Health and Well-being, A Work in Progress

29 January 2021

Jeff McCarty

To build a society that operates at the highest standards with the best in mind for the humans within that society, it will require those humans to live life at the highest standards of health and well-being possible. Healthy humans make for a healthy society. The question that I have pondered upon when it comes to human health and its connection to the health of a society, is what role the Society at large has in maintaining healthy citizens?

Though the answer isn't exactly clear on where the bounds should be, we have decided as a society that there should be some sort of rules and regulations that help in maintaining the health and well-being of the humans within our society. Agencies such as the FDA, USDA, or the CDC easily come to mind when we think of centralized agencies that operate (or at least are supposed to) with the best in mind for the health and well-being of the public. Though these agencies, and others with a similar purpose, haven’t done the best of jobs in the past, we would be wise not to discount the role agencies like this serve in society just due to failures that they may have had over time.

When it comes to health and well-being, the traditional belief is that the bulk of the burden falls on each individual to maintain their health and well-being. This of course makes sense from the libertarian perspective that we each are empowered to make our own decisions when it comes to our health and well-being. Though this is true that we are empowered to make many decisions that will impact the state of our health and well-being, it does no justice to the full scope of forces in society that has a bearing on our health and well-being.

Plenty of other factors come into play when we analyze any human being’s health and well-being. For starters, we each are born into physical forms (our bodies) that come with a set of genetic codes that will be followed out. This essentially means that each of us has a disposition towards a certain status of health and well-being that is bestowed upon us, without any conscious choice made by the individual in question. Though an individual can make choices that may mitigate or exacerbate the impact that genetics plays on one’s health and well-being, we can’t avoid all the cards we are dealt from the genetic deck.

Let’s say that we are willing to just look completely past genetics and the role they play, we are back to the choices we make as the deciding factor of our health and well-being. What we generally fail to ask is why there are unhealthy choices to make in the first place. Why is it that I can find a meal full of trans fats, GMOs, and countless other ingredients that are found to be harmful to any human’s health and well-being? This is a question that I have pondered for a long time. As someone who is not living my most healthy life, I have wondered how much of my health and well-being is within my control, and how much of it is based on the societal circumstances I was born to.

There is no way to know, as the alternate realities needed to play out each counterfactual are not in existence (or at least out of my perceptual reach). Yet there is at least one conclusion I can draw from maintaining one’s health and well-being, that it takes work. Some people may have it easier than others, as their genetic code does the bulk of the work for them. For others, the work is the choices that we must make. No matter who we are though, we should be able to see that the health and well-being of our society are correlated to the health and well-being of the individuals of that society. This means that the work of maintaining our health and well-being is both a job for the individual as well as the collective.

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