In “Other Ways of Knowing” John Broomfield describes in depth the extensive impact of modern or Western ways on life today and on non-Westerners. Bloomfield notes that the western world has long ignored diverse world views much to the detriment of life on earth. Some notable effects of the almost universal adoption of western ways include overpopulation and resultant over-consumption that have endangered our survival in the world.
Further, technological developments which appear to be quite promising have continuously led to one environmental disaster after another. These and other grievous situations experienced today are clearly a result of the western world equating a single way of knowing with all the rest (several other ways of knowing) in Bloomfield’s (1) view.
Today, hospitals have become people’s focal point when it comes to health. It is noted that biomedicine has significantly helped in the delay of death, and the prevention and fight against diseases (Bloomfield, 129). Bloomfield notes that there was a decline in death cases in the early 1900s, not merely as a result of developments in germ theory but more as a result of improved environmental sanitation, public health education, personal hygiene, and postnatal and prenatal care among other things.
Today, death, rather than being considered a gateway to a new (and possibly better world), is considered by biomedicine as an awful finality in itself. According to medical practitioners, diseases hostile external entities that are always ready to attack the physical body when a person drops guard (Bloomfield, 127).
Frequent clinical mistakes that lead to health complications and at the worst death and the high cost of healthcare are only a few of the problems that people across the world face. With regard to health and medicine, Bloomfield (124) notes that the world has become unhealthy for human beings and other life forms in spite of the existence of power and brilliance of medical science. Many drugs and medicinal substances are known to have adverse side effects on their consumers. The inability of modern medicines and technologies to cure such diseases as cancer and AIDS has made the situation even worse.
These, according to Bloomfield (125), are but superficial manifestations of a bigger problem. This ever worsening situation has led people to opt for non-Western health systems and therapies. With regard to health, the main problem is that humans today are treated as though they are living machines, by the predominant application of biomedicine. The spiritual, natural and conscious part of life has been widely sidelined, and in most cases taken to be alien and inferior (Bloomfield, 126)
The answers to almost all problems lie in befriending and working together with Mother Nature. In other words, the world can chart a new and better course by embracing not one but several sources of wisdom and knowledge including the spirit in nature; spiritual traditions of other cultures; feminine ways of being; ancestral traditions; science itself and modern movements for ecological, social, and personal transformation.
In other words, harmonious balance and good health may be achieved by invoking ancient healing traditions such as meditation, acupuncture and personal hygiene in combination with contemporary medicine. Bloomfield indeed provides worthy alternatives to solving today’s problems; social, medical and others.
According to Broomfield, our thinking today is much conditioned by subtle cultural constraints, and this indeed is the case. He advocates for the abandonment of cultural chauvinism and the adoption or exploration of wisdom and knowledge accumulated by other cultures, especially those that are widely considered to be primitive. It is clearly notable that wisdom derived from ancient practices and traditions in unique ways provide us with abundant opportunities to practice compassion, openness, connections and wonder. This in fact is what most religions are supposed to be about. Since time immemorial, humanity has depended on nature to provide for its needs.
Most religions have advocated friendship with nature, while being in harmony with oneself, others and with the Supreme Being (God). While different religions may not accept the full adoption of all ancient traditions, it is worth noting that friendship with master nature in all aspects will help in solving medical and other problems currently faced in the world.
Broomfield J., Re-charting Our Future with Ageless Wisdom, Inner Traditions International Limited, 1997.