Being an Individual in the Organism of Community
Claire - Wednesday, August 21, 2013
In this day and age we are all about the individual. Having your own style, teaching your kids to be independent, having your own space, your own money, your own car, making your own decisions, eating what ever you want, making up your own mind on how you want to live and how the world should be shaped. These are all really great concepts, no one wants to be a sheep or to have their kids grow up as sheep. Critical thinking and not following the mainstream rhetoric are the ways to have a brilliant and inspired life. Some of the most celebrated people have created their own rules to achieve the successes they strived for. The question is, at what point does being an individual become not only no longer self serving, but destructive to the detriment of yourself and your community? This is particularly pertinent when it comes to health. Do you owe it to your friends, family and community to be as healthy as you can?
Our point of reference to this question is more often that not born out of discussions on the obesity epidemic. I think the main reason for this is the idea that being obese is a choice and any other diseases from psychological disorders, heart disease and cancer to the common cold are random, uncontrollable and therefore unavoidable if they happen to effect you. So we get this skewing of our attitudes that if you are fat, you are a drain on society and therefore you should stop being selfish and get healthy.
This is where those in the "Fat Acceptance" camp come back with the point that there is just as many sick people who are skinny or average weight. The argument becomes very emotive because only a certain group of people get scrutinised under this ideal. The truth is you can't instantly asses the health of a stranger by observing them in the street.
So as an individual do you have the right to eat and drink what ever you want? Do you have the right to sit in front of the TV for 12 hours of the day leaving only to refill you plate and visit the bathroom?
Yes! There is no other answer to this but yes! The right to bodily autonomy is completely and utterly INDISPUTABLE in my book. What you choose to do with your body and with whom should always be your choice. Be it what sort of food you eat, who you have sex with or how much exercise you want to do. Your body is yours and yours alone. You also have the right to feel good about yourself. If what you are doing makes you genuinely feel good, no one has the over riding authority to tell you to stop (unless you are doing something that is trampling their rights to bodily autonomy or feeling good about them selves). Your body, your feelings, your rights, your choices. Telling someone that they are selfish for exercising these rights is not only completely out of line, but also counter productive. This type of external motivation, particularly in the form of shaming, is extremely limiting in its successes. You set someone up for failure by trying to shame them out of bad health. This aspect of epigenetics is something we talk extensively about at Tribal Spice. The fat acceptance camp have this right and the skinny-sick need to recognise their privilege of not having their lifestyle scrutinised, judged and spat back at them with vitriol.
Having said all that, we don't live in a vacuum. Everything you do have an effect on other people, particularly family and friends but also the greater community. I like to look at this as momentum. Some of what we do has positive momentum for ourselves and community meaning it builds towards a better future and other stuff has negative momentum, it steals from our future and possibly from those around us or even from future generations.
For an example, let's look at the imaginary person who spends 12 hrs a day watching TV. This is obviously well within their rights, but which direction is the momentum going. This person is not moving much, so no matter how fat, skinny or otherwise this person is this will effect their health. Movement is required for moving lymph fluid which is vital in eliminating waste from the body. It is also required for moving cerebrospinal fluid, which is how the brain is nourished. It is also required for health joints. So just for this person the lack of movement is causing toxicity and malnourishment (regardless of what they eat).
The next aspect is they are watching TV, which requires quite a bit of electricity. This can not come about with out some sort of mining, even solar panels and wind turbines are made from mined materials which require shipping, manufacturing etc. This effects the environment and depletes resources that may be required for future generations. 12 hrs of TV watching over a number of years equals massive negative momentum for the environment.
The next point is TV is not real, you can not build relationships with TV characters. You spend time feeling some of the emotions involved with a real relationship, but when it is all over your brain actually registers the loss as grief. In this way TV creates high levels of cortisol which leads to poor health and lowered self esteem.
Everything about this choice is creating negative momentum and we haven't even mentioned the idea that those 12 hours could be spent doing something that contributes to society. When you make choices that have a serious magnitude of negative momentum it not only effects you, it has a massive impact on society as a whole. You are also often creating habits and patterns of behaviour that your children will follow.
Another aspect of making choices based purely around your individual wants is that it inevitably becomes a form of self alienation. We are social animals, in the days of our evolution without our tribe we could not survive. Our genome was shaped to foster community and family and it has only been in the past few generations that this circle of family has receded down to just us or at a stretch the nuclear family. The more you focus on you and your rights, the smaller your circle of consideration becomes until you become so myopic all you can see is you. Even if others around you are bending over backwards to try to help, you feel unsupported and unloved.
Finding the balance between individual needs and those of the tribe is like walking along a narrow ridge with a thousand metre drop off on either side. Having our basic human rights trampled on is not ok in anyway, but exercising those rights to the detriment of ourselves and others is equally toxic.
Be an individual, make your choices the last thing we need is a bunch sheeple populating the earth. But look for and be open to the inspiration of becoming more, of growing of creating positive momentum towards health and vitality. For you and your tribe.