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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-06-23 - 8:43 p.m.

So This Is Progress?

Yesterday I wrote about my trip to the gym with my friend, Bev. Today I’m wondering - just when did automation take over? When did our lives become so physically undemanding that we have to write into our planners or Palm Pilots time for physical activity? As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if the handicap accessibility requirement for our schools and office buildings hasn’t perhaps contributed to the obesity problem. We don’t walk up and down stairs anymore, so we have to go to the gym and use the Stairmaster? We drive to the gym to walk on the treadmill or ride the exercycle? We have so many household conveniences that we now use machines to replace the activity our arms used to get hanging up the clothes, ironing, mashing the potatoes, kneading the bread, gardening, etc.

Our transportation patterns have changed. Most of us drive our cars everywhere; we don’t even walk to the bus anymore. In fact, I remember my customers complaining because there was so little parking in downtown Davis. What they really meant was there was no parking place directly in front of the store; they had to walk at the most a block. I was always amused that they would go to the Mall and park much farther away from their destination and think nothing of it. Well, I was kind of amused! I would rather they had been walking a similar distance in Davis and shopping in my store.

The boy I tutored this morning at 8:30 because he was on his way to Sports Camp is a prime example. His parents are both doctors. I asked R. what he might be doing today were he not in Sports Camp. He said, “Probably watch TV and play video games, maybe sleep a little longer.” Many children in dual income homes use the electronic babysitter, watching in excess of two hours of television a day plus electronic games…and more if there is not someone there to interfere with their hypnotic state. R. goes to one camp after another all summer long for the child care aspect, he volunteered.

Our children used to ride their bikes all over town – a very long leash, much longer than most people will allow in these different times. We felt it was perfectly safe to allow our youngest at 6 to ride his bike over to the park to play with his friends at the casual summer program the year we moved to Davis. I had chauffeured our children everywhere when we lived in Metairie -- to four different schools in New Orleans, in fact, so that when we moved to Davis I declared myself officially retired. We bought bikes for each of the children and emancipated them --"Everything is within a mile. You can get there by yourself!" It's an entirely different world today. The leashes are much shorter! Now parents are reluctant to let a 6-year old walk to school alone – he’s given a ride or escorted in almost all cases. The traffic and parking at the schools has intensified, we’re concerned about air quality, global warming…and obesity in our children. Little wonder.

This is progress?

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