Pfizer Canada Inc. has a new campaign. It’s called ”more than medication” and it intends to be instructional on improving your health and wellness beyond just the use of medication. It’s a brilliant philosophy; one I wish I’d come up with myself! The site offers a plethora of interactive tools, informative articles and everyday tips that are prepared and presented by an Advisory Board of doctors who are considered leaders in their chosen fields, and on behalf of Pfizer.
You may have seen the commercial for this campaign on TV; with the teenage boy who paints the “Be Brave” graffiti outside the small girl’s bedroom. It’s a very touching sentiment and truth be told I get a lump in my throat each time I think of his gesture toward her.
As touching as it is, I also feel some bitterness about the message painted. We are led to believe that this little girl is quite ill, possibly terminal, and we are telling her to BE BRAVE. Not asking – commanding. Basically, buck up little beaver, suck it up and put on your happy face because it’s much too difficult for us to deal with if you’re sad or afraid. It’ll just be harder on everyone, so it’s better if it’s just harder on you. (That’s not Webster’s definition but its close) So we force a cloak of courage over her and we throw this little girl into battle as a warrior. Does she always have to be brave? Are you always brave? Is it even healthy to always be brave and courageous? By toting this jargon over and over again to the ill or downtrodden we imply that to have fear or show sadness is cowardice and weak. It is implied because we have all learned some associations to our emotions – some are good (positive) and some are bad (negative).
Really they just are what they are… emotions. We determine what we consider good or bad or acceptable or unacceptable. There is no great Emotions God in the sky dictating that we treat some emotions with open arms and that we turn our backs in disregard to others. Granted that some are fun to feel while others are not so much fun, but that doesn’t mean they are bad; or not worth having. We need to stop deciding for other people what is acceptable for them to feel and what we are willing to tolerate from them.
These associations have been around a lot longer than us, and there are plenty more unconscious associations that we make every day. Why does it matter? Each day that you go about your unconscious life you may be unaffected by these associations, but be sure that you affect other people, and sometimes in devastating ways that you aren’t even aware of.
I think I will write to Pfizer and suggest they change the words “Be Brave” into “Today I will be brave for you” or “We’re here” or “You’re loved” or something that doesn’t require our egos dumping a burden of guilt on someone who just might not feel so brave today. It’s OK to be afraid sometimes, let’s tell her that.
I’ve been asked recently, by more than one individual, why I’m doing this project. The answer to that runs much deeper than a one or two sentence reply. I do aspire to help people, to be available to them in whatever capacity they need from me, and to educate on the simple cleverness of just being. However the full truth runs deeper still. It’s who I am, it’s who I’ve always been. I’m a traveller… an explorer of humanity and mortality.
When my father was a young man on the cusp of his adult life, he came across a poem written by Will Allen Dromgoole. This poem opened in him the truth of who he was and who he wanted to be. Like my father, I am a bridge builder.
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
~Will Allen Dromgoole
I will be having a 5 minute chat radio interview tomorrow afternoon with Jamie West from AM900 CHML on his ”Health Matters” program from 12-1pm.
Tune in at 12:10pm and have a listen!
The interview with Mike Fortune from Cable14 will be airing today at about 25 minutes after most hours and again on the 9th at about 5 minutes before most hours. The producer will be dubbing me a copy and I hope to have that feed onto the website for those of you without basic cable services. Special thank you to the Associate Producer, Kathleen Foster, for all her sincerity and warmth.
This weekend I’ll be taping a feature segment with Cable14 for their LINKED show! Stay tuned for airing details.
I have spent a considerable amount of time exploring the link between physical healthcare (the body) and psychological healthcare (the mind) as it pertains to the Canadian government healthcare system. All of the mandates from the Minister of Health right on down is about protecting the health and safety of all Canadians. I may need to check the Minister’s handbook for their definition of health to be sure, but I think I’ve managed to establish a gap.
Amidst a sea of body do-gooders, there is one organization or unit that promotes mental health, aiming to maintain and improve positive mental health and well being for all of the population. You just have to be mad dog crazy in order to use these resources. I mean eyeball rolling and frothing at the mouth crazy. If you are only confused, frustrated, and slightly twitchy.. well.. you likely won’t get the referral.
It seems to me that we’ve spent decades and decades socially engineering ourselves with unhelpful help. Fast forward to the year 2009, where the conditions of life and moral hazards are shadowed only by imminent economic and ecological disasters of global proportions. Us worry? Pishaw! I can only imagine that the eyeball rolling might be on the rise, and then we will see a bottle-necked system struggling to put out the insanity fire. Good news for all the “ologists” out there.
I’m disappointed with the policymakers and their reactive care. What good is their PhD in textbook knowledge when there is no understanding that the body dies without the mind? I bet Mr. PhD sees the dentist every six months for some preventative maintenance and attention. Where’s my mind maintenance? Just a little cleaning is all… loosen up the guk and keep me on the straight and narrow. Stop me from this inexorable spread into the common pool of lunacy. Well… at least I will have shiny teeth…
With this project and my plight to expose just a small aspect of emotional wellness (in relation to a cancer diagnosis) I have comfortably fallen into the role of emotional educator and resilience scientist. Through my discussions and interviews with people struggling with this disease the best cocktail I found to offer them was to approach them with consolation and encouragement and leave them with confidence and inspiration. We should treat everyone we encounter with the same ingredients. A very human philosophy aimed to help people help themselves. To heal their minds and dig deep for their own resilience. We must become a race of doers and not just helpers.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live in a society where most folks were emotionally well-adjusted. Where well-being had human value, putting the health of our minds and emotions on the same level as our bodies. Less crime, less hate, less self-pity and loathing. That’s just to start. One might even be able to hear choruses of Kumbaya coming from under street bridges and that stranger that passes you on the sidewalk might just say hello and look you in the eye. Spend real time with real people talking about real things. Needs, wishes, desires and even fears.
What could be more important than validating someone’s existence? Try it.