Yesterday, the American Medical Association (AMA) continued its steady slide of accommodation for a society bent on removing personal responsibility from its citizenry. Behavior without consequences has been the collective unspoken chant of a nation marching to its own self-indulgent, bloated demise.
What pronouncement from our medical experts led me to such a vitriolic opening statement? Obesity is now a disease. That’s right, for the overwhelming majority of people who don’t have the self-discipline to eat healthier and regularly exercise, not to worry. It’s not a self-discipline problem, it’s a disease. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/business/ama-recognizes-obesity-as-a-disease.html?_r=0
I can’t wait for the next generation of “diseases”. Maybe we’ll find a way to rationalize speeding or shoplifting as a “disease”. After all, I can hear the experts say, “They can’t help themselves. We have to do a better job of educating the public (read: spend more tax dollars on inefficient programs) and we have to develop treatments (read: drugs) that help these people.”
In my second paragraph, I said for the “overwhelming majority of people” obesity is not a genetic condition or a disease. I am familiar with some people who have thyroid or adrenal or other glandular deficiencies that cause their metabolism to be extraordinarily slow. I have sympathy for their situation.
BUT, As a personal trainer who has worked with many people who were pre-disposed to gain weight, I cannot possibly conclude that obesity, for the vast, vast majority (90+%) is a disease. I watched and helped many people who were able to alter their lifestyle, insert more self-control and schedule regular exercise in their life. And Eureka! They were cured! Leprosy is a disease. Tuberculosis is a disease. Obesity? I don’t think so.
As in all things, history is a tremendous educator for the fallacies and hypocrisies foisted upon us by the leaders of our Accommodation Generation.
This article in the link at the end of this paragraph is illustrative, as we see shifts in cultural behavior that have led to an era of over-consumption and under-utilization of caloric energy.
BUT, just because we drive cars and work at desks and have drive-thru restaurants doesn’t mean obesity is a disease. It is a deficiency in self-discipline and it matches our pattern of attempting to provide everyone with an escape to behavior’s natural consequences.
Whether it’s sex, divorce, ADHD, spending more than we earn, borrowing more than we can repay, drug/alcohol abuse, and now overeating, we take the rare exceptions of genetic deficiency or criminal behavior as a basis for instituting new policies and programs that allow everyone to avoid self-control and engage in self-indulgence. Our collective lack of restraint for the benefit of future generations is on display everywhere – from the unsustainable social welfare programs to the unbelievable number of kids on drugs (pills from doctors, so it’s ok) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323728204578513662248894162.html
It’s likely this post will be received with defensive rhetoric and contrived studies that “conclusively demonstrate” that people just can’t help themselves. What a load of crap.
You know what else is a load of crap? The whole justification mentality that has led us to a place where if you go to 7-11 at midnight and gorge on some kind of meat product that’s been rolling on the hot wheels for three days, you aren’t sick in the head, as my grandpa would have said, you’re really just sick. You have a disease.
Meanwhile, what are we teaching our kids, the people who will try to salvage this bloated, medicated civilization? I can think of a few things:
If something’s hard, don’t do it.
Don’t try to win, just let everyone play, regardless of their lack of effort.
If something you do hurts you or makes you sick, don’t change your behavior. Take pills.
Promises. Nah, you don’t have to keep promises.
If you get caught doing something wrong (I mean “not the best”, there is no such thing as wrong – because that would imply there are things that are right), just pretend you don’t know or can’t remember, even when it’s your job to remember.
Obesity a disease? Come on. As Kevin Costner said in Oliver Stone’s film, JFK, “We’re through the looking glass here people. White is black. Black is white.” (the line is at 1:55 in the clip) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhBm4kprCkk
Of course, it’s not too late to change course and as a college professor, I have the benefit of observing the younger generation rise. They are blessed with the eternal optimism of youth. But they are also hardened by the immature behavior of their parents. They are cynical and frustrated. And rightly so. They watch forty year olds run away from marriage and act like drunk teenagers every other weekend. For a child, the most pathetic thing to watch is a grown-up act childish.
The rising generation is hungry for concrete truth, desperate for authenticity, ravenous for real achievement that comes through hard work. Because the truth is (and there is such a thing as truth), there will never be such a thing as behavior without consequences. In fact, and more importantly, there’s always unintended consequences caused by trying to remove consequences from behavior.
Which is where we are today. The sooner we admit that behavior has consequences, the sooner we take responsibility for our actions, the sooner we will rebuild credibility and lead our society back to a place of genuine inspiration rather than artificial excuses for failure.
Inconsequential behavior is a pipe dream. Wake up. Work hard. Be self-sacrificing. The consequences of good behavior may take a lot longer to achieve, but they are real, lasting and positive.