Authentic Voice Project: B is for Belief

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 2

books

I was near tears already. Angry-sad tears at the current state of affairs in our country and world. So it wasn’t with the most gracious heart that I took in the message on the frame around the license plate of the SUV parked in front me:

“If you are living as if there is no God, you better hope you’re right!”

To this I thought:

If you claim there is God but are living with a Belief that dictates that Roe vs. Wade should be reversed or claims all Muslims are evil, LGBT rights should be denied, or that Black Lives don’t matter, you better hope you’re WRONG.

Because I’m pretty sure I remember learning “God is Love,” not “God is Dismiss Those Whose Experience/Belief is Different Than Yours.”

BELIEF OR FACT?

Yes, Belief, when professed to be Fact, can be dangerous.

For some, Belief is Truth. There can be no wavering, no room for questions or doubt, and therefore, no room for possibility. When Belief becomes Certainty, any one else’s Belief must be wrong.

Dismissing other people’s versions of the “truth” can lead us to dismisses the actual human-beings who hold those different beliefs, opinions, or perspectives.

Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh in The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, write:

Our certainty that we are absolutely correct in our views on organized religion or standardized testing, abortion or euthanasia can make us less receptive to other people’s perspectives, putting up insurmountable walls between ourselves and others. […]

This sort of thinking leads us away from … a state in which everything is inter-related, with no distinctions.

In other words, it leads us away from Love. Belief can, if it has concretized into Certainty, turn love on its head and look and act suspiciously like hate.

To me, to love is to act knowing everything is connected, that we are all One; that to, “do for the least of your brothers and sisters, you do for me.” (I’m not saying that’s always easy or that I’m never guilty of forgetting this.)

BELIEF IN STORY

To truly love, one must be willing to listen — and hear — the story behind the person or event. While it may seem like a strength, Certainty in religion or politics or any other arena, eliminates the power of story. A person’s story, a place’s history, or a situation’s backstory highlights its many, often mysterious and always changing, facets.

Until we accept that people are multi-faceted, that they are more than just one story, we are blind to our shared humanity. Until we see there is as many Right Ways of Being as there are people in the world, we imply that one “brand” of human matters more than another. Until then, we will all remain Other.

Every person is, The Path tells us, “an individual with a complex set of sensibilities, habits, emotions, and behaviors.” And this complexity, when coupled with the complex instability of everyday life, provides an element of mystery to everyone’s personality, their way of life, and the decisions they make. It is nobody else’s place to take away that mystery, to declare it wrong, by claiming there is only One Answer.

BELIEF IN THE QUESTIONS

Belief should be instead (I believe) a never-ending series of questions: What is the story here? Does it look like anything in my own life? What can I learn from it? And what is the story now? Has it changed? Has it changed me? How can it open me up to infinite possibilities and love?

I have read, although there seems to be some disagreement on this, that the word Believe comes from the same root as Be Love. Even if the etymology is off, it can’t possibly be a bad thing to ask yourself when you express an opinion or express a Belief as Fact:

Am I Be-Loving in this Belief?

And so now with a more gracious heart, I can say (now that I’m less emotional), that I don’t assume you, Mr. and/or Mrs. SUV hold the particular beliefs I accused you of at the beginning of this post. I know full well that not all Christians feel this way, just as I know that not all political conservatives do either. I don’t know you, I don’t know your story, and so I can’t be Certain of anything about you. I choose today to believe that you too strive to Be-Love.

Gaslighting, not just for women anymore

lamplight-6That’s not what you saw! That’s not what you heard! That is not what I said!

Sound familiar, America?

Yes, we residents of the United States are being subjected to what is known in the psychological world as gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. (Wikipedia)

You don’t mean that!

That’s not what happened! You’re delusional.

