Friday, December 31

Healthful living for lefties

It's time to draw up some New Year's resolutions. I usually start with those relating to health. Now, if you're like me and consider yourself to be a person of the left, politically speaking, then consider that you have an advantage over your friends on the right when making your New Year's resolutions. The right-wingers can boast a robust rhetoric of total liberty, entrepreneurship, and so on, but such high-minded ideas are usually meant to put one's conscience to sleep and rarely inspire anyone to take persistent action to improve their affairs. Most often, they are just cover for the privileged, who hope by championing this rhetoric to hoist more burdens and labors on the back of the currently underprivileged. Now, that is no way to lose a few pounds or go easy on the bottle. No one is going to go jogging or avoid insalubrious food items because these actions promote "freedom." In fact, plenty of well-fed right-wingers overindulge in food and drink precisely to demonstrate that they deserve to be overstuffed. If their luxuries are not the proof of triumphant initiative, at least they do not exclude the possibility that, one day, they, too, might hold a job down and not simply live off inherited wealth. The image of a starving entrepreneur inspires no confidence. What really works in these situations is something that pisses a person off. And what better target than the pernicious intrusion into our lives of corporations?

Make a list of your 10 worst habits; those that compromise your health in the short or long term. It is very likely that corporations can be blamed in part for every one of them. Who has been trying to seduce you to eat sweets, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, sit in front of your TV for hours and hours? Who has poisoned your air and water by assuring deregulation of heavy industry?

If you want to get back at some of these inhumane forces of greed and improve your health in the bargain, just imagine that in abstaining from unhealthful habits, you are doing so in a spirit of revolt. You don't have to blame Monsanto and Dupont and the rest of them directly; and there may well be no causal link between your unhealthful living and their routine violations, but even if you are fully conscious of this fact, the placebo effect will help you along.

Compare these two resolutions.

i) I am going to stop smoking because I am totally free and am moved by the spirit of personal initiative.

ii) I am going to stop smoking because I know that some evil corporations have lied to the public for years about the dangers of tobacco, filled cigarettes with hundreds of poisons in an effort to increase their appeal, and done everything to sicken the public so as to enrich themselves.

Left-wingers, you have a huge advantage here. Now, put it to use!

p.s. photo taken during a morning walk made in a spirit of revolt against the manufacturers of automobiles, which I know have corrupted governments the world over to disfavor public transportation and unassisted mobility.