Warning: This one is lengthy. If you are not willing to read every word, from beginning to end, go ahead and delete it now – please.
Black, White, God, Darwin
It seems, relative to the turmoil of recent decades, that racial prejudice in America might be on the decline, and that racial tolerance could be on the rise. Though absolute racial harmony may never happen, I am grateful for recent progress – and despite the current political rhetoric involving race, there is no denying that there has been much progress in my lifetime.
I won’t get too happy though — just over the hatred horizon there is an age-old prejudice on the rise once again; one involving god, God, or the belief in gods. I recently watched a TED lecture by Richard Dawkins, calling for an outright war against the belief in God – what he calls, “militant atheism.”
Conversely, many modern Christians look down on atheists and agnostics more than ever, as the scum of the Earth, and wouldn’t dare allow their daughter to marry one. It seems that as we have become more accepting of the variance in human skin colors, we are less accepting of contrary opinions on just who made and dyed the skin. Let’s face it, we just need somebody to hate.
I Hate Fat People (not my words)
I camped recently with a dozen or so friends along the Niobrara River in North Central Nebraska. We had arrived on a Wednesday, spent our first two days in camping solitude, enjoyed some good alone time on the river and at the campfire – and then Friday happened. Setting up camp behind us on Friday afternoon were some real-McCoy hillbillies from Georgia, and they looked and acted every bit the part.
As Cooter and the Biscuit family unpacked the Chevy Lumina 60 yards to our north, my friends and I gathered round the campfire, consumed some (more) alcohol, pushed our collective intellects to the brink, and began poking fun and making jokes about our new neighbors – me taking my share as lead heckler.
I could have poked fun at the way they were dressed. I could have commented on the cars they drove, or even the way they spoke. I did not. I simply spied that they were very easy to spy, and I began to pile on. One fella in particular looked to be pushing the 350 lb. mark, and I threw most of my ignorant darts directly at him. As the Patron bottle became depleted, jokes increased, and for an hour or so, humor at the expense of obesity was my mission. Then I heard a fellow camper utter this retched phrase,
“I hate fat people.”
I sensed he was sincere. I might have been the instigator here, but I cringed to hear my friend say this. I immediately shifted gears and began poking fun at the way the obese man was dressed – because that was easy, and jokes still needed to be made.
I had no place whatsoever making fat jokes, but I did so in the spirit of laughter, not hatred or prejudice. On my return home from the trip, I was ashamed when a good friend and fellow camper sent me an email calling me out on my behavior. My friend suggested that me, of all the people in our group, by virtue of how I make my living, should have been much more sensitive to a heavy person.
There is no excuse for what I said. I am not prejudiced of any persons; Jews, Muslims, Christians, Blacks, Whites, nor heavy people. I have championed many heavy people over the years and gained more wisdom from their struggles as I have from their successes. I had become heavy at one point in my own life and gained a new perspective from my own struggle. For one moment by the river, I chose to behave like an idiot and I am sorry for that.
Where Are We?
I will go out on a limb and suggest that the 350-pounder from Georgia was neither a fitness enthusiast nor a discriminating eater – but that doesn’t make him bad, or worthy of hatred.
In subsequent weeks those words spoken by another, “I hate fat people” continued to resonate. I have begun to reflect on, and attempt to observe what level of prejudice exists toward heavier people. I have explored news periodicals, fitness & weight-loss blogs, had discussions with clients, friends, and people in my community, in an attempt to increase my awareness of how others truly view obese people. From this limited stream of information, it seems more people I know truly are prejudice towards obese people than I would have thought – most of whom would be considered obese themselves by the BMI.
Who Are We?
We are a nation whose obesity population is on the increase, with an increasing number of those obese people becoming increasingly prejudiced… toward other obese people? That math does not add up. I can see a day when obese people might take up arms against the morbidly obese, as heavy people put up fences to keep the regular obese people out. For millennia, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews have all found reason to hate, as have persons of different skin colors found reasons to hate. And I can’t help but wonder; in the future will obese people also become a passionately hated portion of society…? If so, there is little doubt that justification for that hatred will simply be because, as it has been said through the ages, “Because they’re different, from me – that’s why!”
Help Is Not On The Way
If a person does not wake up and go straight to the gym and does not eat steamed rice and broccoli at dinner, he is not a bad person. If a person never gets off his ass and chooses to live off peanut butter and M&M sandwiches nine times per day, that person is no less a person that anyone reading this.
I can make many (successful) arguments why obese people, and society as a whole, would be better served if the weight were taken off. But our society is not set up for obese people to succeed in weight loss. The potential for success in weight-loss exists mostly in the fringes and isolated pockets of like-minded people – places where most obese people tend not to hang out due to internal fears.
Take a look around – with your eyes open this time. Though there are many resources and tools available for heavy and obese people to use that they gain control and make positive changes, those helpful tools are kept at the edge of social boundaries and held there by the many bad ideas, big profits, deadly agendas, and an almost universal acceptance of gluttony in the modern age. Think about it – please. And the men who hold high places…
Be well. rc