4. Health as Infrastructure
In recent years, health is the area where I am most dedicated to.
Of course, it includes the nuance of “gratitude when I loose it” because that I came to have a few health problems due to getting older.
However, if it is so, on the contrary, I want to take more care of things that “I didn’t lose it yet”.
And further, I have a somewhat regretful feeling that why I have not been doing so from the beginning.
In other words, as I mentioned earlier, it is the view that health is the infrastructure that supports us physically and mentally. It is same as that city’s water and sewage systems underpins the foundation of our city life as infrastructure.
And further, when you spread your eyes over the world, it is not just about health, it is the same about the environment and nature.
By maintaining and preserving its normal function all the times, the ability of the city and its people will improve properly.
Not a matter of “youth is ignorance”
Perhaps for not only for myself but for other people, in their young time we tend to believe those matters which could be difficult in reality as own mission or virtue like effort and patience.
For example, I still am a mountain climbing enthusiast and I was so too when I was in my twenties. I was, if saying with somewhat exaggeration, a man who tainted by the simplistic gutsy mentality which characterises of being strong enough to overcome fears, forming myself who doesn’t run away from, and achieving goals. I was proud of performing them and looked down those people and mentalities that could not.
Certainly, my personality has a part cultivated by it. However, there must have been many things which were not able to see and abandoned, because they were caught up in such monotony values.
For instance, in the old days, I walked around the mountains of Japan, and looked at that there was a tiny shrine at the summit of each of them and exposed to harsh weather. It remains in my memory as only a spectacle, but it was not more than that. So to speak, I was not conscious of much difference from a triangulation marker stone placed near them.
In recent years, however, even I have kept to walk around the mountains similarly, but breathing more harder than used to be, and I am experiencing something definitely different there.
This was a different experience from that I had in the past when I looked at a tiny shrine at almost every summit, or any religious symbol if it was in a foreign country. But now I can feel differently just walking on an uncharacteristic ridge or in a valley where there was nothing any feature.
Firstly, I thought it was because that it was a part of the Himalayas for example, and its elevation was over 4,000 meters and sometimes as high as 5,000 meters, because of its altitude, that is, much closer to the space.
However, probably including it, there is certainly something there that can be expressed as “talking to me” by something such as the environment or so through something which is not a word.
In other words, I had thought that the sensibility was due to my preference because I am a mountain enthusiast. However, it seems that it was a completely different matter.
If I were a such man who had ears be able to listen those whispers even in the twenties, the current myself might be different person.
At any rate, it is certain that my mentality with strong conscious of the sense of self-restraint and the order like a kind of soldier was formed in such a way. Therefore, I have thought that such a mentality might have been caused problems not least.
“Over-working habit disease”
I wrote earlier that I quitted my first job in only six months. This conduct seems to show that the patience and the selflessness which I acquired in the Japanese society did not help so much after all.
After that, I walked a sort of “back road”, got a job of a labor union before long, and encountered one occupational accident of the union member. It was a case of suicide from overwork due to excessive work load and responsibility.
Even now, 40 years have passed since the occupational accident case, but still I have to meet frequent news reports on karoshi, suicide from overwork, in the Japanese society.
In other words, the custom and common behavior of must-to-work excessively, is so to speak the common practice which should be seen as if “eating in advance” one’s future health. Therefor even in the period when they are still principal workforce, they had already exhausted their own resources of health.
The “eating in advance” should be a debt if replacing it with a money issue. Later on, it will arrive back as a serious illness in the shape of suicide from overwork, like the debt accruing heavy interest.
Until a few decades ago, high blood pressure and heart disease etc. were called “adult diseases” and this behavior of “eating in advance” was accepted without special caution.
Those diseases however became to be seen as “lifestyle-related disease” by the advocation of the late Dr Shigeaki Hinohara. Then the idea of prevention of those diseases began by the recognition to alter such a lifestyle which was like borrowing health from one’s future.
