I am at the intersection of several articles and comments, and they are setting my brain achurn. Over at the Nashville Scene, Betsy Phillips is talking about her most recent thoughts on the Obesity Frightfest. Over at Tiny Cat Pants, Aunt B. is talking about how scary the world can be for a fat person, especially when we see people hiding behind anonymity to tell us that all fat people are loathsome beasts who lack self-control and self-discipline.
Elsewhere people are talking about how if you are obese you will live to 95, but you’ll spend many of those years ::shock:: disabled. Then the comments veer into disgust at all the fat people one sees in wheelchairs and on scooters who are obviously too lazy to walk and too monstrous to eat like a “normal” person.
Two of my cousins–both of them young men, both of them “normal” weight–have been diagnosed with autoimmune disease in the last six months. As much as I hate it for them, there is a part of me who is relieved to no longer be alone on the island of misfit toys. I’m also very relieved to have other genetic links to the autoimmune chain. My mom put out some feelers to other parts of the family and now we’re digging up multiple relatives who have Crohn’s, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Hashimodo’s, Chronic Fatigue, and the dread catch-all Fibromyalgia. It seems that many people in my gene pool have been stricken. Our only fault is to have been born.
It’s not what we eat–some of us are fat, some not fat. It’s not our education level–we all have some degree of college, some of us have graduate degrees. It’s not ignorance–with the exception of me, all the stricken are either children of doctors or nurses or are nurses or doctors themselves. It’s not lack of exercise–before I was sick I danced and ran and weight-trained. My cousins played golf relentlessly, obsessively. It’s not what we eat–Some of us are vegetarians. Some of us eat red meat every day. It’s not where we live–we are scattered all over the world, from Michigan to Africa.
It’s just how the genetic throw of the dice landed for us. The same genes that gave us all happy homes with hardworking, intelligent parents who believed in sacrificing for their children’s education had to come up snake eyes at some point. And this is that point.
I know we Americans like to believe that our choices can control every outcome. We also have this eerie pastime of looking at others’ outcomes and attempting to divine their negative choices of the past. (“That wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have a baby at 14.” “That’s what happens when you eat too much.”) This culture needs to get over that festering self-determinism, because that is just not how the world works.
Bad things happen to good people because bad things happen to everyone. And they HAPPEN. Sure some things you can bring on yourself. Drive drunk and you just may kill yourself or someone else. Stab yourself and you’ll bleed. But you know what? Sometimes you are struck with depression or disability or disease because that’s just how life happens. The sooner you realise that, the sooner you stop trying to place blame and start trying to learn how to drive around the curves in the course the better off you’ll be.
And the sooner everyone stops trying to dig through the dank middens of other peoples’ pasts to blame them for things the better off we’ll all be.