SF Public Library
Help me buy robertsore.com.
Friday, March 12, 2004
TRUE LOVE WAITS ? OR AT LEAST IT TRIES For years, religious-types have been arguing that a mass effort to teach children the benefits of sexual abstinence -- rather than teaching them how to use condoms, which the pious say is akin to teaching sexual technique -- would eradicate all manner of social scourges, everything from unwanted pregnancy to venereal diseases to premature ejaculation. Abstinence education would also lead to a less deviant, more moral society, the sort of hellish God-paranoid nation the pew-fillers have long wanted America to become. To prove their point, various Godly groups have instituted sexless pledges for children, a kind of honor-system chastity belt: Teenagers, no doubt on the advice of their parents, promise to keep their pants on until their wedding night, whence they'll discover true glory of sex in one majestic, unforgettable night.
That's the idea, at least. But teenagers are people too, and people have a hard time suppressing biological urges. A new study -- reported in the New York Times -- shows that of 12,000 teens who took this stay-pure pledge, about 88 percent failed, and they developed sexual diseases at the same rate as youngster who had not promised to stay clean. Boosters of the pledge are unruffled by this news. Jimmy Hester, a spokesman for True Love Waits, a group that claims 2.4 million pledges, gave the Times a tautology in response to the news that the chastity vow didn't work: The vows were broken, he said, "because we're not following up on pledges well enough."
Which is, of course, the point. Pledges to remain chaste won't work if they're not followed up -- i.e., if the teenagers, caught up in the pleasant heat of the moment, decide that the quickening thrill of sexual intercourse offer sufficient benefit to counter the cost of breaking a meaningless promise to themselves, they'll do what's logical, and they'll take off their clothes. In other words, biology will win. Teenagers were meant to engage in sexual intercourse, and no mere promise to God, let alone to parents, can derail their urges.
DEATH BY INDOLENCE Alarms were raised this week on news that citizens of our fair nation are dying at a record rate from afflictions related to obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "obesity will become the leading cause [of death] by next year, with the toll surpassing 500,000 deaths annually, rivaling the number of annual deaths from cancer," reported The Washington Post. Julie Gerberding, the dashing and very un-obese director of what in thriller-novel shorthand is referred to as the 'CDC,' called the new numbers "a tragedy," and she and the other health experts in the government announced "a humorous advertising campaign that encourages Americans to take small steps to lose weight." But many "experts" said these measures were unsatisfactory: "The government should have been much more aggressive about this much earlier," a Yale doctor told the Post. "Even now, the administration defaults to explaining the problem away by individual responsibility and lack of physical activity rather than focusing on the toxic food environment."
Toxic food environment? Is the Yalie sure that this is the problem? If Americans are getting as fat as the moon, wouldn't it be more reasonable to assume that the food environment is not toxic enough?
I have a feeling "toxic food" is another modern-day pseudo-scientific explanation for an ages-old, common-sensical problem: Obesity caused by overeating and an antipathy toward exercise. America, start moving! Even the homeless in our nation are fat; all around me I see indolence, sloth, the sins of idleness. We need neither a better food environment nor a government-sponsored advertising campaign to realize the obvious: That we are a nation of gluttons, super-sized and bloated, and we need to close up the refrigerator and turn on the treadmill.
This isn't me, but it looks like me.
The library doesn't have those scan machines. And I don't have a camera.
My name is Robert Sore. I am a homeless man in San Francisco, scraping out a living from trash cans and odd jobs. But don't think that I need your pity. If you see me on the street, keep walking, buddy. I don't need your money and I don't need you, in fact -- but I'd be willing to wager that you need me.
I have lived a long time, and I spend a lot of time in the library. A lot of time. I know what's wrong with this world. Why the politicians have it wrong, why the fancy professors have it wrong, why the United States has it wrong. Why the liberals are wrong and why the conservatives are wrong.
But I damn sure know what's right, too. And I'm going to tell you what.