So many of our fellow citizens feel polarized, angry, victimized, and look at their neighbors as enemies. How can this have happened? Why do we hate fellow Americans at levels not seen since the 1850’s? Why are we worried about civil war? Is there a solution to our toxic (un)civil engagement with each other?
I believe there is.
And it starts with us.
Or rather, it starts with me. There is only one person I have the power to change. And that’s the man I see in the mirror. As much judgement as I have felt from other Americans; how they think I am wrong, that I vote for un-American policies, that I am completely on the wrong track, well, I have thought the same thing about them too. They think I’m foolish but I think the same about them. They think that now America will go down the toilet, and I thought the same thing over the past four years. We are the same. We are learning, little by little, to hate each other.
The Internet was supposed to save us. Instead, it is driving us apart. Arguing online will not solve a thing. Only make it worse. How many millions of hours of wasted time does this cartoon summarize?
What I can do, instead, is take my passion, my knowledge and my resources and commit them to improving people’s lives. That’s it. What have I gained by staying up late into the night and posting on social media? How many lives have I improved? How many minds have I changed?
I am going to recommit to elevating the role of wellness in people’s lives. Wellness is something I have been involved in since a teenager – and by wellness I mean the whole aspect; mind, body and soul. We are at an inflection point in our society where people are seeking answers in spirituality, where we are realizing that our diet is affecting our health, where we are learning that our emotions play a significant role in our overall health. These are all incredible and great developments.
However, there are so many millions who can’t afford Whole Foods, who can’t afford $200/hr therapy, who can’t afford to go to Yoga class or fly off to a vegan Buddhist retreat in Cancun.
We have to make wellness equitable. (Define Equitable – link needed).
And the folks in our society who are plagued with the most health problems, and the least access to wellness are people of color. African American, Indigenous Americans specifically suffer from the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and the list goes on.
This not only costs these communities dearly, but the macroeconomic effects of this societal problem costs everyone. As in, we all pay for more sick people.
I believe that one possible resolution for many of these problems is the hope of a (w)holistic, integrated solution to these health and wellness issues. And there are so many people who want to help. But we need to connect individuals and companies to the communities who are open to alternative solutions to these deep-seated and complex problems.
That’s why I’ve started an organization called Wellness Corps (www.wellnesscorps.org).
Our mission will be two-fold.
We will recognize wellness solutions that are affordable and accessible. We aren’t looking to give handouts to people. This isn’t charity. This is about access.
As an entrepreneur, I am already involved with two corporations who make health more accessible.
Liberty Fitness (www.libertyfitness247.com) is a chain of fitness facilities in Massachusetts. We are opening a high end, functional fitness facility in Roxbury, the historically Black neighborhood of Boston. If you look at a map of Boston and search for “gym” you will see a desert in the middle of it. That’s Roxbury. Big box gyms and other fitness providers have historically ignored Roxbury (And other areas where the majority population is Black) for reasons that are tied to systemic racism but also economics. Folks in Roxbury want to be healthy. They want to work out. We, who live in mixed or White neighborhoods take it for granted that there is a gym on every corner. This problem of access is the same when you look at health food, yoga, spiritual centers that teach universal wisdom and a host of other offerings.
The truth is that you can charge a little bit less, but still make money. Liberty Fitness is not a charity. But we can reduce our prices by 50% relative to the high-end gyms only one mile away and still make a profit. And create jobs for the people in that community.
Another business where I have partnered is Fast Weight Loss 365 (www.fastweightloss365.com). We offer affordable diet coaching and diet supplements and foods. Where normally diet and health coaches charge $75-$150/hr or more, we charge $59/mo. for unlimited coaching. And we can still turn a profit. Working class people making $12-$20/hr just can’t afford a health coach. And there is a link between a person’s income and their weight and health. Basically, the poorer you are in this country, the sicker and fatter you are. We lose billions of dollars on lost productivity because we are so unhealthy. This has to change. Fast Weight Loss 365 hopes to be such a company that makes a difference in people’s live no matter what their income bracket.
On the spiritual-side, one of the great shining lights in Black communities has been the church. And in places like Roxbury there is a thriving Islamic community with a grand mosque. The issue is that there is an ever-shrinking base of people who follow traditional teachings of religion. People are seeking out alternative spiritual practices, whether that’s traditional aboriginal philosophies, Eastern religious thought, or ancient systems like Kabbalah. There is an ever-growing group of people who are “spiritual, but not religious”.
I’m proud to have studied such spiritual philosophy for almost thirty years. Having attended religious school, I was frustrated by dogmatic thinking and my teachers’ anger over my questions and their inability to answer my philosophical questions around the nature of God or the meaning of life. Through a study of Eastern philosophies via martial arts, and more recently, the Kabbalah, I have gained a greater sense of my place in the world and found the answers I’ve been looking for. We plan on highlighting organizations who give access to alternative philosophy and spiritual practices to those yearning for deeper meaning in their life.
Wellness Corps – Mind. Body. Soul.
In summation, Wellness Corps will have a larger role to play in society. We hope to publicize other companies that are giving more affordable access to wellness.
The second part of our missions will be to connect individuals who are practitioners of wellness in any form and are willing to give some of their time at a reduced price to communities of color.
This is what I can do to make the world a better place. Wellness Corps does not have all the answers, but we can be one solution of many to make this country a better place.
By raising everyone’s consciousness and bringing communities together to heal each other and right some wrongs.