However, even if the name of disease has changed to “lifestyle-related disease”, the actual custom of people is stubborn and passive against change. Trying to change their lifestyle, they had to face many patterns of social pressure which made them some complicated hesitation. Hence, I want to recommend further terminological steps, and change the name to “over-working habit disease”.
Thus, it should be not seen that the youth matter is that of ignorance. Even more it must not be allowed to utilize the ignorance of them.
Maintenance of the body infrastructure
In Chapter 2, I discussed that our infrastructure, as an “infrastructure to support self-existence”, tends to be harmed rather than ignored, because of being busy to obey the “Iron law of securing means of living.”
We tend to think about health in the shape of double negative, as a kind of the “state of being not sick” by regarding it as a special state of disease. However, in the first place, health is something that must function normally in our daily life and lifelong life as our own infrastructure, and losing it is a matter that destroy the normal developments of our daily and lifelong lives.
For example, it is appropriate to think about the state in which the road and the railway were cut off by the natural disaster, but the damage of such an infrastructure will definitely damage the life and economic activity of the region and the country.
With the proactive maintenance of physical infrastructure, a society can be avoided unnecessary pause periods and sound functions without waste can be continued. Similarly, the proactive maintenance of our health is far more meaningful than the recover after it is lost.
If the body as the infrastructure does not exercise, not only “rusts” like the machine which is not used rusts, but also decreases the function of the whole level as a human being that was supported by the function of the infrastructure in the first place. In other words, for the person who has rusted body, far from being in good daily physical condition, the comfort and the joy of daily life, productivity on the job, and even the significance of the person’s life itself can all disappear.
By the way, comprehensive equipment management (or “production maintenance with everyone’s participation”) called TPM of Toyota Motor Corporation is the one that the automobile production system is operated with this same idea, and high productivity is performed. To learn the secret for instance, there was a TPM-themed course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
In recent years, to go gyms is getting popular because people increasingly begin to aware the effects to improve such physical infrastructure for a state of good condition on the quality of life and work.
So-called sports are highly likely to be recognized as a kind of hobby. However, for those modern consumers who rarely use their bodies, sports are not a matter of preference like hobby which is not OK without them. That is, it should be considered as an essential element for life activities, same as food and sleep.
The brain is an infrastructure too
As discussed above, for us, our bodies are our own infrastructure. Therefore, as to the function of the brain which is the center of my consciousness and action, whether it works fully depends on whether the infrastructure as the body works fully for the supports the brain fully as well.
Moreover, as to the brain itself, it is a brain tissue as the infrastructure to support the appearance of the brain function such as intelligence, feelings, and personality, and if the tissue does not work fully, the person’s own mental function also has failure and disorder.
The brain tissue as such infrastructure is the most difficult organ to elucidate in the human body organs. So it is a part with a lot of mystery. Therefore, a number of beliefs and even the faith intervene for the work to elucidate.
Everyone wants to make full use of own un-replaceable brain tissue they have.
As to the method how to use the brain, there is no method other than that you try various ways and feel them, and you find out how your brain works as a result. It is a trial and error. That is a method of a sort of experiment and observation.
The first step in such trial and error, as repeatedly mentioned, is the importance of exercise, and the physical functions and infrastructure functions that are improved by it. In short, without healthy heart activity, there is not enough oxygen or nutrients sent to the brain. Such a brain of lack of oxygen and nutrition should be unuseful. On the other hand, when a brain has been supplied them sufficiently, it provide far more comfortable feeling to us.
Second, the method I have judged to be effective in recent years is to maximize having resources or blessings from the nature, especially from the sun.
