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How Are Dieters Like Congress?

I am mad at congress.

I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans, I am sick of healthcare being treated as a political football.  How much more of a crisis do we need before we actually start working on a solution?  Why does each party have to sit on its side of the aisle shooting spitballs at the other?  Each side has its pet issues that are tied to contributors, supporters, and lobbyists.  Each side will work to see the other side fail even if the other side is right.  Each side seems unable to do anything unless there is political value in it.  Power is more important than service, and power is a short-term project.

The real problem is that congress is thinking of short-term political gain while sabotaging the long-term.  It’s like the publicly traded company that works to maximize quarterly profits even if it damages the corporation in the long run.  Our society thinks in the short not in the long, and our congressmen are doing so in a way that harms all of us.

I thought of this while I was in the shower this morning.  I am not sure if it is the shampoo, but I have thoughts about blog posts while I’m in the shower.  I was getting filled with righteous rage about the stupidity of congress and how they mimic corporate America in short-sightedness.

Then I realized something: I do the same thing in my personal life.  I am trying to eat better and exercise, but that brownie in the break room looks awfully tempting.  A little indulgence now won’t hurt in the long-run, will it?  I start playing that damned Bejeweled game on Facebook instead of working around the house.  It’s only one night, and I am stressed-out about stuff.

Perhaps it’s the soap that gets me thinking this way.

Living my life making decisions based on my immediate feelings is the same stupidity that infects congress.  I indulge for personal gain in the short-term and let tomorrow’s crisis build.  I have had people younger than me have heart attacks and die; do I really want my last night on earth be spent playing Bejeweled?  Worse yet, if I survive and keep acting in this way, do I really want the measure of my life be how many brownies I eat or what my high score is on a game?  It’s not that I don’t realize I should spend my days better; it’s just human nature that thinks in the now in ways that harm the future.

Then I thought about my patients: they do the same thing.  My patients who are overweight, smokers, alcoholics, non-compliant, in bad relationships, neglecting their children, or hating others because of superficial differences – they are not all that different from me.  They are not different from congress.  They are living in the now because humans do that.  Humans overcharge their credit cards to the point that they can’t even afford the monthly payments.  Humans buy cars with money they don’t have just to get the warm feeling of having a new toy, and the joy of making others jealous.

It doesn’t justify stupidity, but it does explain it.  I feel righteous anger toward congress because I see the result of their inaction.  I see the harm caused to people by a dysfunctional system.  My paycheck is affected by it.  Congress can’t resist the brownies; they can’t stop playing Bejeweled.  Congress can’t stop smoking, or stop spending money on credit cards.

So how do we fight this battle that is all too human?  How do we get congress to act in a way that’s best for us, not them?  How do we get ourselves to spend time with the kids, not the blog?  How do I get my patients with heart disease to stop smoking?

I don’t know.  I had to get out of the shower.

Photo Credit

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

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