The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Junk food in utopia

Filling up the glass
 Junk food in utopia
Junk food in utopia

Junk food in utopia

Last week’s fast food editorial made a lot of sense (Legal system, Jan 23). Problems and solutions were juxtaposed in simple terms.

Astute social commentary illuminated the symptoms and hinted at the nature of the disease. When our justice system begins suffering the pointing fingers of the self-fattened, we all agree that something is amiss.

As a culture we expect each of our members to adhere to a long-standing, abysmally entrenched American ideal- that of fearless individualism. The responsibility for all my sour failures and my grand achievements rests with one person: me. We’ve all bought into the myth that each of us stands alone. The idea is rooted in our language and our history.

We’re told that we can do anything if we work hard enough and wait long enough. To question this reality is an act of cultural sacrilege, of ideological blasphemy.

But when obesity is an epidemic of the proportions existing in this country, the boundaries of individual responsibility become blurred and broken. Are millions of individuals choosing to eat unhealthy foods independently? Probably not.

The lawsuits that have popped up feel ridiculous to those of us who can’t deny the immutability of the rugged individual. Yet upon further inspection, they appear as desperate, if unsophisticated, attempts to reveal the larger framework of responsibility, or lack thereof, in our culture.

At this point we are content to struggle in a society where the prevailing attitude is every man (or woman) for himself.

It’s easier to not have to worry about taking care of anything but your own agenda. The status quo is so much a part of our psyche that the very idea of taking responsibility for anyone else is appalling to most.

Maybe the fast food whiners are only out to make a quick buck at the expense of someone else. If so, then they’re just looking out for themselves, right? But their actions represent a whistle blown on an injurious American institution – not just the fast food inquisition, but also our socially sanctioned refusal to take care of each other.

When fast food giants spend huge amounts of money, time and personpower designing ad campaigns overtly constructed to shape and influence people’s attitudes and behaviors, they leave us a window to question whether they are thereby in fact implicitly assuming responsibility for the actions and decisions of others.

Logically, it’s not a difficult step to take. And if those actions lead to heart attacks, skyrocketing cholesterol, and diabetes, where do we draw the line that says the responsibility ends here?

A frightening state of affairs emerges when we consider that the resources we spend educating each other are dwarfed by those we spend marketing to each other.

And education itself is often cast as nothing more than a means to a lucrative end. Here junk food empires can peddle their wares to the masses of brainwashed consumers and wash their hands of any responsibility for the consequences of their business.

But imagine a world in which you were not alone and not expected to act as though you were.

Where you knew that someone always had your back. Where you weren’t afraid to go out on a limb and claim a little responsibility for the people around you. Where taking care of each other was more important than taking advantage of each other.

It’s been widely demonstrated that McDonald’s as an entity has the power to change the world. What if it decided to change it for the better, for the healthier?

Just think of the possibilities inherent in a mindset where well-being was a bigger priority than a profit. Where corporations made it their business to make the world better, instead of making themselves richer.

In this parallel dimension, we all recognize that none of us acts without influence from everyone and everything around us, that no decision is made in a vacuum, and that all of our actions affect our environment and the people with whom we share it.

The isolationism of individual responsibility is exposed for the myth that it is, and we recognize that we are all products of an intricate social machine with vast beneficial potential. With a few simple modifications to the design of the machinery that we create and operate, we reinvent ourselves as a happier, healthier, more connected civilization.

To say that we have a long way to go before we reach a place resembling that one would be an absurd understatement.

Most of us can scarcely imagine such a condition, much less begin to visualize it in concrete terms. But imagining it is the first step toward changing it. It’s the easiest step to take, and maybe the most powerful.

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