I appreciated my colleague Russ Gerber‘s recent post on spiritual care. It begins to answer some of the questions and comments I’ve heard in my work with our Connecticut legislators and media. Enjoy everyone:
He once described his first six years in the film business as “hopeless”. The industry just didn’t get it. Here’s what he said in an interview with the Academy of Achievement organization in Washington: “All of my films have been very hard to understand at the script stage because they’re different. At the time I did them they were not conventional. The executives could only think in terms of what they’d already seen.”
That’s a good description of the inside-the-box thinking that we too seldom question, and that would hide some new vision that could impact our lives in a big and perhaps meaningful way. What a shame for filmmakers and viewers alike if Lucas had stopped knocking on doors and pleading with executives to think differently.
Given the huge challenges facing another attention-grabbing industry in this country, namely health care, I think a little more out-of-the-box thinking is called for and could do us all a lot of good.
Such as? Well, take self-care that’s religious-based, also known as spiritual care. It’s an approach that has met the health needs of families for generations.
Proponents of spiritual care may not be large in numbers but they feel it has served them well, although it remains an unconventional and often unacknowledged alternative to Western medicine. What you’ll hear if you talk to enough people who responsibly practice this kind of care is an impressive degree of satisfaction with the transformative and healing effect it has on their lives. You get the feeling there’s something positive and pragmatic going on that deserves to be taken seriously by those who are implementing health care reform in the U.S.
Pull the lens back and look at the cumulative record of healing and yes it falls short of perfect, as does every system of health care looked at through the same lens. But given the enormity of society’s health-related needs — needs that extend beyond the financial crush society is feeling and which, by the way, spiritual care could help relieve — a convincingly positive record of healthy outcomes shouldn’t be met by a closed-door — or a closed mind.
Surprisingly, though, it sometimes is, perhaps because it collides with stereotypes of health care that are largely clinical and technical and tend to marginalize the correlation of mind and body.
Given that an improved mental state directly and positively impacts the physical condition, what we commonly think of as health care could benefit from some fresh vision. It should expand its scope to include practices that are shown to improve the quality of thought and health.
For long-time practitioners of spiritual care this practical, whole-life approach to health is as normal as anything could be. But for others who are relatively new to the idea, it may seem more like what Lucas called the script stage. People are thinking only in terms of what they’ve already seen.
This, then, is a time to be open-minded. And for those already embracing spiritual care, this is a time for patience and perseverance.
When I think of Lucas presenting his unconventional ideas to potential supporters I imagine him thinking, “I’m not here to change current film making practices, I’m here to add to them”. Indeed he was. I also imagine him believing that the naysayers would eventually need to adjust their thinking, and that his then-unconventional approach would inevitably be accepted as good for business and good for everyone.