Civic Duty to Eschew Decadence

I have deep admiration for people who struggle with their weight and succeed.
I have deep admiration for people who struggle with their weight and succeed.

An anonymous commenter once said that I “hated fat people.” That is not true. A well-known Christian axiom says, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” When it comes to obese people, a similar axiom applies for me: “Hate the fat but don’t hate the people inside.” (“Love” was a little much, considering that most people are strangers.)

I was recently reading a WordPress feature called “Freshly Pressed,” a collection of WordPress Blogs selected as interesting by WordPress staff. One that caught my eye was called, “I’m Pissed.” (Click it to read it yourself.) In it the author talks about the poor diets of Americans and the machinery of commerce that encourages it. I agreed pretty much word-for-word with his post.

The comments, however, were all over the place. One in particular, from a reader identified only as “Brian,” read…

Then don’t eat the shitty food and grow up. You health nuts seem fixated on forcing this healthy lifestyle down everyones throats. I’m sorry we don’t all have the time to fit your awesome workout schedule in and planning our meals to a T. I pull 80 hour weeks supporting my family. I get 4 hours of sleep on average. My wife takes care of two kids, managed our finances and keeps the house straight. I’m sick of tired of you health nazi’s preaching the way you do. Like the rest of us are a burden you’re all carrying. Your ranting just turns me off to anything youre saying. You just sound fanatical. I only read this because someone posted it on fb. I’ll be sure to repost pointing out how you apparently feel your life style should be forced on everyone.

I have to say, Brian, that your kind of thinking is specious in a number of ways, the most significant of which is that you seem to regard gluttony and decadence as some kind of a right. It isn’t my view that everyone should be forced to be healthy by some “government,” as much as I firmly believe it is our duty as Americans to be as healthy, intelligent, open-minded, educated and adult as possible. If we don’t, we as a nation don’t deserve to be a world leader. In some ways we have already fallen from that grace.

Brian, no one is debating your inalienable right to be fat, dumb, weak, and soft. I don’t care about your health as an individual at all. I do care, though, about being a part of nation that is seen worldwide as lazy, stupid, and arrogant. We are in grave danger of becoming a silly, slow, orally-fixated, infantile people who care only about the next bite of Twinkie or stuffed-crust pizza on its way to our fat mouths. It is our duty as citizens to take care of our bodies and minds, and teach our children how to use their bodies and minds instead of how to use insulin pumps. How can you say, “I’m proud to be an American,” when you are so weak, so decadent, so self-indulgent?

Adding to the original posters fury is the moral bankruptcy of the food industry. They are willing and eager to make and sell food that borders on not being food at all. It is an obvious and shameful fact that global business doesn’t care about human life at all. At. All. Money is more than a goal. It is a god, and the people will bow down and eat of that god, who is made of the cheapest possible caloric substance, and packaged conveniently for quick consumption.

The high fructose corn sweetener manufacturers have a commercial airing frequently on television now that talks about their product, stating that “your body can’t tell the difference” between cane sugar and corn sugar. While that is a piece of the truth, the sentence in the commercial should end with, “…it all makes you fat.”

A co-worker who struggles with his weight disagrees with the notion that the system makes people fat. He is to be admired for his dedication to rugged individualism, but I disagree that individual habits are exclusively to blame for the obesity epidemic we face.

Finally, when Brian talks about the author sounding “fanatical,” I have to say that not only do you sound like a fanatic for the opposition, but that it is the one thing about your comment I respect… not the name-calling, but the fanaticism itself. I approve of speaking and writing with such conviction that ordinary people are startled into action, or at least unto thought about the topic. I kind of imagine you starting to get up out of your recliner to give it to me straight. Here you come… wait, hold on. Oh, yeah, well, if you could get up…

When I see someone eating like this, in which food is an all-consuming, urgent obsession, I wonder how we got here, and how we can possibly get back to health.
When I see someone eating like this, in which food is an all-consuming, urgent obsession, I wonder how we got here, and how we can possibly get back to health.



  1. A few days ago, coming out of the movie theater, my peripheral vision caught someone behind me, so I held the door for them. As we do here in Texas.

    She was a heavy woman, about twice my weight (and I’m overweight myself). She thanked me and walked on toward her car. It didn’t strike me until I sat in my own car and looked up at her again. She was carrying an empty “extra large” bucket that had once held buttery popcorn. Until I saw that bucket, my brain hadn’t passed judgment on her.

    I think for me, it’s the lack of trying that bugs me. If you’re overweight but are eating less now and taking regular walks, I admire your effort. If you’re buying and eating extra large buckets of buttery popcorn, then you’re not trying.

  2. You’re not the first person who shared that post. The author is understandably outraged, and from the perspective of internet popularity, he’s a success. If his goal is to improve the eating habits of anyone, he’s less successful. Surprisingly, telling people they’re ignorant assholes rarely motivates them to change their behavior.

    Eating habits are a combination of many influences–family patterns, popular culture, marketing, personal skills and knowledge, lack of body awareness, etc. For me, the sheer effort of battling all that is too tough to overcome. To really change how the entire country eats is going to take more than pointing fingers.

  3. I am a big advocate of freedom and personal liberty, but Cheez-Its and Froot Loops are the choices of children. When people make childish choices every day, they deserve to be treated like children.

    I wasn’t arguing with the original commenter’s right to his opinion, I was arguing with his defense of childish behavior. And farther back, the original post talked about frustration with the foolish choices of the people of wealthy nations. These choices might seem like personal ones, but as time wears on, it has become abundantly clear that they have a profound effect upon us all, in the same way that alcoholism and drug addiction do. We all pay for obesity.

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