Monday, June 8, 2015

Too Fat To Fight

                It’s a good thing the U.S. is reducing the ranks of its military. Many of the country’s kids are too fat to fight according to a group of retired generals. They say that many- if not most- kids are overweight, eat too poorly and don’t get nearly enough exercise to qualify to join the military.
                In other words: they are too soft.
                The report, released at the end of April, was titled, “Too Fat, Frail, and Out-of-Breath to Fight.”
                Among the report’s findings pertaining to the state of Minnesota: 69 percent of Minnesota’s young adults cannot serve in the military; 40 percent of Minnesota ninth-graders receive no physical education and less than a quarter of the state’s high school students get the recommended minimum of one hour of physical activity during their day! One hour!
                The report warns, “Long-term military readiness is at risk unless a large-scale change in physical activity and nutrition takes place in America.”
                How utterly different we are than the Americans of Revolutionary times or even World War II. The country defeated the grandest military the world had yet seen in large part because so many of its citizens lived an active, rural life, cultivating the land and hunting for food. In early America kids in these rural and frontier areas often brought their guns with them to school and might well shoot a rabbit on the way home to add to the dinner table. Almost everyone owned a musket or firearm of some sort and did not have to be trained in its use, yet, oddly, there were no school shootings.
                Later on, after the invention of the automobile and mechanized tractor, etc., farm boys were shown how to plow and drive at very young ages. Even many of the more urban lads took pride in “working under the hood” of their or their family’s vehicles and then “cruising” Main Street on Friday night.
                Kids were expected to play baseball or another sport- or two- and were allowed to hike, bike and explore their world. Most boys even had Swiss Army knives! Many even had them on their person while at school! Gasp! I spent much of my youth outdoors whether “up north” at “the cabin” or in town. I would throw a tennis ball onto the roof of our house- and catch it as it bounced off- for hours on end. My friends and I went sledding and played “boot” hockey or ice hockey in the winter and fished, swam, played “Wiffle Ball” and collected rocks among other beloved outdoor pursuits in the summertime.
                Typically, if a kid is allowed to go biking in his or her cul-de-sac these days, they are wearing a helmet, knee-pads and an airbag, and certainly not a Swiss Army knife. It’s scary, you see!
                Today, if a kid is “playing a game,” odds are it’s a video game or on-line pursuit. Between television, computers, I-Pads, Smart-phones, the internet, Face-Book, Twitter, Grinder, etc., etc., there isn’t really any time left for physical activity. Or mental activity for that matter, like reading a book.
               Virtual reality is more real to most kids than actual reality.
                And that is scary.


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