In times of crisis, the weak shirk responsibility and blame the other guy.
As the problem of obesity trickles, rather, rushes with massive flood like pressure towards our children, McDonald’s shrugs their responsibility, instead, saying “we don’t market unhealthy products to children. Parents are able to choose whether or not to feed McDonald’s to their kids.”
To my dismay, this blogger agrees in her article “Don’t Blame McDonalds”.
What follows is my emotionally charged rebuttal.
Are parents really FREE to choose?
You state that the proposal put forth by Corporate Accountability International, to limit McDonald’s marketing towards children presented facts that we already know, as in, you don’t need to be a health expert to understand how bad McDonald’s is, or moreover that we have a serious health crisis. You neglect to explore why it is that society as a whole continues to purchase unhealthy, poor quality, ‘imitation’ food despite our wealth of knowledge. You instead place blame on parents without resolving the fact that parents love their children and want to do what is best for them.
Therein lies the crux of this debate. Why would parents willingly harm their children and perpetuate a culture of obesity? Like you said, WE ALL KNOW better, but do we really? Is this a simple matter of education?
This is a complex issue and to place blame on parents stating that it is a simple choice is short sighted and ignores the fact you also stated yourself, there are many other variables at play.
Children are being raised in a culture where parents can barely hang on. While they may ‘know’ fast food isn’t good they aren’t necessarily equipped with the right tools to make a free choice. We live in a culture that detracts from quality, depth, meaning and promotes doing what makes us happy in the short term no matter how its done or what the longterm consequences are.
McDonald’s commercials portray a view of life that on the surface is about freedom, enjoyment, and value but in reality has roots in a self-centered indulgence that is starving for true meaning. Eat a burger and a milkshake for little more than a dollar, ‘treat’ the kids, get home faster and plunk ourselves in front of the television, alone, to unplug our life? Fuel our bodies with manufactured unhealthy food? Is this freedom?
You are placing blame on parents without supporting them in a solution. What we really need is meaning, conversation, togetherness, to rid ourselves of the corporate slavery that pollutes our lives. Perhaps if we had community gardens and potlucks? Perhaps if we encouraged all the benefits of whole health versus the harmful effects of a poor lifestyle or the easy fixes to solve the problem at large (ie: lose 20 lbs without even trying). Maybe if life was about more than money, convenience and appearance, we would have those meals we used to…perhaps if McDonald’s wasn’t the only viable solution to ‘getting through the day’.
You stated that if there was formal legislation, you would support it. As in you won’t adjust your behavior without a governmental stamp of approval? Does the government form your sense of right vs wrong? In reality, regulations lag much behind the needs of many situations and it seems it does here too. You’ve already stated we know its bad and contributes to a serious and growing problem, so why wait to take action?
There was a time was smoking was considered acceptable too. With actions like warning labels on the package, restricted advertising, product placement, and clever commercials that displayed a realistic raw portrait of cigarette’s harmful impact on our lungs, teeth, and health, the social attitudes supporting smoking began to change for the better. Eventually smoking earned a reputation that matched it’s reality.
We are still in a place where its fun to mock healthy eating, be flamboyant with our acts of mistreatment to our bodies, and accept poor health as the sign of a good life. Clearly we have figured out clever ways of living with the dissonance we feel in doing what we know we really shouldn’t.
So without relying on government or education, the best option it seems is responsible business. But save McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner suddenly having a crisis of conscience, consumer demand is the only thing that can give McDonald’s a reason to change. So how do we create enough momentum to shift the balance from 1200 calorie cupcakes, buckets of bacon, and supersized fries with a milkshake, to honest grown food that tastes good and nourishes and maintains our bodies health?
In Ray Anderson’s, ‘Confession’s of a Radical Industrialist’, he describes industry and business as the strongest institutions in the world with the power to take the lead and reverse the tide of overusing the Earth’s resources to leave a better future for our children. We’ve seen his business Interface increase profits while respecting and replenishing the environment with it’s zero waste program.
We clearly recognize industry as harmful for the environment. With a large oil spill in the ocean we immediately recognize error and sense the gravity of the situation as we all cry out with pleas for better regulations and change. But we seem to accept an industry that slowly poisons us, our children, and our culture to disease and death. Why? What are fighting to keep this industry healthy? In what kind of situation would it ever IDEAL to eat at McDonalds? What value do they really offer us at all?
Having pedometers and a healthy choice menu, please, that is hardly a step in the right direction! 10, 000 steps a day is hardly relevant when you’re putting garbage down your throats. Most people don’t order the healthy options and in what context are they healthy except compared to the other garbage that is offered?
Can McDonald’s do the same as Ray Anderson’s Interface? Can they remain in business while respecting and properly nourishing our health? Are we really to believe that McDonald’s is going to teach us about healthy eating?
Truth needs to stand above all else. And where there is truth there must also be illusion and the fact remains that we continue to get sicker and sicker as a society for the benefit of McDonalds’ pocket books, a twisted version of healthy culture, and for our own laziness and instead of fighting back at all we blindly continue to stand behind the excuse of moral relativism and support it.
Give me a break. Maybe we would reconsider the drive-thru if McDonald’s didn’t spend billions skewing our brains to believe that our lives will be better eating their food. If there cheeseburgers came wrapped in labels such as ‘may lead to disease and early death.’ Maybe if they offered us truth and real value instead of junk, maybe then, we would be freer to choose.
I venture to say that we need action at all levels. It will require a complex solution because it is a complex problem. We can’t expect McDonald’s to do the work for us and we can’t depend on the government to catch up and impose a legislation that frankly would just piss people off, people who are wrapped up in the flawed logic of free choice.
With enough discussion, honesty, and engagement around this issue we can draw enough motivation to get people themselves to demand positive change. Discouraging a group of knowledgeable caring citizens from trying to do that, while placing the onus on parents as if all it requires is a simple health lesson and more self control isn’t going to do anything.
Get in on the dialogue and place your comments below.