So this past Sunday during church service my pastor gave a sermon that dealt with poverty, specifically the causes of it and the solutions for it. He talked about how the majority of organizations and individuals sole solution for poverty is charity or the direct giving of material goods or cash to people in need. And surprisingly he spoke about how this approach is ineffective and will not cure poverty in the long term.
My pastor explained that there is a distinct difference between what we, meaning us that have, believe poverty to be and what those who actually are poor believe poverty to be. You see my pastor presented a survey that was performed across the globe which asked those in poverty what poverty actually means to them.
I was shocked to learn that these poor people did not believe poverty to be a lack of materials, but rather a lack of self worth or a state of mind. They had responses along the lines of "poverty is disgrace" or "poverty is embarrassment".
According to my pastor what this tells us is that our solution of charity or constantly giving material items to those in poverty is not going to actually cure their poverty as poverty to them has nothing to do with having material items or not.
In fact my pastor hypothesized that this constant charity may actually make those in poverty feel poorer because our giving makes them more embarrassed or disgraced about their ability to provide for themselves or their dependents.
You see the point from my pastor's sermon is that while charity is good and does improve the poor's situation transiently it does not address the cause of the poverty and can hinder the poor's ability to get out of poverty in the long term.
Therefore are charity is not treating the cause of the poverty which is the inability to care for one's self, but rather the symptoms of this cause which is the lack of material items.
Immediately upon hearing my pastor move through this line of logic my thoughts turned to my own clients and unhealthy people in general. I thought about whether or not we are addressing the cause of these people's actual health issues or rather just the symptoms.
After phrasing the question to myself in that way I realized that these people's health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are in fact the symptoms. I realized that we are constantly trying to treat these symptoms through giving nutritional advice, training programs, and constant motivational phrases. But really none of this treats the true cause which at the end of the day is simply their BEHAVIOR.
I am not saying that we should stop giving people nutritional advice, training programs, and motivation because by doing these things we are improving people's immediate condition.
But I am saying we can not stop here because once we remove ourselves from these people's situation and the nutritional advice, training, and motivation stop and the symptoms will just once again return. We have to add in treatment for the cause in addition to treatment for the symptoms.
This means we need to start focusing on behavior. We have to obtain a better understanding of human psychology and devise systems to help people modulate bad behavior and replace with good behavior.
For our purposes this means helping people to move away from selecting harmful and non local food and picking to lift some heavy weights instead of sitting on the couch after work.
I don't quite yet have the answers or the systems, but just this simple switch in focus will allow me to focus my education and learning in a way that will allow me to help more people have success when trying to live healthier and feel better about themselves.
I truly believe that the reason why the health and fitness industry is truly failing to curb obesity and when the war against big food is because we are not acting and treating the cause, but rather just masking the symptoms for a period of time.
This whole thought is something that I have been talking about to myself a lot. I keep asking myself what does it matter what I tell clients to do if they don't actually do it. The real issue that needs to be addressed is behavior.
I hope I don't sound like a rambling, crazy hermit who is way off in left field here, but I really believe in this.
If you have an opinion or just a thought about the idea of focusing on changing behavior to address the cause and giving nutritional advice, training programs, and motivation for the symptoms all in order to improve the health of our fellow humans.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training