Through millions of ages, by countless efforts to satisfy his
wants, to gratify his passions, his appetites, man slowly developed
his brain, changed two of his feet into hands and forced into the
darkness of his brain a few gleams and glimmerings of reason. He
was hindered by ignorance, by fear, by mistakes, and he advanced
only as he found the truth -- the absolute facts. Through countless
years he has groped and crawled and struggled and climbed and
stumbled toward the light. He has been hindered and delayed and
deceived by augurs and prophets -- by popes and priests. He has
been betrayed by saints, misled by apostles and Christs, frightened
by devils and ghosts -- enslaved by chiefs and kings -- robbed by
altars and thrones. In the name of education his mind has been
filled with mistakes, with miracles, and lies, with the impossible,
the absurd and infamous. In the name of religion he has been taught
humility and arrogance, love and hatred, forgiveness and revenge.
Nothing is greater, nothing is of more importance, than to
find amid the errors and darkness of this life, a shining truth.
Truth is the intellectual wealth of the world.
Robert Green Ingersoll, “Truth,” 1897
Perhaps the intellectual wealth of the world has other characteristics, but in any ranking truth must be high on the list. How do we come to know truth, as best it can be identified? Certainly not by reliance on organized religions (how to choose between their conflicting truth claims?), augurs, prophets, popes or priests - or apostles, devils or ghosts. Rather, as modern men and women in the 21st century - we have the tools of science to observe, investigate, experiment demonstrate and reason in order to light the way.
To support truth, we need liberty to think and speak, and thus freedom from prohibitions and speech codes. Liberty does not flourish in safe zones where giving offense is forbidden and “blasphemy” of offense can be invoked, let alone punished.
Worksite wellness must in time embrace the pursuit of intellectual wealth as a component of physical and mental well being; worksite wellness programs should encourage employees to utter experience and express honest thoughts.
Thus, REAL wellness, as opposed to risk reduction and prevention-of-illness style wellness, is best pursued in the light of reason where fact claims are tested and theories about and elements of well being are boldly assessed and deliberated. For those with the good fortune to live in societies such as America, Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway and other Western nations, we should exercise our good fortune in being relatively liberated, unlike those who live under the boots of dictators (e.g., North Korea, Russia, China) or the superstitions of mullahs and priests (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Poland).
Propositions of all kinds should be freely discussed and evaluated as part of worksite wellness. Ask yourself: Do employees as citizens of a democracy have a duty to think and investigate, to be mentally honest and to examine questions without prejudice or fear? Do those in the workforce do that now? Would most or all welcome more opportunities to practice doing so?
REAL wellness programs of this kind require many kinds of freedom, including liberation from the bounds of tradition, authority, norms and creeds. Tribalism, fear, timidity, egotism, prejudice, hatred and contempt are barriers to truth, progress and intellectual wealth. The liberated employee free to pursue intellectual wealth will, over time, learn to care little for truth claims tied to celebrity or fame, creeds or dogmas, title or rank, luxurious robes or funny hats - only whether assertions are plausible and supported by reason.
Intellectual wealth will be enjoyed by those with the courage to examine for themselves truths about nature who willingly and artfully defend their own and the honest thoughts of others.
These are qualities that will add depth and consequence to traditional worksite wellness teachings about exercise and nutrition, mindfulness, stress management and the like. In addition, these qualities and others like them will render more attractive discussions about REAL wellness topics, including but not at all limited to meaning and purpose from work, the quest for exuberant living and what we can do, in our own modest ways, for the benefit of mankind.
I wish you all good fortune, sunshine and intellectual prosperity in sufficient abundance to last you through a long life.