Friday, 26 December 2014

Why Obesity Is Plain Self Harm

So, GP's are now required to report patients that are gaining excess weight. At least according to the Telegraph. At risk of inviting unpopularity, which incidentally is no risk at all because I have no fear of it, I actually agree with this idea.
Let's be clear; over eating is self harm. Self harm in the same way excessive alcohol is. The ramifications are so self evident; increased risk of diabetes and other health problems, reduced mobility, additional burden on an already overstretched NHS. People, please please learn to regard obesity as self harm. Assuming of course the weight gain isn't due to existing medical conditions. That's simply how it is, and until we face up to this with honesty and candour I don't think much will change.
So, as a former "Self Harmer", what would I suggest? Well sorry to be boring, but actually nothing new. Self accountability, self control, additional exercise, and above all recognition that you have a problem. Your are self harming. You are harming yourself, and quite possibly those who love you by seriously reducing your lifespan. Nobody is saying that food cannot be enjoyed, because I love it too. But as with all issues the solution starts with personal honesty, an acceptance that you have a problem and that you take ownership. Thing is, if you're anything like me taking responsibility is the highest hurdle, but only when we reach this point can we propel ourselves towards a solution. Another thing that occurs to me is the role true friends play in this enterprise. If we value those closest to us then don't we owe them some honesty when we see a person self harming? I suggest yes, and my inspiration for this is a little book written by my intellectual hero, Sam Harris. It's called simply "Lying" and it can be read in under an hour. If you really care about someone then I think we need to be prepared to be unpopular with them from time to time. To be otherwise is to be a coward, isn't it?
There will be Self Harmers reading this. You may be bristling at what I have to say. Well bristle away. I'd much rather you disliked me and were prompted to examine this matter. If I can add a few years to your life by being the pantomime villain today then I'll ride that wave. I'll do it gladly. You see, your wellbeing is more important than what you think of me. I wouldn't stand by and watch you cut yourself, or walk out in front of a car. So don't ask me to be quiet about this.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Another Taliban Acid Bath

In the West, we can generally live freely, with a fair degree of democracy and our rights to think freely preserved. Christianity has been rendered largely spineless in its power to influence policy, and we are required to curtail it only rarely. Not so with Islam, or rather the fanatical sub section of it that continues its murderous rampage wherever it's tendrils gain traction. 132 children are now corpses thanks to the latest act of divine inspiration, and the world reels in shock in its wake. Only we shouldn't, because these bearded goons have been doing this for many years, and the only difference with yesterday is one of scale. Now I recognise that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, thoughtful, and fine people, yet theirs isn't the voice being heard. And I think this needs to change. I think the moderates need to step up, to influence the disenfranchised youths before they mutate into the genocidal monsters capable of walking into a school and carrying out these acts. I'm under no illusion that this is a simple fix, nor a quick one, but any change for the better will come from the inside out. Successive western governments have lit the touch paper through our own acts of aggression, and whilst on occasion these may have been justified no such policy could succeed in the long run. No, to change hearts and minds it needs to happen before these young men and women reach the point of no return, because once you pass that the fundamentalist is usually there for good. What also seems obvious is that we must not prejudice the good and kindly Muslims whilst we watch the story unfold, because that would be perhaps as destructive as any course we could take. I dislike Christianity, and I dislike Islam, but I have a lot of time and warmth for many who count among their number. But then perhaps this is the difference; the majority of us will critique the ideas, but would never seek to cause harm. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could live in a world where the free exchange of ideas came without running the risk of violent repercussion? Where all genders, all races, all creeds could settle alongside each other and just get by? Is it really such a big ask? So beyond the realm?
I hope not. I guess we can only live by positive example, rejecting violence and embracing those values which enable society to grow together. Nobody expects people to agree all the time, but surely we can foster a society that's better than the one we have today?