By Mike Aux-Tinee.
I picked up Walden by Henry David Thoreau and started reading it again. The book is about his two year stay at Walden Pond. He shares his observations of Walden Pond: the changing seasons, the people who live and work close by and how he survived during his stay. Blended in are his ideas about work, possessions and what to do with free time. One of his themes is that we should not strive to gain possessions (which forces us to work more) but rather find a balance between work, what we really need to survive and continual personal development.
He was criticized for his way of life and for not doing more with his extra time; like helping the poor. They all thought what he was doing was not right, but he thought it was quite normal.
The more I think about what Thoreau did, the more I think he might be onto something. That what we really need, is not to be in a continual race to accumulate more things but rather to realize what we really need to survive and take the time to develop our personal interests and passions.
Someone would inevitably state that it’s not normal too.
I am rather bothered by someone who makes a moral judgement about another person. Then point the finger very quickly, condemning them for the way they want to live as not normal, as if they are the barometer of what is and is not normal.
Here are some things that I came up with that we accept as normal in our lives :
1. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/obesity_in_children_and_teens, between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.
What is obesity?
A few extra pounds does not suggest obesity. However they may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily and a need for changes in diet and/or exercise. Generally, a child is not considered obese until the weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type. Obesity most commonly begins between the ages of 5 and 6, or during adolescence. Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.
What causes obesity?
The causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors. Obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns up. If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that their children will also be obese. However, when both parents are obese, their children have an 80 percent chance of being obese. Although certain medical disorders can cause obesity, less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems. Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to:
- poor eating habits
- overeating or binging
- lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids)
2. We are creating so much pollution by our activities. According to Green Student U, http://www.greenstudentu.com/encyclopedia/pollution
Every year millions of tons of toxic chemicals are dumped or released into the land, air and water. This hazardous waste causes us to lose over 15 million acres of land every year, leads to respiratory complications and it makes our rivers and lakes too polluted for us to swim in and drink.
3. We are carrying too much debt and doing so is not good for us. According to the web site, http://www.ehow.com/about_5278109_much-owe-credit-card-debt.html
In 2009 the average American owed $8,400 in credit card debt. Up to 40 percent of American households spend more money annually than they make. In fact close to 80 percent of Americans have one or more credit cards. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that credit card debt is growing and predicted that about 181 million Americans would owe credit card debt by 2010. That figure is up from 163 million Americans in 2008.
The use of credit cards and the resulting debt that has plagued American consumers is widespread with college students. Up to 84 percent of all college students have credit card accounts; on average undergraduates are $2,500 in debt. In 2008 more than 98 percent of undergraduate students had a credit history, which means they have borrowed money in some form. Credit card debt has become accepted as normal and a customary way to buy now and pay later. More than 339 million Visa credit cards were active in America in 2008.
The average American consumer has access to nearly $20,000 on all of his credit card accounts combined. More than 50 percent of American consumers use almost 30 percent of their available credit card limit. The average age of a consumer’s oldest credit card account is 14 years old, with most purchases for things such as gas, clothing, dinning and travel purchases.
I am sure I could go on more and provide more examples. But when you stop and think about these things, as I have, I became more disturbed by what I discovered.
It’s time that we redefine what is normal in our society and in our lives. If there is to be any sort of future, we need to begin making changes this very minute because the longer we wait, the harder they will be to fix.
I am sure, there is someone out there who will find some way to criticize me and that is fine. After all, it is my life and not theirs.