Monday, January 20, 2014

The Blame Game - Part 2

I just finished reading a book called Scapegoat:  A History of Blaming Other People.  In it the author tells how, back as far as the Garden of Eden, we have been finding others to blame for our problems and shortcomings, even the weather.  We have blamed foreigners, other religions, the rich, the poor, bankers, God, Satan, witches, priests, kings and animals.  I think he left out all the “Bigs”:  big business, big pharma, big tobacco, big oil, big government, big banks and the rest.  No one takes responsibility and it supposedly began with Adam blaming "the woman" and Eve blaming the serpent.

This was coincident with two news articles:  one about a common whipping boy, MacDonald’s, and the other about our lack of faith in the government.

The first is in the form of a video.  A high school science teacher from Iowa challenged his students to develop a diet for him based purely on the menu from McDonald’s.  They were instructed to vary his meals and keep the total intake of calories and fats to within set guidelines.  After eating three meals everyday from MacDonald’s and beginning an exercise program where he walked for 45 minutes a day, he lost 37 pounds and his cholesterol dropped from 249 to 170.  This flies in the face of popular opinion and documentaries like “Super-size Me” that try to shift the blame from individual behavior to the fast food industry.  As the teacher says, “It’s our choices that make us fat, not MacDonald’s.”  Behavior has consequences.

The second related piece of news is the results of a recent poll showing that about 70% of Americans have little faith in government.  “The percentage of Americans saying the nation is heading in the right direction hasn't topped 50 in about a decade.”  Many are looking for fundamental changes in the structure of government, as “61 percent are pessimistic about the system of government overall and the way leaders are chosen.”  The underlying premise here goes against the idea of responsibility as we look to the government to solve our problems.

Perhaps it’s time to stop looking for someone else to blame, whether it be the government, fast food, or any of the other popular targets.  It’s time to start solving our problems with better choices all the time, including at the polls.

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