The required reading, Chapter 3 of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is, forgive the near pun, eye-opening. I think of myself as very unprejudiced, and strive to be without discrimination when it comes to race, creed, gender, religion, etc. However, when I tried just the simple IAT given in the book, I was horrified to see myself slow down and fight the urge to categorize along biased views. Knowing that these structures are buried deep in my mind, and that they will effect snap decisions bothers me. I was not surprised by the rest of the chapter, but that is not saying I agree with the state of things as they stand in regards to CEO height, or unequal pay and pricing.
The video, Toxic Culture presented by Gabor Maté was by far the more interesting of the two required readings. I have long held the belief that stress alone can cause significant, lasting health problems. How the medical community missed this for so long boggles the mind. We know that our brains are essential a living soup of hormones and other chemicals, so to me it is no shock that anything that causes a lasting imbalance can effect the rest of one’s body. I think he also made a very good point about how Americans are so frequently prescribed anti-psychotics, and other strong medications at rates unknown in other countries. I think this is a two-part problem though: Over reliance on prescription medication to fix issues that are better treated with counseling, and the failure to recognize that living conditions play a much larger role in health than we are willing to admit. The most interesting point I felt, was showing how important socioeconomic status played into the equation, an example being that higher pollution rates (more common to low-rent areas) effected cognitive skill levels. The dumbing down effect self-perpetuates, as those effected will be less able to rise above the root cause.
Closing thoughts: More systems within systems. I find that increasingly, the course material supports conclusions I have made about life and living a long time ago. I am frustrated, sometimes by the seemingly willful ignoring of clear problems, and other times by the tone of some of the writings. Yes, we as a society need to do better, but if you are lecturing down to me like I am a child, I will be far more likely to be defensive. The journey to sustainability will not be short, easy, and without pain. That does not mean that it is not worth the cost though.