Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these three aspects are listed among the unalienable rights or sovereign rights of man in the United State‘s Declaration of Liberty. What do they mean though, is it the right of all United States citizens to live their lives the way they wish to as long as no societal laws are broken; the liberty to move freely; work at the job they want to and succeed according to their abilities in the pursuit of their goals thereby making their own lives happy or at least try to be happy? I think this is exactly what the founding fathers meant.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written after World War II and signed by the United States, has this:
Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests
Key word in the above to me is ‘everyone’.
Where have these concepts gone in the USA? What has gone so terribly askew in our thinking about how people should be free from constraints to work, thrive and succeed under equal laws? Since when is what a person eats or how fat they are gotten to be everyone else’s business along with the government’s? Is that not the person’s business only? Apparently not anymore here in the good old USA.
Childhood obesity is much in the news in the last decade with government entities stepping in, removing obese children from their homes, and charging their parents with neglect. Is it all the parent’s fault though? Not in my opinion, it goes much deeper than just the parents.
Our economy demands that both parents work so kids are coming home to an empty house and eating fast foods or processed foods that are quick to fix by them or their overworked parents. Our schools have taken away recess for many elementary schools and physical education classes in the upper levels citing the high cost of liability insurance as the reason. Predators and gang activity abound among neighborhoods that may harm or snatch kids from their yards and neighborhood streets, thereby making it so the kids have to remain inside for their own safety and cannot be outside and play, run and jump to get exercise. Thus, they stay inside and become sedentary.
Now obese adults are being singled out by government entities. As adults, few of us any longer have to do heavy physical labor such as farm work or heavy manufacturing lifting in our careers; technology has arrived from riding lawn mowers to robotized lifters in factories. People have to work harder longer hours just to survive economically. Urban sprawl has sent our stores to the outskirts of towns, too far to walk to, so we have to drive just to buy even necessities. In many communities, it is not safe for even an adult to walk along the streets and highways due to the increase of gang and criminal activity.
Billion and trillion dollar corporations are making money hand over fist promoting diet plans, medical devices and medications and promote the discrimination against people who do not fit into a ‘Hollywood’ image they promote and cite as healthy. Children who are getting their metabolisms screwed up by being forced onto medications and diets at a too young age by these self same corporations are watching their weight worse than any runway model. A recent study showed that young girls were more worried about being thought of as fat than they were about nuclear war or the loss of their parents.
The bombardment in our media about diet plans and the affects of so-called obesity has caused a division amongst people, the thin ones and the fat ones. Obese people are looked at as weak willed, lazy and in most cases, stupid about their health by non-obese people. While there are hundreds of studies linking genetics to weight and also some studies about early childhood dieting creating metabolic imbalances causing adult obesity, they are little talked about, instead obesity is judged a character flaw. This division has entered into discriminatory practices and thoughts with many thinking that if it is about an obese person, anything goes to make them ’get in shape’.
Can an obese person be discriminated against? Is not discrimination only about race, creed, gender or orientation? Discrimination is the denial of rights for any reason to someone who is eligible to those rights under the law. So yes, obese people can and are being discriminated against. We are seeing it in every industry, but most assuredly in trucking with the BMI/sleep apnea issue. Obese truckers are being singled out for special testing just because they are obese without recourse or coverage under existing laws for recourse. Laws have even been changed to promote these discriminatory practices and the denial of rights for truckers.
Some truckers are saying that they agree with this mandatory testing of obese people even though there is no science that says that obese truckers are more unsafe than non-obese ones. The prevailing attitude is that it does not affect the non-obese trucker, so they do not care about it and of course, that fat slob deserves what they get, they are costing taxpayer’s money. I am reminded of what Pastor Martin Niemoller said after the defeat of the Nazi’s about how people stood by and allowed the atrocities to occur; he said:
“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
This issue of obesity and truck drivers is just the tip of the iceberg, if we stand back and do not speak out, soon there will be something coming along that will affect you and it will be too late to speak out. Should obese people be discriminated against and denied their right to work, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Not in my world.