#2 - Health is the greatest wealth
We believe health is the greatest wealth because its value is immeasurable. Health and the conditions required for health extend way beyond our bodies, encompassing airways, waterways, and every aspect of our surrounding ecosystems from gravity, to our inter-species relationships, to social institutions and culture.
In the forward to her book Water Wars, Dr. Vandana Shiva remarks that the water that flows through your bathtub faucet once flowed through the banks of the Ganges River.
That which supports life connects and rightly belongs to all. Wealth defined in this way cannot be tallied into a neat sum, but rather is the total of many interconnected relationships and processes that achieve balance and which together add up to far greater than the sum of their parts. It is an ‘account’ to which we all have equal access and right.
In today’s world wealth is hyper-measured by what’s in our wallets, bank accounts and what we report to the IRS. We live in fear of not having enough, which is understandable given staggering US and global wealth inequality.
However when we realize that health is about much more than how fast we can run a mile, or even our life expectancy, but rather about the abundance of our world which inherently belongs to us all, we begin to understand ourselves and our world anew.
We recognize we can be healthy even if we have a chronic illness or disabilities – as the majority of the world’s population have – provided that the wealth of our world is made available to us to meet our needs. We no longer allow bankers or economists to be the experts in wealth, nor doctors, health insurers, or big pharma experts in health, we reconnect to and legitimate what we’ve always known.
In the US and globally, these ideas are galvanizing momentum. In Jan 2019, New York City announced it will be divesting from the fossil fuel industry and suing several fossil fuel industries for their role in causing climate change.
Similarly, Indigenous people globally have been defending the abundance and incalculable value of ecosystems for generations. Rivers and forests in New Zealand and Australia have been granted legal personhood and an international nature’s rights movement is mounting. In March 2019, the State of Ohio granted Lake Erie the same rights as a human. The Indigenous People of Brazil are currently the planet’s most dedicated protectors against the Bolsonaro regime’s rising tide of fascism, defending vast swaths of the Amazonian rainforest, their sacred home and the lungs of the earth that literally breathe us all. Corporations may only see dollar signs, but we must learn to see not only our futures, but the wealth of our own and planetary health when we consider those forests and their fate.