Reflections on Individualism and Health
Blog series: Reflections on Individualism and Health
“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense,” as stated by President Barack Obama during his 2012 convention speech. And so here we are.
Driven by cost, buttressed by science and despite a potential host of “unintended consequences”, Americans are being collectively held to account for their individual choices pertaining to their personal health and well-being. We are, each one, being obliged quit, watch, move, partake and abstain. BMI is the new vital sign. Individual health apps and wearable fitness devices are the new popular devotion. Personal physicians are the new confessors, and insurance companies the new inquisitors. The pendulum of risk, cost and responsibility is being pushed progressively back to the side of the individual.
But, given the all too obvious failings of human nature, how do we strike a balance between promoting a responsible, freely chosen, personal practice of health and wellness that also conforms with and achieves the collective goals of the health and well-being of the larger population?
Vince Lombardi may have been on to something when he said; “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”