Artificial Sweeteners and What They Do to Our Humanity: Living an Authentic Life, Part 1

Are you living a life of deprivation?  Might seem like a strange question, as most people today are living in a world of such tremendous material abundance that it has no real historical precedent.  People have never lived such complicated lives with so much stuff.  There are, of course, scary times and hard situations when people do not have enough to eat or do not have a safe place to live, and unfortunately there are many places in the world right now where people are experiencing just this kind of desperation and loss.  If you think about their lives very much, it is overwhelming.  And sadly (but perhaps not so shockingly), it is very possible for most of us to go about daily life without giving it too much thought or too much worry.  It becomes something we are aware of as a factual aspect of the news – one additional piece of information.  It all becomes kind of abstract.  How does that happen, that we can be connected to so much of the world and disconnected from it at the same time?  What has been lost?  Doesn't our loss of that capacity for real connection speak to another kind of inner, moral deprivation?


One important reason why we suffer this kind disconnection is that we are overwhelmed with impressions and information.  The sphere of people we are connected to is so huge. Think about all the individuals we see on a regular basis, plus those we know who are far away, plus those we are aware of but who do not know us (those with some celebrity), plus those we hear report of, but do not know and will likely never meet or see (the masses and statistics of the news).  Today we can ‘know about’ far more people than would normally be possible in a regular life, one in which knowing and communicating with people involved seeing and talking with them,,or hand-writing a letter to make contact.  Our digital social world community becomes so big that, to be honest, it easily becomes indigestible for just about anyone.  And paradoxically, the funny thing is that if we don't keep track of all these various people, we can feel that we are somehow being unfriendly, uncaring, or too isolated.  So what is the end result?  That when we do try to pay attention to everything about everybody that is being sent our way, our human connections necessarily become more superficial.  And that reactive superficiality is depriving us of some of our humanity.  A wise mentor of mine shared the advice that if you need to dig to find water, don't dig a bunch of small, shallow holes, but concentrate on making one deep one.  We can accomplish that ‘deeper hole’ by reducing the number of people we need to encounter and consciously meeting them in a ‘deeper’ way.


How to start doing this?  Meditation? — Yes.  Isolation? — Perhaps.  But let's get concrete.  How can you start to influence your morality?  To begin with, I propose we stop eating anything with an artificial sweetener.  “Huh?!” you may say “What does that have to do with deepening human connections and reclaiming my humanity?”  And the answer is: when we eat something that tastes sweet, but is not really a sugar, we are deceiving our body.  There is a true delusion occurring.  Usually, when we eat something sweet, our body responds by producing insulin, preparing for sugar storage in the liver, and managing other ways to work with what is coming.  Now, what happens when you taste ‘sweet’ but there is no sugar that follows?  The body becomes confused because it must either learn to stop responding to the sweet taste (which works when everything sweet is artificial), or continually prepare itself for a real nutritive substance that never arrives.  It is like the boy who cried wolf!  Because what happens when your body gets used to an artificial sweetener, and then has a load of real sugar?  It doesn't respond appropriately.  We have now created a disconnect, where we receive a stimulus in one part of us (sweet sensation in the mouth) and another part of us doesn't respond appropriately (insulin from the pancreas).  We've broken our body system into fragmented and confused parts.  Just like when we receive a stimulus in one part of us (the tragic news that we read) and another part of us doesn't respond (no emotion, no worry, the heart is never touched).  Healing broken responses, whether in our body system or our emotions, brings us back to fuller, more meaningful experiences.  We heal those fragmented responses by finding ways to lead an authentic life.


More to come on this, as finding this authenticity touches every aspect of us… Part 2 next month.


Dr. Blanning

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