My parents' garage is full of soda. Kitchen drawers hide candy bars and giant, Costco-sized bags of M&M's.
How did this come about? I grew up eating healthy and soda was off limits. Not only has soda made its way into their house, it has now become a daily way of life. I do not mean to pick on my parents. I merely use my story as an example of what has changed in society.
My main concern is that the high standards we had growing up have changed dramatically over the years.
Why is it that the standards used to raise us have become lower, instead of higher, as we get older? Over the years, beginning sometime in junior high, junk food was introduced in our home on more and more of a regular basis. By high school, we had cupboards of Oreos and other miscellaneous junk food snacks. We were no longer told to not drink soda. (Perhaps they laid off the "no soda" rhetoric in hopes that we would drink soda instead of alcohol in high school.)
During my college years, I would come home intermittently to visit, and find the garage refrigerator full of soda. Both diet and regular. What?!? Was it because my brother and I had moved out and mom and dad were free to do as they please? Or, more probable, was the fact that soda had become more prevalent in all households. A social evolution, due in part to marketing and desensitization. Being fun party hosts, my parents were sure to have all of the popular, choice sodas that people had learned from fancy television ads, would enrich their lives.
But, I did not grow up with this. We all knew back in the 70's and 80's that soda wasn't healthy. How did soda manage to infiltrate my parents' house after all this time? I guess I have always believed that as we got older, our standards would get higher, not the other way around.
I had an experience ten years ago that sparked my interest in such matters. At the time, I was working at a consulting firm and taking public transportation to get there. One morning, I grabbed my umbrella because the sky looked like it was going to rain. I got on the light rail and enjoyed a book for the 30 minutes or so it took to get to my stop. I jumped off and began walking my beat. Suddenly, I felt empty-handed. I stopped and realized that I had left my umbrella on the light rail. There was nothing I could do. Someone had surely found themselves a new umbrella by now.
Let me back up. This was no ordinary umbrella. I had a bit of an umbrella fetish back then and I had recently spent all of my Christmas money on a ridiculously expensive, wooden handled, plaid umbrella. It was gorgeous and I loved carrying it around with me.
As the realisation hit me that I would probably never see my red plaid umbrella again, my eyes filled with tears. I tried to fight the tears because I did not want to smudge my make-up and I was walking in a very busy part of town. I walked on towards work and suddenly, I had a revelation that changed my world-view.
That morning I had seen on the news how an earthquake had destroyed a city on the other side of the planet, and killed thousands of people. I didn't cry then. I cried over losing a material item, while not feeling much of anything watching the news earlier in the morning. People had lost their lives and their homes and their loved ones and I had not dropped a tear or given it much more than a subconcious, "That's too bad..." while getting ready for work.
I remember being shocked at myself and angry for crying over my umbrella but not giving a second thought to the lives lost in the earthquake. Thus began my search for why and how we have become desensitized over time and why our standards have lowered. It was in those few moments on my walk to work, that I realized I wanted to change. I did not want to be desensitized by the world around me. This eventually led me to question society's standards of health (or lack thereof) and our desensitization to the junk food we continue to buy in enormous quantities.