Recently, I mingled politics with fitness in my denouncement of Universal Health Care coming to the United States. One of the more shocking numbers (to me) about health care was the $250,000,000.00 that's spent on prescription drugs a year. I can't recall if that chunk of change is what Americans spend alone (no other countries, which I think that it was). If it is, then that's about $830 per person. That could also mean that an overwhelming majority of Americans could be on some kind of drug for something.
One thing that I took away from the steroid documentary, "Bigger, Stronger, Faster," was the realization about how complacent we've become with using drugs for even the basic things that we do in life. We have drugs to help you wake up, go to sleep, get and maintain an erection, to focus, to calm us down, and to make ourselves happy. Then, we have drugs to deal with the more serious issues like our cholestrol, high blood pressure, our insulin, etc. Chris Bell said it right: we've got a drug to enhance just about anything. When I look at it that way, I really wonder about the stigma surrounding steroids. Why should building muscle be like any other bodily function? Why not take a drug for that too?
I touched on the issue of all the drug use in the aforementioned blog entry from the standpoint of cost. The affordablity of drugging ourselves enough to function on a normal basis does bring up valid issues of financial sustainability. What strikes me is the tragedy of the situation.
The USA used to produce some people capable of some might feats of will, skill and strength. There are numerous examples of rugged individuals who pushed themselves past perceived limitations of mind and body and accomplished some great things. Andrew Jackson became a national hero during the war of 1812 while his once-physically strong body broke down nearly to death as he fought the British. Mountain man and explorer Jebediah Smith accomplished much of is exploration of California while, according to some historian's theories, suffering from depression and PTSD. They didn't have a safety net below them and they didn't listen to reasons why they should take it easy. Instead, they saw their goals and persued them without letting what was wrong with them get in the way of what they wanted to do.
I'm know people exist like that today. I'm just distressed that we don't hear more about them. Instead, I feel like we're constantly bombareded with mediocrity and attempts legitimize why we are so mediocre. If they were alive today, we'd try to put Jackson on anti-phsycotic drugs and heavy doses of dilaudid while hooking Smith up with Prozac. We'd try to get them aquainted with the TV and tell them their aspirations just aren't realistic for their condition.
I like to look past the visceral reasons for strength training because I see it as a way to extend the capabilities of the mind and body. I see societies attempts to justify our unhealthy and incapable bodies as just the way things are (genetics, etc) as a severe infringement to our spirit and our drive to be all that we can. Drugging the body just to (barely) function in a normal way is pharmecutical set of shackles. It's just not a happy or fulfilling way to live. Sooner or later, it's got to stop, for the beneif of the individual and for the collective masses.
Sooner or later, we're going to have to re-take control of our bodies. This just isn't the way to live. It's hurtful and it's expensive. Getting into shape is one part of realizing all of the potential that you're capable of. The question is, will you do it when you have to or will you decide to take your destiny back into your hands and do something about it?