Ask Jonathots… August 27th, 2015

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My friend Rob is the smartest man in our workplace. He happens to be quite overweight. Recently I found myself in a discussion about who would get an upcoming promotion. I said that Rob would probably get the job, and was surprised when another man in the room said he wouldn’t because of his weight. I told the guy he was not only wrong, but also bigoted. He argued with me, and said that you can’t be bigoted against people who are overweight because it’s a condition they choose. I completely disagreed. What do you think?

It is a difficult path to negotiate when you start insisting that one group of people was born with a certain predilection, but this other group over there has made a choice instead of finding themselves genetically wired.

So to be honest with you, I prefer, for the sake of sanity and the purposes of having more personal control in my life, to choose to believe that even though there are certain features that may come with our human package, that we don’t necessarily need to use them.

Otherwise, we’re going to begin to contend that each and every weakness or strength in the human body is beyond our control and that we’re destined to become something rather than having the free will to guide our own direction.

That said, let me tell you that obesity is close to my heart. Literally.

I was born at 12 1/2 pounds, so I have a very strong case for believing that I was put together to be a fat man.

It doesn’t help me.

I don’t improve my life or increase my longevity by insisting that I’m cursed with an oddity which, as it turns out, could also be lethal.

So you have to make up your mind. Are we at the mercy of our genetics and destined to be a certain way from our birth? Or can we be born again and find a path divergent from the genetic pool?

It isn’t split down the middle, it’s one way or another.

So the truth of the matter is that since obesity is such an obvious visual impairment, the bigotry against it will never go away. Someone can be gay and not visually appear to be a part of the homosexual community.

Not true with fat.

So since human beings look on the outward appearance instead of the heart, it will be impossible to avoid the bigotry, but not impossible to dodge the people who are bigoted.

With that in mind, here’s what I suggest for your friend, Rob. Without mentioning the name of the acquaintance who said he was not going to get the promotion, ask Rob what he, himself, thinks about his chances and if they are hindered by his size.

He knows your heart; he knows you’re not bigoted.

But the question will get Rob thinking, which is what Rob needs to do.

Obesity has three terrible aspects to its pain:

  1. You can’t ever act or not look fat.
  2. There are so many stigmas put upon the fat person that whether you like it or not, they will be placed upon you.
  3. Obesity always leads to some sort of health issue, which might not have come to play without it.

So it is your job to both communicate love to Rob, but also make him aware that there’s a portion of society which is silently killing off his possibilities through its prejudice. He is strong enough to handle it–and you never know what will be a wake-up call to someone.

I do not believe we are born any particular way.

We have free will  and choice.

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