking the guidance you need to properly examine your condition and make the corrections is the answer. No one is going to do it for you, and there is no pill for that.
Here’s the last thing I would say. You don’t have to make a final choice right now. You don’t even need to believe me, entirely. But I implore you to seriously consider examining your assumptions and personal habits, including serious reexamination of what you’ve been taught and what you are being told, keeping yourself on high alert for being misled using every ounce of your intelligence and deep-seated wisdom. As challenging and confusing as this moment is, it is a good time to trust your instincts and to remind yourself to live every day with reverence for the opportunity to be alive at this critical juncture. I know this is sobering, but I am truly hopeful and have faith that good things are trying to happen. Now, perhaps more than ever, your life counts a great deal in the final analysis, as we push toward the tipping point of the new paradigm. I urge you to be part of that movement, to support each other in the process. We need you.
And so, I look forward to the day where we will be standing on the line of love and peace, and in glorious health — you, me, all of us, together as one.