A sick environment

by Evans Yonson

(Note: Just a reflection of what is happening in this world and Mother Nature.)

The summit in Copenhagen of December 2009 ended without success as it was expected by everyone especially the environmentalists. As the summit was drawing its end, concerned individuals inside and outside the convention center were calling for a clearer, safer, greener, and favorable agreement. An agreement that would be favorable to parties concerned, not only those the Northern countries but also those in the developing world. The European Union earlier offered financial support, which was something to begin with, but the developing countries still found it less than enough to pay for the effects of the carbon emissions worldwide. Obama, who received his Nobel Peace Prize days before, called for an eleventh-hour emergency meeting but just the same it was useless. The Chinese and the Americans stood firm on their grounds and never bothered to bend down a little. At the end of the summit, everybody was so tired and hopeless. Back in Barcelona, everybody was sick too. One of my professors was. Most of my classmates were under the weather too. I was not feeling well either since I came back.

What is happening to the world these days? If a classmate or a professor is sick or absent, everybody worries a lot but if the world gets sick, only a few people care. How does Pierre Bourdieu see all these things happening in the world today? Is health a capital that we should all invest on? Or is it just the government’s primary responsibility to its citizens?

Burning up!

I guess health is part and parcel of the capital concepts that we are all aiming for according to Bourdieu. Under his cultural capital concept, there are three various states that exist: embodied, objectified, andinstitutionalized. Accordingly, the embodied state presupposes the realization of culture and incorporating it into the individual’s own values and culture. However this does not occur overnight. It takes a long process for self-improvement or becoming a healthy person. At the same time this requires training and formation on the part of the individual as maybe influenced by himself/herself or by the others around him/her like the family, the community, the school, the friends, and so on. This slowly becomes a habitus that becomes an integral part of the person. The objectified state presupposes the individual’s economic capital. If he or she has more access to these objects then chances are, his or her economic capital grows stronger compared to those who have less. If one is highly educated then he has more academic qualifications.

I believe that we are socialized to particular embodied dispositions (or our own habitus). But our own habitus does not determine particular actions, but orient us particular goals and actions. Our personal intentions that maybe socially determined, the coping and conditional practices of individuals tend to reproduce the symbolic and material order of the social world. So while we tend to get sick in certain moments of our lives, we get sick because we are acting accordingly in such a situation. Being sick but not sick is something else that is preconditioned by our own set of social and cultural values. Acting is after all a part of cultural capital as an objectified state. However, this should not be seen as the end of all reasoning. I just hope that this sickness is just momentary. Not for a longer time. Otherwise, this would be something else.

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