The ceaseless cycle of violence and cooperation of human being as cause of wellbeing and malaise – pt. 3: The courses and recourses

The declarations of intent continue as epic and necessary as the Sustainable Development Goals at another historic meeting in 2015 with the United Nations, which also included the rights of the planet for the first time with equal opportunities.

A spiral is potentially one of the best symbol to represent health between violent and not violent times in History:  reading the common traits between scientific discoveries, moral issues, wars and illness, we, as a group, began to question the motto ‘Historia magistra vita’ to create well-being and health. A good life, which wants wellbeing for individuals and populations: even though history and historians are there to document wars and battles of defence and offence, plagues for not closing the ports in time, and this overconfidence in the capacity of technological progress, the compulsion of repetition run by a Sapiens who is perhaps proving to be very Not-Sapiens in the long run. 

Courses and recurrences: the Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico, who lived between the 17th and 18th centuries, spoke of this (11). The study of history is for Vico a ‘new science’, which, through the union of philosophy and philology, must deal with identifying and documenting events and facts, but above all it must interpret them by searching for those ideal and eternal reasons, which are destined to constantly present themselves, in a repetitive manner albeit in different degrees, within all moments of history: the historical courses and recourses. 

In his thinking, the human being is always the same, even in changing historical situations and behaviour. What occurs again in history is only comparable by analogy to what has already occurred. Vico conceives of recurrences not as a succession and repetition of the political forms of nations, but rather as a succession and repetition of all forms of human and social culture. Vico systematises history as an event characterised by its own intrinsic rationality: for the philosopher, it is a matter of grasping the norms and laws of that grandiose and non-straight path that is the historical journey of nations.

It is as if, in order to find the meaning of events, Vico invites us to look beyond these facts, to grasp within history another invisible history: that of deeper reasons and ends. The meaning of history is, for Vico, within history and, at the same time, outside it: the effects of actions always go beyond the specific intentionality of men; man does more than he knows and often does not know what he is doing.

I think that human beings have studied history enough and have all the notions to be able to say enough: yet it has not happened, even with historical culture, and therefore history is recursive. Why? According to Vico there is a divine reason, according to the latest discoveries of neuroscientists there is an ‘animal species’ reason. And this is why we have to face, despite all our human right education our dark side of violence. This continuous tension between selfishness and otherness is and will be perpetual. As I have already mentioned before, in fact, we are the children of the ‘genes and brains we have’, and our actions, with our extraordinary potential, and our distressing limitations depend on it: we have both the reptilian brain, embodied within us to offend and defend, and the more evolved neocortex to cooperate and listen. We carry within us, in our DNA, beyond any possible reading of history, both vector-perhaps I have written about: no wonder, then, about the contradictions that are so obvious. Taking note, therefore, of how we are ‘made’, the first Right to Health is to Embrace the Complexity of the human being, who wants to be normal and empowered and to feel compassion and law-regard.  Genetics corresponds to epigenetics, so that if the environment is favourable, we will develop children, adolescents and, thanks to neuronal plasticity, even adults, who are human, affectionate, compassionate, expressive, creative, determined, and responsible, and perhaps happier. If the environment is hostile, we will unfortunately have a population that applies the oldest parts of the brain for survival, offence, and defence, creating people who are sick and can cause tears and rifts between people in the small, wars and terror in the large. 

How many forces of goodwill have traversed the millennia, and what wonder those spiritually dense ‘sacred texts’ of the great declarations of human rights of recent years arouse in us. Two vectors, one for possession, one for distribution: too simplistic to divide into two, in between there is always a land of conciliation to give health, to find the balance between giving and having. To come out of Utopia and Dystopia and simply be in the Place of the Real, improving the inequalities, and perhaps lowering expectations. With lightness. With creative playfulness. Like the spiral of our galaxy, which presents circles in which the recurrences grow wider and wider with respect to the initial position, to differentiate, because the historical events, the Sapiens Neanderthal’s understanding of health and care may be similar over the millennia but not the same. 

Maria Giulia Marini

Epidemiologist and counselor in transactional analysis, thirty years of professional life in health care. I have a classic humanistic background, including the knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin, which opened me to study languages and arts, becoming an Art Coach. I followed afterward scientific academic studies, in clinical pharmacology with an academic specialization in Epidemiology (University of Milan and Pavia). Past international experiences at the Harvard Medical School and in a pharma company at Mainz in Germany. Currently Director of Innovation in the Health Care Area of Fondazione ISTUD a center for educational and social and health care research. I'm serving as president of EUNAMES- European Narrative Medicine Society, on the board of Italian Society of Narrative Medicine, a tenured professor of Narrative Medicine at La Sapienza, Roma, and teaching narrative medicine in other universities and institutions at a national and international level. In 2016 I was a referee for the World Health Organization- Europen for “Narrative Method of Research in Public Health.” Writer of the books; “Narrative medicine: Bridging the gap between Evidence-Based care and Medical Humanities,” and "Languages of care in Narrative Medicine" edited with Springer, and since 2021 main editor for Springer of the new series "New Paradigms in Health Care."

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