Poem – What if AIDS is a WMD?

What if AIDS is
A weapon of mass destruction?
What if it is a created thing,
a biological weapon?
What if it was created
to destroy the world,
one person at a time?

What greater way to
destroy
us than to use one of our
basic impulses
– sex?

But it isn’t done to us.
We do it.
We have control,
right?
It isn’t caused by a gas in the air,
poison in our food.
We know the risk and yet,
and yet.

How else are we destroying ourselves
though impulses
– food?
Certainly.
We are like animals.

Diabetes, heart attacks,
obesity that renders
a person
immobile, incapable,
impotent
in more ways than one,
powerless.

Mindlessly
with our habits, unthinking
we are killing ourselves,
never really alive
in the first place.
If all we do
is have sex
and eat
and nothing more,
we are no better than worms.

With our mindless habits,
we become
food
for them.

Pray too late

I can’t make myself pray for people who have put themselves in a hole. They say “I need a miracle to help me get out of here”, and I say “What is the point?” You didn’t fall in. You climbed in, knowingly, for a decade.

It isn’t an accident that they have lung cancer or clogged arteries. Smoking cigarettes and eating poorly and refusing to exercise are choices. They chose to get sick, one bad decision at a time, over and over. So why pray for healing?

I know a guy who was slated to have heart surgery to clear up a blockage. They had to stop the procedure when they realized that the 30% blockage was really a 90% blockage. They’ll try again later. I’ve gotten emails and private messages asking me (and hundreds of others) to pray for him. The problem is, he weighs over 300 pounds. He put himself in this situation. Why pray? Why ask for divine intervention?

When my Mom got lung cancer after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years, she was surprised. No amount of praying was going to undo that damage. No miracle was going to happen. When we came back from the doctor’s after finding out the diagnosis, she asked me if she could smoke. She’d thrown out her cigarettes when we were going to the doctors. She had an idea what was going to happen. The cigarettes were still in the house – but in the trash can. I told her that I would refuse to help her get better if she continued to smoke. Why waste my time?

There were plenty of people who would stand outside the cancer doctor’s office and smoke a cigarette before getting their treatment. What a waste. What stupidity.

I remember reading about how money is tight in England, and with the state-funded medical insurance program, they have to be very mindful about their resources. An overweight, elderly smoker who needs a heart transplant is likely to get passed over in favor of the younger person who doesn’t smoke. They take the time and money and spend it on someone who is likely to get some use out it. Why waste resources on someone who is going to waste it? I remember Americans being all up in arms about this. “Dignity of human life” and “How dare they” and “That isn’t fair” and all that, they said. Nonsense. Why put forth the effort when the person isn’t putting forth the effort?

Why pray for the person to be healed when they aren’t doing anything for themselves? Too late. The horse has already left the barn.

I really don’t feel I have the right words for this. I’ve thought about this for years, and I still don’t know exactly how to say it. I’m so frustrated with people waiting to the last minute and doing all the wrong things for their health and then being surprised that they have a chronic disease. Are we so blind as a nation, as human beings, that we think we can get by without paying the consequences? Are we so stupid that we think we should reap when we didn’t sow? Why do we think we are entitled to health when we refuse to create it? Good health isn’t an accident. Will power isn’t for the few. So many people are unwilling to work for their health, and then expect everybody else to feel sorry for them.

Maybe that is the problem. Passive lives all around. We don’t think about how we have to do things for ourselves. We blame others for our own failures. We blame our parents, our genes, our teachers for our own failures. We don’t have someone putting good food in front of us as adults – we have to provide it. Like children, we delight in treating ourselves with snacks and desserts. We pleasure ourselves every day with things that are bad for us, refusing to even try real food. We get a perverse pleasure out of not exercising, saying “you can’t tell me what to do.” We are children, not adults. We are killing ourselves with our childish behavior too.

No prayers. No miracles. We can’t wait for a savior. We have to save ourselves.

Food abuse

I see obesity as a symptom of food abuse. It is the same as alcoholism and drug abuse. It is a sign of an abuse or mis-use of food.

I used to be obese. I’ve had to work hard on relearning what (and how much) is healthy to eat and how to incorporate more movement and exercise into my life. But I’ve also had to work hard on addressing the root cause of why I wasn’t taking care of my body and my soul.

The problem is, we have to eat. We can’t just stop eating food. We can’t drop it like we can alcohol or cigarettes or any other addictive substance.

So we all need to develop a healthy relationship with food – and to address the issues that are causing us to use food to (not) solve our problems. Food can heal us, but it can also harm us if we use it improperly. It can be too much of a good thing, but it can also be the wrong thing.

Food wasn’t the only substance I had a wrong relationship with. Back when I smoked pot, I would smoke it to feel better. I’d have a bad day at work, or my family was hassling me, or there was some other stress to deal with. I’d smoke pot to numb the pain. It would ease the pain long enough that I’d forget about it, until I’d sober up again and the problems would come back. The thing is, the problems never went away in the first place. I just anesthetized myself to them. Instead of dealing with them, I ran away from them in my head. When I got sober, I’d still have those problems, and I’d still reach for pot to “fix” them.

It was a terrible cycle of stupid.

Plenty of people do the same thing with food. Because food isn’t seen as a drug, and because it is not only socially acceptable but normal to eat, food abuse is an easy addiction to pick up. And it isn’t like our society in general has a healthy relationship with food. Everything is super sized and fried. It is too much of a bad thing.

