On Monday, February 4, G.A.L.A. kicked off the 2013 Study Circle, a sustainability focused book club, at Huggins Hospital. After reading the first chapter of the book, titled A World of Health: Connecting People, Place, and Planet, participants engaged in conversation guided by discussion questions. The group concluded the session with a weekly Eco-Challenge: to decrease the BPA in our diets by reducing packaging and plastics used for food products. Angie, who is currently interning at G.A.L.A., participated in the discussion group. Here are some of her personal reflections on the book chapter and the discussion that took place:
The title of chapter one is Redefining Health, and in our first session I feel that the group did just that. They took the information from the chapter we read, their own experiences, thoughts and reflections of others to define what we in our right thought the definition of health should encompass and how it should be achieved.
There are two separate themes from the discussion and chapter that my mind couldn’t help but to bring together. It may make me seem like a conspiracy theorist, but really I just like finding connections between seemingly separate parts of our world. While this theory may seem extravagant, I just think it’s an interesting concept to mull over. The U.S. practices a concept of something being safe until proven harmful, in reference to banning dangerous and harmful substances. There is controversy surrounding this because, a harmful substance can be the toxic waste being produced by a coal plant, or the medicine that has the potential to cure a cancer patient. So while the subject of what to ban can be very complex, there are certain substances that you might catch wind of and think, “who in their right mind thought that would be okay!” Our EPA was created in a time where rivers were known to spontaneously combust of their own volition, due to all of the toxic waste being dumped into them, and for the most part they’ve done their job. I certainly haven’t heard about any bodies of water bursting into flames recently. However, I feel that there are certain obvious measures that should be taken, but aren’t being done. I took an Environmental Law and Policy class my second term of college and one of the things I read about was how our government has forced the EPA to keep mum about certain situations that could prove to be very controversial, in order to protect the interests of their supporters. The government, in my opinion, is very much swayed by corporate America and the big businesses that have the ability to put a lot of funding back into the economy and of course into politicians campaigns. The politicians, and therefore the government keeps the interests of these businesses safe from strict regulation and businesses continue to rake in millions. Now to take this a step further, I began to think of the first essay, which began with a story of the greatest physician in the world, who remained anonymous because he cured his patients before they got sick, he prevented sickness from even occurring in the first place. Then I began to think of our health care system—a massive corporation in its own right. Mainly, people only visit the hospital or doctor if they are sick or think something is wrong with them. So therefore, if people remained in good health, what would be the state of our health care system? It would mean a lot of lost jobs and money into our economy. Not only for the doctors and nurses and, but for the big insurance companies as well and who knows what other far reaching effects. That would be a major blow to our economy. This led me to one little thought, what if we as Americans, are purposefully being kept unhealthy, to keep the economy robust and healthy. As crazy as this theory may seem, it can’t be any crazier than some of the things that we are unwittingly, or maybe even sometimes knowingly, allowing our bodies to come into contact without, jeopardizing our health and well-being.