from Holiness Reeducation by Greg
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russians to live longer! The question of course is what the punishment will be for dying early? (Bad joke, I know but it was so obvious) Russia faces major health concerns. Russian men live almost two decades less than American men. Half the population is overweight. The average Russian consumes over 4 gallons of pure alcohol a year! It is such a problem that the Russian population is actually declining. There are more people dying than being born in the country.
To curb this problem the government is trying to encourage population growth through subsidies for mothers, ban smoking in public places, listing beer as alcohol instead of food (even I probably could have come up with that one) and trying to educate the Russian people. Will it work? Who knows, but it is some what similar to the efforts we are making as a country to regulate healthier living. We have been working to educate children, get them more active, to reduce the ridiculous amount of unhealthy food available to us at all times, and to change a culture of indulgence that dominates our country.
Will these plans work? Hopefully incentivizing healthier living will take effect. Better education may help as well. But ultimately this is about culture. Culture change takes more than the politicians passing laws and some education. It takes a long term commitment to intentional living. The health crisis in Russia is as much about the Russian soul following communist rule as anything else. It is the reason why there are so many orphans and people drink so heavily. Corruption amongst officials and the mob led oligarchies have created an unhealthy culture that has left many without hope.
The same is true in the US. We have created the greatest consumers to every walk the planet. When we are being constantly inundated with images trying to motivate us to indulge in products, food, and experiences we end up with a whole country that lacks self control and balance. When we celebrate excess we end up with significant moral decline. When the end goal of our life is entertainment we end up amusing ourselves to death. (That is actually the title of a good book by Neil Postman)
All of this brings us to the joy of Lent. In this season of Lent we slow down and listen. We fast instead of indulging. We try to regain the balance our lives might have lost. We try to remind ourselves how we should be living the rest of the year. Lent doesn’t work if it is just about following rules or someone else’s decrees about how you should live. It only takes effect and changes us if it is birthed out of our desire to love God more. 40 days is a long enough time to change habits, to see the benefits of better living and for God to change our hearts. So as we move through this season let us commit to living the best lives possible. There is an epidemic in our world of unhealthy living that has spread from unhealthy souls to unhealthy bodies. Let us stand as a light of hope in this bleak landscape and offer the world a vision for what living can really be.