In particular, it is to consciously perform activities such as sunbathing and exposure to sunlight in outdoor. Normally, when cooling down after an exercise, I sit on the grass in the park and gaze the sun towards the sunset. In Japan, there has been a traditional custom of worship the sun. By having sun-gazing, (do it within one hour of after sunrise or of before sunset to avoid too strong sunlight in daytime) the strong light, electromagnetic waves, or particle beams act directly on our brain tissue through our eyes and have the effect (less being recognized) to increase its activity. I especially feel that it has the effect of relaxing mind and sharpening and broadening intuition.
Fake called “private insurance”
When someone asks me whether he should take out cancer insurance, for example, I express my opinion that such so-called “private insurance” is a “fake” insurance system.
Insurance is a security system for risk, and health insurance is a system in which advanced medical care is guaranteed at a free or low cost when you get sick. The system is a scheme that to maximise its effects, being based on the largest denominator in a country, all the population of a country can receive the benefits based of a relatively small insurance premium. The larger the denominator, the greater the security effect. Japan’s health insurance system, especially known as the everybody insurance system, is one of the best systems in the world that has kept the health standards of Japanese people high and maintained their life expectancy at the top level of the world.
If this scheme is turned into that health insurance system centered on “private insurance” like that of the United States, it becomes a system for the rich in fact because of the insurance premium which is quite high, and the poor people cannot afford to join it, and it leads to the state which many people cannot consult the doctor even if they become sick. President Obama, when in the power, aimed to establish a health insurance system for all citizens, but he was forced into failure. That was because, those people who already had “private insurance” opposed the establishment of the Obama insurance system, saying that if it is established, the benefits to the sick poor would increase and the overall level of coverage would be lowered.
In addition, if an individual thought about the merit-or-demerit of joining “private insurance”, the necessity to do that is for when you have lost your health, but it never give the person health itself. In other words, the insurance system provides those medical services only such as medicine and surgery, but it does not provide health itself. Hence, for those who have firm confidence in their health, such insurance system is meaningless. But there is an illusion that the insurance system is a key method for health. That is, many types of private health insurances state in their advertisements to “provide peace of mind”, hence it tends to divert the eyes of the effort to maintain people’s own health.
In that sense, if you can afford to pay for the “private insurance”, it is more effective for the purpose of maintaining health and preventing disease by spending money to buy athletic shoes to do exercise or buying and eating safe and healthy food.
In a word, it is easy to have the illusion of as if it is possible to buy health with money because it is made to get used to such a cycle of making money by own labor and buying various things. Needless to say, health is not something that can be gained through such insurance assets, but something that you have to work directly on the infrastructure and support your body.
Health is truly “the thanks known by loss.” Especially, when you are getting old, your body conditions become bad by all means and each one of the deteriorations deprives a comfortable life little by little from daily life.
Therefore, I think that the person who entered the retirement life in particular is better to think that it is “it is work” to exercise for health. If you can maintain a good quality of life, it is sensible to do such a job, as described below.
In addition, if we go back to the story “health is infrastructure”, it supports the foundation of its normal function, whether it is an individual or a society. If it is not understood such importance, it is damaged by over-using. When it happened, then it becomes to require such an money incentive system by fee like the toll road and “private insurance”. Should such a change be welcome when replaced by such a meaningless system?
Future society built by healthy elderly
Now, let us think about the viewpoint of such an infrastructure of health in the problem of the elderly. In other words, I would like to investigate the perception that it is natural that aging is accompanied by unhealthy.
As described up to the prior chapter, as a result of being exhausted by the “iron law of securing means of survival”, we used up the health resources already during the active service, actually with even “debt”, when we narrowly reached a retirement, there is a reality of many sad cases as if that we had almost been sick person.
However, let us assume that we could managed to overcome the various restraints associated with life and reached with good health to the rosy retirement period. Such cases are no longer hypotheses or rare cases.
In other words, it is the arrival of the rosy life, called the pension life, which was liberated institutionally from “the iron rule of securing the means of living”.
Of course, the reality is that the level of “liberation” varies depending on the system contents of different countries, and it is also a story with a large individual difference.
