14 Feb Sugar High
There are really two ways to tell issue based stories, the general and the personal/specific, and often these two forms are combined. The general, broad overview, deals with larger numbers, which means that the statistics about these situations hold profound realities. The personal example though give us a way to connect on an emotional level with people affected by the issues being discussed. As such, if we look at the general trends they can tell us a lot of important information, but the individual stories sway us in strong ways. Often times story tellers will use the personal example to obfuscate important truths that they don’t want discussed. This is called lobbying. However, when the personal examples are used to back up important truths found in general overview, this might be viewed as closer to, if not, journalism. This understanding is important to us as we embark on “Story of Pain”, but it also evident in every part of our lives that are affected by powerful interests.
It probably came as a shock to people yesterday when it was announced by bona fide scientists that sugar should be viewed as a toxin. I don’t believe it was a shock to people that this is true, but instead that this was news. I’m half joking, because in reality, while we all rationally know that too much sugar is a bad thing, it was kind of unbelievable that scientists had the audacity to publicly state it, even with science on their side.
I was waiting for a plane when I saw the CNN science reporter interviewing one of the scientists behind the report. He discussed the idea of different levels of toxicity. Anthrax kills with single parts per billion. It is highly toxic. Sugar damages the liver over time he stated, its a slow killer, and our bodies were not designed to process the enormous amounts of sugar that we get. The question is, if we know this, and have known it for years, how come we as a culture aren’t doing anything about it. The scientist stating it as scientific fact is a game changer.
I think we’ve all seen news reports that connect sugar with obesity and heart disease. However, when I told my 9 year old, who bargins and cajoles for soda’s every time that we go a restaurant, that science had declared sugar toxic she got it immediately. Game over. She now understand that I am not mean, but instead that I want to protect her.
Where do we go from here. Do we advocate for regulation or education? As someone who has a growing, and frankly increasingly toxic, view of government as not entirely effective, I would work toward education before regulation. As much as I believe that we need government to protect us from power and money, I believe that regulation has a strong place and role in our society. However, I have also seen the corrosive influence of the power that can come with regulation.
For the time being I will revel in the new found reasonableness with which my daughter is approaching sweets. Perhaps if we can see some general news that makes the stats come to life, coupled with some personal stories that drive the truth of these stats, we might find some relief from the sugar high. Further, perhaps a film like Story of Pain, can help to reverse some of the trends surrounding pain.