breathtaking view on (un)health
Today Karin Spaink wrote a very interesting column in newspaper Het Parool. She shows her surprise that being healthy is still our national norm. However, suffering from some more or less severe physical complaints is much more common than accepted. As being healthy is the norm, people who suffer from some kind of disease or illness are surrounded with ‘care and attention’ and when they cope well with their complaints they are praised as ‘brave’ people. All this suggests that being free from illness is our normal state; however, Karin Spaink shows in figures that it is quite common to have complaints and live with it (see her column, in Dutch: http://www.spaink.net/2011/04/26/ongezond/).
I read this column right when I came back from an hour of sports (steps lesson) that was only partly succesfull because my asthma protested for one reason or another, I came home without breath. Reading her column in that state was like ‘Ah ah, it is true, I could hardly climb the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment myself today and I am still a very active person in daily life – but not without limits!’.
The interesting question in communication and cooperation is not how to get over physical complaints and how to get cured but how this influences people’s lives, how people live with their bodies and deal with possibilities and shortcomings. Like that, illness will not be a factor that excludes people from the articifial general norm of healthiness and vitality, and it creates common ground and mutual exchange: a very interesting approach that I think deserves applause!
In The Netherlands, the general implicit norm for work is: being completely healthy. Many people who are not, have to stay aside because of prejudices or incapability of organisations to think in terms of opportunities and possibilities. The Dutch society offers them care, attention, even money because our social services are quite good. This seems a very social approach but it does not necessarily create participation for all citizens – on the contrary. It reconfirms the existing norm of 100% healthy people on one side and people ‘with a problem’ on the other. From now on, let’s go for opportunities and possibilities: it will make us all feel better!