Keep the public in public health!

In a 1989 conversation with Charles Rowell, Chinua Achebe shared a story about the goddess of creativity.

He described this as the earth goddess, called Ala or Ani by the Igbo people. Not only is she responsible for creativity, he mentioned that she is also responsible for morality.

For her, art cannot then be in service of destruction, in service of oppression, even in service of evil.

Art is simply not in service of immorality he mentioned. And morality he noted is not about being good or going to church. Rather it is manifestations such as with murder.

That is art, cannot be in the business of committing murder. It does not mean only angels or good things are portrayed. Rather things that humanize us are vividly illustrated.

For even hero’s are just as human as everybody else. No matter how fuzzy things may get, we still need to make a distinction between what is permissible and what is not permissible.

For example, he mentioned that it is not permissible to stereotype or dehumanize our fellows. Rather, we celebrate them, whether good or bad. We celebrate them whether rascals or not, for all of us abound in the world and are all part of its richness.

Achebe stated the following during interview: “We are engaged in a great mission, and we attempt to bring this into storytelling…People are expecting from literature serious comment on their lives. They are not expecting frivolity. They are expecting literature to say something important to help them in their struggle with life.’

I wonder today if we can say they same about what we all do in public health? This is my keep today, my plea to return the public back to public health.

It is a serious matter and the public expect us the professionals to illustrate the fabric of their lives in ways that help them find a way out. So this is a serious matter. Put the public back into public health.

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