“We are many parts, but all one body”(from the 1986 song by Marty Haugen)

The focus of that song is on how all of us, though seeming to be distinct individuals, are actually all part of a single body. Those few words housed a deep metaphor for the truths that support our bodies and very being. 

Over the centuries we have poked and prodded, cut, and changed what we have believed were individual “parts” of the body. The liver is over there and the thyroid is a “butterfly-shaped mass” right there in the neck. The heart is a fist-sized muscle in the chest that pumps blood. While we can describe parts by the way they look, where they’re located, or what they primarily do, we cannot ever completely separate one from the other. Our body “parts” are interconnected in such deep ways as to be inseparable. Every time we lose one of those parts, the whole body is changed. Removing a breast to mastectomy isn’t a guaranteed form of curing breast cancer, but the procedure certainly changes the woman – her body, emotions, and practically everything associated with her identity. Yet, to some, it’s “just a breast”. 

Modern medicine has evolved on many fronts and is generally capable of some near-miraculous feats. Yet, cures themselves continue to evade our science. When they happen, they’re accompanied by amazement, not because we DID something but because we DIDN’T – and it happens all the same.

We need to return our attention to the basic fact that all of our parts are actually interconnected and we need to treat ourselves as a whole and complete being that is part of a greater form of life, the body of humanity. Damaging but a single member is harmful to the rest.

I recently read an article that described an experiment involving flashes of light and how sound or touch alters how we perceive the flash. A single flash is detected as two flashes if we hear two rapid tones while the light is flashed. The same thing happens if we’re touched twice during a single flash. We “see” two, but there was really only one flash. Our senses are connected and interdependent. Smell and taste are other examples of a similar connection. Other, unfathomable connections are certainly more subtle, but vital nonetheless. 

Why am I rambling on this? I want to make the point that our current medical approaches to health are wrong and causing harm and death. It is impossible to consume a drug and expect it to work on just the specific thing we intend. A pain pill taken for a headache also affects all other parts of the body. It doesn’t just fix the head pain. Antidepressants are potent drugs that cause changes throughout our entire body, yet the belief is that they somehow help us by doing something to serotonin. I mentioned mastectomy above. It isn’t JUST the breast, but the entire body that is changed. Just think of the emotional upheaval. 

I’ve heard women say their doctor recommended a hysterectomy because they were having menopausal symptoms. Basically, get rid of the thing that causes the problems, neglecting the massive hormone shifts that take place when the hormone “factories” are removed or damaged. This is devastating and wrong-headed – except in the most serious of cases. Losing a limb or an organ should be the last thing we think of, not one of the first.

The parts interact for the whole and they all work together. Interference with even the smallest part can do widespread harm. Ponder this and think hard before accepting the next dictate from a medical provider. Drugs, surgery, and radiation are massively popular – and potent – but they usually aren’t the best answer and most are bad from the start. Researchers are in the hunt for the “silver bullet”, the drug that will cure without side effects – “a pill for every ill”. It doesn’t exist regardless of how much we want there to be one. There never will be such a pill – or procedure. It is a fantasy that has successfully kept the flow of cash moving into research, which rarely if ever discovers something new and helpful. 

The key to health is healthy living – something that’s all but impossible to accomplish in the world today. We seem to fixate on quick fixes and powerful interventions – all things that divert our attention and our cash away from what is good for us, individually and collectively. Again, we need to grow up, to man up, and to pull up our big girl panties. The paradigm will shift when the tipping point is reached. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but there need to be shifts in personal beliefs before we can change for the better. I see growing movement on the horizon – organic foods, exercise, search for clean water, green energy, and so on. While those pieces might seem to be different and unconnected, nothing could be farther from the truth. 

Our future depends on cooperation – just as our bodies depend on cooperation between the parts.