Mickey D & the Olympics

Maybe it is just me, but at the last Olympic, winter, games there were ads declaring that McDonalds was an official restaurant, or food, of the Olympics?  I pondered this at the time but never got around to writing about it and then the moment had passed.  And now there are ads proclaiming that McDonalds is a proud sponsor of the United States Olympic team.  As I say, maybe it’s just me but does this strike anyone else as oxymoronic?

Here are some of the fittest folks in the world, being sponsored by the purveyor of some of the least healthy food on the planet; the food of all evil.  We are in an America increasingly caught up in health crazes, diet crazes, food fads in some spectrum of society and increasingly and unrelentingly morbidly obese across many groups. Just take a walk through most Walmart stores and your self esteem will increase by 100%.

So while restaurants and brands are madly advertising that things are “natural” “organic” “gluten free” and “gmo free”  (a blog for another day) these elite athletes are, dare we say it, eating McDonalds? Is this a great leap to some kind of food legitimacy for the fast food chain?  First they start offering apples in their kid’s meals, then salads, now the olympics. While I don’t begrudge the Olympic athletes any support wherever it can be found, and I think apples are a great idea, we should not be fooled into thinking this is good food.  Even if you are a committed carnivore this is not good food.  It is processed, frozen, pre-prepared. As brands like Panera strive to convince us we are going back to clean and fresh, we seem to be farther than ever from just cooking fresh real food for ourselves.

Dont be fooled, fast food is fast for a reason. And most of us don’t burn 5000 calories a day or more working out.

War Is Not a Counting Game

I am astounded at how the world, particularly the United States, views the conflict in Gaza/Israel. The American liberal press, in fact most of the “prime time” press, views this conflict as an accounting game, to be determined by the body count. Understand, I am a dyed in the wool liberal, old time determined lefty. But on this, the lefties are mostly wrong.

Every article or story I read or see is about a dead or wounded Palestinian child. Now I believe that war is a tragedy for everyone, most especially for the innocents, caught in the violence. And every death is a tragedy and a keen sorrow for those loved ones left behind. We do not, however, see stories about the disabled Israeli children who, for the last years, have gone to the shelters at least once a week so that when it happens for real, as no it has, they won’t be destroyed by the disruption in their routines. We do hear or see the stories of the children and families who go to the shelters multiple, multiple times per day; whose lives, hearts and minds will never be the same from the daily and constant barrage of the rockets. Rockets that come much further into Israel than had every been imagined.

Israel is now, and has always been, expert at defending herself. By necessity obviously as she is surrounded by sworn enemies. Those that say Israel is perfect are blind, she isn’t. But to say that being better at self-defense makes you wrong is not just ignorant it is blatantly ridiculous.

The number of bodies on either side cannot define this or any conflict, nor does it define moral “rightness”. What defines both the conflict and the political catch-22 is that Israel is determined to survive and Hamas is determined that she will not. And those that are innocent on both sides are caught in the middle, living in fear and hoping for sanity and peace.

Things I Want My Son To Know #23 ~ Value Every Life

The whole country is rejoicing that our armed forces finally got Osama Bin Laden; and well they should. But there is something troubing about the over the top, hysterical parties celebrating death; it is somehow unseemly. The interviews with the first responders who survived 9/11 have a very different tone, and we should learn something from that. They are glad but subdued, they know its right but know it won’t bring anyone back. In general, a death for a death is not a good policy if you really think it through. But, as usual, I digress.

What all this is really about is that we should not celebrate death, we should celebrate life. When you pass a homeless person on the street, don’t laugh or make fun of them; try not to look away. Each of those people is or was the loved one of someone, a son, a daughter, a father, a brother. They are not homeless and dirty because they chose it as a way of life consciously or rationally.

When you meet someone you dislike, try to listen to their point of view; try to understand how they came to it. You may never agree but you may learn something. How people got where they are is extremely instructive about how they think and feel and why.

When you think about crime and criminals remember that nobody is just the one worst thing they have ever done. You don’t want to be judged by the one worst thing you have ever done. They are also sons and daughters of parents who loved them in many cases; in other cases they were the children of terrible abusers. Either way, it is not just about the crime.

When you meet a farmer in overalls, don’t assume you are better then he because you wear a shirt and tie to work. Farmers feed us and, hopefully, take care of the earth. It is terrible hard work, often with little reward. Listen to what he has to say; you will definitely learn something about work ethic and committment.

When you meet the President, whether you agree or disagree, you should respect the office and the terrible obligations it presents. You should be able to hold a conversation ~ be well read enough and know enough about your world to speak with intelligence.

In every case, value what is good in people and don’t dwell on the bad. In every case, be a good listener and you will be a good learner, you will understand people just a little better. In every case, be able to talk to people. When you can talk to a homeless woman on the street and to the President with equal interest, and everyone in between, then you will be a well-rounded person.

Things Your Rabbi & Rebbetzin Want You To Know #1 ~ Tikkun Olam

Dear Jake,
Congratulations on your graduation from High School. The following is our advice to you!

We would say to you to be realistic about your expectations. Do not be disappointed if you do not become an astronaut, social workers do valuable work. Do not worry if you do not invent a lifesaving medication, perhaps you will, one day instead, give life to a baby.

All of us start with great expectations and high ideals. If you keep your ideals, the expectations will fall into place. It does not matter how high you rise in the world’s estimation as long as you do not get above yourself. All of us have entered into this world the same way, and all of us will leave it in the same way too. It is what we do with the time allocated to us that matters.

Remember that education is a privilege and privileges bring responsibilities. We do not expect you to do away with the draught in Africa, or poverty in the world, but it would good if you could help one starving family, or do your little part in preserving the world’s natural resources.

In Judaism, we say that when it is time for a person to depart this world, the best thing that can be said about that person is not the amount of money he had, or how successful his business was, or the number of cars he had, or houses, but that he had a “Shem Tov”, a good name. We ask you now to live your life counting not all of the great things you have, but, instead counting all of the great things you did to make this world a better place. Then you too shall have a “Shem Tov”.