Faith & Truth / The Social Network

Just a Bit of ‘Common Sense’

I got my hair ‘done’ yesterday. Cut and color. Can’t do without it. I love the 2 hours I spend with my friend and stylist, Lisa. Can’t do without her, either. She’s been putting up with my rants and boo-hoos about my hair for years. Frankly, I don’t know how she stands it. Every woman I know suffers ‘bad hair days’ — such triviality, really, but man! a wayward cowlick, droopy bangs, tell-tale roots, too much humidity or the wrong conditioner can turn delightful women into total cranks with one quick glance in the mirror. More ‘first world problems,’ I know. The greatest thing about my time in the ‘beauty chair’ (as I seem to recall my mom calling it) is that Lisa and I talk about real-world problems. Of course, the requisite re-telling of my hair woes and begging her to do something about them come first. But then, we get to the good stuff. Life. And how we live it.

Today, we landed on political ground, sort of. An election year signals the politicizing of nearly everything under the sun, so no big surprise then, that nearly anything happening in the local, national or global ‘culture’ becomes fodder for political campaigns. Even Cheez-Its and soda.

To be fair, Cheez-Its (am I infringing on a trademark? — I think, yes) come up regularly in my conversations, because (and I am not alone in this problem) I have what can really only be called an addiction to the durn things. What is IN them, I ask, that keeps my hand reaching into the box for ‘just a couple more’???  Friends have joked that, obviously, it’s crack. That’s not very funny to anyone struggling with substance abuse, I realize, and I suppose we ought not to joke about it. I like to think that my favorite cheesy cracker has nutritional merit, but I am merely deluding myself with that ‘healthy ingredients’ wish. The list is long, my friends, of the chips and crackers I hate to do without, and none of them are what could be called ‘good for you.’ And that doesn’t even include my long-lasting love affair with French fries. And Coca-cola. Mmmmmmmm. I realize these tasty treats aren’t great dietary choices. (Okay, they’re dreadful dietary choices. Who am I kidding?) But, in this election year, when American obesity is higher (if news reports are to be believed) than ever before (apparently its an ‘epidemic’), it’s time to ask: do I really want elected or appointed government officials telling me what I can/cannot put in my mouth?

NYC’s mayor wants to ban (or at least significantly limit) folks’ ability to obtain ‘large’ sodas, (he’ll likely find himself successful in September) and has already banned artificial trans-fats in restaurant food and made sure that all the calories in all those fast-food burgers and fries and mocha lattes are clearly posted. Oh, and he’s working on limiting salt intake too. Wait a minute. Does this mean that drinking sugar-filled carbonated beverages might be contributing to obesity?  Eating at fast food all the time isn’t a good idea? Salt can be problematic? Are you telling me that eating Cheez-Its contributes to obesity?  WHAT!?!??!!??!?!

Certainly, I appreciate that the Food & Drug Administration regulates food safety. I do. But I wonder: is the oversight of my personal consumption the responsibility of government agencies? Or was it my parents’ when they were raising me, and now mine? Does anyone else notice that every single personal problem (resulting from a personal decision) always seems to be someone else’s fault???

What has happened to common sense? And personal responsibility? These are the questions that Lisa and I investigated yesterday while she was making my hair beautiful. (She takes her responsibilities seriously, and I am grateful ) I knew I’d get a bit of sympathy from her (she’s a cohort in Cheez-Its crime) when I mentioned that I’ve sworn off chips and crackers for a month. A personal challenge that is costing me a good deal of snacking pleasure. Funny thing about it though. I’m eating more vegetables, and feeling a good bit better too. Hmmm. Common sense?

We talk through parenting concerns – how to raise up kids in a world full of fast information, fast food, fast decision making. We both want our kids to make wise choices – what parent doesn’t want that? And we worry that far too many of us are far too reliant on someone else making those decisions for us – what we can/can’t eat being just one of the many areas that our common sense and personal responsibility are no longer equipped to handle, apparently. Remember 1984? We read it, and were horrified that a governmental system knew nearly everything about us (watching us 24/7), mandated our personal interactions, subverted the parent-child relationship, controlled our food consumption and altered history to control the future. Ah, but Winston ended up ‘loving Big Brother,’ didn’t he? Orwellian caution about the role of government in our lives. Golly, it’s not my responsibility to control my actions. That’s someone else’s job. I mean, I gave up Cheez-Its.  And, I have to worry about my hair, for cryin’ out loud. ‘First world problems,’ indeed.




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