Foreign Relations and Health: Narcissism in Conflict

Sitting at Starbucks this morning, I opened Fall 2010 issue of the NYU Alumni magazine. A quote grabbed me. “There really is a paradigm that says ‘the Middle East is just reactive and defensive and everything you see there is just a reaction to the way the United States acts, or to colonialism, or Zionism or imperialism.” The author, Middle East Correspondent, Lee Smith, goes on to say that if you want to see the Middle East as a place that simply reacts to the United States, just study the United States.

Smith highlights narcissistic views that cripple healing opportunities in international relations and  health. One paradigm is correct. Other paradigms exist  solely in reaction.  Narcissis admiring himself in the pool assumes all pool activity is about him. Paradigms are built on values. Placing self at center trivializes truth, creates a constricted lens and negates the big picture.

I include health care because U.S. health care is built on the belief that disease is the culprit and must be eradicated or cut out, a good and lofty goal. However as the major paradigm guiding American health – 70% of health care dollars keep folks alive for final three months of life – it has limitations. Americans are more informed about disease than any country in the world but deficient in understanding levels of health and wellness.

Of course we need smart, educated, highly competent soldiers and surgeons, weapons and strategies to fight invaders whether human or disease. That does  not  mean the world is out to get us. Let’s honor the fear from primitive brains now running foreign relations and health care. But avoid constricting your view. Step up to the human brilliance within!

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