You’re over-reacting (Why so angry? Raging woman! Shrill. Screaming. Over-emotional, hysterical…)

I’m going to go out on a not-so-long limb to say that every woman has heard statements similar to these to some degree or other. It is the dismissal and undermining of our own experiences, emotions, and intuition. Quoting Carolyn Heilbrun in Writing a Woman’s Life, I wrote in my graduate thesis:

Women haven’t traditionally been allowed anger, ambition, or authority and that they are denounced for shrillness or inappropriateness, which denies them power and their place in “whatever discourse is essential to action.”

Even our education, our learned and personal knowledge, can be explained away by what has been come to be known as “mansplaining.”

Mansplaining describes the phenomenon of someone (usually a man, but not always) behaving as though he has superior knowledge to someone else (often a woman) who actually knows more about the topic in question than he does.  (flavorwire.com)

In a Psychology Today article, we read:

Gaslighting can take many forms but it is a twisting of reality that turns a person into a true victim. It’s about second guessing yourself or getting so far from reality that you don’t guess it at all, you just accept someone else’s interpretation of reality.  […]

Gaslighting causes you to think that up is down and down is up. Gaslighting is sowing very real seeds of doubt in your ability to believe in you and what you are experiencing. Gaslighting takes away your ability to think rationally and critically in almost every situation.

Congratulations! We are all now experiencing what women have dealt with for far too long. Sad!

He-who-shall-not-be-named is attempting to gaslight us all. While he constantly changes his mind, his opinions, his version of events, he expects his Followers (and the rest of us) to go along with it. Urging us to deny facts and even our own eyes and ears, he wants us to blindly accept his Truth of the Moment.

He believes his authority, his rules of how the world work, which can change from minute to minute, are to be followed with no questions asked. Unfortunately, many are happily trotting along, wagging their tails as their “master” tells them what to do.

And to continue that analogy, it is well known that loyal dogs will continue to love a master even when beaten, even waiting to be hit, thinking it is love.

It is a form of abuse!

Again from Psychology Today:

Gaslighting is now recognized as psychological abuse whereby a perpetrator manipulates a victim into doubting his or her own sanity or reality.

It is an experience that happens to many who are involved with very dysfunctional or personality disordered people. The perpetrators are most likely sociopaths or narcissists.

Our President-Elect is attempting to manipulate — to abuse — an entire population.

We are being asked to not know what we know!

(And I am also very aware that the dismissal of his sexual assaults is all part and parcel of this manipulative, disrespectful, contemptuous, self-serving behavior.)

Those of us who choose to believe our eyes and ears are gob-smacked, often lacking words to explain the upside-down, bizarro world we have entered wherein we are being asked to dismiss what is clearly before us.

In my graduate thesis, I wrote on this very topic — the dismissal of our experiences — that of women and men — to be replaced by the “rules” of so-called Authorities. Patriarchal systems, including organized religion,

… can be merely a system of rules: a code to live and believe by handed down by an external “authority” who answers all questions for its followers… even taught [brain-washed? Think Fox News, etc.] to believe that they need to be told all the answers.

He-who-shall-not-be-named believes he can Speak and It Shall Be So. Like those who rely on a,

religious text(s) of choice, it sets in place a hierarchy, a pyramid of those who have an “exclusive line to the Word… [and] an exclusive right to interpret that Word…” (quoting Eisler).

BUT!

It’s not going to work! While we listen to the Words — the lies — spewing from his mouth, we are also watching the videos, listening to the audio files, reading the tweets, reports, emails, news reports.

We’re not buying it! We are smarter than that. We don’t need an outside Authority to tell us what we know. We don’t put any faith in His Words. We don’t need to believe in fantasies just because he is our new leader.

Unfortunately, like the generations of women who have been denied anger or the acceptance of their own experiences and emotions, we are being told we are “whiners,” “cry babies,” “snowflakes” for our out-cry. In response to the election of a new leader whose vitriol incites violence against “The Other,” whose sexism undermines half the population, whose cronyism could dismantle the structures which are helping to ensure the rights and well-being of many, whose thin-skin and narcissism could lead us into war, our outrage is mocked and demeaned.

