Continued from ‘About’ page:
Facing the complexity of being human is not the same as mastery. We do not need to know everything. A holistic understanding often emerges from small details of human interactions which give us glimpses of the heart and soul of a person, of a community, of a whole society. By embracing our own uncertainty and vulnerability we are more likely to liberate our imagination, and so find meaning and purpose in our own lives and in the lives of others. This is often key to our best healing and palliation.
The slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge of lesser things. Saint Thomas Aquinas (in Paths to the Divine: Ancient and Indian by Vensus A George)
We make meaning through connection with ourselves, with others and with nature. The more we focus on these crucial connections, the more we move from things to people, from success to caring, from money-wealth to love-wealth, the more meaning we will find.
This is very difficult for all concerned so long as science-derived evidence, technology, algorithms and guidelines (with their aura of often spurious certainty) so decisively dominate the healthcare world. This biomedicine may be complicated in detail but it is narrow in scope; too narrow to grasp human complexity.
The human encounters that offer a chance of a healing connection require the imaginative projection called empathy. Without this, our encounters remain unimaginatively mechanistic: conversation as technique rather than as space for shared strength and vulnerability. If we are to find meaning in our own and another’s suffering, the ‘evidence’ must be drawn from a wider range of experience and knowledge; for instance, poetic, dramatic and fictional literature, visual arts, philosophy, practical crafts, perhaps dancing or digging the earth or watching a bird build its nest in Spring.
Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of
meaning and purpose. Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)
Healthcare systems across the developed world are struggling to cope with both the human task and the economic cost. It is often said that this is because we are living longer and medical treatments are becoming more complicated and expensive. This is a narrow view. Just as simple explanations of illness in an individual are often inadequate, so it is with the healthcare crisis. A more holistic, more personal and less industrial approach must be part of the solution.
We must be wary of Simplicity and her sister Certainty. Attempts to simplify and categorise our way out of complexity are like digging ourselves into a hole: the world becomes quieter, lonelier and darker. We are now living in that loveless place that tragically germinates the ‘cruelty, pain and injustice’ described by Alinsky in the above quotation.
For too long we have treated illness as our enemy rather than our teacher.
It is precisely in a broken age that we need mystery and a reawakened
sense of wonder: need them in order to be whole again. Ben Okri (A way of being free)