Is this fat shaming? No. Not any more than pointing out that someone who drinks to solve their problems is an alcoholic. This isn’t “blaming the victim” either. It is pointing out that when we use food to solve our problems, we are creating our own problems.

Victims are people who have things done to them. They are passive agents in the story. A person who gets hit by a car, or lightning, or something falling out of the sky is a victim.

If you hurt yourself, you aren’t a victim. You have done it to yourself. Thinking about why you do it is the wrong direction of thought. Blaming your parents or society or your friends for your action is self-defeating. You choose your life and your actions. You have control of what you do. You can also make a choice to change.

We need to start naming our demons so we can slay them. If we pretend like everything is fine then we will continue to kill ourselves bit by bit and bite by bite.

Food won’t fix our problems. Facing them will. No, it isn’t easy.

We have gotten into the habit of shoving our feelings and anxieties down, ramming them into our mouths with food. We have to learn how to let them out rather than shove them down. We have to learn that it is OK to speak up and be heard.

Chain link life

What all forms of cancer are caused by something as simple as a virus? Scientists have already found that some forms of cancer are. What if that is the answer to all of it? What if, years from now, you can get a shot to prevent cancer the same way you can get a shot to prevent chickenpox? What if it really is that simple and we’ve been making it too hard?

But until scientists figure that out, we have to take care of ourselves.

I think there is nothing inevitable about family history. Sure, my Mom died of lung cancer and her Mom died of a heart attack. But both of them smoked cigarettes and neither of them exercised.

Illness is just looking for an opportunity to get in. Whatever your genetic history, it is like a chain link fence. Some of the links are weak. Wherever they are weak results in whatever disease your family tends to develop.

Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure – all of these are robbers trying to break into your defenses. All of them are looking for a way to sneak in and steal your most valuable possession – your health, or even your life. It is literally a life and death struggle, and if they win, you lose.

So you have to strengthen the gates. You have to do what is in your power to not let them in. You won’t live forever. That is impossible. But you can do quite a bit to make the life that you have pleasant. You might even be able to lengthen your life.

Now I have no desire to live to be a hundred years old if it means I have to eat all my food pureed and I’m in a wheelchair. But I will do whatever I can to live well. Length of life isn’t as important to me as quality.

I knew a guy who weighed over five hundred pounds. He said that being overweight was common in his family. Of course, he said “heavy” and not “morbidly obese” which he was. Of course, being obese runs in his family the same way that inactivity and eating high fat, high salt food runs in his family. Being massively unfit isn’t something that had to happen. He thought that because everyone in his family was immense, that was his destiny. If they all exercised and ate well and were still obese, then yes, there’s a problem there. But that wasn’t the case.

The thing that really drove me up the wall is that he had a free YMCA membership because of his insurance plan – which was paid for by the state – translation, my tax dollars. He didn’t use it to exercise. He didn’t use it to get healthy. He drank the free coffee, hung out and used the free wireless, and then floated in the pool. He didn’t swim in the pool. He didn’t take the exercise classes in the pool – or anywhere else. He used the pool the same way that Baron Harkonnen in “Dune” used his suspensor belt. He floated in it to get relief from the crushing weight of his body. While he was floating in the deep end his joints didn’t hurt and he could breathe better.

Being in the pool is the best place if you are obese. But then it is up to you as to what you do with your time there.

I tried to show him exercises I’d learned in water aerobics classes. He could have moved while in the pool and gotten stronger and healthier. He ignored me and told me his tale of woe, that he was essentially doomed to be huge.

What if I used the fact that heart problems and lung cancer run in my family as an excuse to not exercise and eat poorly, and to continue smoking? It is going to happen anyway – why fight it?

This is so backwards. Yet, this is so common. I feel that blaming others for our own self-imposed problems has become the new “American way”.

We all have to start thinking differently, and we all have to wake up. The level of obesity in America is off the charts. Children are developing “adult” diseases are shockingly young ages. The fact that there are a number of diabetes magazines now is disturbing. It isn’t a lifestyle. It is a disease.

We don’t have to worry about another country invading us. We are doing it to ourselves. We have met the enemy – and he is us.

This isn’t about crash diets and fitting into skinny jeans. This is about being healthy and strong. This is about being able to walk around the block without getting out of breath (for starters). This is about having enough energy to really enjoy life, rather than just endure it.

It isn’t to be found in “five hour energy” drinks and a super grande mocha latte. In fact, if you live healthy, you don’t need caffeine and sugar at all. Really. If you get enough sleep and you eat well and get moderate exercise, you don’t need the boost of caffeine and sugar to keep you going.

It isn’t natural to have to put stimulants in your body just to live a normal life. If you have to have caffeine and sugar just to get through your day you are doing something wrong. It is a sign that you are shortchanging yourself somewhere.

Get moving. Get enough sleep. Drop the fried food. Eat more vegetables. Quit smoking. Drink water. Stop drinking sodas.

And every time you whine about having to take on or give up something for your health, get over it. You are acting like a child. Every time you think you’ll “cheat” and not do something that you know is good for you, the only person you are screwing over is yourself.

How dumb is that?

The bad part is that when we get older, we don’t have parents to tell us how to live in a good way and to make us fly right. The really bad part is that many of us didn’t have good parents to start off with, and we have to parent ourselves.

Your life is your choice. Choose wisely.