But we will continue to stand in our truth, the truth we see and hear and know.

An entire country cannot be gaslighted. We know the flickering gaslights are just caused by an ill man looking for something he will never find in his golden “attic.”

 

 

 

This is not a political post, it is a processing of grief

This morning I woke to find that the nightmare developing when I finally went to bed at 1AM, the one where the map turned increasingly red, was real. I immediately broke down sobbing. I haven’t really stopped since. My children have never seen me like this; it scared them. I tried to gain control of the whirling weather-map of emotions surging through me, but they were too much.

So, I will try, now that I can see through my waterlogged eyeballs again, to break down these various emotions:

  • Sadness

For my country, for those who had so much hope that “Love Always Wins,” and for those who believed we were finally going to see a woman in the White House. That people have experienced rifts in their friend and family circles during this election.

  • Shock

That which I, and so many millions in this country and around the world, couldn’t even conceive happening, did.

  • Despair and Disillusionment

That half – half! – the population of this country voted for a man who has been shown over and over again to be a crappy — and dangerous — human being. That many of these voters (other than the ones who supposedly voted for him because they felt they had no other choice) don’t believe in love or compassion, don’t believe in equity, don’t believe in diversity, and instead believe, as a bumper stick I saw the other day declared, that what makes America great is God, Guns, and Guts. People who favor above all their whiteness, their sexually-aggressive maleness, and their so-called Christianity; those who prefer a leader who parrots their worst fears back to them and, like some orange fairy godmother, tells them their greatest dreams will come true.

“The charismatic or hypnotic leader who successfully rallies his followers… exhorting Americans to go out and battle the ‘heathen and immoral humanists, feminists, and communists [or socialists or liberals or Muslims]’ — whom they blame for all our world’s ills.”**

It is in despair (and utter bafflement) that I witnessed a man stand in front of the world spewing hatred, fear, and lies, and have his repulsive, illegal behavior excused away or completely ignored by even the smartest of his supporters. I despair that people I know, who I know are fundamentally good and not stupid, can vote for a person who could well take our country to war while denying people healthcare and equal rights — human rights.

  • Fear 

That violence will rise. That hate crimes will increase. That white supremacy will surge. That our Middle-Eastern and Hispanic friends and neighbors will be targeted, including the Syrian refugees who are arriving in my town soon. That families will be separated through deportation. That our gay friends, friends of color, our liberal friends will take verbal or even physical abuse.

“Elites of fascist and communist totalitarian state hierarchies … impose [their word/law/ideology] by force or the threat of force… Obedience and conformity are the supreme virtues. And in both, violence is not only permitted but ordered if it is in service of the officially approved ideology.”**

Fear that our children will see a rise in bullying and name-calling. That our sons will grow up continuing to believe females are inferior and objects for their enjoyment. That sexual assaults will continue to be dismissed as female over-reaction to a male’s right.

That the advances we’ve made in women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, healthcare, etc. will be over-turned. That we will be looking at a country (once again) governed by archaic patriarchal/religious laws. (Sound familiar, Sharia-law fearers??)

“The first policy priority in a male-dominated system has to be the preservation of male dominance. Hence, policies that would weaken male dominance — and most policies that offer any hope for the human future will [i.e. reproductive freedom and equality for women] — cannot be implemented.”**

Fear that this presidency will lead us to war. World and/or civil. That the gun culture will make our country a tinderbox.

That the “hoax” of climate change will endanger our planet to the point of extinction.

  • Anger and Frustration

At all the above. (Plus some at the DNC, the non-voters, the 3rd party voters, the uninformed voters, and those who wanted the country to go to shit to prove some point. And a lot at the electoral college which have gave us a president the majority did NOT vote for.)

