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In considering the health and safety of the general public, it helps us to know what health and safety are, and what they are not. Many individuals consider an annual checkup with their primary physician to be healthy, ignoring the daily contribution a stressful lifestyle has on their health. Likewise, many people consider that driving 5 mph over the speed limit is safe, because of the engineering margin built into our roadways.
The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines health as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit.”This is clearly not true of the vast majority of America. Our hectic lifestyle, selfish consumerism, and petty arrogance has drowned out whatever remains of health in ourselves and our children.
Taking a bit wise approach to health and safety is not enough. The current rate of obesity in America is 34.9% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although recent CDC statistics indicate California is doing better than the average American state in the area of Obesity, this is not an excuse to be lazy.
The key to having a well functioning population is having a very responsible population. In recent years, it has become the tendency of most American demographics to reject responsibility for their financial, emotional, physical, and behavioral health, with disastrous consequences for National crime levels and the amount of people in our prisons.
Safety is defined by Merriam Webster as “freedom from harm or danger.” California prisons were pointed out in 2006 as being in a state of emergency. This is despite the fact that California spends 7% of its budget on corrections.
When problems arise, Americans demand answers from their politicians, rather than looking inside themselves for the solution to their problems. Medical liability cases generally target the professionals who have offended the patient, rather than the ignorant patient who did not take the time to be informed about the options for treatment.
How should we deal with this dilemma? Education about the role that personal responsibility plays is essential. Rather than taking a back seat, expecting our legislators to solve our personal problems by expanding the penal code, we should discipline ourselves. The reason Federal and State law codes are so long and detailed is because Americans’ level of personal responsibility is so short and vague.
Encouraging personal responsibility in our friends, families and coworkers will help. Often, we tend to resist constructive criticism about our lifestyle, resulting in communication only occurring with those individuals who are personally similar to us. The predictable result is silos of separation, with highly specialized individuals who know how to do only one thing very well. Whenever they bump into their opposite, conflict and chaos results.
The healthiest organizations are those that encourage responsibility in the areas of health and safety by their participants, rather than bringing down a top heavy approach from management. Education on the why, rather than the what, removes resistance when the Doctor assigns the patient a new weight loss program that goes against his dietary sensibilities.
Our health and safety are not solved by expanding the list of rules on health and safety. They are resolved by each individual taking a stand to preserve these key qualities for themselves and the people around them.