In the new perverse
world of corporate profit over any ethical, community based or moral
values, maybe we are building the next economic model: disease is
good: disease makes money. We can follow the example of Philip Morris,
who calculated that the nation of Czechoslovakia could earn a net
GAIN per year of 147.1 million dollars by allowing their citizens
to continue to smoke! Let them die, and you will pay out less in pension
funds.This 1999 study proves that many multinational corporations
still view humans as pawns on their profit sheets. Where are the collective
outrage, the boycotts and civil actions?In this time of shouting out
against terrorism, why do our federal dollars still subsidize the
dealers of death, the tobacco industry?
Elders in a
community are the purveyors of tradition, of culture and ceremonies.
Corporate America is vanquishing those adults who remain silent
about their predation of children, as mere empty suits, an enigma
of a time long ago. We now have more shopping malls than secondary
high schools, where the tradition is mindless consumption, where
holiday ceremonies have been transformed into an orgy of quick gratification,
at the expense of families, mental health and happiness. Defined
as 'tweens', these 'consumers' between early childhood and teenage
years are being targeted as never before and the results will be
disastrous. I tell students that how you treat your place, your
environment (including the people in your space), along with your
diet, may be the most important two decisions you will make: for
your own health and the health of the planet.
The fast food
industry is destroying the family structure and the rituals of families
cooking together, sharing stories and beliefs. I learned more about
my Polish grandparents, or my own parents' virtues and dreams, during
the ritual of dinner and holiday meals. Toss in the walks in the
park, the time fishing on lakes and the everyday chat, my 'elders'
were giving me the gift of cultural identity, values, and setting
parameters of right and wrong. Fast food chains annually spend over
$3 billion on advertising, especially on television. Why television,
because the average American child now watches 21 hours of this
mindlessness a week. That comes out to approximately 30,000 commercials
a year. Between McDonald's and Burger King, they have invested in
over 10,000 play structures! As a producer of a play structure states,
'play-lands bring in children, who bring in parents, who bring in
money'. Put that together with the coalitions between fast food
joints, leading toy manufactures and theme parks, and we are devising
the new America for our children. An America of shallow souls and
the numb citizen, with no connection to place, no memory of home
life, except a trip to a homogenous chain of burger places, where
a toy made by sweat labor is your prize?Over $100 billion dollars
were spent at fast food places last year, ensuring that our children
will lead sickly lives. The October issue of the International Journal
of Epidemiology states that 25% of U.S. kids are carrying more weight
than may be healthy. Some will state that we need to stimulate the
economy by consuming fast food. I say nonsense. Invest your monies
in produce from local farms, your local coop, 'natural' food store
or community diner. Yes, invest in our economy, but in your local
economy, endorsing wholesome and safe food products.
giving in to promotions and corporate logos, the plan is complete.
Between the malls, the school-rooms, burger joints and television,
corporate profiteers are shaping the lives, minds and rituals of
our most precious resource on earth, our children. Is it not ironic,
that in 1978, the Federal Trade Commission tried to ban ALL commercial
television ads to children under the age of seven years old. When
Reagan took office, this quest came to a screeching halt, because
of the lobbying of the National Toy Manufacturers and the Association
of National Advertisers.
carrying the pop with about 51 or so teaspoons of sugar in her red
brew, watches Channel 1, a news program beamed into the classrooms
of 12 million students a day: complete with pop and candy commercials.
I refuse to show it. I will not allow pop or candy in my classroom,
while fruit and water is warmly accepted. I am an elder who has
recognized that I cannot turn away. I say it is time to toss out,
all those defeatist comments ingrained in our vocabulary. 'You cannot
swim upstream', 'don't upset the apple cart', 'you can't fight city
hall.' With the smile of my daughters faces emblazoned in my spirit,
how can I not believe this is a winnable fight?
So, I ask the
question again, 'do we really love our children?'
Will we remove
pop machines from our schools? Will we storm our boards of education,
and tell them, no more fast food in our schools, no more corporate
come-ons? Will we cook meals at home, healthy meals that are grounded
in the health of our children and their world? The day after Thanksgiving
Day, will we say no to shopping, but, instead make a photo album
with our children and discuss our families' values? Will we walk
down to the homeless shelter and spread joy to those who know pain?
Will we simply take a walk down our neighborhood? Will we just talk
and instill values of love, responsibilities, humility and frugalness
amongst our kids?
And in the
bigger picture, will we say no to overt consumption? Will we fight
for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, by driving less, making
life style changes that do not reduce quality of our lives, but,
indeed improve them? I have my children eating soy butter, we have
rice milk in the house, we are saying no to empty calories and meat
diets. There is no soda pop in this house. It is a start, a start
where you can look your children in the eye, and tell them, that
their diet, their life decisions will ensure a healthier group of
young citizens and a sustainable environment for generations to
come. And, now you can answer the question, yes. I really love my
children, and actually, I really love all children. And I will not
compromise, seek politically correct, pragmatic half truths, I will
fight for our children.
John F. Borowski
John F. Borowski has been teaching Marine Science, Environmental
Biology and Earth Science for 21 years at North Salem High in Salem,
You can contact John Borowski at firstname.lastname@example.org
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