Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “recession”

McDonald’s: Diet for a Bankrupt America

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show couldn’t resist a dig at San Francisco in their first show of the year (Monday, 03. January 2011).

I can rarely resist a dig at McDonald’s. I didn’t here, or here, and couldn’t help mentioning this about San Francisco legislation to force McDonald’s to raise the nutritional value of their children-directed Happy Meals or face a ban on toys being included to induce children to pressure their parents to eat at the Golden Arches.

Hans Bader takes an opposite stance in this article attacking the legislation and sharing his disdain about the Californiazation of America. I will leave it to you to read my post and Hans’ perspective.

What I want to focus this blog on is the feeling that there are probably three main areas where we can pull ourselves out of the recession and into a competitive 21st Century economy.

The first concerns the war machine – the need to be constantly subsidizing a war somewhere. This feels the most complicated and I am going to skip it for this post at least. The second regards sustainable energy and possibly will help solve the first as a not-so-fringe benefit.

However what is relevant for this blog post is the feeling that we simply cannot afford bad health and this will always begin with nutrition. There is a $1 trillion-dollar health (or rather sickness) industry and it is, for the main part, possible to tackle.

We can do this by focusing on the lifestyle and diet we adopt. Now I don’t want to change this great country to a bunch of Tai-Chi loving vegans (actually, to be perfectly honest, I do), but it just seems that food that is nutritionally devoid of anything of worth might be cheap in the short run, but is bankrupting us in the long run.

Not only is this a sick nation, but sickness leads to a lack of productivity and creativity, and these are the resources we need to rebuild America. For a great overview of the sickness industry and an optimistic look into the future, try Paul Zane Pilzer’s The Next Trillion.

There is hope. There is always hope – if not for us, then for our children, but not if they learn about health and values from Ronald McDonald.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

Movies That Matter: Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is a guy movie, without the guns and superhero capes. It is an honest look at men striving to fulfill their own potential.

Matt Damon stars as a young janitor at an elite Boston university. At night he hangs out with his friends boozing and picking fights. But the young man is a genius and proves it by solving an impossible calculus problem scribbled on a hallway blackboard as a challenge from faculty to students. He reluctantly becomes the prodigy of an arrogant MIT professor and promptly gets into trouble with the law for fighting.

His only way to avoid charges and jail time is to see a psychologist (Robin Williams). What begins as cynical mocking by both doctor and patient evolves into a deep mutual respect as each discovers how they are trapped by their respective tragic pasts.

The story works because both men have their shortcomings, their inabilities to communicate and be totally honest, and their willingness to pick themselves up.

Our society is littered with men who are broken shells. They crumpled under the weight of expectation of their family or society, or they set themselves up against insurmountable odds laid down by fictional Hollywood mentors. When alienated from those who could help them rise, their only friends become drugs, alcohol, violence, or screens.

We need to find other solutions, redefine manhood and status. As the economy downsizes there will be even more men who find themselves sitting on the sidelines.  We all need to see this movie.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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