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Brief Thoughts on Health

12 Oct 2020

Public and personal health is an enormous topic, so I’m just going to frame this post through two specific questions.

What has this pandemic taught us so far?

Public health has become a more controversial issue due to it. In America and doubtlessly in other countries as well, there are many who believe that individual rights to not practice social distancing and mask-wearing trump the value of public health. I’m going to avoid talking about the politics surrounding this because all of that is messy. But our national values of public health in relation to other things, is not high. Unwillingness to wear a light mask is a testament to that. We have known that this is a clear issue in the context of obesity; America has gone from 11.90% obese in 1975 to 37.90% obese in 2016. While it is easy to point at Americans and say our fast food is weighing our scales down, global rates of obesity have followed this same trend. I believe this likely can be attributed to more stagnant lifestyles, more prevalent fast-food options, and a general lack of emphasis in public culture. I think this lack of emphasis in public culture, as seen in both obesity and coronavirus contexts, has shown itself clearer. As a country, we don’t value public health as much as we value capitalism and freedom. But with great power comes great responsibility. While we’re free to not wear masks and move around, we have to understand the consequences of our own choices in these contexts. Unlike a country like China, whose swift iron-fist lockdown and public health policies enabled them to essentially nullify their own pandemic, we are still dealing with high national cases daily and have to worrying about protecting ourselves from the virus whenever we step outside. Of course, America is not China, and there is a serious tradeoff between the freedoms that American citizens have against the protections that Chinese citizens have. But public health is not something that should require the sacrifice of those freedoms entirely. I think it simply requires a deeper understanding of the relationship between our actions and their consequences, and a uniting public valuing of public and personal health. Although there are so many other factors in this issue, I believe that the strongest takeaway is that we simplify don’t believe in public health as a country.

How’s your mental health doing?

Good. And you?

If your mental health is doing well through all that the world is going through, truly good for you. I’ve picked up breathing and meditating practices from Headspace, listening to the Yes Theory podcast, and I stretch every morning, among other things. That time I have to stretch and breathe in peace are really important to me. But it’s been really, really hard to separate work and study from life, and I’m sure so many people share this feeling. The concept of burnout was floated in the most recent Yes Theory podcast episode, and I have so many questions about burnout and the various cultural values involved it in that I cannot even begin to formulate long thoughts. I just have questions.

See you by the Fire.