A Physical Therapy Solution to the USA’s Woes

When your body is hurting, you go to a healer.  Well, why not the country? There’s a reason people call their homeland country “our mother country” (or fatherland).  We are a body, together.  Well, looking around at the USA, it’s clear she’s hurting.  We’ve been pondering how to help. Then came the lightbulb moment!  Why not look to feedback from healers in various disciplines, gaining input, and then suggesting how we might apply their wisdom to the problems at hand?

We’ll start with Physical Therapy. Physical Therapists, with examination and diagnosis, work together with the person who needs healing, to promote mobility, function, and quality of life. Where people are “stuck,” for example, they help them get unstuck.

Physical therapy offers the helpful concept of “strengthening the counterbalancing (antagonist) muscles.”  It may sound funny, to strengthen an antagonist. But in this case, it’s a good thing. Here’s  how it can work: if a person types too much on a computer all day, they might experience shoulder or neck pain, from a slumped posture. Strengthening the back muscles – counterbalancing (antagonist) muscles – will help them counter the tendency towards slouching. And with better posture, they will likely experience less pain.

So… let’s look at the USA as a person.  Rather than simply focusing on her troubles, why not focus on strengthening her counterbalancing (antagonist) muscles as well? What would this strengthening exercise do, to move the USA along a good path towards better health and less pain?


  • Weakness/Pain: Gun Violence
  • Muscles” to Counterbalance:  Intelligent registration laws have been shown to help, where implemented.  The group “Cure Violence” has had great success treating violence as a contagious disease.  Faith in action: prayer helps, and so does grass-roots involvement. More must be brainstormed.
  • Possible Obstacles to Cure: Knee-jerk reactions to any kind of gun legislation, grounded in unexamined fears. Lobbies for special interests. The popularity of violent television, movies and gaming. Inequality.
  • Strengthening Exercise:   A public health approach can help to “cure violence” locally and help spark a conversation about steps we might wish to take collectively to address our culture of violence, nationally.  In addition, specific steps will vary from community to community, and must begin at the grass roots. Local faith communities (or neighborhood associations) could begin the discussion.


  • Weakness/Pain: Racial Tensions
  • Muscles” to Counterbalance:  Bridges of understanding. Strong relations between police and community.  Opportunity. Hope. Faith. Love. Prayer. Grass-roots involvement. More must be brainstormed.
  • Possible Obstacles to Cure: Media frenzy. Inequality. Overt signals (e.g., Confederate Flag). Parenting that teaches intolerance.
  • Strengthening Exercise:  As with the above example, local faith communities could examine and take specific steps that make sense for their community and what they can work towards, as regards national policies.


  • Weakness/Pain: Addiction (e.g., the heroin epidemic, with 300,000 new users in the past 10 years per PBS News Hour July 7, 2015).
  • Muscles” to Counterbalance:  Treatment versus criminalization. Narcan overdose kits.  Education.  Opportunities to counterbalance the underlying hopelessness.   Faith efforts. Grass-roots involvement. More must be brainstormed.
  • Possible Obstacles to Cure:  Stigma. Also, some well-intentioned programs can have unfortunate unintended consequences.
  • Strengthening Exercise:  At the grass-roots, community members could begin the conversation.
Statue of Hippocrates

Statue of Hippocrates

One common thread to these examples is inequality. One could well argue that addiction, violence and racial tensions are merely symptoms of something deeper, and that the greater inequality must be addressed before these symptoms will subside. Grass roots efforts – whether aimed at the underlying disease or the various painful symptoms – could strengthen the counterbalancing  forces, reducing the pain we are experience, and help chart a course to greater societal health.

At the Center, we like to say that “all who are called, are called to be healers.”  In the spirit of Hippocrates, we can apply the philosophy and techniques of healing arts, to spiritual woes.  If you agree, you’re likely already involved in various ways. And perhaps you’ll forward this page along to a friend.

May the good works of your hands be blessed, as you work towards lasting and positive change!

Categories Justice Work | Tags: | Posted on July 7, 2015

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