22 March 2008

Running roughshod over our bodies no more

By now, if you've been reading this at all, you know I'm on something of a new crusade. It's in part my shock as a result of seeing that Lariam documentary. It's also every story I hear everywhere I turn: catastrophic health-care bills and health problems that upend lives every day in enormous ways. Every time I see a new article that mentions the economic costs of a given disorder or disease in society, I think of everyone I know, all the people who have suffered from various forms of depression, heart problems, and gut diseases. Last night I started Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest and was inspired -- that's what I'm talking about! -- from the get-go.

For I am one of those people, those mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it people. One of those people who needs to stand up and demand, how much of this current health crisis is a direct result of misguided economic and agricultural policies? And how much entrenchment in the industries that hasten our physical and economic dependence on them prevents us from seeing change in those industries (the transportation and energy industries, namely, and the newest boon to investors, the psychopharmaceuticals, a newly tapped market that turned out to be far more vast than anyone had ever dreamed).

And I am convinced there is a connection between the degree of our overfed and isolated misery here in this country and our fealty to the way things are, our willingness to swallow pills in hopes that they will magically fix what is wrong with us but not have any other effects whatsoever, our willingness to use a lot of gas and make a fat carbon footprint as our fathers did before us. I see a growing gulf, as if an earthquake has rent a chasm in the earth, with people who see us as all connected and one organism with the earth on one side and on the other people who completely disregard any responsibility to the planet other than that of satisfying their urges for novelty and umami and whatever it is this week. More and more often I feel that cognitive dissonance (where I believe one thing yet do something else) when I jump into the car and start the engine; it's only getting louder and more distracting as time passes. I see my own compliance with the way things are, with the ideas I have of my status and privileges. I hear a growing sound that everyone on the planet is making, a growing cry for help in more and more of the people I know. I see an inability to balance our "lifestyles" with our impacts on our environment and planet, and I sense that this creates this same cognitive dissonance in others that I have been experiencing daily.

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