“Instead of building the peace by attacking injustices like starvation, disease, illiteracy, political and economic servitude, we spend a trillion dollars on war since 1946, until hatred and conflict have become the international preoccupation.”
~ Father Daniel Berrigan
In the aftermath of the recent Beirut bombings and Paris attacks (yes, in that order), it seems the entire world is on fire.
Not literally—not like Indonesia, which has really been burning since June of this year—but burning nonetheless. A feverish, hot burn. As if a disease is spreading and everybody is feeling it. The same kind of fever after 9/11. Or World War II.
Like most, I am not a history, theology, psychology or political expert. Yet, like everyone else, I can relate what is happening around me to what I know, to what I understand. Many comments and interpretations we find on (any) current topics are usually just that—a reflection of our own life, interests and understanding.
A large part of my interests at the moment centers around nutrition and health. I have the opportunity to study centuries-old traditional therapies, which we now call alternative. I learn about scientific research regarding modern nutrition, and I am presented with the differences between modern medical science (which largely treats symptoms after an illness appears) and other philosophies that try to prevent disease rather than cure them after the fact.
We have all seen cartoons on Facebook of a sad, ill-looking globe reminiscing the times it was strong and healthy. Indeed, it feels as if the planet is sick and we human beings are both its bacteria—good and bad—and its doctors.
We, the good bacteria, are happily minding our own business, trying to live in harmony with our neighbours in a balanced and sane environment.
We, the bad bacteria, burn, deplete, contaminate and suck the earth dry. We fight amongst each other, drive out whole populations, try to conquer territories, cultures and religions; we judge, silence, imprison, marginalise and kill the weaker ones—attack those who are not like us. We are fed by ignorance, fear and panic, exactly those emotions that are created by our own actions. We are destroying our own planet, our own foundation.
The good bacteria, at times, seem defenseless.
We, the doctors, are trying to cure the planet and save ourselves. Some of us are wise and try to look for the root cause of the problem. We try to understand where a particular disease comes from and work on finding a real cure—not just temporary relief. We feed our patients nutritional whole foods and tell them to meditate and exercise. Wise healers engage in dialogue, try to comprehend what is going on and listen to the patient. They prescribe what is best for the patient, not what is dictated by man-made, one-size-fits-all rules, laws or books. They are the great ones of the world, the Mandela’s, the Martin Luther King Jr’s, the Ghandi’s.
Unfortunately, most doctors nowadays do not think like traditional healers. We focus on quick, short-term successes. Our medicinal bags hold antibiotics and chemical drugs instead of herbs, roots and breathing exercises. When a disease erupts somewhere in the world, we draw our guns, send out suicide bombers, declare war, launch a few airstrikes and then satisfactorily gaze down on the chaos we leave behind, concluding that the illness has been eradicated.
But just like after an antibiotics treatment, the patient is left weak and without an immune system of its own. Another symptom will pop up sooner or later, perhaps in the same area, perhaps elsewhere in the body. It may seem totally unrelated to the previous disease, but perhaps, unbeknownst to the modern doctor, the root cause is the same. It just manifests in a different shape.
So we invade again, send in the special forces, nuke it with chemo, use planes as bombs, chop it off with saws and scalpels. We leave behind an amputated, weakened body, tapping ourselves on the chest for a cleaning job well done, only to find that the cycle continues.
The problem has not been solved; the patient is not cured. The disease comes back, perhaps deadly this time.
As Dr. Frank Lipman, a functional medicine practitioner who studied Western medicine as well as alternative therapies including acupuncture and herbal medicine, states:
“Western medicine is excellent for crisis care; for instance, when you break a bone, cannot breathe or are having a heart attack. But Western medicine is poor at preventing and treating chronic diseases.”
I believe that recent tragic events are the symptoms of a long-standing, very chronic disease of the world that has been fought with all the wrong drugs.
Perhaps looking at alternative therapies is a better solution.
Just as I healed the inflammation around my frozen shoulder from the inside by switching to a vegan diet instead of accepting a cortisone shot, we might look at healing the world from the inside out. I stopped putting inflammatory food in my body, and the inflammation disappeared. It was that simple. There was no need for the big guns, steroid injections or painkillers. These would have undoubtedly temporarily suppressed the local symptom of my condition, but it would not have cured me, as I would have continued feeding myself with the wrong kind of fuel.
Can we heal the world in a similar way? Can we heal ourselves from the inside, structurally?
The Dalai Lama, who is definitely a wise healer in my opinion, certainly believes it. In a recent interview regarding the Paris attacks, he says:
“We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”
Instead of fueling the already raging fire with more hate and violence, let’s see if we can break the fever by feeding ourselves with understanding, compassion, acceptance, respect and love.
Author: Yaisa Nio
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Roberto Rizzato/Flickr