‘I do not see the way, but with others to walk it with me I can make a path. I do not possess the truth, but with others to witness to what they know I will be able to discern what is right. I cannot master all skills, but with others who will lend their accomplishments I can do enough. I cannot carry every burden, but with others to share it I may bear my own load. I cannot meet all needs, but with others to consult I will make choices gladly.’
These reflective words from Nicola Slee set a fine balance between the capacities of the individual and the strengths that others bring. Many of us find ourselves caught between pride in our achievements and disillusion at our limitations. This applies to our health as much as to any other part of our lives. The dominant mind-set in our culture prompts us to work harder at overcoming our personal shortcomings. In some circles it even warns us of the pitfalls of relying on others.
Detachment from others may protect us from their unreliability, inadequacy or deceit. But it leaves us with only our own devices. If we are hesitant about the downsides of relationships, then we may miss out on the possibilities of collective endeavour. We may also find our resistance to relationships ultimately unsatisfying both to our consciences and to our emotional resilience.
According to behavioural studies, we act far more according to social patterns than we like to admit. This need not be a poor reflection on us personally, but in fact may free us to become more of what we aspire to be by sharing and influencing the path of life with others. Herein lies the foundation to Our Health: ‘Pursue with others what you wish for yourself’.