This post is in response to the conversation started by Peter Dybing on his blog and with consideration given to comments made on his Facebook page. Peter was moved by the sudden death of David Grega.
There are many issues that the Pagan community could tackle. We don't have national conversations about many of the issues within our community. Folks are hesitant to get involved, to stick their noses into other people's business, to take a stand, to stand up and do what's right for the whole community. The conversations won't change everything all at once. But, they will make a difference. And, someone will make different choices today. Other people will make different choices tomorrow. Folks will know that they have different options and that they are supported by the community. And, the next generation will benefit from the conversations of today.
We do hold that every body is sacred. That the Earth Mother is nurturing. That we accept ourselves as we are, because we are magickal creatures. We are divine. That we partake in the many pleasures in life, and those things are sacred. They are celebrations of the gifts of the gods and of the Earth.
Obesity in the Pagan community is a part of the larger issue of health. And health is not just about weight. It is about treating our bodies as sacred. It's about what we put into our bodies and making sure that they are in the best condition possible for the long haul. It's about putting things into our bodies that were created by nature or the gods, not by putting synthetic replicas into our bodies as a substitute. It's something that not only Pagans struggle with, but health is a consideration for all humans. When we are at the height of our possible health (which is different for all of us because of genetics, injury, etc.), we improve the quality of our life. We reduce disease. We prolong life. We feel better for longer. I strongly believe that our bodies respond better to invasions and prevent disease when they are in optimal condition. We are better vessls for divine work. We are better able to serve. We are better able to participate.
As a practitioner of a nature-based faith, I got this itch in my brain, and I spent the last decade trying to answer the question of what humans were intended to eat. In the scheme of things, what did the Earth intend us to eat as we evolved? It seems obvious now, but It took me a long time to be happy with my answer to that question, and I am still refining my answer. But, I know that we weren't intended to eat chemicals. We weren't intended to base our health on chemicals that corporations tell us is food. We weren't meant to mess with nature and genetically modify our food.
In the U.S., it is so easy to opt for the conventional choice, to live by the standard. We get so much contradictory information about health, and this makes it nauseating to really pay attention. Our society doesn't make it easy for us to make the natural choices or the healthy choices. We have to sort through dozens of labels to find foods that don't include high fructose corn syrup and hundreds of other chemicals. We have to sort through labels that state "natural," "healthy heart," and other health claims and figure out if they really are healthy. We have to face eating in restaurants where we have no idea what happened to our food before it got to our plates, where they aren't required to tell us anything about our food, though we can assume it likely isn't good. We have to figure out what and how much to eat when what is on our plate is 3 times the serving size. We have to navigate an insurance system that doesn't cover holistic medicine. It's hard work, and even when you think you've dodged a good deal of the gunk, someone else is shoving another chemical your way. These are not Pagan problems. These are American and human problems. But, change starts with one person. It starts with Peter. It starts with me. It starts with you.
Making healthier choices is not an easy start. It hurts at first. It doesn't taste good at first. It doesn't bring us pleasure at first. It takes up time and money. But by making the commitment to change, even small changes, we start to condition ourselves to prefer the healthier alternative. We wake up and can't stand not exercising. We eat food and taste the chemicals within. We use products and feel the unnatural properties. We eat more than we should and we feel awful.
And, even in this conversation, every body is still sacred. We are all still divine.
The question that I have now: Where does the conversation go from here? How does the community, with the resources available, address health?