Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dr. Raphael - How Inequality Makes us Sick

"Why should inequality, perhaps the biggest factor affecting the health of populations,
be so bad for us? In a big gap society, those lower down the ladder experience more
chronic stress than those towards the top. We are beginning to understand how this stress
produces ill health, in large part mediated through hormones released by the adrenal

Inequality concepts relate to the quality of social and human relations produced by the
structure of society which in our era are largely determined by measures of hierarchy. We
tend to associate with people like ourselves, most of us do not have friends who are either
much richer or much poorer than we are. As a young boy, growing up in the 1950s in East
York, a part of Toronto, I lived in a working class neighbourhood and did not consider
myself disadvantaged. My father repaired shoes, and my friends’ parents were similar
workers. When I went to the University of Toronto, I became aware of hierarchy in
Canada, as my classmates came from more privileged backgrounds than mine. I began
to feel poor. Today with lifestyles of the rich and famous always in the media we don‘t
compare ourselves to just our friends anymore but to the many achievers and the wealthy
who are constantly in our face. Finding ourselves down the ladder, our sense of self-worth,
our ability to control our lives and our access to what is considered essential for health,
suffers. Not only do we not do as well, but society’s health suffers.

Modern societies, unless held in check, tend to share income and wealth unfairly.


The kinds of positive societal changes that will produce health improvements will only
come from popular pressure on the forces of wealth and power. Canadians must continue
to maintain and strengthen their unique society, one that values cultural diversity and social
justice. Many prescriptions for dealing with health problems are outlined herein, but none
of them will be given to you by your doctor. We are all affected by this dis-ease, and must
work together to take this remedy through the democratic process."

Read the entire report - Social Justice Is Good For Our Hearts

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