Dear Participant of the 76th World Health Assembly, May 2023 I greet you on behalf of the World Philosophical Forum, Athens (cc to the 78th UN General Assembly October 2023) while taking the opportunity to call on the good offices of the international community to better direct thought and support to deal with existential problems and to restate our expressed views that applied philosophy can modulate behavior and influence actions to slow down the ongoing unraveling of complex biological systems that prop up human consciousness, bring pause to the precipitation of a nuclear big bang and provide insight into the problem space of a technologically manipulated future of limited freewill through artificial intelligence. As our world becomes more digital and more divided it becomes much more about if you are not with us, then you are against us with solidarity having less of a chance than obfuscation to win out. Without philosophy we risk finding ourselves tomorrow of being no longer in the state of who we are or think we are, or who we are assumed to be or declared to be, but who-what we are translated to be by AI. Until philosophy is consistently tried we cannot say that man and his institutions are incapable of finding a new way for humanity.
In this the year of the 76th General Assembly of the World Health Organization we are too dangerously close to hell to know it! The World Health Organization consistently points to a coming avalanche of mental health problems but fails to use health and philosophy in any executive capacity. Philosophy is a vehicle that can take us to a more reasonable world; a passport to reason and to wisdom may be just a universal philosophical tweak away. Without doubt, it is central to global governance for hand in hand world peace, and global health. The wit of Dag Hammarskjold is worth recalling when he said that the United Nations was not created to take the man to heaven but to save humanity from hell on earth. That task now falls on your shoulders.
75 World Health Assemblies ago the President of the first World Health Assembly, 1948 Andrija Štampar saw the World Health Organization as an instrument to solve global health problems in a spirit of true international cooperation. Although the drafting of the constitution took place in a mood of optimistic confidence he was aware of the darker shadows of our world. He understood that global health was in need of nurture and good governance. He fought quackery, condemned governments in the hands of gangsters and his metaphor for disease [malaria] was it transforms land into cemeteries, a form of Balkan banditry. Exiled in China,1931, Andrija Štampar told the Chinese authorities guns and cannons cannot solve social problems.
Those darker shadows prevail and have given rise to a dire description of the UN Secretary-General of humanity on the brink (or at Armageddon’s Gate) in his recent briefing to the General Assembly, 6 February 2023. He warned of a confluence of challenges unlike any other seen in our lifetimes with epic geopolitical divisions undermining global solidarity and trust and war as the deadest of ends and the antithesis of development, except for the arms industry. Nowhere however, did the Secretary-General turn to philosophy as did his predecessor but all too temporarily.
Philosophy can add transparency to a World Health Organization seen by many as an opaque system and more serious with critics who rate it as a failure or charge it with orchestrating an impending power grab that will remove basic rights and bring about a massive population reduction. Philosophy can add wise critique to the salespersons of any and all new world orders; Black Rock, International Monetary Fund’s pandemic preparedness push, The Great Reset and World Economic Forum, Geneva, Moscow’s Noosphere and The Great Freeset. To maintain focus and foster trust we suggest that urgency be reduced in order to take further stock and maintain focus.
As science is slandered and inadequately supported it is painfully easy to feel the heat of an apocalypse on our doorstep or to imagine mankind returned to the Stone Age by a nuclear mishap or slowly convulsed by climate change during our children’s and children’s children life time. Fortunately, we remain enchanted with the magical buds of May and I want to think that your hands will come up full from positive deliberations of the 76th World Health Assembly.
Dear Participant, the 76th World Health Assembly comes at a time of so called reset, great and less great and at the time of war in the Ukraine; far from resolution, distanced from global health and universal peace. During the Assembly You will be voting on new regulations for international health (IHR) and on a Pandemic Treaty that begs many questions.
To quote my colleague Fidel Gutierrez Vivanco: Peace is a desire of humanity; even war he says is the search for peace along the wrong path and is dependent on the resilient autonomy of extremely complex systems. Prevention as in public health like peace is easily impeded-prevented. In western health sectors it is pushed aside by much needed clinical medicine and side stepped by philanthropists. With respect to war Glen Martin asks what do future generations matter when weapons corporations rake in billions in profits.
However Prevention may remain a pipe dream if our lead is taken from Capitol Hill when once upon a time two prestigious scientists testified on the issue of prevention of disease and the promotion of health. The entry of Denton Cooley into the chamber caused a stampede of Senators to touch the great heart surgeon’s white coat while D.A. Henderson, the man, who through smallpox eradication saved millions of lives sat ignored. Henderson’s proposal to develop a network of health promoting and disease preventing institutions never made it to implementation. The Secretary of Health correctly and ironically said that prevention is being promoted by spending as little as possible.
We endorse wholeheartedly the international community’s aim that everyone should have the right to life, liberty, happiness and personal security and believe that such a humanitarian cause can be well served by philosophy. On the ground and once again we suggest that the appointment of classical philosophers to controversial and complex peace and health activities can help pave a practical way out of our socially demented world.
As you congregate in Geneva (May) threatened with instantaneous and slow burn extinction we do say Yes to: Health for all and saving lives as well as Yes to: Peace and security and the re-admittance of abandoned philosophy to the halls of the international community. We do say keep going but do better!
At this the time of Christ’s Ascension into heaven we must not draw comfort from his words on the cross forgive them for they know not what they do because the despoilers of our planet and the makers of war know very well what they are doing and should be stopped!
We ask for a deliberate but necessary return to the agenda of the United Nations and the ideas of Ban Ki-Moon in his Education first initiative and with added incentives for global citizenship and the revitalization of UNESCO’s programmer for the widespread study of philosophical knowledge and for you to reconsider and improve upon the coalescence of public health and disaster management as suggested by Gro Brutland.
On the ground and once again World Philosophical Forum, Athens, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Lima we urge the appointment of classical philosophers to controversial and complex activities within the international community in our confident belief that philosophy will help pave a practical way out of our socially demented world and remind all participants in the World Health Assembly that the World Health Organization has miles to go and promises to keep.
We hope that inspired by Peitho you will apply such leadership that all current World Orders will change their mindset to support a revitalization of empathic and creative humanity and health for all during the 76th World Health Assembly as well as make a major breakthrough to peace.