I’m reading Fast Food Nation, and it says on page 241, “Obesity is now second only to smoking as a cause of mortality in the United States.” So, our leading causes of death–smoking and obesity–are choices. Americans aren’t dying becuase we don’t have access to clean water, food or shelter. We’re dying because of the lifestyle choices that we make. I literally don’t understand this.
Are we stupid? Do we not understand that the choices we make are killing ourselves. Granted, we’re all going to kill ourselves, we’re all going to die, yadda yadda. But we’re making choices that will kill us sooner, which seems sort of ridiculous. Maybe for some things it would be worth it to make the wrong choice that might end your life early. For example, skydiving. Maybe the excitement and thrill is important enough for a person to toy with their life. Plus, they know the odds are in their favor. A person who goes skydiving could learn a lot about themselves in that sort of experience. But what joy or benefit do we get from eating fast food or smoking? What rewards are we reaping that we’re willing to cut out 20 years of our lives. It doesn’t make sense to me. And makes me think people are stupid. Okay, stupid is unfair. It makes me think that people are weak… and unhappy.
I think shame is a good thing. While I was reading Fast Food Nation, I was eating chocolate ice cream out of the carton pint box. And I ate some and ate some, and thought to myself, I could probably finish this. This is really good ice cream. And I had a few more bites and then I thought to myself, Heather, do you really want to sit here and eat an entire pint of ice cream? I mean really? That’s pretty ridiculous. and the little devil on my shoulder was like, yeah I do! Hahaha. But I put it back into the freezer and in a few minutes forgot about wanting it. And there were those few seconds of shame where I thought about the embarrassment of eating a whole pint of ice cream. It’s not something I would want to proudly proclaim to everyone, nor something I would want to make a habit of.
(And don’t think this is an attack on eating or quality food, which ice cream is. There is always a special time and place–pie eating contests, thanksgiving, whatever–where it is appropriate to gorge and enjoy. However, a Saturday afternoon in January spent reading a book is not the time nor place to eat a pint of ice cream by yourself.)
Similarly, my adult sister is a smoker. She won’t smoke in front of my parents and doesn’t want them to know. She knows that they’ll be furious or disappointed or both. So, she hides it from them. (Good move S, even if you’re older than 30, Dad would kick your ass if he knew. 😉 ) But if you’re hiding something, that sort of means that you’re embarrassed by it, ashamed. You’re not proud that you’re a smoker, you’re not proud that you ate a pint of ice cream. And the thing about this is, why aren’t you proud of it?
Shame comes down to knowing you’ve made or are making the wrong choice. That’s why you get that feeling of embarrassment, that’s why you want to hide whatever it is that you’re doing. It’s embarrassing becuase we all want to be good people, we want other people to think we’re good people. We want to make the right choice, the good choice–the apple over the ice cream, not smoking over smoking–and yet, sometimes we give in and we make the wrong choice.
And that’s where shame comes in. “God” gave us the emotion of shame for a reason. So that we know we’re going astray, we know that we’re making that wrong choice and so that we don’t continue to make that wrong choice. We feel shame so that we know we need to correct our choices. That is the motivation behind shame. If people start acknowledging their shame, it could save their lives.