Energy Medicine and the Politics (Politeia) of Health
“Politics” is derived from the juicier Greek word, “politeia,” which implies an active engagement in which people empower each other to enhance their communities. – Jean Houston
“The Earth is what we all have in common.”
Denial and the Politics of Health
Donna Eden and David Feinstein
In last month’s e-letter, we wrote our strongest statement to our community ever about our concerns regarding the health choices we are making at a national level in the U.S. The article was called “What Are You Doing with Your Outrage.” Most who responded in the comments section were highly appreciative of what we shared, but about one in ten felt outraged by the article itself (one person said she was having to use our techniques to quell her outrage with us . . . at least one person unsubscribed). We were not surprised, but again reminded that these are highly charged issues and that no one is really looking to us for political advice. That is true, and 99+ percent of what we put out is not political.
For those who feel we are overstepping our bounds, most of what we teach is not influenced by our political leanings. It is based on our experience with energy healing. Bodies are apolitical. We hope you will continue to utilize what we have to offer in that arena and ignore the tiny fraction that you feel is not within our proper scope (including this article).
We, however, will continue to assert that it is within our scope to comment on political choices that impact health. And here we go. Since our “outrage” article following the Supreme Court’s decisions on abortion and gun control, the Court made another ruling that will have a major impact on health. It reduced the Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate the carbon emissions that cause climate change.
The health costs of global warming include cardiovascular ailments, respiratory difficulties, heat stroke, and increased hospitalization and emergency room visits, not to mention broader consequences such as threats to food supplies and the suffering caused by wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters exacerbated by rising temperatures. In Spain, 360 people died last week because of the heat wave; 248 in Portugal. Emergency rooms have been overwhelmed. Wildfires are consuming swaths of Europe. They were being battled by more than 3,000 firefighters in Portugal alone. Temperatures exceeded 110 degrees in many countries last week, and it has been unrelenting as we’ve moved into this week. Roads and railroad tracks are buckling.
The science establishing that global warming is directly related to human-generated carbon emissions is about as solid as the evidence for the existence of gravity. An authoritative study in 2021 found consensus in well over 99% of scientific papers that human actions are the cause of climate change. Papers that disagreed with the consensus were primarily “science” slanted by politics. They either contained easily identifiable errors or could not be replicated. Replication is one of the hallmarks of science. Yet the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to weaken the already far-too weak regulations.
In 1998, David co-authored an article for the prestigious journal, World Futures, that analyzed the downfall of the civilization that populated Easter Island. Here is a passage from that paper. The paper is even more pertinent today than when it was written:
The puzzle of Easter Island's vanished civilization and its giant statues is unique in archaeology because of the isolation of this barren land from its neighbors -- 2000 miles from South America and 1400 miles from the nearest inhabited island. Current archaeological evidence indicates that some 1600 years ago the island's first settlers, explorers from Polynesia, found themselves in a pristine paradise with subtropical forests, dozens of bird species, and no predators. They prospered, multiplied, and distributed resources in a manner that suggests a sophisticated economy and a complex political system. Emulating the stone carvings of their Polynesian forebears, they began erecting ever-larger statues on platforms, perhaps as an expression of worship of their gods, perhaps to surpass rival clans with ever more grandiose monuments to their power and wealth.
Eventually, as the population on the 64-square-mile island grew to perhaps as many as 20,000 people, the trees were being cut more rapidly than they were regenerating. The need for canoes, houses, and rollers and rope for transporting the gigantic stone heads finally decimated the forests. The absence of wood for seagoing canoes reduced fish catches. The growing populace consumed the local birds and animals. Erosion and deforestation diminished crop yields. The island could no longer feed its human inhabitants. Many archaeologists believe the political and religious establishments that had directed and distributed the local resources languished until the ruling class was finally overthrown. Disorder ensued and clan fought clan, toppling and finally desecrating each other's statues in the process. By the time the Europeans arrived (Easter Sunday, 1772, hence the island's name), the once-fertile land was barren and desolate. Its remaining inhabitants, only a fraction of the numbers a few generations earlier, were heirs to a society that had deteriorated from splendor into violence, starvation, and cannibalism.
