What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 1:9
By Jeremy Moseley
As I reflect on my time visiting with forward-thinking communities, people, and community health programs in San Diego, Loma Linda, Phoenix, and Tucson, I am reminded of something that Gary stated during our travels. He said that “what we hope for is already happening.” I agree and will take it a step further by saying that what we hope for and what is happening now was hoped for by those before us and has already happened in the past. In other words, there is nothing new under the sun.
When it comes to the health of the people who are surviving in impoverished and resource deprived communities, we desperately search for evidence-based practices and think of ideas in office settings and in front of computers in an effort to solve people’s problems for them. I have to say that I occasionally find myself falling into the same trap in my day to day professional life. However, there is no evidence as powerful as the evidence that we can “see” right before us if we actually look for it outside of our confined walls. Nor is there evidence as powerful as learning from the history of people who have come before us and work that has preceded us.
Community Health Workers are not new. They have been with us hundreds if not thousands of years. Education and skills training have been around for a while. Food is not a recent innovation. Homelessness is not a new phenomenon. Children will always need a caring family, community, and environment. Faith communities have been the backbone of many communities across the country over centuries. Community health centers have been around over fifty years. Medicaid was created in 1965 around the same time that community health centers emerged. APHA was founded in 1872. Finally, one can also argue that public health began in ancient Egypt more than 3,500 years ago. However, some of us are still living lives absent of health and well-being.
If you only looked for cutting edge, innovative, evidence-based public health practices or population health strategies based on data and outcomes during our stops along the way, you would miss the most beautiful sights that were right before you. Coincidentally, these are wonders that have worked well for humans in the past and not so well when we ignored them. Also, it is not a coincidence that the programs and initiatives that we witnessed had these elements intertwined in all components of their daily activities and practices. These elements are love and trust.
Love and trust have to be at the forefront of everything we do and all of our relationships. That is why the programs observed on the “See 2 See” trip were so effective. They put love and trust before data, money, power, recognition, and science. They put these overused words into real action. I know that is hard for some of us to do. But, it is what we must do if we do not want to repeat the ills of the past, if we want build on the wisdom of generations before us, and if we want to witness the beauty of what the sun allows us to see today.