Alright, I’d like to preface my preface by saying I hope that you can follow my train of thought with this post. I was really touched by all the aspects of this post and I hope that it might inspire you too, because I feel like they all tie together nicely.
Okay, next is my regular preface: this post is going to be quite a bit different than the others. In fact, its almost a stretch on staying on topic, but I feel like I should add it anyways. I hope you find it meaningful.
Thursday, November 18th was quite the public health day for me. Many public health students at BYU attended a lecture by Ken Kyle, a master of public policy advocacy and (likely) public enemy #1 as far as the tobacco industry in Canada is concerned. I very much enjoyed his lecture and I feel like his take-home message was that while public health advocates/teachers/whatever you want to call them are truly important and helpful, just getting one piece of health legislation passed will have a much greater impact on people deciding to change their behavior.
So I was thinking about that off and on throughout the day, wondering how I felt about that statement. Later that night I was watching the end of basketball game on ESPN and some commercials for a show called E:60 came on. Now I don’t profess to be an ESPN fanatic, but I was curious what the show was about so I decided to watch it when it came on. In short, this show is about people who find themselves in interesting/hard circumstances but still enjoying the sports they love.
One of the stories this show highlighted was about children who love playing cricket in Bhopal, India. The reason this story struck me is because these children are playing on amongst the ruins of the Union Carbide pesticide plant that was the cause of the world’s worst industrial catastrophe. This plant leaked a toxic gas during the night in December 1984 that killed thousands and left many more thousands with disabling injuries. The specific plot of land where these children play contains 300 – 400 times more HCH (the pesticide the plant produced) than the US allows to be in the ground. These children have nowhere else to play cricket and playing cricket is all they have that brings them happiness. Many of the children who play cricket there have disabling injuries, despite the accident taking place 26 years ago. I’m not saying I have a solution to the problem, but I am saying that if legislation had been passed that something would have been done by now to prevent more people from getting sick. Twenty-six years is a very long time to live with the results of that disaster, and many more years will pass where parents will have to watch their children suffer from birth defects, emphysema, and cancer due to this tragedy.
I went to bed that night thinking, “yes, legislation really is powerful, and yes, it probably does do more for behavior change than even the most well-meaning, educated, and driven people.” Do you agree or disagree?
Here you can watch the video from ESPN and you can find more information about the disaster that took place in Bhopal here. Please, at least watch the video, the images are very powerful.