No one exists in complete isolation
Every time I take painkiller for my chronic pain, I try to tell myself, “I can feel it; it hurts. I am alive.”
It is not a very satisfying response to a nagging nuisance because we all assume every little problem in life can be fixed. Prozac for depression; Viagra for “you know what”; instant cash at the payday loan place; drinks when unhappy; a prescription for everything. Added incentive is that fixing things is an opportunity to make money; new drugs, new gizmos.
I believe that our assumption of an instant fix for everything is a root cause of the current epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. The reality is, there are incurable realities like aging and dying. You just have to learn to live with them. Listen to the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer: “Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change.”
I am in no way against modern medicine. It made the world a whole lot better and happier place. But when it comes to the never-ending quest for perfect health, longevity and lasting youthfulness, medicine does not provide a panacea. Rather, one solution often creates more problems. For example, we are all born to die. “No life, no death,” says Buddhists’ “Hannya” scripture. Some non-European traditions can be helpful here.
For example, increasingly we are realizing that to see each individual, each living entity and each matter as a totally independent and separate entity is a serious oversight. Betty Bastien pointed out, in her book “Blackfoot Way of Knowing,” nothing exists in isolation independently. Everything exists in relationship with other lives and matters. And all seek to live in harmony side by side. Countermeasures often created other problems. The government and the Church had tried to destroy such traditions and created a mess in Canada, not only in relation with the First Nations people but also in the environment.
In southern Africa there is a life principle called “Umbuntu.” It is summarized in the following sentence: “Motho ke motho ka batho.” It can mean: “A person can only be a person in the community with other animals, people and matters in harmonious relationship.” With such help from a non-Western approach to the nature of things like the above, I am beginning to see answers I don’t yet fully understand but am slowly discovering. We have a lot of work to do.
Tadashi (Tad) Mistui