Escape Fire and Sustainable Solutions to Wellness

photo(19)Note to readers: The documentary film about America’s health care system, “Escape Fire,” airs on CNN this Saturday, March 16 at 8pm and 11pm.

“You just don’t think to question your doctor . . . and then one day you wake up and realize you have a voice. Your opinion matters, too.”

This has been a recurring comment in conversations I’ve had recently. The women I spoke with referenced the possibility of multiple surgeries, a life of pain-management, or a daily regimen of medications that they were ultimately able to avoid. They emphasized that taking responsibility for their care empowered them to ask the right questions, do their own research, and look for non-conventional ways to manage their health.

Dr. Andrew Weil, noted integrative medicine physician and author of “You Can’t Afford to Get Sick: Your Guide to Optimum Health and Health Care” writes: “I have argued for years that we do not have a health care system in America. We have a disease-management system — one that depends on ruinously expensive drugs and surgeries that treat health conditions after they manifest rather than giving our citizens simple diet, lifestyle and therapeutic tools to keep them healthy.” (U.S. Manages Disease, Not Health)

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, about $9,348 per capita in 2013, and yet we are no healthier.

The title of a recent report published by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine speaks volumes: “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.”

The report states, “The United States is among the wealthiest nations in the world, but it is far from the healthiest. Although life expectancy and survival rates in the United States have improved dramatically over the past century, Americans live shorter lives and experience more injuries and illnesses than people in other high-income countries.”

According to new health rankings, the United States is last in a ranking of 17 nations. (Atlantic Monthly)

Dr. Weil shared his thoughts with CNN, reacting to the documentary film, “Escape Fire,” which includes commentary by Weil and will air on the network this Saturday at 8pm and 11pm:

The film, which won awards at Sundance, puts a microscope on America’s broken health care system and takes a hard look at a system that relies on pharmaceuticals and invasive treatments rather than searching for long-term solutions for sustainable wellness. But beyond mere scrutiny, the film points to possible ways out of the mess.

Steven A. Burd, CEO of Safeway, says that out of a billion dollar healthcare bill for their employees, he and his team discovered that 70 percent of their costs were driven by people’s behaviors.

Film Director Susan Froemke says we can “change how we think,” and that what we really have to understand is that “we can create a culture of health and wellness.”

The solution proposed on this blog site is one that is based on a thoughtful approach to health. Simply put, it’s an approach that looks at changing how we think about health. In her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 19-century thought leader and health-reformer Mary Baker Eddy wrote a chapter called “Science, Theology, and Medicine.” She herself had sought escape from the medical system of her time, eventually discovering a life of health for herself and sharing this discovery with others. She wrote the following short, yet definitive statement:

“Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind” (p. 120). This premise is based on recognizing the connection between consciousness and health. It’s an approach that is as much preventative as it is curative.

If it is true that behaviors drive health outcomes, then a person’s spiritual life factors in and provides a platform for an entirely different conversation about health care.

Watch the trailer for Escape Fire


  1. V says

    Thanks so much for alerting us to this documentary, Ingrid. My husband and I just watched it. Lots of food for prayer and some hope. May everyone join in finding better health rather than settling for disease management. Thanks to this blog for being part of the solution.

  2. Virginia McCullough says

    And what a difference that different conversation can make — letting in the light of Christian spirituality! And other faiths as well.Thanks for this blog.

  3. Sharla Allard says

    A poem I read recently described the poet’s fear of his body–the “home,” he called it, that a burglar could enter and strip him of his possessions, a home that could be robbed again at any moment. Whereas a mind in accord with God’s Mind would empower the person, not the intruder. And for that, one wouldn’t need a gun or a drug in order to get rid of the “burglar” and get well!