Going into a grocery store always makes me judgmental.
Yesterday we had to go into one to get a few items. As usual, I saw carts full of sugary, fatty, salty processed food, being pushed by people who were obese and obviously unhealthy. Many of them looked liked medical disasters underway or waiting to happen.
My reaction is always the same. Are these people crazy? I mean literally. Are they mentally ill? Are they blind to the fact that they’re being poisoned by the stuff they eat? Don’t they see that it’s ruining their health?
When insane behavior is the norm, then behaving reasonably looks weird.
It is folks like us who our culture thinks are a little crazy, not the obese people pushing shopping carts full of junk food.
Our culture’s addiction to over-consumption manifests itself it other ways as well.
We live in the wealthiest society the world has ever known, by far, yet few of us live within our means. As a whole we’re burdened with debt, from the government to the individual. Our economic system is founded on debt. Not everyone is in debt for bad reasons, and some temporary debt is not necessarily a bad thing. But many in our culture are in debt as a result of pursuing instant gratification, keeping up with the Joneses and allowing themselves to be manipulated by the cultural pressures to borrow and spend. As someone once put it, we spend money we don’t have, to buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.
The corporations that manufacture and sell all the stuff we’re buying aren’t interested in nourishing our bodies or keeping us financially sound–their only interest is profits. Legally that’s the only legitimate interest of a corporation–to maximize shareholder profits. It’s up to us to exercise good judgment when making food choices and determining how and when to spend money.
That’s hard to do in this culture, of course. We are subjected to relentless messages designed to make us unhappy and discontent. We’re told in countless ways that more stuff will make us happy. We’re allowed and encouraged to buy it now and pay for it later. And so we end up enslaved to the system, as we’re required to work jobs we hate in order to pay back the money we borrowed to buy stuff we didn’t need.
Yet all we have to do is refuse. At first it may be hard to muster the self-control and discipline to resist the pressure to buy the stuff and eat the junk. But it doesn’t take long to get used to saying no. Then soon those who were once herded around with the other sheep will step away from the flock, and look back on them, wondering why they can’t see it too.
For now, it is the folks who are ruining their health with processed food and spending borrowed money to buy stuff they don’t need that are the norm. Those who choose a debt-free life of voluntary simplicity and who choose to eat only whole natural foods are considered weird.
That’s just crazy.