A healthy community starts at the personal level

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For the past few years the term “ObamaCare” has filled the airwaves, print media and conversations around the fellowship table.

Some people love the concept the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in March 2010. Others are infuriated by being told what they have to do.

Perhaps both camps have it wrong.

Polls today remind us that 70 percent of the nation’s employees are unhappy with their work. We hear all too often that our leaders have let us down, taking us in the wrong direction.

A generation ago we looked up to our leaders, whether they were political, religious or leaders in our community. Today, it is far too easy to be critical of our school staff, our medical program, our faith and municipal leaders. This criticism has become accepted practice.

The health of our community either going forward or backward isn’t owned by those who create ObamaCare, our hospitals, our insurance companies or our employers. It is our choice, it is our responsibility.

If we can ask our employers to spend $500 a month for our medical insurance but we won’t take $50 dollars a month out of our own pocket to prevent illness and injury and take care of our own health, is that taking responsibility? Is that owning our future?

Do we raise our voice in praise of our bicycling community pedaling for health and enjoyment, or do we honk and complain they are taking our precious time on the road and may make us late for that important meeting?

Not taking responsibility is less demanding, less painful and means less time spent in the unknown. You can just take it easy and blame problems in your life on someone else.

But there is always a price to pay. When you don’t take responsibility for your life, you give away your personal power.

Making the choice of “health” happens each and every day.

We choose to either take our vitamins or let the vitamin bottle gather dust.

We choose to be active or put our noses in front of the computer screen.

We choose to get an hour of exercise daily or choose to watch reality shows and endless commercials that zap our day.

We choose to listen to our health advisers or believe in the latest greatest weight loss pill from XYZ Co. filled with “just discovered magic potions.”

Each choice impacts our community health far more than whether ObamaCare is the right or wrong choice to be made.

The Walla Walla Valley has so many healthful choices for us to take advantage of, whether it’s exercise, nutrition, medical guidance, educational support, developing our faith, or for our self-esteem. In addition, we are told that red wine is great for the heart, which means our Valley should have the healthiest hearts in America.

I look forward to reading how our community’s health is improving, how employee satisfaction is improving, how family time is expanding, how our faith and trust in others is greater. The direction our community health takes belongs to us. When I eat that second helping of my wife’s wonderful cooking, it is the wrong choice. When I take that extra 30 minutes on that nightly walk, it’s the right choice.

Regardless ... the choice belongs to me.

Randy Grant is executive director of the Walla Walla YMCA.

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