Lovell’s Food For Thought – The Spirituality of the Unity Principles & Addressing Health Inequities

A Second Appeal to Connect the Dots

Dr. Lovell Jones | 2/1/2019, 10:31 p.m.
If we are going to successfully address health inequities, we are going to need to truly climb out of our ...
Dr. Lovell A. Jones retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

For almost 40 years I have been talking about connecting the dots. Seventeen years ago, the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training Consortium (HDEART C) was launched in an attempt to pull institutions out of their silos. Two years ago, the HDEART Health Equity Scholars and Alumni Network (HHESAN) was launched to bring individuals together, both those at HDEART C institutions, but especially those who were not based at HDEART C institutions. For if we are going to successfully address health inequities, we are going to need to truly climb out of our silos and connect the dots (http://stylemagazine.com/news/2016/oct/24/lovells-food-thought-connecting-dots/). What I have also found is that this is easier said than done. We have been so conditioned to “me, rather than “we”, especially when talking about addressing the poor and/or underserved. We talk about these populations pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, when you are expecting them to have boots or even shoes in the first place. And assuming that even if they have boots, the boots will have bootstraps. Our perceptions regarding the poor and/or underserved are, in most cases, far from reality. As I often say, “A person’s perception is a person’s reality, whether real or not.” However, one of those perceptions I have attempted to address for years, is that all of the independent efforts by those who sincerely want to address health inequities, or at least believe that they can, is to address this issue in their respective silos. One of the lessons I have learned is, “No one center or one institution or profession will solve the problems we face.” Our society continues to support such a notion that one will, when in reality, it has been and will continue to be a team effort that solves the problems. For example, you can have a great offensive line and an above average or even an average quarterback in football and win football games. But you can’t have a mediocre offensive line and an outstanding quarterback and win games. Now think of the great offensive linemen acting independently and the mediocre one acts in unison, what do you think will happen? Get the symbolism, the strength of connecting the dots.

Recently I heard a sermon from The Reverend Michael Gott of Unity of Houston. He reaffirmed the idea of connecting the dots. The title of his sermon was “Woven Together.” The theme of the sermon was around the strength of interdependence and spirituality. I was fascinated with Skill Six of Cindy Wiggleworth’s book entitled, SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence. It states that one should establish “connectiveness with all that is.” On a spiritual level, it is connecting the dots.

During the sermon, The Reverend Gott also quoted Martin Luther King in relationship to Skill 6. We think we are separated, but in fact we are “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together in a single garment of destiny.” We continue to approach addressing health inequities in a siloed fashion. As in our society, we continue to forget everything is connected to everything else. There are no independent islands, yet we tend to focus on problems as independent entities. And where has that gotten us? As The Reverend Gott said, any of the individual threads in any piece of a garment is very flimsy and easily broken. However, when they are woven together in and out of each other, the garment becomes something very strong. What is also important about this symbol and why is it important to highlight? Those of us, the underserved and others, who are working to address health inequities, sometimes feel as if we are an isolated thread. However, in connecting the dots, like that of a woven garment where every thread both supports the threads around it and is supported by the threads around it, we can achieve that same level of mutual support and strengthen our efforts. That when we are in need of support, we can reach out and gain that support from the network of dots, and when others are in need, we are there to do the same. As I listened to the sermon, and the impact of a spiritual network, it truly reinforced the concept of connecting the dots.