“No Man Is An Island”- Do we have a personal responsibility to stay healthy for the good of society?

I honestly believe that our actions affect each and every person around us. Unless you live alone on an island, this theoretically makes sense, as, on a local scale, we come into contact with hundreds of people on a daily basis. But what about the larger picture? Do we have a responsibility to society as a whole to remain a good standing member of our community, to do the morally right things that benefit ourselves as well others? Of course we do! We obey laws, we act civilly and politely whenever possible, we volunteer to help when needed… but what about our personal responsibility to remain healthy for the good of society?

No, I am not advocating any governmental interference, so dont worry, but I’ve been thinking about what our society would be like if we all saw good health as not just a personal choice, but as a societal norm as well. Recent studies have shown that only 3% of Americans do all the right things to be healthy. For the first time in decades, it appears that the trend to live longer is slowing down. Obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and poor nutrition are causing us to die sooner than later. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are sick or dying from diseases and illnesses that were self imposed by bad health habits. Our emergency rooms are glutted with uninsured patients who smoke, over consume alchohol and eat horribly, often obese, suffering from strokes, heart disease, diabetes, cancers and more. All self imposed. Yes, insurance premiums are ridiculously high, forcing many of the poor to remain uninsured and hence, they cannot afford preventative care- but would our premiums be lower if we all took better care of ourselves?

I pose these questions merely for interesting debate. There is no easy answer, but clearly we do need to take a personal responsibility for our health, if only to save our families and friends from having to watch us die from lung cancer, or suffer in longterm care from a stroke. Think about Terri Schiavo- did you know her cardiac arrest was due to an eating disorder? How much suffering did her family go through because of Terri’s mental illness and unhealthy behaviors? Terri’s actions affected the nation as a whole as well, so couldn’t the other end of the spectrum work too? Consider this scenario- a client of mine was recently killed in a motorcycle accident. He was a wonderful man, full of life, a school teacher, a dad, an outdoorsman, a musician. It has been reported that the drive of the car may have suffered a heart attack or some other illness while driving- and hence was not in control of the car when she killed him. A true tragedy for all, but was it a simple case of ” bad luck”? What if this woman had known she was having cardiac problems and ignored them? What if she failed to take her medicines properly, or ignored her doctor’s advice to stop smoking and begin exercising? You can see how a simple case of “bad luck” becomes a larger issue…..

I encourage all of you to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Not only will it benefit society and your families, you’ll feel and look great as well! Best in health….