MUSING – Parallel Jubilees
2011 was a jubilee year-50th anniversary-for two seemingly unrelated aspirations: manned space exploration and wellness. In May 1961, Russian Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space, followed a month later by American Alan Shepard. Within that decade, humans walked on the Moon. That same year, Public Health Service physician, Dr. Halbert Dunn, published his landmark book, High Level Wellness, from which the notion of mind-body-spirit health derives, and USAF Colonel Kenneth Cooper, M.D. melded these ideas in training astronauts, further popularizing such concepts in his 1968 book, Aerobics. Today, the Cooper Clinic in Dallas is a high level wellness practice. In solving problems or space exploration, scientists and engineers developed nearly all of the technologies now connected to wellness: smart clothing, ingestible diagnostic pills, infrared thermometers, remote monitoring, dialysis pumps, assistive robots, and blood gas monitors to name a few. We can also remember when people asked “if we can put a man on the Moon, why can’t we cure cancer?” With the ending this year of the US Manned Space Program and assertions that healthcare costs must be reined in, one might wonder if a heroic age has passed. Perhaps it has, but probably not. Great societies have their fear and risk-aversion proponents, but fundamentally they are courageous and adventurous. Within a single living cell and within an individual person, we find unchartered worlds and an expanding universe; it is our nature to explore. Pessimism be damned.