Sunday, January 22, 2006

A nation without a soul?

From Wapo: Why America Has to Be Fat
You've read the headlines: America's problem with bulging waistlines has reached pandemic proportions, according to federal health officials, who warn that obesity is becoming society's No. 1 killer. But as doctors wrestle with the problem, economists have been pondering which corporations and industries benefit, and the role that changes in the overall economy have played in making us fat to begin with.
Is it worth it? Is economic growth worth a nation of fat, lazy, unhealthy people? Is it worth being sick, going to the hospital, dying young?

As with all things in life, balance is the answer. But where is that line? Where does the incessant promotion of junk food and food-like products become dangerous to society? When do people cease being people and start being mere dollar signs? Or are people always just dollar signs? The danger, too, is in how economists view people. People are merely an instrument to fill this concept called a "job," which is the basic component of this leviathan they call growth, an all controlling alternative to God. Quality of life has no meaning.

Sure, corporatism has played a huge role in making us a fat nation, but something changed in us socially, too. We lost our connection to each other. Somehow, that prosperity caused us to retreat into the privacy of our excessively large homes and forget to actually live. Our televisions and cars increase with the size of our bellies, while the capacity of our minds to think and of our souls to feel has diminished. America as one concept no longer exists; we have 280 million separate Americas, each one unconcerned with the other. This is directly related to our laziness, as this retreat into our private worlds pushed us further and further away from each other, creating suburban sprawl in an attempt to isolate ourselves. Walking is not possible in some of these places, and long commutes leave little time to set aside for exercise.

A nation that ceases to value the health and welfare of itself will cease to be a nation. Something must fundamentally change in this country, lest we all return to Hobbe's state of nature, where, incidentally, obese people will surely die, for there will be no one to take care of them when their medical bills become too expensive to afford.

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