  • Love

In times of group grief, love surges. I am so in love right now with the people of my “tribe” who are reaching out over social media to give virtual hugs and inspiration, who are meditating for personal and communal peace, who are taking this as an opportunity to speak out from a place of compassion. A friend on Facebook, after I had posted of my despair, wrote, simply, “I love you.” In those three words I felt the circle of connection tighten, my heart lurch. I began crying all over again but this time it wasn’t out of desperation, it was because of love.

  • Hope

I believe what has happened today is the death rattle of a mindset/heartset which is will no longer be tolerated. The fear-focused individual has a heart in which love cannot flourish. For a long time the worst of these fearful ones have been hidden away. But Trump has drawn them out and legitimatized their fears and hate. They are out in the open now.

While we have been living for a few decades in a world of advancing rights for minorities and human-beings in general, what the majority of us have been able to deny or file away as the point of view of a few disturbed, angry individuals, is staring us in the face. And we are not going to ignore it.

Women have bravely risen up to tell their sexual assault stories — by the millions. People are demanding their human right to healthcare and freedom to make their own choices regarding their body. Women are determined in their right to career options and advancement, and equal pay. The working class are asking to have a living wage and students to be able to be educated without drowning in debt. Activists are working on the behalf of the incarcerated. Bernie will continue to lead us in a fight for social reform and environmental restoration. I could go on and on.

The point is, inequities created in our society by old, tired patriarchal, religious, aggressive-capitalist ideals are no longer tolerated by the majority. As a friend, who just stopped by to give me a much-needed hug, put it, the boil has festered into a pustule. It will burst — and that’s when the healing begins.

Our world is changing. Indeed, writes Riane Eisler in Chalice and the Blade, during a historical period of greater gender equality, when “women obtain relatively more freedom and greater access to education… one of the most telltale signs that the pendulum is about to swing back is the revival of misogynist dogmas.”

Apparently it took a major, uncomfortable kick (and it might be a longer lasting and more painful kick than we would like under the inflammatory rhetoric of our new president) to jump start actions that will get that pendulum swinging the other way. But swinging it always is.

According to Eisler, Cultural Transformational Theory shows that, “following a period of chaos and almost total cultural disruption,” when there are unstable states, “a shift from one system to another can occur.”

“What may lay ahead is the final bloodbath of this dying system’s violent efforts to maintain its hold. But the death throes of androcracy [form of government in which the government rulers are male] could be the birth pangs of glylany [partnership society based on gender equality] and the opening of a door into a new future.”

And in that frightening yet hopeful assertion by Eisler, I will hold my hope — a tenuous silver lining — that today wasn’t the end of the world, but the beginning of a new one.

 

*This isn’t intended as a political post. However, I will say this:

I love Bernie. I supported Bernie. I trust Bernie. Reluctant as I was to have to support someone else, I trusted he knew what he was doing despite any corruption which may have/probably forced him out of the race. And to see a woman as candidate, was, despite my love for Bernie and his message of change, inspiring and exciting.

I was elated that my children would see a woman break the last glass ceiling. And that woman would, I absolutely believe, have continued facilitating positive change for the equal and human rights of women, LGBTQs, people of color, immigrants, children, the sick, the poverty-stricken, the working-class, etc. etc. No, she isn’t Bernie but she is a mother, and an educated and experienced one at that… and, above all, NOT Trump.

I don’t intend this to start a political dialogue. I am too raw to engage right now. But, all other discussions are welcome!

**From Riane Eisler, Chalice and the Blade, which read today like all-too real-right-now prophecies.

 

Why did the rabbit cross the road?

This is a post written a long time ago. OK, only seven years, but it feels like a lifetime ago that my kids were watching these types of cartoons. My now-almost-3rd grader was just a baby!

I’m re-posting because I’m reminding myself that before I wrote for a living I used to write for fun – and could be funny too. This is the second of a bunch of posts I plan to reincarnate over the next few weeks.  

[Originally posted 8/28/08] 

Why did the rabbit cross the road?

