December 27, 2011

More health care but less health!

A contradiction of our present times is the fact that we have a huge proliferation of health care facilities in the form of clinics and hospitals which house ever more sophisticated diagnostics that can detect every bit of an anomaly in our bodies. Yet we continue to be mired in ill health indicated by the never ceasing streams of lines and throngs in emergency rooms of hospitals of the booming medical industry and medical tourism that we witness. Why is this happening? Are we nations of hypochondriacs; or sheep that just follow the shepherd in blissful compliance? In a world where information is rife on everything, where one can Google anything from how to make chicken noodle soup to the side effects of a heart valve replacement, we have the means to know also how to keep ourselves healthy. Is it that we just want to know and not do? Do we want some one else to give us our health on a platter? Do we want someone else to force us to stop our smoking even when we know that it eats up our insides ever so insidiously, even as we are knowingly carried away by the crafty advertisements that show the seeming coolness or trendiness of the portrayed smoker? It may be too late when we realize that the cilia lining our bronchi and trachea have died and become dysfunctional and we are in for lifelong emphysema. Or that we are into advanced stages of lung cancer before reality kicks in and discover we have spent a fortune making cigarette companies rich for making us sick.

The solution to our health lies in prevention; the simple acts we can do on our own that will give us health benefits to last a lifetime; Walking, regular exercise, eating wisely, shunning the risky lifestyles, and learning to love our fellow human beings (to reduce our stress). There are age old methods that we have just forgotten in the mire of the glitter that we call modernization. Our Muslim prayer is undoubtedly for the holistic elevation of our spirit, mind, and body we can pursue throughout our lives. Just imagine, if done in its completeness, it is physical exercise that adds up to about an hour of body movements in poses that are perhaps yogic in nature. And the time for silence and meditation our prayers embody gives us the silence we need, away from the constant chatter of our head. And now the ever increasing chatter of our mobile phones and other handheld electronic devises that strive never to give us a moment of silence. The Yoga and meditation as special features that have come out of the need for human beings to reach in to touch the spirit within is also there to offer us time away from the stress of life.

The practice of preventive public health measures doesn’t require us to spend our monthly income on hospital bills. We can save a big portion of this by just doing what was mentioned above. We need to be wise and respectful of our bodies much more than we do now. It’s the only one we have for a whole lifetime. Starving our bodies to make us feel good because looking thin is the style of the day, may not be the right attitude for us to carry in a regime of respecting our bodies. Keeping to good body-weight to height standards because that will reduce the burden on our joints, or lessen the stress of the pumping our hearts do to keep us alive is the way to think if we respect our body. True, it’s just a tweak of mindset. But that difference in intention makes a world of difference in the way our bodies react to the cosmic request made.

Ultimately, the health of a nation must perhaps be measured by the number of people who don't have to go to the hospital rather than the numbers who visit them. Invest in public health and you will have more money in your pocket too and the government will have less to spend on for the so called medical insurance. Both ways, Maldives will benefit as a Nation.

December 26, 2011

The legacy of nationhood

In a democratic Maldives, we have a lot of adjustments to make to reap the advantage of democracy. The measure of the practice of the rule of law is one of the indicators of good governance in a democratic society.
True, our nature is to be free and so rules and regulations tend to stifle us. When these confront our desires we bend them, and if the strength of our emotional attachment to the desire in question, if strong enough, we even go onto break the rule. Some say that rules are made to be broken. While that adage must be taken with a grain of salt so to say, the over emphasis modern society places on rules and regulations to be the panacea for social ills is very ill placed. Often, we do little to uphold good laws ourselves as citizens of society, and of greater concern, the powers that be promulgating our laws don't provide the space to enforce these with the impartiality and sagacity required. Yet again, the ego’s call for selfish ownership comes in the way of good laws that are there to govern our behavior as a society. Where enforcement is practiced, the carrot and stick is the accepted one in most societies but more than the carrot, we are given the stick. As societies grow into urban communities, law enforcement becomes ever more complex and as the ever pervasive human foible of greed takes hold, corruptive forces sink deep to take away our dignity.
So when looking for alternative approaches of enforcement, it is not perhaps the traditional carrot and stick that will be the sustainable alternative. It has to be the good old nurturing of social values that must come to our rescue in building a caring society. Our schools and our homes must be made the support base to nurture these. We need to also come away from our assumed views that it is the government that must be solely responsible for it, yet we can’t shy away from selecting the right ones. In a democracy, it is ourselves that are the sources of the wisdom that will help our communities to be what we want them to be. We need to practice the values of good stewardship and good model behavior that our children will be incentivized to emulate. In the ultimate analysis, even our leaders are also at the same time parents, teachers and potential role models for our children. Our children can only learn from what we show them. They cannot be inspired otherwise. A good citizenry is what we must yearn to build and also hope to leave behind.

December 19, 2011

Being good is easy when we trust our spirit

What we perceive as good always relates to what seems beneficial to us. What you feel good is what benefits you and likewise what is good for me is what I perceive what benefits me. In all these cases what is seen as good seems to harbour on selfishness. Therefore there is the fear of subverting another's good. How do we move from these nigglings of selfishness to working for the greater good? Unfortunately, even the greater good is tinged with selfishness. But we can indeed improve on this by thinking of what is good for society - ie. turning from MY good or YOUR good to OUR good. But even then this societal good is also tinged with selfishness. We just don't seem to get out of this all pervasive desire to own! Perhaps that is to be human! Yet our resolve must be to rise above the pettiness of being human and regain some of the universal spirit that is dormant within us which is our element and that which has been covered up by our years of social nurturing. While we can never be devoid of craving that is the hallmark of being human, our move towards societal good will mean a moving towards our inner spirit. And in doing so, we will be seeking the commonality that binds our seemingly separate existence. Our service to society is a way of regaining this inner essence and the universal principle that we all are ONE. Suddenly, there are no differences and no conflict. So the further we stretch ourselves towards serving another's benefit, rather than just our own, the ever closer we evolve towards our inner spiritual essence which is what we really are, shattering the mask we wear every day. That is the real homecoming!