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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Being in the Crosshairs**

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

*Chicago Tribune
June 24, 2011
as "In the crosshairs"

*Somerset, PA Daily American
June 25, 2011
as "Being in the crosshairs"

Humans have a great capacity for insecurity.  It is a sad trait, debasing and abusing others for the purpose of making one’s self feel superior.
In middle-and high-school, the “beautiful” people, athletes, cheerleaders, those with popular personalities and those blessed with good looks act against the plain, the dull, the fat -- anyone deemed to be different.  Such shunning amongst teenagers was always thought normal; par for the course of growing up.  But in recent years, the Internet and the proliferation of mobile communications has made things much worse. 
When I was that age, I was the fat, pimply-faced kid with thick glasses and no social skills and hence, the target for abuse of many of my classmates.  Yet, at the end of the day, I could return home, close the door, and feel safe.  And loved.  Today, there is no such sanctuary.  Through social networking, Twitter, and email, those insults follow the child home, hidden out of shame from clueless parents. 
This abuse has cost lives.  Children, emotionally crushed beyond rescue, have committed suicide. Others have turned to violence themselves, taking guns to school and turning them on other children.  But despite those tragedies, the anonymous cruelty continues unabated. 

That kind of behavior is supposed to be left behind after adolescence. But there are still those who project their own insecurities onto others.  We’ve given this behavior several names.  If someone is rich and connected, we call it snobbery.  Among intellectuals, it’s called elitism.  Between races, it becomes prejudice.  Across a society, it’s called shunning.
I’ve struggled with a weight problem my whole life.  Earlier this year, I had lap-band surgery, which has been very successful.  But for those who don’t know me, or how far I’ve come, I still look fat.
Last month, a mother and daughter returning home on a major airline were forced to buy two seats each because of their girth, even though this hadn’t been an issue on the trip out.  This mortifying inquisition took place at the gate, in full view and hearing of many of their fellow passengers.  Reading below the article to the comments section, I was horrified at the tone and tenor of the responses.  Not only did most of the respondents agree with the airline, they did so in language that could only be described as hateful.
Dinesh D’Souza, in his book “What’s So Great About America?” details a conversation with a fellow Indian who emigrated to the United States.  When asked why he came, he replied, “I want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”  If government reports are accurate, he came to the right place.  We have gotten larger and heavier as a population, with corresponding increases in things like coronary artery disease, diabetes, and joint problems.
Unfortunately, we wear our struggle where everyone else can see it.  This makes us easy targets for those in search of them.  Our privacy doesn’t matter anymore because society is now turning to obesity as the cause du jour.  
Obesity has been identified as an illness.  But despite the verdict of medicine, skinny society still views obesity as a weakness; a character flaw.  And now, fat people are now the new targets of the practically perfect set. 
While it is an illness, it doesn’t have to be terminal.  Modern medicine has developed a host of alternatives, ranging from behavioral and medical programs to surgical intervention.  These are no longer elective procedures; nearly all insurance covers them.  All that is required is for the patient to make the emotional commitment. 
I will always have a deep sense of empathy for the overweight.  I’ve been there (still am, as a matter of fact) and unless you’ve struggled with these physical problems, and the mental and emotional issues that birthed them, you cannot understand how hard a path it is.  Try to look beyond the prejudice of your eyes and seek out the heart and soul of the human that lives within.
If you are struggling with your weight, please talk to your doctor.  Science has learned volumes, and there are effective alternatives, both medical and surgical.  You are a child of God; you have value and worth, not only to Him but to your loved ones as well.  For their sake you need to live a long and healthy life. 
But be aware that we are now the new targets. 
American culture is about to become the High School from Hell.


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