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Health - Alessandro Pizzoccaro

Gross national happiness: from the twentieth century paradigms to a real way for measuring well-being
by Alessandro Pizzoccaro

Many signals show  that two paradigms which are at the base of our actual social life are proving to be largely  inadequate: the economic paradigm and the medical paradigm.
On the one hand the current global economic system forces more than half of the population to live on the equivalent of less than two dollars a day. With regard to the socio-health dimension, the Western man, even living on average longer and longer, feels increasingly besieged by illness and, as a patient, he is experiencing a state of growing dissatisfaction.

Adam Smith, father of classical liberalism, in the famous work An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, theorized the immanent presence of a social law almost unconscious and involuntary underlying the functioning of economic exchange. According to Smith, the virtuous working of the market, which tends to act rationally for the common good, is determined only through the action of the selfish individual drive. This is because the contractor is automatically guided by the laws of the free market to achieve the best possible use of his financial and human resources, consequently generating a virtuous and efficient production of wealth beneficent  for the entire community.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness and universality of this free market economy law have been refuted by the facts and by history on several occasions. In fact, this magical homeostasis that should happen  is often undermined by the selfish predatory instinct that drives economic actors towards maximizing the gain and the accumulation of added value achieved by the practice of monopoly or oligopoly, both representing the negation in terms of the free market. On the other hand, the prophecy of a concrete realization of economic equality and social justice through the implementation of the of communist society model has proven to be even more false

Currently, however, significant signals are appearing, showing that these paradigms no longer correspond to the dominant view of the present time. There is a growing belief shared by a growing number of people that the wealth of nations should not necessarily be measured by the single indicator of gross domestic product, but introducing other parameters to define the 'well-being ' of citizens.

Unfortunately, as the Nobel Prize for medicine Alexis Carrel warned already in the thirties, compared to an exponential growth of technological progress, the inner, emotional, ethical and spiritual growth of people remained only constant.

This gap in speed between the development of the structural and material values and the moral and existential ones  involves an internal disharmony in the growth process, an evolutionary dissonance of Western civilization with an ongoing risk factor determined by the increasing difficulty of society to govern in a rational, ethical and harmonic way the new frontiers opened by the technique. In short, the sorcerer's apprentice is likely to be victim of his own success.
Recently, the enlightened ruler of a small Asian country, Bhutan, has enjoyed a sudden international fame for having introduced a parameter, an alternative to the GDP (gross domestic product) as an indicator of the wealth of the nation, replacing it with a far more attractive parameter of "Gross National Happiness."
But we can’t forget that the origin of the history of modern democracy, the very founding document of the United States, the famous Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, reads "[...] We believe that [...]all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[72] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men"

Curiously, on the other hand, in America,  a sort of unhappiness index was developed, the "Misery Index”, which measures the degree of difficulty, sadness and resentment of the population. It is a very significant index, because when reaching a certain threshold it can cause great disturbance to society. But developing an index of "Gross National Happiness."  would have been more consistent with the fundamental principles of the United States.

But how can we evaluate the index of "Gross National Happiness"? Certainly not with quantitative criteria. This is not about adding tons or billions, we need to "measure" the quality of many imponderable factors including the degree of satisfaction, gratification and achievement of one’s own goals in life, as opposed to the lack of frustration, resentment, loneliness, fears, etc.. This index may not be the result of an arithmetic sum, but will provide an indicator of the closeness or less in equilibrium at the highest level between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components in the totality of the people who are part of a nation.

Certainly we can’t imagine that such a paradigm shift could occur in the short term. It could, however, be accelerated by an epochal crisis like the one that is emerging at a global dimension. A global recession forcing everyone to rethink deeply  a logic based on the cynicism of maximizing profits without regard for the enormous and unjust social and environmental costs produced by an irrational and disharmonious model of development.

Is it acceptable to have a social system where 1 percent of the population owns 40 percent of the wealth, where 34 000 (thirty four thousand!) Children die every day from malnutrition, where more than 50 percent of the planet lives on less than 2 (two !) dollars a day? Certainly not. We can only hope that these unacceptable global discrepancies will soon be tackled with determination by enlightened politicians of the dominant nations, by men with economic power inspired by a new ethic wisdom and, we hope, a new progressive Enlightenment on humanistic base, founded on rationality and solidarity.

But let’s descend from the chief systems to the small system that is composed  by our daily lives and our country. In fact each of us can contribute to a positive change towards the new paradigm, and this contribution can be explained by a key word: "responsibility."

