Editorial note: I wrote this back in October 2018, but with it being January (and the main season for resolutions) I figured this is quite the opportune time to post. Quick note: though this has nothing to do with anyone’s resolutions, let me know how I can encourage you as you pursue yours!
As I was laying in bed last night, I couldn’t help but think about the cultural phenomenons that change throughout centuries. Last night was what are the cultural references to fatness?
No, this is not about gaining/losing weight but our cultural perceptions. This will go a lot deeper and, yes, get under our skin.
Up until the recent century (at least for Western Civilization?), a lot of people considered “skinny” or “slender” was a negative — as if that represented malnourishment. And, for many people in the third world today, that’s still a strongly held perception.
In 18th century England, being “plump” was a good thing. Today, we’re the complete opposite. Putting aside health concerns/risks for a moment (you can veer to either extreme), using fatness as an analogy, imagine your grandkids (or great-grandkids) reading their history books about us today and being shocked at our activities. What activities of ours fit into these cultural trend buckets:
- Non-moral issues – something that the 1800th century prized (e.g., fatness/plumpness)
- Moral issues – 1800th century activities that are reprehensible now (slavery, hangings, etc.)
- Non-issues – 1800th century activities that continue today, and will continue for a long time (i.e., not issues at all such as establishing government, eating food…)
(First, some would disagree with the assumption that fatness could be a non-moral issue. I welcome the counter-points)
I can think of many issues of our day. The point of this exercise isn’t to get people riled up (though that’ll likely happen), but it is designed to engage our minds. To pause, think critically — rather than emotionally — about our situation, who we are, and what being human is all about. Here is a starting list:
- Environmental concerns – climate change, climate deniers, marine biology
- Abuse of power
- Bribery (publicly outlawed in most Western Civilizations)
- Other -isms
- Equity funding
Again, this list isn’t to incite you, but to get us all thinking.
- Most of us don’t like war but it can be necessary (e.g., WWII), so we can ask ourselves questions such as “okay, this may be necessary so how do we think about this topic?”
- Or take Capitalism with all the flack it gets. I may say “I believe in Capitalism, but are there sure restraints or constraints that need to be put in place.”
- Or perhaps our view on working hours where it may not be a moral issue for many, but people look back and think “that was dumb that I overinvested in work/pleasure and underinvested in pleasure/work”.
So, what are the changes today that we’ll make an about-face in 100 years?