The common complaint about a broad proliferation of internships popping up in the marketplace is this: companies are abusing a practice, traditionally used out of financial necessity or for educational purposes, in order to create a tier of temporarily unpaid labor. A problem, indeed. Yet the more insidious issue with this issue is the imbalance of opportunity it perpetuates. It stands to reason that people with existing means of self support will be more eligible for these audition positions than people who cannot survive for an extended duration without compensation for their work. Some people, who may be very talented and diligent but who also lack advantage, will thereby fall to greater disadvantage. Others, who possess resources, will accumulate additional resources and agency. Let me simplify: money biases opportunity; opportunity generates money.
I don’t fault the upper-middle-well-off-affluent-people-of-plenty who want to work and are willing to do it for naught but experience in the short term. The opportunity is there, and if it’s the right place and the right vocation and might be fun to do, why should someone turn it down? Just because someone approaches the upper end on the spectrum of material wealth doesn’t justify depriving that person of a chance to work. Good fortune ought not disqualify someone from earning. Just as it shouldn’t omit them from loving, suffering, learning, triumphing, or failing. Empathy is the product of effort given from the hands as well as the heart. And right now empathy between classes in this country is in severely short supply. Ensuring systematically that the haves can while the have-nots can’t will only serve to sharpen the lines that divide us.
Look. Just pay people for their work. Be fair and even generous. Don’t abuse the high unemployment rate. Don’t cultivate a meta-social atmosphere of desperation and resentment. And mostly, don’t pretend you’re a non-profit organization strapped for cash, or that everyone who wants to work for you is receiving compensation from a passionate desire to fulfill a higher calling. Hopefully they are, and you should seek those people out. Not because you can pay them less for more work, but because they will attend to tasks with aspirations towards extreme quality. But even those people need to eat and play, and many of them can’t do that without a paying job.
Morning Edition recently presented a piece about the burden overweight people place on our planet. The problem of feeding flesh instead of mouths is especially acute in the United States. Though we make up approximately 6% of the earth's population, we account for about 33% of the overall weight wandering restlessly over this planet's surface. We can talk about calories and cavemen by way of seeking a solution. Pollan can chide us to eat food, and we can argue about meat fat, carbohydrates, and what the French do all day long. We can even turn our food consumption into a point system, perhaps hoping that our passion for sports will translate subliminally into a winning system for shedding pounds. We have done all these things, and experts tell us that our nation's people are still growing cumulatively bigger.
Let me suggest, unoriginally, that the problem of too much food and flesh should be viewed in a less compartmentalized fashion; that we need to consider the spirit, the psyche, and the entire body, rather than just the waistline. My fellow county-people, on this anniversary of our nation – when alcohol-laden, unfettered feasts surely threatens to push our share of the world's weight to 34% or beyond in a single hotdog-gorging day – let me propose a bold alternative to ever-more obsessive dieting: eat with your mouth. No. Not with utensils. Not with your hands. Put your mouth in your food and chew.
It has long been suspected that the geometries created by silverware, when used for eating, generates magnetic fields. Among other dangers, these invisible arrays probably disrupt the body's natural digestive processes and activate harmful micro-attributes in the food consumed. Furthermore, through a complex series of chemical reactions, metal repeatedly placed into and removed from the mouth siphons toxins out of the liver. When the eating session ends, those toxins are returned to the liver, forcing the organ to perform double duty. And I won't bother going into all the things leaching out of plastic utensils. But all the physiology aside, eating with implements separates you from your food.
Eating with your hands may seem like a viable alternative (and is certainly preferable to the fork, spoon, and knife), but this, too, has its problems. Even if you wash them as well as you possibly can, your hands still function like petri dishes cultivating harmful bacteria and viral matter. Scratching our bodies and touching foreign surfaces while dining is inevitable – and normal! When eating, and especially during social events that involve food, one should never have to feel like a surgeon who has just scrubbed in. Eating should be a rough pleasure, not a delicate procedure. And while bringing food to mouth with your fingers may be senorily thrilling, it also carries a high potential of delivering into your body pathogens alongside the critical nutrients. Beyond threats to your immune system, however, eating with your hands separates you from your food.
You know what doesn't separate you from your food? Grabbing it with your mouth and eating. And this method connects you with food in many respects beyond the obviously physical ones. Psychologically, eating with your face increases happiness. When have you witnessed a child in a high chair who, released from the parental dictates to “eat nicely” or “eat properly,” appears anything less than joyous? Or who does not rejoice on some instinctual level when Randy in A Christmas Story, induced by his mother's question about how piggies eat, smashes his face into the formerly undesireable plate of food before him. His snorting and laughing becomes contagious to everyone literally and figuratively present, as the nutrious food flows into his body unhindered by implement, microbe, or negative emotion. Research in science journals has surely demonstrated that happy eating increases the body's efficient and healthful processing of food, leading ultimately to moderation and reduced weight gain. Imagine being among a table full of adults at your favorite upscale restaurant, all gleefully devouring food like Randy. All knowing that your direct connection to that food will foster a healthy figure.
At an even more basic level, look to the dog or the cat or the alpaca. These and other animals are spiritually connected to their meals. They become one with the things they directly devour. Sure, the raccoon uses its hands, but observe that creature's sour disposition. Or the squirrel's stupidity. Or the chimp's covetousness. No, the happiest animals are the ones who do not aspire to anything more sophisticated than a face planted in something scrumptious. (The great exception may be the otter, who cannot be unhappy with that furry coat and aquatic agility; also who needs the blubber to survive in the cold ocean.) Bodies passing energy in the most direct and present way unto other bodies. This is the way to benefits including, but going far beyond, the mere reduction of weight.
So grab that patriotic potato salad with your mouth, my friends! Rip that hot dog apart with your incisors, just like an American should! Exercise your freedom to chew into that apple pie sans fork! Let's eat like pigs, and enjoy the physical and spiritual benefits that accompany our liberation.