“The concept of the survival of the fittest has had a considerably detrimental effect in many areas of human activity, particularly in the realm of medical ideology and practice. The whole idea was developed in the most mechanistic of terms, stressing competition among all aspects of life, pitting one life form against another, and using physical strength and dexterity, swiftness and efficiency, as the prime conditions for the survival of any individual or species.
“It is quite true, however, that in the wild many animals protect and provide for wounded or disabled members and that the wisdom that comes with age is indeed appreciated, even in the animal kingdom. The survival of the fittest concept, however, has been exaggerated far above those of cooperation.
“Politically as well as medically, such distortions have led to unfortunate conditions: the Aryan-supremacy biological ideas (Eugenics) fostered in the second world war, the concentration upon “the perfect body”, and other distortions. The idea of the ideal body has often been held up to the populace at large. And this often sets forth a stylized “perfect” physique that actually could be matched by few individuals. Any variations are frowned upon. And any birth defects considered in the most suspicious of lights. Some schools of thought, then, have it that only the genetically superior should be allowed to reproduce. And there are scientists who believe that all defects can be eradicated through judicious genetic planning.
“As a result of such long-held theories, people have grown distrustful of their own bodies. The handicapped are often given messages, even by the medical profession, that make them feel like misfits, unworthy to survive. When people become ill, they often blame themselves in such a way that unnecessary guilt is the result.
“In the past, some religious groups have also promoted beliefs that illness is a sign of God’s punishment or vengeance for sins committed against his “goodness”.
“The same beliefs often spread to economic areas in which people who met pleasure in God’s eyes were, therefore, gifted with wealth and prosperity, as well as good health. Therefore, God was seen to be on the side of those who competed most strenuously, so that to be poor or sick was almost seen as a sign of God’s disfavor. All such concepts appear in one form or another at most official levels of thought and education. The whole idea of the aesthetics of nature is forgotten — a subject that we will touch upon further as we continue our discussion.”
The Way Toward Health © Copyright 1997 by Robert F. Butts. Reprinted with permission from current copyright holder, Laurel Davies-Butts.