There has always been a fundamental difference between approaches to health and medicine between the western world and the eastern practitioners. This difference is that in western medicine we tend to treat symptoms rather than illnesses. If we have a headache we take two Advil and our symptoms are gone. This is not a cure. In the East, if a person has a headache, the first effort is to try to figure out what the cause of the pain is. If we find the root of the problem, and solve that, we are far better off than treating symptoms. I don’t want to point fingers at who or why we tend to medicate without diagnosis, but lets just say some people/companies have hundreds of billions of dollars to profit by this logic.
The point of this article is not to bag on pharmaceutical companies or our medical system, but more to ponder the logic behind it. This habit of our society focusing on symptoms rather than problems does not serve us.
There has been a great deal of chatter about many political topics lately where this logic of serving symptoms rather than problems cripples us. Here are some examples:
We all agree that homelessness is an endemic issue throughout America. So we discuss building public bathrooms and shelters and providing food. These are admirable thoughts and ideas, but in reality, we really should be focused on the cause of the problem. The majority of homeless people in America are mentally ill or have substance addiction issues. That is the root of the problem for most homeless folks. Rather than building shelters and food kitchens, why don’t we, as a gluttonous wealthy nation, provide services to treat addiction and mental & physical health services instead? Building accommodations for homeless folks will help them survive. Treating their illnesses will allow them to thrive. Shelters may be a great stepping stone to help homeless people find resources, but it should not be considered a remedy by any means.
Another great example of a hot political topic these days is undocumented immigration. This issue has severed our nation in half. Building silly border walls is futile. Building walls sends a negative message to both sides and will just result in immigrants digging tunnels and building ladders. Lets trace this back to the root of the cause of immigration. I have many friends who are immigrants, most undocumented. Not one of them would have rather leave their home and their belongings and their loved ones behind. Not one of them wanted to get to the United States for any reason other than opportunity. For various reasons, they could not survive in their home country so they come to the US. I for one am grateful for the immigrant population and for all of the color and ethnic diversity that they bring. America is a quilt of many nationalities all living in harmony. But if you want to improve the undocumented immigrant situation, you must focus on the cause, not the border.
If we as a nation of consumers focuses on buying goods and agriculture produced in countries from south of the American border, you will provide opportunity for people in that nation to make a living and remain there in their home country. If we support manufacturing in those nations, we are a step in the right direction. If we work to stop governmental corruption in their countries, citizens will be able to support themselves. But there is a bigger issue.
We, as a nation of consumers need affordable labor just s much if not more than immigrants need our $. If there was no affordable immigrant labor, how much would it cost to build houses or to have our lawn mowed? Where would we (and our president be) if we did not have affordable labor to provide food and hospitality services? How much would our produce cost if we used only domestic labor to produce it? Aside from the culture that other nations provide, think about all of the beautiful positive ways that immigrants improve our lives and reduce our cost of living. Having immigrants in North America is a win win. People get opportunities to provide better lives to themselves and their families. We, as a nation of perpetual consumers get quality services.
The main reason why so many immigrants are undocumented is because it is very expensive and nearly impossible to get documents. If we build a system where immigrants can join our system legally, we all benefit. Everyone will be paying taxes increasing revenue. Immigration enforcement services will shrink also increasing revenue. America’s will be filled with a diverse group of people who all take pride as part of this system rather than feeling like outsiders. We cant insist that all immigrants are documented without providing a viable path for them to do so. A path that does not require immigration lawyers or several year waiting lists. If we provide amnesty for the law abiding immigrants in the united states now, and an easy system for work visas or residency, we ALL prosper. We will be treating the cause rather than the symptom.
Treating the symptom rather than the cause is like hearing a grinding noise in your transmission and instead of going to the mechanic, you just crank up the volume on the radio to mask the sound. If we alter our way of thinking about things, we can create permanent solutions rather than mask the symptoms.