No one ex­ists in com­plete iso­la­tion


Lethbridge Herald - - READER’S FORUM -

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


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