With regard to the management of enterprises, the key word is "social responsibility", that is an approach to the pursuit of profit and value for money that can and should be fully integrated with the constant attention to the social consequences of their business decisions . Businessmen should take responsibility for the smooth running of their companies, for the satisfaction of their employees, for a loyal attitude towards their competitors but they should also pursue goals addressed not only to profit maximization but also knowing how to give answers to human needs, to the needs of the community  and the needs of the environment.

There are different levels of corporate social responsibility. Some examples. For Milton Friedman, the maximum social responsibility for the entrepreneur is represented by the payment of taxes. For Adriano Olivetti, social responsibility meant not only to ensure a fair wage to his employees, but also take care of the environment and of the community and of an appropriate education for their children. According to Muhammad Yunus, every human being is born with the potential to take care of himself and to help improving the common welfare, but not all are given the opportunity to best express their full potential and talent. This is why in 1983 he formed the Grameen Bank, which has helped 5 million people in Bangladesh to emancipate themselves from poverty by funding micro-loans, loans of even a few dollars without collateral, to people with the  self- entrepreneurial ambition to create their own business . A surprising fact is that the default rate of Grameen Bank is less than the average default rate of traditional banks.

If we move from the economic field to the one of health, we find the same paradox and the same basic contradiction: the "business paradigm", the "reductionist scientific paradigm" so functional for the technologic exasperation is not working for mankind, for his health and well-being. Public funding, private investment, research, biotechnology and sophisticated drugs paradoxically do not get a real improvement in health status, do not necessarily produce a true healing and do not contribute to the well-being.
In fact, they often create the opposite effect, since the human being responds to external stimuli in a non-linear way, completely different  than the one of the machines that respond to commands always uniquely according to a strict cause-effect logic.

On the contrary, Man is a psycho-neuro-endocrine and immunological very complex  unit with subtle and interconnected balances and repair systems. The best way to run our organism is to stimulate, activate, balance these components, rather than suppress them, as unfortunately happens as a result of environmental pollution and pharmacological overtreatment: we live immersed in a polluted society, subjected to stress and tension and emotional and affective life is not balanced, we take chemically treated food and synthetic drugs that will inevitably cause side effects, which lower the immune system, generate negative effects psychologically, on the nervous and hormonal system and disrupt the fragile balance of such a delicate and complex structure that a human being is.

It would be very interesting to identify and validate a test method that could measure the overall health status through a more innovative index, a sort of “gross internal energy “ index would undoubtedly contribute to a qualitative leap in the global understanding of health and of mankind in general. The good news is that, in this case, such an index exists, or rather, there are various techniques to locate the energy of the individual not only globally, but also of specific organs. As in the case of "gross national happiness" we are not concerned about finding values resulting from the arithmetic sum of the measured energy. On the contrary, it is important to identify whether the body's energy values are in a harmonious relationship between them, and if the flow of energy between the various physical, mental and emotional components of the patient flow freely in the body without being impeded by energetic-functional  blocks. From an interpretation of disease as a purely physical manifestation we have come to a more comprehensive approach, an approach which suggests both to the therapist and to the patient that in health and disease other components are involved, in addition to the purely material ones. The importance of the psychological, mental, emotional and even spiritual components emerges strongly.
It is time that the concept of technical and generalizing medicine gives way to an individualized medicine, where the patient is not considered as a machine, and drugs are not used as "spare parts" to fix it.

These are the references that I try to transfer every day into the DNA of my company, which operates within the homeopathic medicine.
Guna - a term which in Sanskrit means "the qualities of the energy of life" – has indeed not only the aim to grow as a company, generating more profits and expanding  its range of influence and commercial viability, but also has a meta-goal of its own:  the one of contributing to the dissemination of knowledge and of an approach to health focused on the awareness of how important it is to identify the true physical, emotional and psycho-spiritual problems, underlying causes of symptoms and illnesses thereby bringing about an overall balance of body, mind and spirit and achieving a new state of health, beauty and vitality.
This interpretation of Man in a holistic sense finds  consequent therapeutic implication in homeopathic remedies. In fact, the very peculiar production technique of homeopathic treatment allows effects not only physically but also mentally and spiritually.

It is particularly gratifying for me to think about providing all citizens the opportunity to be treated with therapeutic solutions effective and free of unwanted side effects, thanks to drugs that are in harmony with nature and act in support of the physiological defense functions of the body, making human beings really protagonist of their own healing.
This vision is still considered "heretical" by a good part of the national establishment, even though every day more and more doctors are embracing these disciplines and this new way of understanding the relationship with health and illness of their patients.

Not to mention that our own country has an urgent need to overcome the embargo in information and the legislative discrimination against homeopathy, which is not only an alternative model of healing which is economic, efficient and above all without side effects, but also opens a different paradigm of sustainable development and harmony for humanity.

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