#1 - Justice is the Best Medicine
We believe true health is rooted in justice and that health is impossible in justice’s absence. Justice is as justice does. In the laboratory of life, the living world, justice means equal and fair access to unpolluted air, water, and food, and the other basic necessities of a happy and meaningful life. Justice does not come from laws, it comes from our collective and innate knowing that we all belong and all have the equal right to share in the abundance of the world.
This means all have the equal freedom and ability to access affordable, safe, and comfortable housing, education, and non-exploitative work.
In a just world, work will change drastically, we should all be able to work less and the work we do will not cause harm to people, other species or the planet. Universal basic income, reparations as outlined by The Movement for Black Lives, land re-matriation like the visionary work of Sorgorea Te’ Land Trust, worker owned coops such as Cooperation Jackson are all #JustTransitions solutions that are the medicine human societies across the globe most need.
In the US today, 1 in 3 people will get cancer in their lifetimes. In 2017, globally 5.4 million children died before the age of 5 years. Global air pollution, an indisputable direct result of the fossil fuel industry and climate change, is increasingly being shown to be a major culprit in shortening our lives. And yet, private hospitals and big pharma in the US alone are multi-billion dollar industries, profiteering from our suffering while they are often its cause.
One glaring example of this complicity is Bayer-Monsanto, a big pharma – big agro corporation. During WW2, Bayer was part of a consortium of German chemical companies, IG Farben, that relied on death camp labor to build a major factory in Auschwitz which manufactured Zyklon B, the gas used to murder a million people interned in the camps. In 2018, Bayer was #9 of the top 15 highest revenue big pharma corporations globally.
As of 2019, Bayer faces over 11,200 lawsuits for concealing RoundUp’s role in causing cancer, made by Monsanto which it has owned since June 2018. In a February 2019, federal ruling in favor of Edwin Hardeman, Bayer-Monsanto was ordered to pay $80 million.
It’s still business as usual for Bayer, though. According to its website, the company has 4 cancer drugs on the market, and ‘several compounds’ in development. Bayer-Monsanto is also expanding its ‘precision medicine’ immuno-onclogy research. In April 2019, it invested in the biotech firm Khloris for cancer-vaccine research using stem cell technologies. Drug companies, entrusted by the public globally to ensure our health, are profiting in the billions by causing the illnesses they are purporting to cure.
A world in which the most basic benchmarks for universal justice are met – a world where systems and institutions are rooted in preserving life rather than generating profit – and people across the globe have equitable and sensible access to material resources and decision-making, the most fundamental conditions for health will also be met.
Many of the concepts popularized by US healthcare, particularly those that hyper-focus on individual responsibility and encourage increasing amounts of medical surveillance, make less sense when we fully reckon with the role of injustice.
The individual and collective cost of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, environmental racism and classism and the capitalist economy which they uphold is the shortening of our lives, the destruction of the ecosystems on which we wholly depend for our health and livelihoods, and incalculable, unnecessary suffering.