Now that we are entering the Sacred and Traditional Gift-Giving Season, it is sobering to see the messages underneath the Season, and what it means to Health.
Japan goes trendy-mad for Christmas, although very few Japanese understand the meaning of it. They attribute less solemnity to it than we do to All Saint’s Day (for which Hallowe’en exists.) Splurge!
The reason for this is clear. When the relatively benevolent GI’s came to Occupied Japan, on the Winter Solstice or thereabouts, they burst into a marvelous celebration. They gave each other wonders, and some of it trickled down to the natives, living in bombed-out cities without heat or decent food. Protein! They gave each other kilos of protein – ham, even the odd bird, the turkey! More protein than you could eat at one sitting!
And gifts – but more importantly, wholesome food like Spam™! Hipsters may josh the Japanese for extolling Spam™, but when you can’t cover your bones with meat, Spam’s pretty much the taste of victory.
Now, they party with wrapping paper, extol Santa the Reindeer God (whatever) and git down – it’s Goody Day.
To Decide Is To Choose.
We live under the myth that to decide and to choose are the same things. We are told that this season is one to choose to share love with others. But how to do so? Yes, go shopping and get stuff. If you go to the mall, you do not decide anything. You are given choices – you pick one. It’s a subtle distinction, but the consumer market economy rests on it. Would Grandma like flannels? Yes, Grandma would like flannels. Who is Grandma? Irrelevant
To Choose is to Buy.
Another critical message. Choice is a description of making a hierarchy of purchases. Like potential life partners, they can be objectified and ranked for things such as potential lifetime income, cleavage, make and model of car owned, etc.
Health is a Commodity.
Today’s message is in response to a fellow’s comment about a national retail pharmacy:
a for-profit company in the business of selling drugs to sick people…
Actually, it’s a for-profit company in the business of selling items to people who think they are sick.
The common cold itself is one of the biggest sources of expense and profit. Entire shelves are devoted to snake-oil for the treatment of the common cold. When people ask me – which one is best? – I ask them what symptoms they are trying to manage. They shrug – “cold symptoms.” Purchase and ingest alcohol mixed with alpha-agonists, and antihistamines. Half of the people coming in with sniffles have reactive hypertension from alpha-agonist ‘decongestants.’
They are persuaded that the Magic Liquor must be ingested to attain health.
If they have no Health within a day, they are there for a Z-Pack, and become wrathful when none is forthcoming. The Z-Pack cures ills; a week after ingesting one, a patient usually feels better. It is blessed, magic juju.
My patients are contemptuous when I tell them that I don’t take that crap when I am sick; and I wash my hands a lot so that I don’t get winter colds very often.
“That’s just your opinion.” They dismiss me rudely when I suggest no-medicine. “I came here for medicine.”
It doesn’t matter if the medicine addresses what’s actually WRONG with them. They often ignore my suggestions of getting the ‘flu vaccine. “Oh, I always get the flu from it,” they state wisely. “I have to take a Z-Pack then.”
These are the people for whom Retail Chain Clinics are made. They go to McPharmacy, and buy PRESCRIPTION nostrums to fix their ills – because prescription, of course, is BETTER. “I don’t have time to be sick,” they often whine. Fine, then – wash your hands more often, get the flu vaccine. But maturity is inconvenient. The marketing industry allows them to Choose Aggressive Measures to get over a cold; and the McPharmacy is eager to compete with you doctors for a sale.