How could this have happened? In an astute analysis of Easter Island's ruin, physiologist Jared Diamond, in a 1995 article in Discover Magazine, observed that the changes in deforestation occurred so slowly from one year to the next that they were almost impossible to detect. An islander might easily miss the long-term trend, assessing: "This year we cleared those woods over there, but trees are starting to grow back again on this abandoned garden site here" (p. 68). Furthermore, Diamond suggests that any islander who issued a warning against the oncoming disaster would have been silenced by vested interests. Chiefs, priests, and stonecarvers alike depended on the status quo to maintain their position and privileges.
Perhaps Easter Island's page in history, if we can discern its lesson, is not just a bleak omen but also an example of mistakes not to make, the miniature enactment of a possible future, a negative instruction manual that can be creatively studied. Easter Island's history is, so far, a microcosm of our planet. A rising population is faced with dwindling resources. Vested interests inhibit a realistic assessment of the predicament, no less an adequate response. And just as no one could emigrate from Easter Island, the Earth has become so interconnected that it is itself like a single island. There is no place on the globe that is not affected by the ecology of the entire planet and, as Diamond observes, "we can no more escape into space than the Easter Islanders could flee into the ocean" (p. 69).
Humanity may not act in time to prevent the decimation of the rain forests, fossil fuels, rare minerals, arable land, and ocean fisheries, just as Ethiopia did not act fast enough to prevent its forest cover from shriveling from 30 percent to a mere 1 percent in 40 years. Powerful decision-making groups are ignoring those voices who sound an alarm. The private agendas of political, economic, and religious groups keep them from effectively addressing the profoundly important problems of our diminishing natural resources and their imbalanced distribution. Finding parallels with Easter Island, Diamond observes that corrective actions today are also blocked "by well-intentioned political and business leaders [who] are perfectly correct in not noticing big changes from year to year. Instead, each year there are just somewhat more people, and somewhat fewer resources, on Earth" (Diamond, p. 69).
Will we learn from the failures of those who came before us? "The only thing we learn from history," observed the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, "is that we don't learn from history." Best then that we learn from past failures to learn. Diamond is more optimistic than Heideigger about our ability to self-correct, emphasizing a crucial difference between us and the ill-fated later Easter Islanders: "The Easter Islanders had no books and no histories of other doomed societies. Unlike the Easter Islanders, we have histories of the past – information that can save us" (Diamond, p. 69). We also have communications technologies that can allow us to decisively utilize that information.
David’s article isn’t primarily about climate change or the demise of Easter Island’s once thriving civilization. It is about the way that individuals and cultures create deeply held mythologies. Mythologies, according to the article, aren’t particularly “right” or “wrong,” but they may be for better or for worse. Today we are seeing mythologies being crafted that support the health of the planet and its inhabitants and others that we believe harm personal and global health. The passion of both sides is strong, but the conclusions of the two sides are incompatible. We are taking the side concluding that those who deny the causes and impact of global warming are in serious and potentially catastrophic denial about information that is vital to not only our health but, literally, our species’ survival. The history of Easter Island offers an important cautionary tale. Such issues are what this series on the “Politeia of Health” is examining.
David’s article is written with his long-time colleagues and our dear friends, Stanley Krippner and Ann Mortifee. It is titled “Waking to the Rhythm of a New Myth: Mythic Perspectives for a World in Distress” and can be downloaded here.
We are interested in and value your thoughts on this series. Your comments will not be censored. We expect differing viewpoints and hopefully rich discussion. Comments do, of course, need nowadays to be screened for trolls, bots, being respectful, understandable, on-topic, et cetera, so there will be some delay between your submitting them and their being posted.
Even though Donna and Donna won’t be responding to these comments directly, our purpose is to get dialogue going among the members of our community. We will also have a staff person answer questions that are directly pertinent for our organization to answer, such as questions about our policies. Finally, Donna and David and the subsequent guest contributors will read all of your comments when they are writing subsequent articles so they will have them in their minds.