Who Inspires Whom?

Today’s post is written by Dr. Suranjeen Prasad Pallipamula, an Adventist physician in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.

There are different ways of approaching a problem. Poor health of its citizens is definitely linked to overall development and the policy of the state to take care of its own. But with development, the health situation just seemed to worsen.

The New Zealand Government has now gone to its tribal animistic roots to understand community living, and from within it has unearthed metaphors for living well and positively. The program envisages living close to nature and within the larger rules of nature.

While the Thailand government sought its inspiration from Buddhist thoughts of living within ones means and not being greedy (lacking desire), they introduced yearly national health plans where citizens participate to design health programs that the state then adopts. These national health plans have been quite popular, successful and are now in the fifth year. Plans were made to ensure that the marginalized sections and the environment benefited. These plans have successfully improved the health of the people while keeping at bay corporate interest of greed and growth.

If ancient animism, nature worshippers and Buddhists can get inspiration from there source of thought and dialogue, what can Protestantism offer for world health? Does the Adventist worldview have anything more to offer than the Protestants approach to world health?

Protestants’ philosophy of hard work and human dignity has supposedly fueled Capitalism. Creating and multiplying resources for individual gain and common good has made Capitalism a sought-after model. Individual gain then fueled a large philanthropic movement that helped build some of the world’s best universities, hospitals and other institutions of public good.

Capitalism of late seems to have grown and lost its bearings. Communities that have lived harmoniously with nature for centuries in the jungles of central India are forcefully being evacuated in order to mine for rich resources. It was always known that capitalism had an ugly face – they would do anything that can maximize profits and hence strong regulations had to be put in place. One of the first regulations the US Government enacted was in restricting children in workforce, followed by labor laws that supported workers’ rights. While corporations grudging accepted these regulations, they outsourced there business and pushed for globalization. The ugly smiles of these corporates are now mostly seen by poor tribal folks in India or other developing countries.

How do we support our tribal brothers from losing their land and their identity? Should we talk to them about being ‘mainstreamed’ and enjoying the fruits of development while forsaking their homes in natures lap. Should we talk to them about being industrious and capable? Or should we help them fight these capitalistic corporates through a liberating struggle. Isn’t Jesus in both the camps?

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One Response to Who Inspires Whom?

  1. Jeff Boyd says:

    These are big issues. What do we have to offer from our SDA perspective? And how should we look at “development”? It promises food, clothes, shelter and security, but it tends to bring with it family disruption, change in values, ties to global ups and downs, and environmental degradation. Between a rock and a hard place.

    On Facebook, JB responded: “Great thoughts. ‘Go forth, multiply, and subdue the earth.’ Often thought to be the God given right and responsibility. Stewardship of environment, and even more important, our human brothers and sisters, is not nearly so fun. Many ‘Christians’ want to build a fence to keep out our neighbors to the south. If not hypocrisy, there is at least a distinct disconnect with the words in church and the deeds during the week. To answer Cain–‘yes, you are your brother’s keeper–your brothers all over the world.'”

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