A Re-Post This Week. Originally posted 4/29/09
Each day I witness fitness minded people; enthusiastic devotees of the movement, quick to judge – snap opinions exerted against those who might not appear to be so fit. If they dare to be honest with themselves, they could almost think to be ashamed – but shame does not compliment the fit look. If a picture of fitness were to be hung on our national wall, what is labeled as fitness in the modern era should be framed by insignificance, matted by the ridiculous, and the empty space in-between would be filled with triviality.
We can make the argument (and few do this better than me), that taking ownership of our bodies and living as fit, healthy social stewards is our inherent responsibility on behalf of our families, our communities, our employers, and of ourselves. The true fitness agenda should be that we should strive to take care of ourselves first, so we can do more for others. In the modern fitness agenda, that virtue has been eclipsed by the binary suns of the quest for hotness, and the taste for bigotry.
Let’s be honest, most do fitness merely so they can look good, so they can have better sex, so they can have the upper hand should they fall out of their present relationships, and because the media tells us all we suck unless we’re hot. I am drawn to exercise first because I enjoy it, because it helps keep me stable, and because I find that I am able to better contribute as a result of my daily action. Still, in this age, I feel a minority in all of this.
Too many lack attempt for understanding those who might not be as fit, look as fit, and live as fit as others appear to live. They criticize, mock, whisper, and point fingers. This behavior is emotional vandalism. I am no longer convinced that people who are so fitness minded, are contributing that much more to the whole of society than does the 400 pound unemployed couch potato who, while eating a Ho-Ho and staring at Jerry Springer, is still mindful enough to stop and tell his wife he loves her very much.
There is also the argument that so-called fit people are a lesser drain on the medical, governmental, and community-social orders. To suggest though, that one is a lesser architect, a lesser physician, or a lesser mom, for their lack of exercise, or for the Cheetos in their hands is just bigotry. I have little doubt that on a good day I would eat more clean, run faster, and out lift the historic Jesus of Nazareth – were he to rise up and visit me at my studio. Yet, what have I done for you lately, that compares to all of that really good Jesus stuff that he did…?
A part of what has kept me (most often) grounded in all of this, is my understanding that whatever religious and philosophical implications might be surrounding my existence, I recognize that in the end I will not be judged by the shape of my abs, the size of my biceps, the speed at which I can run a mile, nor the amount of time I can hold myself in Downward Dog. Nor will anyone else.
As concepts, these may have (some) benefit, and I suggest that they have helped enhance and improved my life so that I am better able to help others. These fitness virtues though, are but shimmering trinkets, adorning the charm bracelet of my here and now, and have no bearing on defining who I am as a friend, neighbor, father, or member of my community. Nor does my fitness level demonstrate how I have fulfilled my potential for the betterment of he who might have created me.
I ask this of the fitness minded reader; before you rush to the judgement of others who you deem as less fit than yourself, take note of these things – note them of yourself first, and then if you wish to continue judging another based solely on how someone looks, you can apply these questions to them:
- What kind of neighbor are you?
- What kind of family person are you?
- What do you give to your community, without asking for anything in return?
- Does what you look like, how fast you run, how much you lift really matter in the heart of a creator?
The hardest actions to control in the human condition are subconscious non-actions. The ability to not judge others based on how they look definitely falls into the non-action category. Since we are habitual creatures of judgement, perhaps making a habit of asking these questions of ourselves, can help offset the error of our prejudicial ways.
Whether you are fitness hobbyist, or a leader in the fitness community, we who strive to look, feel, and act at a higher level, we have a responsibility to walk with dignity, to lead by example, and to keep ourselves available to help others rather than criticizing them – that is what fellowship is all about. Be well. rc