Global Social Health: A Mandate for Our Times
Social health is our deepest resource.
Social health is created when a human community recognizes as its central goal to uplift all.
Social health is a synergistic energy and shared orientation to creating social value and wellbeing, released within and among people and groups when they experience meaning and moral coherence in their lives.
The aspiration to uplift one another is core to our highest nature, and inherently rewarding. This aspiration creates meaningful connections with fellow human beings, on which we thrive. It amplifies community resources and draws out our deepest resilience. Yet we are steeped in cultural messages that set us up against one another; and in social environments that promote fragmentation and short-term interests over social health.
As a result, we now live in a world that, according to the World Health Organization (2000), is characterized by a social breakdown syndrome.
Sustainable individual wellbeing and health for communities is impossible in the context of frayed social relations. In recognition of this fact, the World Health Organization identified in 2008 social determinants of health. The same priority is reflected in the U.S. report Healthy People 2020.
Yet, social health is a deeper reality than even the best thought-out public policy, oriented at creating social capital and population health.
Social health cannot be achieved without an underlying framework of a spiritual ethic that cultivates skills for creating healthier social relations on every level of human organization.
In the individual, social health is expressed in fair-mindedness – the ability to assess how fair our thoughts, emotions and behaviors are to the social situation at hand. Among people and groups, it is expressed in equity in the context of human diversity. In institutions, it is expressed in justice. Environments purposefully structured to create conditions for ethical living in social diversity foster the deepest expression of people’s capacity to love and support others, to understand, and to create wellbeing.
We all need to mobilize our efforts to persistently and intentionally re-organize all levels of human society around moral coherence and an ethic of interdependence.
This website invites the developing of a collective understanding of social health and the will to put it to concrete practice. Without a comprehensive public standard for social health, we are losing our children to fragmentation and confusion, disillusionment and lack of life purpose; and we are failing to solve the seemingly intractable problems of poverty and preventable diseases.