Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Responsibility

What do Halloween and sugar have in common?  The easy answer is candy for the trick-or-treat bags.  The correct answer is that each gives organizations an opportunity to identify victims and to pass the responsibility to outside parties rather than where it belongs.

The first such organization is one called Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) working “on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies.”  They are promoting a program to shift the responsibility for children with food allergies away from the children themselves and their parents and onto the community.  Their website reads:  “This Halloween, FARE is encouraging families to start a new tradition: paint a pumpkin teal and place it on your porch to indicate you have non-food treats available.”  They want neighbors to feel compassion for these children who otherwise could find themselves not included in the festivities.

In days gone by parents inspected the trick-or-treat collection for possible problems, ranging from the legendary needles in apples to allergy issues to candy that might affect loose teeth.  In other situations the children themselves were expected to, and did not feel uncomfortable to turn down any foods that were not allowed in their diets.  When they were too young to do so the parent stepped in.  Teachers were often unaware of these problems and not expected to police the situation.

Now all that has changed and neighbors, the community, innocent bystanders are being drawn in to do the work and are asked to raise their own awareness along with that of others on the block, making sure those 1 in 13 kids don’t feel left out.  (They even offer the solution of painting a plastic pumpkin for participants with pumpkin allergies!)

The next bit of information is a trailer for a documentary 'FED UP' which “contains a lot of crucial information that most Americans don't know about the food industry. The increase in certain health problems and fatal diseases has been on the rise, and research shows that sugar is at the core of most these ailments.”  That’s right.  Don’t send the kids out at all on Halloween.  They are the victims of a sugar industry with “extraordinary power” that is “in business to make money, not keep America healthy.”  In this trailer speakers use the word “epidemic” twice and seem to mock Michelle Obama’s statement:  “It shouldn’t be so hard to get them to run around and play,” implying that it’s not the kids problem to solve – it’s the fault of the sugar industry and their willing accomplices in government. 

They support this shifting the blame with statements like: “Your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroin” and “You’re going to become an addict.”  Their solution is not diet and exercise, because the problem is systemic.  “We are blaming willpower and it’s a crime” (to do so).  They conclude by saying, “We have to change the diet of America.”  Who do you think this we will include?  If we, common citizen, can’t be trusted to feed our kids properly, if we can’t be trusted to read the food labels to know how much sugar our family is eating, if we can’t be trusted to see through the deceptions of the junk food companies that are “acting just like tobacco companies,” I’m sure we can’t be trusted with the vast responsibility of changing the diet of America!  We, especially our children, are the victims here and must look to someone else to save us from the epidemic. 

Halloween is about children who are the victims of food allergies.  We would be heartless to exclude them.  Give them toys instead of the candy we use to feed the addictions of the rest of the children who are victims of the evil sugar industry, a complacent, if not complicit government, and the well-meaning but misguided people who recommend that they just go out and run around.  It’s certainly not hard to find examples of responsibility gone dormant.  Happy Halloween.

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