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of whom I am chief

31 July 2008 no comment

I’ve been trying to catch up on this guy‘s posts – he runs the range of the humanities and beyond.  This one I found exemplifies the state of modern humanity.  Here’s the telling quote:

I sometimes wonder what an ancient Greek, transported through time, would think of us, cooped up indoors as we are much of the time, hunched over a computer keyboard or staring slack-jawed at a television screen. I suspect he would laugh at our pale, puffy bodies, never exposed to wind or sun, and would regard us as useless and pathetic specimens of humanity.

I remember being forced out of the house when I was a child; my friends and I putting dozens of miles on our bikes every day.  Walking to school.  Kickball, stickball, dodgeball – getting humiliated by someone bigger than you (what we used to call a “life lesson”) and forcing your brain to develop a strength that could overcome sheer brawn and intimidation (“we lost again, but that’s okay; they’ll all work for us someday!”).

The Nintendo may have ushered in our present state of inertial maladjustment.  I’ve vented before about the “gadgets-as-narcotics” tactic of modern parenting; what parent hasn’t stuck their child in front of a looped DVD and had them sit stupefied as the images and songs lull them into inactivity?  Once the child is sufficiently interactive, the video game rules supreme.  And perhaps to top it all off, allowing children unhindered access to coffee and caffeine-enhanced drinks would have NEVER happened when I was young.

We also enshroud our children in every conceivable method of protection we can devise; I’m sure if I were a parent, I’d want to virtually entomb my child away from harm.  But I see where that is getting us.  Indeed, so does the medical community; take this article from Psychology Today – “A Nation of Wimps” – it is no wonder that the problems we create for our children self-perpetuate.  They have grown older and “not departed from them.”

Do I have the answer?  I don’t, but I think nature does – every species but ours (and ours used to) encourages their young to get tough.  They have to; nature doesn’t forgive.  Most grazing animals on the plains of Africa and Asia must learn to walk within minutes of their birth; if they don’t, they get left behind.  I think the lessons nature teaches us are obvious, if we are not trying to subvert them with our “advanced thinking:”

  • Get moving.
  • Do it now.
  • Get tough.
  • Play like you mean it.
  • Remember what you did that made it hurt.
  • Sweat for what you eat.
  • Don’t park yourself by your food.
  • Only the fit survive.

It’s not too late for us adults.  I used these in an email to a friend lately; on these two “commandments” hang all of nature and good advice:

  • Start moving, move every day, and work harder each time than the last (the greatest of the two)
  • Eat better (not less, necessarily)

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