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Fixin' Healthcare

Friday, May 23, 2008

If You Don't Do Life, It will Do You

If you don’t do life, it will do you. Aging is an experience, not an intellectual exercise or a disease, and not everyone has the same experience. Each person must define their understanding of passage through life. If not, the world will impose definition and rob experience. Experience is the real deal. It creates a basis in fact as it engages the senses and stimulates emotions. Instincts and habits are developed through experience, and instincts and habits direct much of human behavior.

Society most often chooses to define life temporally and many people live by default according to that definition. Any definition of life imposes expectations that inevitably become limitations and a temporal definition is no exception. Anticipation of the future generates optimism and the will to live, which relegates chronological age to a secondary consideration for determining such aspects of life as health status, well-being, and contributions to the benefit of others and progress of society.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Human Behavior and Public Policy

People are not comfortable with confusion and uncertain outcomes. They seek clarity and meaning. The need for clarity and meaning takes people on many and varied journeys throughout life. Compare and contrast the quest and pathways of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”, 1957) with those of Forrest Gump (Winston Groom, “Forrest Gump”, 1986). Or, consider the quests and pathways of Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa. Professor Michael Heller is a Roman Catholic priest, cosmologist, and philosopher who seeks meaning at the boundary of science, philosophy, and religion, especially where these boundaries are in juxtaposition. Professor Heller believes “science gives us knowledge, and religion gives us meaning. Both are prerequisites of the decent existence.” (Brenda Goodman, New York Times, March 13, 2008) Regardless of the differences in the quests and pathways through life, the need for meaning gives fuel to the restless spirit and accounts for human momentum even without certainty as to the destination or outcome.

Human behavior is shaped and directed by the meaning each person finds in life and the values derived from that meaning. The perspective that human behavior determines the status of life on earth is slowly dawning upon society. Certainly, the most significant impact upon health, the environment, and the climate is human behavior. Public policy must be more effective in addressing human behavior to be of benefit for better health, cleaner environment, and safer climate. People must understand public policy and it must be within their capability to comply. But, the most important factor for compliance with public policy is compatibility with the values and belief systems of society. Successful public policy accommodates the span from higher sense of purpose and meaning to self-interest without transgressing the values and belief systems of individuals and the whole of society. If it was easy, public policy would be more successful.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Life Well-Lived

Life is most often a mystery consisting of “ambiguities without clear answers where the task is to determine which critical factors might interact in some unknown way in an uncertain future” (Gregory Treverton, Smithsonian Magazine, June 2007, pp 98-102). Health care should be the utilization of this mind-set to frame the mysteries of health and prevent health problems to achieve and maintain optimum health status. Health care is not dispensed; it is a participatory process and a group activity. If there are health care providers, they are family members, neighbors, church members, co-workers, educators, guides, coaches, and fellow citizens. Medical care is not health care. Public health comes close to health care but it needs to be much broader and involved with every aspect of life. The goal of health care is a life well-lived; optimum health status is integrated into the process.

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