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Today in My History

2000:  The Problem
2001:  Come to the Circus!
2002:  View from a Yearbook
2003:  Keeping Abreast of Things
2004:  With Liberty and Justice for All
2005:  Activist Judges
2006:  
Some Things to Consider


IN MY OPINION
Jekyll and Hyde

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Updated 8/9:
"Life Support"


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STARVING CHILDREN IN CHINA

24 August 2007

I always go back to an incident that happened a long time ago.  It's been at least 20 years ago, now, if not longer.

We were at a family dinner, family that I really didn't know all that well.  One relative had his children, whom I had never met there.  One of his children was a very large girl.  Definitely morbidly obese.

The table was filled with people.  Maybe 10-12 of us getting together.  The obese girl was the only one at the table who was very fat (I wasn't at the time).  And the table was heaped with food. 

As people began eating, there were more potatoes left, more bread left, a little bit of everything left.  The hostess, who was clearing the table, asked the poor obese girl each time she picked up a serving dish if she wanted to finish was left in the dish.  Someone else asked the girl if she was sure she had enough to eat.

These weren't people who were teasing her, these were people who were genuinely trying to be gracious.  I remember thinking at the time how cruel it was that all of the thin people were not pressured to eat more, but the fat girl was.

I see this happen over and over again.  It happens frequently with me. Think about it the next time you're having a meal with a group.  If there is a fat person in your group, see if it isn't true that this will be the person who will be asked if he/she has had enough to eat, if he/she wants a bit more of something, or if he/she can't please finish the last bit of something left in a serving bowl so it doesn't have to be tossed into the garbage.

When was the last time you saw a thin person asked to finish the last bit of something in a bowl?  When was the last time you saw a thin person asked if she was sure she had enough to eat and if there wasn't something else that she wanted before the end of the meal.

I recently visited the home of some friends for a Sunday brunch.  I was the only one there with a serious weight problem.  When the meal was finished, there was one spoonful of eggs and one slice of bacon left.  "C'mon, Bev," the hostess said.  "Finish this for me so I don't have to throw it out."  She didn't ask the others at the time; she only asked me.  The one person who definitely didn't need something else to eat. 

I thought about that.  Bacon.  Eggs fried in grease.  And it would be better to force me to eat more than I felt like eating than it would be to throw the food in the garbage.

From a very early age we are pressured to eat more than we want to.  We are told that there are starving children in China or Bangladesh or whatever is the starving country du jour and we had better clean our plates.  I wasn't sure how my eating all of my food could help those kids and I often wanted to pack up my leftovers and send them off to all those starving children because I was too full to eat more, but no, good little obedient child that I was, I cleaned my plate, whether I was full or not (my sister, being the wiser one, ate very. slowly. and was told she had to stay at the table until she finished.  She threw out the food when she was left alone, hiding it so our mother wouldn't find it.)

Over time, if you are prone to fatness, or if you are prone to compulsive eating, you lose the ability to distinguish "full" from "not full."  All you know is that you have a plate full of food and by God you'd better eat it or children on the other side of the world will perish.

When someone passes up all the thin people at the table to ask YOU to finish off the potatoes or the rolls or the last piece of dessert, you are in a quandary -- do you take that "thing" that your mouth probably wants, but that you know you don't need and probably aren't really hungry for and look like the pig that you already feel you are, or do you risk calling attention to yourself by saying "No, thanks" only to have the hostess offer again "Oh, c'mon...it's only a little bit and it will be a shame to throw it away."  (implied:  So let's make you fatter instead!).

I wonder who has the greater health problem:  the starving children in China or the obese children in this country.  They both suffer from life-threatening conditions.

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