Because he’s afraid of a squirrel.

Huh?

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Can someone please tell me why a rabbit, one that wears clothes, goes to school, and watches TV would be afraid of the squirrels in the back yard, and furthermore, why aren’t these squirrels also wearing clothes and conversing at the library about their homework with their fellow rodents? What kind of hierarchy is this where not all rodents are created equal?

I’m talking about the PBS show ‘Arthur’. In this cartoon world it appears some animals have evolved beyond others, even those who in the real world, are of a similar species. But what’s even more confusing is the episode where Arthur the aardvark – yes, an aardvark – who wants a pet takes a dog-walking job to prove he’s up to the responsibility of dog-ownership. Now consider that one of Arthur’s gang is also a dog. If you use this reasoning, in Arthur’s world, a human might be seen walking another human on a leash and scooping up its poop in a plastic bag.

I read a book to my daughter the other night where a pig, a sheep, and a cow, all wrapped up in their best winter coats, enjoyed a sled ride driven by… a horse! A human harnessed to the sled might be more logical, but a horse? What audacity! The horse is one of the noblest creatures in this creation and some author has deemed it appropriate to demote him as a servant to a pig.

Now, I could draw a political comparison between these disparities in the cartoon-animal world with that of the poor vs. rich or developed vs. third world. But I won’t. I’ll just continue to be amused and bemused by the rat, rabbit, monkey, aardvark, and cat living and learning in harmony while their squirrel and bird cousins peer wistfully in their windows, cartoon tears in their little cartoon eyes, wondering when it will be their turn.

Not in Kansas… er, Vermont, Anymore

Ironically, I write so much these days that I don’t have time to write. What I mean is, as a freelancer my work hours are taken up with writing for someone else, for money (which is fantastic–a dream come true!). Writing blog posts for fun have had to take a back-burner. But a few years ago I was writing for fun A LOT.

And apparently I was kind of funny too. I’ve been looking through some of my old posts and was pleasantly surprised to find (some of) them quite amusing. I’m just oh, so serious these days. So, it’s time to resurrect some of these old posts. I hope you get a giggle like I did.

(originally posted 11/16/08) I just have to say I’m not a huge fan of New Jersey. I’m sure it is a lovely state — in spots; it must be called the Garden State for a reason — but from where I’m sitting, it ain’t so grand.

The wind is howling around and right through my 8th floor hotel windows and the gray clouds are making the already gray panorama, well, grayer. All I see from this vantage point is asphalt and concrete; roads, parking lots, and boxes of concrete, with only panels of black windows to break up the concreteness. Cars and trains crawl through this tangled mass of blah and I have to wonder, why would anyone choose to live here?

Last night, after my husband’s 11 hour day in a conference and my day of writing (and re-writing and re-re-writing), we took our courage by the hand and ventured out. We knew there was a mall nearby, and after a couple days of over-priced and over-cooked hotel food our budget badly needed a food court. The map indicated we needed to turn left, right, then go straight and the mall would be right there.

Ha!

Turns out you can’t turn left in New Jersey, only right. We could see the mall just over there, but could we get to it? Heaven forbid! That big olNeiman and Marcus sign was shining bright – a beacon, a north star – but we two kings were lost in the desert. Round and round we go, no left turn, no left turn, NO LEFT FREAKIN‘ TURN. Eventually, (we ain’t too smart at this point, hunger had taken over our senses) we figured out that we had to turn right to go left. Well, duh! And, of course we’re cruising along in the left lane (as any intelligent being who wanted to turn left would be) and the Saturday night traffic, which is heavier than the worst Vermont rush hour, is preventing any intention of moving over in time to exit to the right.

