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by Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
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Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)

Truth is the Intellectual Wealth of the World - and it Comes in Handy When Promoting and Pursuing REAL Wellness

Thursday October 20, 2016

The Truth SeekerThrough millions of ages, by countless efforts to satisfy his wants, to gratify his passions, his appetites, man slowly developed his brain, changed two of his feet into hands and forced into the darkness of his brain a few gleams and glimmerings of reason. He was hindered by ignorance, by fear, by mistakes, and he advanced only as he found the truth -- the absolute facts. Through countless years he has groped and crawled and struggled and climbed and stumbled toward the light. He has been hindered and delayed and
deceived by augurs and prophets -- by popes and priests. He has been betrayed by saints, misled by apostles and Christs, frightened by devils and ghosts -- enslaved by chiefs and kings -- robbed by altars and thrones. In the name of education his mind has been filled with mistakes, with miracles, and lies, with the impossible, the absurd and infamous. In the name of religion he has been taught humility and arrogance, love and hatred, forgiveness and revenge.

Nothing is greater, nothing is of more importance, than to find amid the errors and darkness of this life, a shining truth.

Truth is the intellectual wealth of the world.

 Robert Green Ingersoll, “Truth,” 1897


Perhaps the intellectual wealth of the world has other characteristics, but in any ranking truth must be high on the list. How do we come to know truth, as best it can be identified? Certainly not by reliance on organized religions (how to choose between their conflicting truth claims?), augurs, prophets, popes or priests—or apostles, devils or ghosts. Rather, as modern men and women in the 21st century—we have the tools of science with which to observe, investigate, experiment, demonstrate and reason in order to light the way.
To support truth, we need liberty to think and speak, and thus freedom from prohibitions and speech codes. Liberty does not flourish in safe zones where giving offense is forbidden and “blasphemy” can be invoked, let alone punished.

Worksite wellness should embrace the pursuit of intellectual wealth as a component of physical and mental well being; worksite wellness programs should encourage employees to express honest thoughts.

Thus, REAL wellness, as opposed to risk reduction and prevention-of-illness style wellness, is best pursued in the light of reason. In this manner,  fact claims can be tested and the nature of well being boldly assessed and deliberated. For those who live in free societies (e.g., America, Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway and other Western nations), we should exercise our good fortune in being relatively liberated. So many less fortunate live who under the boots of dictators (e.g., North Korea, Russia, China) or the superstitions of mullahs and priests (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Poland) where reason, free speech and other liberties we take for granted are verboten.

Intellectual Wealth Education at Worksites

Propositions of all kinds should be freely discussed and evaluated as part of worksite wellness. Ask yourself: Do employees as citizens of a democracy have a duty to think and investigate, to be mentally honest and to examine questions without prejudice or fear? Do those in the workforce do that now? Would most or all welcome more opportunities to practice doing so?

Greg PopovichWorksite wellness leaders should, like the coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs Greg Popovich, promote intellectual curiosity and “engaged citizenry” at every opportunity, every day. This great coach wants his players to be informed citizens in a progressive, socially conscious organization. Coach Popovich stresses “understanding and empathy over ideology and demagoguery.” He sees merit for everyone’s liberty in giving respect for minority speech, especially unpopular forms of expression. An example is in granting tolerance and recognition of the motivations of those who take exceptions to norms—such as 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose “speech” includes not participating in the pre-game ritual of standing respectfully for the National Anthem. (Source: Ben Cohen, “The NBA’s Most Thoughtful Team,” Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2016, p. D6.)

REAL wellness programs of this kind require many kinds of freedom, including liberation from the bounds of tradition, authority, norms and creeds. Tribalism, fear, timidity, egotism, prejudice, hatred and contempt are barriers to truth, progress and intellectual wealth. The liberated employee free to pursue intellectual wealth will, over time, learn to care little for truth claims tied to celebrity or fame, creeds or dogmas, title or rank, luxurious robes or funny hats. He or she will care only if truth  assertions are plausible and supported by reason.  

Intellectual wealth will be enjoyed by those with the courage to examine for themselves truths about nature who willingly and artfully defend their own ideas and the honest thoughts of others.

These are qualities that will add depth and consequence to traditional worksite wellness teachings about exercise and nutrition, mindfulness, stress management and the like. In addition, these qualities and others like them will render more attractive the discussions about REAL wellness topics, including but not limited to meaning and purpose, the quest for exuberant living and what we can do, in our own modest ways, for the benefit of mankind.

I wish you all good fortune, sunshine and intellectual prosperity in sufficient abundance to last you through a long life.

Signed Don Ardell

(Ed. Note: Views expressed in this and other columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of the SeekWellness Editorial Board.)

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