principles of holistic health honesty kindness humility contentment shalom

It’s common to think of holistic health as some grand synthesis of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. People of this persuasion tend to enjoy herbs, incense, mindfulness, untested remedies, and such things. No doubt there’s a role for such unconventional healing, particularly with terminal diseases. But it’s short-sighted holism. There is no real holistic health when even one child is hungry or one mom is sad, sick, or scared. And, today, almost a billion people live with hunger. Some three million kids die of it annually. There is no real holistic health, when topsoil is eroding, forests are shrinking, deserts are expanding, coral reefs are dying, oceans are dying, glaciers are melting, and species are racing to extinction at record rates. There is no real holistic health when the rich get ever, obscenely richer, as the poor get ever poorer and our children grow fatter, weaker, and sicker than ever. To have a chance at real holistic health, we must include all that is animate in our aspirations.  “No man is an island” (Donne). No woman, family, nation, or species is either. The group that matters is the ONE we all belong to. To build that group, we must adopt a new Declaration of Dependence. It should be based on five principles:


Tell the truth, especially to yourself. “Know thyself” (Delphic Oracle), and “This above all, to thine own self be true” (Polonius, Hamlet). True self is like true gravity, true buoyancy, true thermodynamics, and true everything. It’s the same for all. When you love your true self, you also love all selves equally, and we all are one, E pluribus unum.

Kindness. kindness

Love others as self (Lev. 19:18-34; Matt 22: 37-39) because that’s what others truly are. Treat others as you want to be treated. Revere the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Give from each according to ability to each according to need (Marx). Share generously, but wisely, as inefficiency and corruption are rampant, and the so-called charity watchdogs are afraid to bite their masters.

Humility. humility

We are but children groping through the dark, and all we have that matters is each other. We’d be nuts not to hold on tighter. Competition is only for fun. In everything else, we must treat others as we want to be treated.

Contentment. contentment

Enough is enough. Take only what you need. Leave the rest alone, or give it to the needy. Learn to enjoy austerity.

Shalom. peace

It’s peace in Hebrew, but derives from “shalem,” meaning whole. Peace is what follows when everyone has the whole of what they need, and – this is critical – not more than that. Wage peace in this austere, holistic sense.