By this point we are so far away from the mall, we give up and turn wherever we could and hope any dining establishment would be appear. As luck would have it, we had discovered another mall, a Macy’s and Nordstrom mall. But I am so frustrated and hungry by the time we get out of the car (an hour after left the hotel) that the normal little thrill I get from walking into a busy mall is replaced by fear and “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”-ness. I didn’t think I had become such a small town girl but the ugg-wearing, designer bag toting masses, the pre-Thanksgiving Santa, the knock-you-on-your-ass per-fumes, and the racket of the food court – oh, the noise! – was too much. I, me, who can’t pass up a clearance rack to save my life, was inhaling my philly cheese steak and racing for the nearest exit, my very un-designer bag flying behind.

Later as B and I were safely back in our dull hotel room, crying with laughter over an HBO comedian, I thanked my lucky stars that tomorrow we go home. Home, where you give directions according to the nearest barn, where you can turn left wherever you like, and the only concrete is the path leading to your own front door.

Hallelujah!

Copyright © 2011 Darren Hester

It would be a stretch to say that all Christmas music is beautiful. Every year when turkey-leftover soup is still very much on the menu and I find myself in a store singing along with some ear-gnawing song, I cringe with self-derision. But the Christmas carols, the ones I have heard and sung since birth, they are beautiful, if only for their warm familiarity.

Growing up in England where Christian music was sung in school and the Christmas concert was often sung in church, these carols are in my blood. When I was twelve I was the soloist for “Once in Royal David’s City” in my town’s big Anglican church. I can’t hear that carol today without feeling a rush of emotion. I love to sing these songs, but unless I attend church I don’t have the opportunity to have my heart soar. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, in general, some of the most powerful choral music ever written is religious.

But music is my “religion.” Singing powerful choruses in a large group – which I have been fortunate enough to do with various choirs – or being in the audience wrapped in a blanket of sound is when I leave my monkey-mind and become closer to whatever that higher-ness is. It bothers me that, other than Broadway,  there are few other places than church where I can experience this (and Broadway ain’t exactly free or as convenient as the church on the corner). To feel the magic of music I must visit a place  that for me represents centuries of domination to listen to words that do not speak to me as a woman. (I write this with hesitation because the church with whose choir I do sing with occasionally – to get my fix-  is an extremely open and welcoming place where I have never been told I was damned for having the audacity to be be born so very imperfectly human.)

Frankly, it frustrates me that God holds a monopoly over “my” music. But I will continue to sing in Handel’s Messiah at Christmas and listen to Lessons and Carols from King’s College on NPR each year because at the end of the day beautiful music is beautiful music. The voices and the strings swelling, grabbing my heart, the timpani beating in my stomach, and the majestic horns making me feel things very little else has the capability to do. And until Winter Solstice songs are as familiar to us as “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem” I will just have to sing with those choirs of angels.

Prompt: When I _____ I feel closest to God(dess), Spirit, the Universe, etc.

Fry-daddies and other down-right scary things

This post is off topic but a necessary rant for me (thanks for listening).

I’m not one to promote TV shows or popular culture issues or to insert highly Google-able words just to get readership. If I was in this for high stats I would change my focus – “journaling” isn’t exactly a hot SEO. But I have to do this.

I stayed awake long pass my bedtime of 10PM last night watching the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (ABC site). I didn’t intend to be sucked in to another reality saga, but pizza for breakfast and a fry-daddy in the family kitchen had me hooked. Morbidly fascinated, to be precise. By the end of the show I was feeling thoroughly disgusted and afraid for this country’s future. I was also feeling smugly self-righteous.

One “lunch lady” was heard to say that the children would obviously choose pizza over Jamie’s roasted chicken (which looked delicious, by the way). Wouldn’t you? I mean, if you had never been given a real piece of chicken, all gloopy and yummy with sauce with a side of green, green broccoli would you really choose that over the greasy, carbalicious, instant high, eat-with-your-fingers pizza?

