Holistic Health

Holistic health is synonymous with world peace, liberty and justice for all, and true love. It means that everyone has their due because the people in power, i.e., the rich, realize that world peace is what they really want. So they freely choose to give from each according to ability to each according to need. Marx commonly gets credit for this line, but it’s actually from the Acts of the Apostles (2:44-45, 4:32-35 and 11:29). In a larger sense, however, it’s just one manifestation of a much older and more important line: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 18:19 and 18:33-35; Matt 22:39). The challenge is to persuade the rich that sharing in this manner is what they really want to do.

What is your due, your fair share? What should you take from the world? What should you give to it? And what should you leave alone? Each person’s answers to these questions constitute that person’s holistic impact statement. If a person takes too much, he/she impairs world peace by depriving others. If he/she takes too little he/she impairs world peace by depriving self and dependents. Finding our true fair share is what real education is about.

There is nothing to own but matter or energy. You can own information, but that’s a form of energy called entropy. But the sum total of matter and energy is fixed (First Law of Thermodynamics). Therefore, as some people take ownership of more matter/energy, less is available to be owned by others. Economics is a zero-sum process. Your winnings are others’ losses. However much you own, others own less because of it. Care about those others. Rich people, by definition, own too much. The challenge for rich people, therefore, is to donate in such a way as to even the balance. That’s not an easy task. There’s no end to the list of agencies that will accept donations on the promise to do good. But, unfortunately, most of these agencies are either ineffective or downright corrupt. Donating to ineffective or corrupt agencies does nothing to foster holistic health, world peace or liberty and justice for all. Therefore beware. How will you disperse your excess wealth? Everything important hinges on your answer.

Health normally refers to some mythical “preferred condition” of an individual or group without concern for the condition of the whole. Holistic health is about replacing this myth with recognition of reality: The condition of every individual, of every group is indelibly linked to the condition of the whole. The Journal of Holistic Health fosters scrutiny of the state of the whole. It advocates for an ever-greater correlation between individual needs and global resources.

“Nur die Fulle fuhrt zur Klarheit” (Only wholeness leads to clarity). Niels Borh, International Physical Congress, September 1927, at Como, Italy, quoted in Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Touchstone, N.Y., 1988, page 131.

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the tolls; It tolls for thee.” John Donne, XVII Meditation, 1630, in Charles Coffin, The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne, The Modern Library, NY, 1952, page 440.

Preventing disease and preserving health requires “full and unlimited democracy.” Rudolph Virchow, 1848, quoted in R. Bayer, A. L. Fairchild, K Hopper, and C. A. Nathanson, Confronting the Sorry State of U. S. Health, Science, 341, 962-63, 2013.

“Systems integration — holistic approaches to integrating various components of coupled human and natural systems (for example, social-ecological systems and human-environment systems) across all dimensions — is necessary to address complex interconnections and identify effective solutions to sustainability challenges.” J. Lin et al. Systems Integration for Global Sustainability” Science, 347, 963, 2015

“Interrogation of the roles of microbes in cancer requires a holistic perspective.” W. S. Garrett, Cancer and the Microbiota, Science 348, 80, 2015.

“Holistic analyses of our interconnected world call for conceptual and methological paradigm shifts.” N. Przullj and N. Dognin, Network analytics in the age of big data. Science 353, 124, 2016.

Reply to Dix@hartford.edu

Doug Dix, Ph.D.

My grandparents came to New York from Lithuania during the great human migration of the late 19thcentury. They came without knowing a word of English and without a friend in the New World. They carried everything they owned in one suitcase. I can’t imagine such courage, but it testifies to how bad life was in old Europe. They came to make a better life for their kids, and they did that by sacrifice and hard work. And their kids made a better life for me.   

I never experienced the hardships of my parents’ generation. I only heard of them, the Depression, the epidemics, the War, Jim Crow, communist witch hunts. White kids of my generation learned to think of the good life as their entitlement. I was fortunate to grow up with kids from Lithuania, DP (displaced person) kids who knew first-hand the horror of German and then Russian occupation. They didn’t have toys, didn’t need them. Freedom, food, and safety were more than sufficient. Christmas was a holy day for them, not a holiday. DPs took prayer seriously. They had no use for Santa Claus. They taught me of my privilege, and I learned to be embarrassed. 

In high school, I played sports. They went to work to help support their families and put themselves through college. My parents put me through college. I earned a fellowship to grad school. They earned lieutenant bars. The United States Army was sacred to them. By enlisting, they repaid what they considered a sacred debt. My debt is greater than theirs. This Journal is part of my effort at repayment. I live simply in order to give my extra to those in need. I’m trying to work off my embarrassment, and I’ve found contentment in the process. Anyone who has been privileged as I have, anyone who suffers from discontent, might want to try the same. This Journal exists to facilitate such efforts.