Dynamic Polarity

“Life is polarized activity, a dynamic polarity” – Georges Canguilhem

Going far beyond an individual’s behavioral choice (or choices, if the individual has more than one option he/she/they could choose from) the pandemic provides example after example how a person’s life situation can impact his/her/their health. Life.

Health – as we know – is socially determined. Factors known as “social determinants of health” influence beyond the biological processes of a disease. As it is well-known and verifiable, access to health insurance, food security, housing security, transportation, personal safety, structural racism, and other factors contribute to 80 to 90 percent of public health outcomes.

That is, the conditions in which people live, work, laugh, and suffer influence the ways in which individuals give and seek care, heal and die. Life is polarized activity.

In specific communities – particularly marked by poverty and vulnerability – the need to speak about social spaces of instability and turbulence is evident. Is relevant. Is obvious. And how we all must take part in finding solutions through meaning making actions is clear. Is a must. Is overdue. Dynamic polarity.

“It’s important to say, we’re thinking about this. We’re measuring that. We’re capturing this, we have information about it.”

Participation that cannot, should not, need not… only consist of gathering, practicing and transmitting knowledge regarding – for instance – health, hygienic and preventive measures. Real participation entails much more than that. It’s not only partaking. It’s becoming part, even if divisions are felt, were put in place, turn out to be challenging… Life is polarized.

“A study from 2019 found that just 24 percent of hospitals and 16 percent of physician practices asked people about things like food insecurity, housing instability, transportation needs, and violence in their personal lives.”

Participation must also include and prioritize the political and social aspects participating itself entails. Polarized activity.

It’s not only lack, scarcity, absence of money, resources, opportunities, possibilities and options… that lead to inequities, it’s also an inability, a limited possibility, a low probability to socially participate and live a dignified life in which people have control over their circumstances. Life is.

“Addressing social determinants could make a meaningful difference to health if we consider that poverty, racism, and housing aren’t just correlated with poor outcomes, but can actually cause them. COVID-19 is laying that truth bare, and presenting us with an opportunity for policy making that aggressively hones in on social determinants-both to get us out of the pandemic safely, and for future health outcomes.” VICE NEWS

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