For Aristotle the goal of human life was happiness – the necessary precondition being virtue. Virtue or good involved choices between two opposite evils, it was a midpoint between excess and deficit. For example, courage was a mean between cowardliness and foolhardiness. Virtue lets the individual achieve the good life or ‘happiness’. The subsequent actions (leading to happiness) allowed one to live in a way that reaches their highest potential.1
Søren Kierkegaard, father of existentialism, claimed that the highest good of any individual was to find his or her vocation against the traditional view that moral choice involved an objective judgment of right from wrong. Existentialists argued that the moral choice involved subjective judgment of right and wrong with individuals making choices arbitrarily. Existentialism stressed the importance of the individual, people had to create their own values, as traditional values were no longer the standard.2
The logic of globalization is seductive because it is based on a simple premise – free the market of its restrictions and its self-organizing dynamics will bring employment, wealth, and prosperity. Globalization supports diversity and freedom of choice and enhancement of material production. However, it rests on inequality of income, life style, and property ownership. In return, the system is to provide everyone, equally, an opportunity to exercise a full range of choices.
Wellness or good health is a process or quest by which a person is always seeking and moving towards their own full potential. At one time it was believed that to stay healthy all one had to do was make good life style choices. Now it is known that one’s physical environment plays a greater roll in wellness than personal life choices. In fact, the primary factors that shape the health of the individual are not medical treatment or life style choices rather the living conditions they experience.
Substance abuse may not be considered a chronic disease (by some) but rather a life style rooted in repeated bad choices – from lack of personal responsibility. This attitude leads to the marginalization of those with alcohol and drug problems. Personal health choices are not easy. Economic globalization with the power of advertising to shape global behavior has tended to make unhealthy choices easier choices – alcohol, cigarettes, and fast food diets, high fructose corn syrup drinks.
Poverty affects choices and opportunities. The last forty years of globalization has been associated with an increased gap between rich and poor. This has been associated with a hollowing out of the middle class, with less choices of well paying jobs (that disappeared overseas). The larger the gap between rich and poor – the more unequal the distribution of income, and the greater the gap in health outcomes.
Globalization was to bring increased prosperity, but it hasn’t occurred equally across the population. Reduced income translates to reduced wellness – the process by which a person is always seeking and moving towards his or her own highest potential – being the best you can possibly be. Health and illness follow a social gradient – the lower the socioeconomic position, the worse the health. The social gradient means that health inequities affect everyone. Living life to the fullest possible extent is made possible by life style changes, which enhance physical, mental and spiritual health. With the increasing income gap, many have lost their previous opportunity to achieve their potential, as well as the next generation.
1 Horsman, Greg. Objectivism Lost and an Age of Disillusionment (2012) p 25-26.
2 Horsman, Greg. Narcissist’s Vocation and the Economic Debacle (2011) p 145.