Your health and where you live
Reasearch shows if you live in a place where people care about each other you do better
Buy local food. This is often a seasonal activity but it uses money locally and avoids food travelling great distances. The multiples emphasise the national origins of their food but local markets help recreate the social and economic interactions that we gave up too easily. You can’t underestimate the value of someone saying ‘haven’t see you for awhile – were you away?’ This requires the time and interest that makes a community work.
Support local sports clubs. These clubs must be the last of the unsullied local institutions and long may they last. They need space, lights, volunteers and organisation. Children who live near sports fields are less likely to be overweight and as a result fitter for the future. Unused or unsupervised sports fields can all too easily become open spaces for alcohol abuse for the underage.
Give employment over charity. Our need right now is employment for both economic and self esteem reasons. The Eastern European experience shows the direct link between health and unemployment. It is too easy to throw a few bob in a collecting box but more difficult to argue for jobs or to invest in or encourage a business that will provide local employment however small.
Patronise your local pub. As a community we are not going to give up alcohol anytime soon. We have given up too easily on our local pubs and handed the sale of alcohol over to petrol station and off-licence chains. Many such family run businesses have closed but still act as community centres and give more supervision of alcohol intake than the of slabs of beer bought in the “offie” for home consumption. Home drinking results in larger measures and in all too easily finishing off “the lot”. Such alcohol patterns destroy personal and community health.
Avoid cynicism. We’ve been through a lot. The sacred cows are now methane. It has left us with what the Chinese call ``mind disease”. To become a proud purposeful community we need to have worldly wise positive people who have moved on from the self hate we have engaged in for the last few years. People who are hopeful have better outcomes with serious illness while if we expect the worst we will probably get it.
As they say : Ar scath a cheile a maireann sibh : we live in each other’s shadow
Tom O’Dowd is a practicing GP & professor of General Practice at Trinity College Dublin