Who does not want to be in the best of health? And who can say of himself to enjoy health, life, the world to the fullest or knows many people who are completely healthy, physically and mentally?
Health is a universal human aspiration and a basic human need. So much more do we become aware of this fact when we feel to have lost our health or parts of it. We wait or actively look out for being whole again. This search for regaining lost health can become the main driving force behind everything we do and even believe in.
A simple fact is, the less healthy we are in terms of demoralisation, debts and fear, the more prone we get to manipulation.
In pre World War Two Germany the german nation, which was originally forged out of many small regional nations that formed the culturally colourful carpet of Central Europe, suffered from ill-health. Unemployment, poverty and social instability was unbearably high. At that point someone entered the scene, called Adolf Hitler who was elected president . He appeared a godlike figure, promising wholeness and well-being. A very simply rule to make this assumption understood by everyone was introduced. People were taught when greeting each other to say “Heil Hitler” instead of hello and good bye. Upon rare refusals to comply to that new rule people even got excluded from social groups. The meaning of “heil” in the german language is whole and hale. Saying this word so many times repeatedly every day to one another- the suggestive power of those words must have played the trick. Germans started hoping and believing Hitler could heal, and everybody become whole again. In reality, however, Hitler brought mostly doom and destruction to the people all around. Killing many, crippling the generations to come.
Why did only so very few Germans notice the discrepancy between words and deeds at the time? How could it take so long for everyone to become more active and critical to obtain true information and realize that their leader figure was the exact opposite from what he wanted to appear to be?
Whatever the answers to these and like questions might be, what this incident in German history should remind us of is the necessity of individual and critical thinking concerning words and contemporary expressions. What about the common saying: “development/ progress is inevitable”? This expression is used nowadys the world over. Indigenous peoples are told to think and say this sentence when e.g. helping to build new roads through their territories.
Progress is “a going on, action of walking forward,” from Latin. progressus meaning the “advancement to higher stages”.
Development in its holistic sense is the development of society, rich or poor, which can be judged by the quality of its population’s health. Development solely seen as economic development, is defined in Wikipedia as the “development of economic wealth of countries or regions for the well-being of their inhabitants…. It typically refers to improvements in a variety of indicators, such as literacy rates and life expectancy, and it implies a reduction in poverty”.
Now when we look at the meaning of the words progress and development and the facts and effects of development, e.g. the crisis in indigenous peoples’ health we could ask ourselves: Is it true that economic development is for the well-being of the people? What about people who made the experience that development brings only disease and death? That progress can kill when tribal peoples are seperated from their lands, breaking down physically and mentally?
Isn’t it high time to see clearly and listen closely to more critical voices?
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The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here