Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GLUTTONY (overindulgence and overconsumption) (01/15/15)
TITLE: Katie and the Lab Rats
By Melanie Kerr
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
I read the newspaper article and frown. It’s not my story. I have a challenging job and bring home a healthy wage at the end of the month. No one can accuse me of living off benefits or encouraging other people to do the same. There is enough there though, on the page, to make me feel condemned.
I’m beginning to think that I should stop reading Katie Winter’s column in the local paper. She is woman who gleans the stories other papers print and pens her own gut response. Perhaps she does interview the men and women she writes about. I don’t know. She doesn’t seem to be able to probe beneath the surface. She rarely unearths a backstory.
Katie writes about the look on the woman’s face. The woman, apparently, is proud of her size and refuses to challenge herself about her lifestyle and habits. The woman claims she doesn’t want a job and she is happy with the way things are. A separate box lists the food choices she makes throughout a typical day and someone else adds up the calories. I recognise just a shadow of my own eating habits there.
Scorn is poured onto the page. Katie deals out the usual statistics like cards at a poker table and claims a winning hand. The pressures on the National Health Service are plain to see. She lays this woman’s life alongside another life lived in Ethiopia. Judge and jury, she announces a guilty verdict. The sentence for gluttony is to take regular brisk walks and to learn to cook cheap and healthy meals. There appear to be no mitigating circumstances or the chance to appeal.
I turn the page and ask myself who was really helped by Katie’s words? Do my own ample curves make me soft on obesity? I suspect the woman targeted has just eaten her way into a second packet of biscuits. Comfort comes in many places.
I catch the tail end of a news item on the radio as I drive into work. It’s all about rats. My niece is plagued by rats in her kitchen. Her rats are not these rats. These rats are laboratory rats put to the task of investigating the nature of addiction. Lonely rats and isolated rats become easily addicted to heroin. They need a fix to get through their no-mates treadmill day. Move them out of their solitary cage and place them in a community of rats and they soon lose their addiction. No phased withdrawal, they take the cold turkey on their whiskers and end up happy, sociable little rodents.
OK. So we are not rats – except perhaps Katie Winter with her harsh words. Perhaps the solution for some of the people plagued with addictions comes not by isolating them with disapproving stares and sotto voce remarks, but by drawing near and becoming a friend.
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