Who is responsible for the Can you push a prolapsed bladder back into place crisis in America? Is it the government? The state of the economy? Parents? Schools? What about you and me? Restaurants? Grocery stores? Or is it our busy schedules? How about those get-togethers and parties you attend? Maybe the presented food choices are to blame. Yes! “Blame.” That is the word I was looking for! We are looking for someone or some institution to blame for our health crisis.
IS THERE A GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY?
Is there a government conspiracy? If so, just who are the conspirators? Let us get one thing straight. You and I do not need anyone’s help in creating a health crisis. There is a reason for this. You and I are the greatest conspirators of our own lives. We have received more than enough information to let us know what to do to enhance our health and yet we, in many cases, do not act and make the changes. I think that clarifies the conspiracy theory in a nutshell. When I speak of this health crisis, I am not talking about medical insurance or medical costs or treatment. True, this is an important issue. However, this issue only touches on the surface of the problem. How we think, eat and live is the real cause. So who or what is responsible? Do you have an idea? Who is the villain or culprit?
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR HEALTH
You are personally responsible for all the decisions you make. Do not blame any institution or anyone else for your poor choices that lead to disease, illness and poor health.
WHY AMERICANS RANK LOW ON LONGEVITY
What has caused America to fall so far behind the statistics on longevity in the world? The ranking went from 11th to 42d. Americans do live longer, but not as long as 41 other countries, according to National Center on Health Statistics. Why is one of the richest countries in the world not able to keep up with other countries? Some say it is because the United States has no universal health care. I do not see that as the primary reason since we have never had universal health care. Here is what I think are some of the primary reasons for this trend:
Kids sometimes will do the craziest things. Once upon a time, there were two brothers. We will call them Sam and Jake. As school-aged brothers, Sam challenged Jake to climb a tree, and so he does. Then Jake is challenged, on a dare, to go farther out on a long, thin branch of the tree. He gets about half way out before the limb breaks, and he comes falling to the earth with a thump. Jake broke his nose and got some cuts and bruises. Both kids report to their mother and of course Mom asks Jake, “How did this happen?” Jake responds, “Sam made me do it!”
There are many complaints I hear about all that enticing processed food in the grocery stores. There are remarks about the special challenge of eating out: The portion sizes are too big, and there are all those irresistible, unhealthy “choices” available. I see no difference between Jake’s response and these complaining adults’ reactions to their plight – or, should I say, dilemma. Jake said, “Sam made me do it.” Translation: Sam is responsible for Jake’s poor decision to go out on a limb. That is nonsense. Jake is responsible for his own decision to go out on a limb. We adults are too frequently “going out on a limb” with our health by making poor choices while laying the blame on external circumstances or institutions — whether commercial, social, or governmental. Cease fire with such thoughts of blaming external circumstances or other people. Take charge. Be accountable for your own actions.
What kind of leadership responsibility do institutions have when it comes to healthy eating and exercise? Institutions, as well as all leaders, have a heightened level of responsibility beyond rules and regulations of the organization. Our institutions have the special responsibility to “walk the talk,” clarify the goals of health and fitness, and assume a more visionary role to set and implement standards for a solution to our health crisis. Our institutions are morally obligated to set the example by living by the higher standard required of them as leaders. This can be accomplished through legislation, executive orders and both internal and public policy making. Our institutions need to deal with the problem directly and use their special influence to save lives and prevent suffering.
HEALTH INSURANCE DOES NOT EQUATE TO A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Health insurance will not accomplish this. Are you looking for true medical insurance? Make your premium payments in the form of living a healthy lifestyle void of dependence on a home pharmacy of medications. Most of our medications are prescribed because of our lifestyles, not because we simply got sick. I am talking about the overwhelming rule and not the exception.
There are exceptional cases where, despite a healthy lifestyle, serious disease or illness happens. Would you cease to drive a car simply because someone had an automobile accident? In addition, you certainly should not cease to lead a healthy lifestyle just because someone you know lived to be 100 years old as a smoker. That would be a fatal error in thinking. It is just this type of thinking that is killing and maiming Americans. Ban this type of thinking from your mind.
Take the educational institutions for America’s young people. Schools are primarily focused on delivering on educating our youth with an approved curriculum. Schools need to go beyond mere curriculum, to consider the whole child, setting improved fitness and healthy eating as a priority. Fitness and healthy eating should be a part of the curriculum, as they play a major role in the development of a child.
TEACHERS ARE ROLE MODELS
Teachers are role models and leaders when it comes to eating and exercise habits and how they portray their attitudes about fitness and health in school. John Maxwell defines leadership as “influence – nothing more, nothing less.” Moving beyond the position of the teacher to assessing the ability of the teacher to influence others as a leader is essential. This refers to those who would consider themselves followers, and those outside that circle.
Leadership builds character, because without maintaining integrity and trustworthiness, the capability to positively influence will disappear. There are many other definitions of leadership. They all point to a leader having influence on others and providing to them the guidance and direction necessary to envision a long-term view of the future.
POINT OUR CHILDREN IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Policy is made from the top down through legislation, executive order, mission and policy statements. Where there is a void in such top-down leadership, the initiative must begin from the ground up. Educational institutions by virtue of their access to vast blocks of our children’s time, have a unique responsibility to go beyond mere curriculum to consider the whole child. By offering and stressing healthier choices, they are setting precedent for the rest of that child’s life.
Early in America’s pioneer history, schoolteachers were expected to be morally beyond reproach in every detail of their own lifestyle. This reflected how those communities wanted to influence their children’s future and the future of the country as a whole. Today’s America likewise needs today’s schoolteachers to be wholeheartedly health conscious for the same reason. Our future depends on it.
That is not to say that all schoolteachers should be fashion-model thin or good-looking or in any way shaped by the media’s image. An overweight teacher who is working to improve her fitness would be preferable over the Size 4 who is proud to eat candy bars and drink sodas in front of her pupils. Institutions are role models in all that they say and do or do not say or do. Their policies and actions set the standards.