Quotes are good, but rarely this good. I’ll get to the quote, but first let me frame it up for you. Framing is important. Context is everything. Context, like analogy, can be misleading, or revealing. Complex, in other words, just like we hate things to be, but which they always are.
Anyway, there were a couple stories in the Post over the weekend on a similar topic. The topic is the growing mismatch between our Paleolithic bodies and the modern world we’ve created for ourselves. Our bodies are designed for activity, and we spend our time and money to avoid physical activity, while at the same time feed ourselves as though we were yeoman laborers. Formula for trouble!
Trouble which gets compounded by brain issues! We are the smart animals, we tell ourselves, and tell our children in school. But then we behave otherwise. When we see that we are acting against our own interests, instead of structuring a solution, we decide to first waste a LOT of time constructing excuses. The body/modern-world mismatch is one of these situations. We are still allowing the agenda of Product Advertising to frame the issue as being about freedom, and comfort, and a really shallow conception of well-being. Other choices are available. When I moved to DC I deliberately looked for a place to live within walking distance of a Metro station. A pretty long walk as it turned out, and up a hill. Both ways, of course. And it’s not as comfortable as sliding to work in the controlled climate of a giant automobile. But this choice not only saved fuel, which was my intention, but it built into my day free purposeful exercise. The incentives for making this kind of choice can be enhanced, but as a society we still prefer to spout utterly simple-minded nostrums about choice. It’s a choice, all right. But there are more ways to look at the choice other than just toppling short-term idiocy into your shopping cart.
And now the quote I promised. In a review of a book on obesity, the author quotes a 17th century parallel. “We prefer to take our chances with cholera and the rest than be bullied into health.”