When I lived in Swaziland, about 50% of the population was HIV positive. The life expectancy had dropped to under 30 years. It is expected that the Swazi culture will be extinct by 2030. And yet when you spoke to a Swazi about it, they often felt helpless to change anything. They knew a change in sexual practices could change these statistics, but also felt that these were radical changes in a culture where polygamy is still common, it’s accepted that married men have mistresses, and condom use wasn’t really popular.
I’d ask some of my female friends about this, and they often expressed a sad acceptance that it was inevitable,- sooner or later it would happen to everyone, there wasn’t much they could do to change an entire culture. And I agree, you can’t change other people. But if I was in their shoes, I think I would at least want to protect myself.
“Would you ever not get married?...or would you ever insist that your husband wear a condom if he was staying out at night?”
They would laugh off the absurdity of my suggestions. It was just their culture,-and you can’t really expect a woman to not want to get married, have a family, or that your husband would accept wearing a condom after all this time of being married.
I use to shake my head in saddened disbelief.
“We all die someday Christy. I’ll die of AIDS, maybe you’ll die in a car wreck. What’s the difference?” they’d say.
“You’re right. We all die someday. But you’ll die at 30 and leave your children orphaned, and I’ll die when I’m 90, in my bed surrounded by my children and grandchildren.
However, I’ve always said that Swaziland has the same problems as America, it just takes on a different form.
This month I’ve committed to a ’30-day challenge’ of healthy eating, and regular exercise. (My friend Nichole does it through Facebook.) I’ve cut out lots of sugar, processed foods, and fast food, and I feel good doing it. I committed to this to go along with my Crim training, but also committed to it because I knew it was only 30 days.
“You can do anything for 30 days right?” I said to myself. “Then after that I can go back to whatever. I mean, it’s not really realistic that I’ll never eat fast food again, or sweets? I mean that’s just part of life, you get busy and over stretched, and so you have to grab something quick and or processed, or on-the-go. That’s just part of the American culture.”
And the light bulb went off!
I sounded just like my Swazi friends.
I look around me every day and see the consequences of our food choices. Obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure ect. It is killing off our people, and shortening our life spans. And we often shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well, what are we to do? That’s just our culture, and the way life is.”
My own acceptance of this was a bit startling. I think I need to make a change. I know I’m only one person and I can’t change an entire culture. But I can make choices for myself. I can make changes in my ways. Some of my choices might seem counter culture, but I think I’ll have to adapt some of these practices for more than 30 days.
Thanks Nichole,- I get it.