My parents went through World War II in England before moving to America in 1948. I heard many stories about life during the war and the hardships and sacrifices that everyone faced. As a family, we were pacifists and always believed in coexisting with our fellow human beings and keeping our planet a fit place to live.
My parents would be shocked and dismayed by today's world, where there are three violent conflicts occurring simultaneously and where the US has few allies and few friends. An article in today's New York Times sums up the progress in talks in Rome, "European and Arab governments, as well as Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, and Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, lined up behind Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon and pushed hard for an immediate cessation of hostilities or even a truce on humanitarian grounds, several participants said. But in a tense, sometimes stormy debate that went on for nearly an hour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dug in, and prevailed. Later, she defended the United States refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire, saying: It doesn't do anyone any good to raise false hopes about something that's not going to happen. Its not going to happen. I did say to the group, When will we learn? The fields of the Middle East are littered with broken cease-fires."
Why in the world should a fitness and health newsletter be concerning itself about wars in the Middle East? Because we have to face the fact the the United States is probably more hated in the world than at anytime in its history and if that is true then we as a people will either have to improve our image or be prepared to defend the fabric of our lives as we know it. In an article in today's Reuters News, "A group of Democrats in the House of Representatives called for at least $10 billion in additional funds to help the U.S. Army rebuild resources depleted by the Iraq war, now in its fourth year. In a letter to President George W. Bush, Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton cited Army assessments showing that "nearly every non-deployed combat brigade in the active Army is reporting that they are not ready to complete their assigned wartime mission." Skelton is the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. The Army is estimating a funding shortfall of $17 billion next year for repairing and replacing equipment used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Democrats said." If the bulk of our military is deployed in two long term conflicts overseas, aren't we to depend on our non-deployed combat forces to defend our homeland?
Therefore, the call to "arm" ourselves - to prepare ourselves both physically and psychologically for the possible hardships and sacrifices that my parents faced. World War I was termed "the war to end all wars" because of the horrors of the conflict. But just 21 years later began World War II, which Colonel Sherman Potter from Mash had to describe as, "the war after that" when talking about friends lost in War War I and again in World War II. Now Newt Gingrich, on Meet The Press, is saying that we are already in World War III.
Take a moment to think about these two Reuters Health News headlines, "More Americans too fat for X-rays" which speaks for itself and "Diabetes study has warning for obese youngsters" which goes on to say that "The findings may have a significant economic and public health impact because individuals with youth-onset diabetes mellitus who develop diabetic kidney disease have a high morbidity during their peak productive years and may require increased and sustained health services." Now please forgive me for being blunt, but we are a nation that is overweight, out of shape, complaisant and ill prepared for war. I cannot be more fervent in my pleas to all of my readers to please commit yourself and your family and friends around you to doing whatever it takes to be more physically fit and healthy and therefore more prepared for what the future holds for us.