|Impact studies |
From cradle to grave
|Support or threat?||Compassion
Essentially, this is to find out if we are on the right track or not, considering that the 'Third Law of Thermodynamics' predicts that anything that is not actively and consciously maintained will return into its original chaotic state.
Wherever dealing with factors outside our selves, we may require collective action. We must ask four questions:
We primarily learn from our experiences. This is enhances by learning from others. This is further improved by our educational system, whether formalized or not. Next, we have developed 'Science' and the 'Scientific Method' to assist us in our predictions. This enables us to teach vast amounts of collective experience in the concentrated form of 'basic generic abstractions' which have very broad application. However, we must learn to distinguish between the general and the specific, when applying these scientific rules, watching out for individual exceptions and aberrations.
We cannot rely on our resources permanently. We must be aware of competing interests and their source of existence. The whole earth is essentially one ecological system, sub-divided in many smaller eco-systems. Too long have we ignored this fact, and slowly our most precious resources, drinking water and air are being threatened. Too long have we been only looking out for Number One, ignoring the fact that we are sharing this world with over 3 billion others. Our arrogance and greed have already caused very serious damage to smaller communities, while it is slowly becoming apparent that this behaviour is threatening our own cozy Quality of Life.
Even within one country there are always tradeoffs to be made between the individual and the collective good. Each country has a different approach. Never is it possible to satisfy each and every individual or even each small group of people or interests. We must learn to compromise, whether we like it or not. Collective action thus requires political action, and therefore a serious assessment of the political and economic environment we live in.
Finally, we must look at our role in this world, beyond our personal interest. Where can we help? Where must we provide leadership? Where can our vote make a difference? Don't underestimate your power! e.g. Yesterday, the government of India was toppled by only one vote. This decision will have an enormous impact on the Quality of Life of millions of people in that country. Small things can have great impact, witness the two digits that precipitated the Y2K problem! Key is to recognize our individual responsibility for our collective behaviour.
A good maintenance program, however, goes beyond strictly maintaining the status quo. It also does development. E.g. Nutrition, exercise and education all serve this purpose. While our 'body' stops growing in our late teens, our mind doesn't, neither does our emotional wherewithal. If we are learning a sport or other physical skill, we can also continue the development of our body. It appears that 'growth' is an essential part of our life, it points back to our actualization.
Since pain and suffering are also part of our life, there is more to do than merely maintenance. The healing process must have a component called 'relief', which helps us to deal with pain and grief, to enable us to carry on with the task on hand, whether maintenance or improvement. As mentioned before, pain relief takes many forms of which mental and emotional acceptance and reduction are a vital first step.
Unfortunately, there are many instances where we need to go beyond that and apply pain killers in the form of drugs, analgesics, sedatives, anti-this and anti-that. Because most of them have adverse side-effects (medically called 'contra-indications') great care must be exercised in the use of them. Here we encounter the ethics of the 'trade-off' of sedation vs. the Quality of Life. The more pain, the greater the dose, the risk and the trade-off. This is especially true of chronic pain of permanent conditions, which can make life feel pretty hopeless and unworthy living.
Tools are the glory of mankind. While the animal world has a few examples of the use of tools. our world revolves around it. Quality of Human Life would not be thinkable without tools. Again it is very hard to draw a line between the corrective and preventive aspects of tools. Here, I would like to highlight tools developed to help the handicapped, which include the aged, since these are specifically meant to be corrective, unlike guards and protectors meant to prevent accidents. Not enough is done here on the collective front. There are still too many people who cannot afford the cost of good tools. Too many tools are still too primitive and in need of further development. We need to become more compassionate and less inclined to think that if it does not apply to us now, it is not important
Training and re-training are well known in the post healing process in the form of physiotherapy. Where new tools have been applied, learning to manage the new tools is as critical as any new growth process. In fact, in any growth process training is required to assure that the development is taking place in an orderly fashion, without doing any damage. Again corrective and preventive training are being mixed here.
Looking at our collective self, it is compassion that must drive up to give dignity and to others. We need to provide leadership to destroy the despair that is filling this world and to help restore the Quality of Life of all.
Yes, we can improve this world and its Quality of Life, not only for ourselves, but for all of us! As discovered during our assessment, we should have a reasonable clear picture of what needs to be changed and what needs to be maintained. However, before making any changes at all we must next determine what options we have and what the cost and impact of these options are.
This is no mean task. The World Development Bank is a good example of the grave mistakes we can make when trying to help improve the Quality of Life in developing countries. Huge dams were built in many places around the world, flooding vast amounts of land, displacing many people and animals, leaving a greater burden to provide for the displaced people than there was originally. Vast areas of forest are being lost not only to flooding but also to clear cutting by logging and mining interests in many parts of the world. Who's Quality of Life are we trying to improve here? What about the people displaced, what about our children and grandchildren?
On our personal front, we have our own tradeoffs between our present Quality of Life and that of our future. While we may be enjoying toxic substances (e.g. tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sugar, coffee, tea, meat) today because of their entertainment value, can we truly be conscious of how we will be feeling when we are old enough to experience their detrimental effects? When we are young, we feel life we have the eternal life. We might say: "So what if it takes 10 years of our life?" or "Who then lives, who then cares". But by the time we are 60, we can hardly believe how fast our life has flown by and we may try desperately to correct the results of a careless lifetime. Whether we regret our past or not at that point is neither here or there, it just does not matter anymore.
Safety and security are designed to be preventive, not to restrict us needlessly. To help us carry on without getting total information overload while trying to negotiate out way around. They help us prevent collisions between opposing interests by negotiating alternating rights and privileges. They guard us against oversight and underestimating of risks. They help us with easy decision making tools while avoiding us to have to learn vast amounts of new information. They help bring complexity down to a simple stop and go.
As in industry, 'Preventive Quality Management' is ultimately the only rational way to address Quality Improvement. Corrective Quality Improvement is nothing more that a repair job, often with dubious results. Some better results may be attained by replacement of whole units, such as circuitpacks or body parts, but it is still not the real thing. Prevention, however, must start at the beginning. e.g. My adult teeth have defects in them caused by poor nutrition in the first 4 months of my life. Another example may be certain brain defects attributed to toxic substance abuse during pregnancy.
Prevention demands our constant attention throughout our life. Can we muster that? If we want to maintain and improve the Quality of our Life and that of others, we must be vigilant and keep learning and take responsibility. Our life then will be full of action leading toward the betterment of our world. And again, looking at our collective self, it is compassion that must drive up to give dignity and to others. We need to maintain that vision of a better world, of a better the Quality of Life for all. We must remember that where many work together our synergy can effect much more than any of us can do alone. Together, we can do it!