We're in the midst of trying overhaul the health care system of our country, and debates are flying across cyberspace about taxation, socialized medicine, and the dangers of rationed health care. Did you know the roughly 60% of home foreclosures have their roots in a family health crisis? One major surgery can wipe out a lifetime of savings which, in a country where the primary means of independence in one's senior years comes from taking of yourself by saving for the future, is no small matter. These are just some of the reasons that the subject is important. Entrenched special interests are the reason this isn't easy.
What's missing from all of this though, is a discussion (careful, I'm about to sound like Ron Paul), of personal responsibility and the personal pursuit of health. This conversation might be offered in the public square, but never as more than a footnote. I want to scream, "This issue isn't a footnote. This is the centerpiece of the way forward!"
I'm sitting here eating a fresh melon as I write this. I began the morning with some great coffee and then did several sets of high intensity jump roping, along with some leg lifts. Last night my supper consisted of some beef that wasn't raised on antibiotics and hormones, zucchini and onions sauteed in olive oil, and a glass of whole milk. I slept for about eight hours. In short, I'm trying hard to exercise, eats tons of fruit and veggies, along with some fat and protein, and get enough sleep. I've cut out soft drinks and most grains, most of the time. I'm not a nutritionist, so don't take this and run with it without considering some evidence. But if anecdotal evidence is worth anything, I feel better, at 53, then I have in years. I played ultimate frisbee with my daughter's college friends this past spring, and went rock climbing last weekend.
Industrial agriculture is making us sick. An abundance of sugary treats and grains is stressing our national insulin response and leading to diabetes and obesity, even in teens (these are the themes of "Food Inc."). We sit on our butts and watch TV rather than playing games. And in the midst of this, we're trying to make health care more accessible. More accessible is nice, but less needed is even better, and that will only come about as a result of one of two things:
1. a change in government policies, whereby we give localized and organic agriculture a fair chance, start treating sugar like tobacco, and mandate exercise in schools, all the way through college. Since none of this will happen, we'll need, instead, to...
2. take responsibility for our own health. Buy organic. Eat more fruit and veggies, less fluffy grain stuff, cut out sugar. Exercise. Play games that require more than wrist dexterity. Get enough sleep. If a nation did this, the movement of the people would change the market forces, and we'd have a breakout of health.
This isn't just a national policy issue. I feel strongly that this is stewardship issue because the reality is that we're not disembodies spirits. As whole people, we have spirits and bodies, and the two aren't divided; they're interwoven. Our new life in Christ is expressed that resides deep within, in our spirits, is expressed in our bodies, as we serve in food banks, throw a party for our neighbors, play ultimate frisbee with our kids, work long hours and come home to love our families, create, teach, serve, clean, or do whatever else it is that we do in Jesus name. You'll do it better if you're healthy.
So, perhaps the next time we open our Bibles to feed on the word, we should think about what we're putting in our bodies too. When we ponder where we're to go today, we ought to think about the spirituality of taking our bicycle or walking rather than just hoping in the car. These little decisions are important for the kingdom, and we do ourselves a disservice when we ignore them.