According to an article(1) that just appeared today on Alternet.org:
Over 200 studies since the early 1980s have now documented that people living in societies where wealth has concentrated at the top of the economic ladder live significantly shorter, less healthy lives than people who live in societies that spread their wealth more evenly.
The Gini coefficient is an index of a country’s economic disparity that was created in the early 1900’s by italian statistician Corrado Gini. I have always been concerned about the direction the USA is heading in in terms of economic disparity.
Beyond this though is the emotional impact it has – its truly sad to live in a society where “the dream” or whatever you call it is an illusion, something that can only be had by those who grew up in the right neighborhood, attended the right school, had the right kind of parents, did all the correct things that one is supposed to do to be “successful”, etc.
Societies which throw away human lives are at the deepest level heart breaking. When I think of college graduation ceremonies with all their pomp and mind-programming, I am always deeply saddened because all that the system of “higher” education does in the USA is reinforce inequality. Those who have paid the price and jumped through all the required hoops find reason to celebrate, yet to me it is truly a moment of sadness because it is a moment of separation and estrangement.
I think that the USA is broken and has to learn how to not throw away human life. The answer involves many things that affect the basic dignity of a person. Even basic things like enforcement of housing codes for sub-standard housing can have a massive impact upon the health and well-being of a person. Things like environmental toxins and noise are also serious assaults against a person. There are multiple types of assaults that one can experience just being out in the world – physical, psychological, chemical, audial, visual, etc.
I even notice when walking along the sidewalk how people unconsciously tend to start the engines of their vehicles at the exact moment that a stranger passes by. Its actually uncanny if you pay attention to it and notice that it almost always happens. Its subconscious fear. Yet many car companies play directly upon people’s unconscious fears and need for security in marketing and designing car brands. Its essentially a suicidal type of practice that is engaged in for the sake of “profit”.
Starting a vehicle engine at the exact moment that a passing stranger is in proximity is total sickness. Perhaps the sickest thing about it is that the sickness is not recognized. I’m not talking about anything symbolic or metaphorical here either. I mean the actual act of what is occurring, if you simply look at it, is insane. One human being is blasting the auditory system of a passerby with the horrific assault of sound coming from the ignition process of an internal combustion engine and all the concomitant mechanical clashing and screeching noises that are at a decibel level sufficiently high to cause trauma and stress to the nervous and endocrine systems of the passerby, whose only crime was to think that they could go outdoors freely and walk in peace without being molested.
Of course, 99% of passer’s by won’t realize that this is even happening to their body, so sickened and tuned out are they already. Yet when they notice unresolvable, ongoing health problems like obesity that they for one reason or another are incapable of healing, they never connect it with the damage being done to them. And if one were to actually propose doing something about for example excessive vehicle noise, these same, ill people might actually become indignant at the proposal and want to defend the “right” to make noise! In essence, we have conditioned ourselves into a suicidal race that enforces its own “right” to kill itself.
There are many suicidal tendencies that american culture is currently locked into. For all the things that money gets wasted on at universities conducing research sometimes into the most ridiculous things, you would think that the science of life, of being human, would be better understood. You would think that the need to have fundamental protections of our health and well-being would be overwhelmingly apparent, that the disastrous consequences of violating health would be so well understood that there would be no question as to the overriding priority of protecting it at all costs.
To look at it on a bigger scale, the air, the soil, and the rivers and lakes are our nourishment. To poison our source of nourishment is prime insanity. We live in a society which is addicted to sticking a syringe of poison into its veins out of some warped delusion about what it means to be well.
(1) Pizzigati, Sam; Radical Inequality Is Literally Killing Us; Alternet.org; 27 January 2010