**Author's note: This article is not embellished with emotion or conjecture, it is not intended to be an entertaining read, merely information and proposed solutions. Please excuse my straight-forward tone in this article, my intent is to not be partisan in any way.
With the explosion of highly systematic problems in America these days, everybody is looking to put a "patch" on the issues, concerned that we're a sinking ship. I've just like everyone else been considering what has changed so much at home that these serious symptoms have boiled over.
The difference for me is that I believe our problems have a simpler solution than many think.
The rise of equality and fall of masculinity
Some might interpret my choice of words as regretful, I am not. The culture of overwhelming masculinity worked for America when women and other disadvantaged groups didn't strive to make contributions however, those very contributions far outweigh the advantages of an alpha male population.
The problem now is that certain traditions that were tied to masculinity have lost their importance in our society. Things like competition and athleticism have, instead of adapting, fractured. We haven't discovered new and engaging ways of stressing the importance of those very attributes that made America what it is today.
What is so important about competition?
A key benefit of competition is that it drives us to demand better results, achieve more, and take pride in our accomplishments. The literal explosion of the American economy wasn't simply as a result of the right investments, in fact it could be suggested that the whole of our success is attributed to our drive. We, as Americans, understand that the key to success is production and to produce better, we engage in healthy competition amongst ourselves and externally.
Many cultures do not separate failure from competition, as a result there's no advantage to compete. In Asian culture, you either lie low and subside or you push hard and achieve, there's no in-between...and when you fail, it is a disgrace. In our culture, there are assuredly winners and losers but, there's no disgrace and you're certainly not condemned to mediocrity. When Americans compete, everybody is welcome, a trait I believe is in best practice in America.
How could athleticism possibly resolve our problems?
It is quite obvious that health is a major concern in our nation. The only part of the health system that provides hope is that it is the most advanced in the world. No matter how advanced though, the straw that is breaking the camel's back is not major illness, but minor health issues. While not ignoring the fact that primary care needs to become more readily accessible, it is without a doubt true that regular physical activity is one of the greatest defenses against ailments, as the adaptive immune response is dependent upon a high producing thyroid, tied directly to a high metabolic rate.
What we underestimate is that the minor health issues not only cost us dearly in late-term health costs but, they also "snowball" into far more critical (and costly) situations. We've all heard the headlines.. primary care being delivered in the emergency room, and the cost of primary care ballooning to incredulous levels.
Working in the healthcare industry, I can tell you three things:
- The level of obesity and dietary imbalances in this nation makes the net cost of healthcare extraordinarily high. Even procedures such as annual health checkups are made hundreds of dollars more expensive merely in materials cost alone, as people considered overweight or malnutritioned must undergo several more otherwise unnecessary tests than a healthy person.
- Americans who lack medical insurance are not the only group who find primary care inaccessible. A large percentage of covered Americans still do not utilize their benefits for primary care. Co-insurance costs for a small family or even an individual can be so great that the insured still do not seek regular checkups, thus begins the snowball effect of small ailments into major disease.
- The cost of urgent and primary care is negatively affected by critical care. Since critical care is not very profitable, care providers inflate the cost of non-critical care to compensate for the lack of profit from critical care. This brings us back to the second point, that critical care can actually be reduced by regular primary care.
Ironically, our worst problems begin with the solution.
What does the fall of masculinity have to do with either?
Simple. Both competition and athleticism have for hundreds of years been considered pursuits of masculinity. The problem is now that while masculinity is most assuredly not dead and for good reason remains a necessary aspect of humanity, it cannot again be the prominent driving force behind any type of improvement.
My proposed solution:
What both pursuits lack these days is incentive, as generally incentive used to be gleaned from masculine pursuits. What we should focus on is the advantages gleaned from both pursuits, and impress upon our society the importance of seeing the parallels of those pursuits.
Of course, making this change would take a considerable amount of work, most of which would be dependent on the cooperation of our education professionals. I propose the following changes:
- Complete new requirements for grade school physical education courses. Currently our P.E. classes in most states are merely an extension of health classes, with requirements consisting only of textbook education. The focus and course competency requirements should be changed to require either the upkeep of good physical fitness or, the improvement thereof.
- Expansion of public fitness programs. A focus should be placed on providing the facilities and low cost continuing health initiatives, because a healthy people are without a doubt a productive and happy people.
- Rebuild our arts, sports, and music programs. These programs are essential for creating a culture of competition and success. Additionally, nationwide competition organized by a NGO with a focus on healthy competition would raise the bar by enhancing the level of competition beyond state-level organizations and and would create a single source of responsibility to maintain such programs.
It seems a little too simple...
Yes, it does seem like all this is too simple, in fact too simple to even have an effect. What have we got to loose, though? We know definitively that childhood obesity is responsible for a myriad of health concerns during adulthood, imagine the healthcare savings if we could only eliminate the waste caused by such ailments.
With a healthier nation, we redirect our spending to more worthy initiatives. With more competitive people, we do better locally and globally. Now, forgive me for being so blunt but, aren't our two greatest problems that healthcare costs are bankrupting us and our economy is becoming less competitive globally?
I honestly wish I could expand on all this however, I feel that at this stage I have made my point. What are your thoughts, 'viners?