Crossing borders

This is the same title as a book that I am currently writing together with Fatumo Osman, about how we can live and learn together in this very diverse and colourful world. We cross borders in our lives all the time. Sometimes national borders, but we all have personal borders that we function within, and these borders are far from static. And socially, we constantly negotiate borders with those around us, unconsciously.

We also live in a world that is shrinking, with more and more mixing of people of different cultures, beliefs, religions and traditions. Yet in this world, we seem to be creating more and more barriers between each other. We harden national borders. We effectively avoid direct human interaction through increased communication through smartphones. And how well can we communicate, when we lose the physical face-to-face, non-verbal aspect of communication? So much of what we communicate to each other is unspoken. It seems we need to revisit how we live, work and learn together, constructively and peacefully. This means exploring the borders we have in our lives, what they mean, how they impact us, how we impact them, and how we use them.

And what does this have to do with health and wellbeing? Very much, it turns out.

To be healthy physically, we need to be healthy socially. And thus, it is not enough to just talk about the physical or emotional body. Our bodies are not separate entities that function in isolation from the people and world around us. Our bodies respond to how we feel, and how we feel is very much dependent on how we are treated by others, and how we treat others. If we are given the agency and space to be who we want to be, or if we are demeaned and pushed around. If we are seen or not seen.

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We thus need to talk about the social and environmental context that we live in. A healthy body means healthy relationships. And healthy relationships mean a healthy context. And a healthy context is created by us, people. Others have looked at how to target aspects such as mental health, etc. But there is surprisingly little discussion in health care about the impact of political, social issues on our health and wellbeing.

In addition to all this, there are ethical and moral aspects to consider in regards to how we live together. We have a responsibility for how we act, and how we take care of ourselves, of each other, and of this world we live in.

For more about this, read our book ‘Crossing borders’.

Jenny Wickford