If parents decide that their children “won’t eat this” or “wouldn’t like that,” well, they won’t will they? My babies were given broccoli, spinach, peas, kale, etc. as soon as they could digest solid food. I liquidized it and added it to oatmeal or rice cereal. When they were older it was scrambled egg and a veggie. They would even eat cold tofu as a snack, and my son has been known to choose grapes over a cupcake at school. My oldest had hardly tasted sugar until her first birthday cake. She didn’t like it much… oh, how I wish it had remained that way! But what hope did I have when, upon joining at Mommy and Me group when she was just 18-months old, every birthday, holiday (seven in all), and oh, why not? Monday too, became a candy-cookie-chip fest. Start ’em young!

My children are not picky eaters. We don’t allow them to say they don’t like something until they have at least tried it. And yes, like most children they love pasta and breads, but they will also eat the “little trees” (broccoli) and “leaves” (spinach, raw with dressing). Don’t get me wrong, my daughter would devour all the cookies on the plate if left to her own devices and she would probably choose a hot dog over chicken if given the choice. But if only chicken was on the menu she would happily eat it.

The stomachs and double-chins bulging out of the TV last night made me slap my own forehead in exasperation. The shopping list for one (very rotund) family included nothing but processed food: corn dogs, hot dogs, donuts, and a freezer FULL of mini pizzas for “snacks.” OH MY GOOD GROSS! “Don’t you get it?!” I screamed at the TV. And then there were the food administrators who counted French fries as a vegetable and saw nothing wrong with the list of chemicals and additives on the box of pre-cooked mashed “potato pearls.” No wonder chubby, unhealthy children are growing into fat, dying adults.

Breakfast pizza, chicken nuggets, bright pink milk, canned fruit, pizza counting as the required two grains…

And this was all in compliance with the USDA standards!

Even in the tiny school in England I attended as a child had a fully-operational kitchen where all the food was cooked from scratch. We had “meat, potato and two veg” and then a pudding (dessert), usually smothered in custard, sometimes even chocolate custard (yum!), but in general it was a balanced meal made from fresh ingredients. In France, the children are taught from babyhood how to enjoy good food and how to sit politely and eat it intentionally (as opposed to throwing it down your throat while racing around the living room). In a back issue of Mothering magazine I recently read an article (which doesn’t appear to be available online) about how Japanese children are served not only a balanced meal but a eco-friendly and artfully-served one, a far cry from the American brown and ziploc bagged, throw-away processed meat lunches most American moms chuck together each morning. The amount of waste highlighted on Food Revolution was a crime. Recyclable bottle after recyclable bottle was dumped along with untouched salad and apples.

I should clarify here that this show highlighted one school in one city in one state. That city happened to be categorized as the most unhealthy one in the country – so we are talking extremes here. I happen to live in one of healthiest states in the country (according to various statistical studies, including this one from Forbes) but I still see chubby children sitting in carts of crap at the check-out line and high fructose corn syrup flowing freely from the cans of fruit served in daycare.

How could any loving mother watch as her children swell, get sick, and get picked on, and still feed them that junk? How can a school to whom we parents have entrusted our children’s care feed them such slop? I understand that we all have the option to send a packed lunch, but that is besides the point. School is about education – how to read, how to write, how to share, how our bodies work – shouldn’t that education include how to eat well? Obviously parents have to be the primary purveyors of this information but – let’s not kid ourselves here – some parents leave the full task of education and socialization, and more times than we like to admit, their sustenance, up to the schools.

Where is the responsibility? To our children? To the environment? To our economy? To our healthcare system?

As Whitney once told us, the children are the future. But what does that future look like  if all the sugar/fat/salt junkies are pulling up to McDonald’s drive-thru window for another quick hit whenever their energy and motivation seeps out their oily pores? It’s not the children’s fault. It isn’t entirely the parent’s fault. We are now looking at a generational, societal problem which is result of so, so many interconnected factors. It will truly take a revolution. And, despite it’s sappy, rating-grabbing reality TV venue, I support Jamie’s fight against the obese, profit-hungry monster that is the American food industry.

jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution


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