What we must focus upon is the magnitude of difference when one can reach the liberating state from such an iron rule. That is, which is you of a sick person or of a healthy person when you reached there?
Certainly, there is a difference by the country in the level of the payment of the pension. This is why the difference becomes important whether it is possible to compensate for the income shortage by working part-time if one can reach it with health and to fill the gap by using the health resource. Also, it is possible to secure social contact that tends to be cut off by retirement life through volunteer activities and hobby activities, and raise it to a richer life. In addition, the being able to do such activities will contribute to satisfying the significance and worth of retirement life and greatly enhancing our daily fulfillment.
I think that the life of such a high quality old age should be one of the goals that every society aims for. Because it can be expected in their future, it is possible for the working generation to demonstrate their full potential with peace of mind, and that is why it is encouraging. Of course, it is needless to say that such active activities can also lead to increased productivity in the society as a whole. And most of all, it can contribute directly the reduction of medical expenses for the elderly.
Therefore, I think it is very reasonable that the pensioners who retired think that “maintaining health is work”.
In a word, if the retired old person not only does not need nursing care, but also does not become luggage to the family or the society, it is so happy for everyone, and how much it will reduce the burden on the whole society. The practical and economic difference that it generates should become a huge social resource.
In this way, the huge difference between leaving the old people’s problem as the luggage of society or using it as a new resource should be practically studied as a policy issue – so far not enough progress have been made yet. Further, it seems that it is a critically important field of the society in the future, and the more we work on it as soon as possible, the greater the reward.
For now, I have been reaching this stage mentioned above with good health, and I am finding the possible areas for research and development. In addition, while it is a matter of my own concern, in order to follow the development of amphibiology, I am establishing a plan to develop 理論人間生命学 (theoretical human life science) which studies the area of “life on the cross-border”, regarding the aging issue as a concept of the other “birth”.
Health of the earth
At the end of this chapter, I would like to describe a story that greatly broadens the perspective. It is a view that “health” has already reached the time when man should think on a global scale.
In addition to pursuing health on a whole human scale as mentioned earlier, it is because that the deepening severity of the climate change itself begins to refute the excuse with its own body no matter what excuse the human being makes any longer. This is because that, in every year and every season, high temperatures, large forest fires, violent typhoons and hurricanes, heavy rain and floods, sediment disasters continue to cause the earth to suffer. This is the same to that the lifestyle-related diseases and overworked diseases are harming human bodies.
We discussed earlier about the nature and earth environment as the infrastructure for our body and life. The reason for the discussion is that we should have the idea of “the chain of health” which is connected our body to the body of the earth as ecology in other words.
We, thinking about the health of ourselves and our families, have wanted to build a house and live in the place with a good environment in nature. And you are actually running it.
For that purpose, the road and the residential land were made by cutting out the mountain, and not only that, but also the mountain and the island were scraped, a huge amount of sediment was carried, and even the artificial island was made, and it has even been change to a city and an airport.
On the other hand, after I finish my exercise as part of my health, I look up at the sky lying on the park lawn often. At that time, it is made me to feel the comfort that it is possible to say that I am hold by the nature or I and the nature are unified. It is exactly the feeling of “the chain of health” if I use this term.
If I state this I might be said that it must be a leaping argument. Nonetheless to state, as a result, now the corona pandemic has hit the world, aviation demand has evaporated in a moment, and airports have fallen into the red figures due to their excessive capacity. In other words, the corona pandemic may not be a simple riddle of large-scale infectious disease. I will omit it here because it is discussed in detail in the other place (in Japanese), but it seems not necessarily an out of place to see it from the viewpoint of “the providence of nature” about what is the corona which makes the human race worries greatly.
This is as if pointed out by the deterioration of environment of the earth as the evidence that we are not considering it, although we are in a “give-and-take relationship” with it. We can build our own health only with considering the whole ecology body (in Japanese) that is connected to all the surrounding environment, including COVID-19.