Monday, December 13, 2004

American acquiescence

My wife and I watched the documentary, Super Size Me this weekend. In this film, producer/director Morgan Spurlock becomes the equivalent of a human guinea pig, ingesting McDonald’s food for 30 days.

To say the results are scary would be an understatement. From the rapid weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels in his blood, to the other physical changes occurring in his body, Spurlock shows the Russian Roulette that Americans are playing by consuming unhealthy food.

Watching this movie over the weekend, coupled with an excellent article by Wendell Berry in Orion Magazine, made me realize afresh how corporate culture is destroying the America that I grew up in.

Berry, farmer, writer, poet and essayist, is one of America’s prophetic voices. Crying out like the biblical Elijah, Berry has pointed out that the death of our rural towns and areas of our country signal the death of our unique culture. Berry continues to sound the call for ordinary people to take their communities back from the greedy interlopers ensconced in the corporate suites.

In Spurlock’s documentary, he made the connection between the increase in obesity and the increase in the consumption of fast food, particularly the McDonald’s variety. As obesity has increased, so have the subsequent diseases accompanying it. Heart disease, stroke, hypertension—all of these have increased mortality rates.

What Americans have done is to take part in a Faustian pact with the devil—we’ve traded our small town centers for Wal-Mart and its Chinese merchandise (junk?). We’ve decided that rather than cook our own foods, that are healthier for us, we’ll consume foods laden with sodium, preservatives and saturated fat. We’ve decided that we’ll plop our kids in front of the television six to eight hours per day and then, we wonder why he/she has attention deficit disorders and can’t read.

We’ve spent the past two years bombing the hell out of innocent civilians and decimating their country in Iraq, yet we don’t give two shits about the enemies within our own gates. Rather than railing against homosexuality, bare breasted singers, and profanity in our rock lyrics, maybe the moral purveyors could focus on the real enemies of the people before it’s too late (if it isn’t already?).

It always amazes me how religious leaders, particularly of the conservative stripe, spend the majority of their time attacking the sins of “the flesh”. They have little compunction at all however about not attacking greed, avarice and the havoc foisted upon Americans by the corporate warlords. They continue to do what religious men have done throughout history—provide a cover for those in power to continue to exploit the rest of us.

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