This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 365 – June 26, 2004.  

 This weeks  was written by AWR's  English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.

Long hair, choice and McDonald's

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So here’s a new record for you.  Tran Van Hay of Vietnam’s Southern Kien Giang province is hoping to have his name entered as a Guinness World Record holder for having the longest head hair – are you ready for it – 6.2 meters – 20 feet –beating the current record holder by over a metre.  

Whow!  How do you get hair that long?  My oldest son’s being growing his for about two years now and it’s not even half a metre.  To catch up with Tran Van Hay he’d need to aim at some 30 years.  Just think of the saving on hair dressers bills – though a guess you use a fair amount of shampoo on 6.2 metres of hair.  Maybe that’s why, according to the Vietnamese newspaper, Thanh Nien, he’s not washed it for six years.  

Roy Adams might have something to say about that.  He wrote an editorial in the Adventist Review recently asking people to get their personal hygiene problems under control.  Perhaps showering a bit more often.  Or washing hands after visiting the “little room”.  He made some valid points, though he did seem to push a little much on the amount of washing and showering we need – without too much thought perhaps for the very many people across this planet who are grateful for any water they can get hold of.  In contrast, there is a school of thought that believes children in the west are so over-protected from dirt and bacteria that they never develop the natural immunity they need.  Yes, we do want to prevent disease – but as I read the article – and I know, Roy , you expected some flak on this – I wondered how much the editorial was conditioned by the affluent society of Maryland , USA .   Jump back 50 years and you might have been talking about a bath once a week, not a shower once or twice a day.  Jump back 50 years before that and the length between baths might have been a lot longer.  

We do seem to be living in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with advice – or controlled by increasing amounts of legislation.  How much should the “nanny state” control the choices I make, the way I treat my children, or, as I grow older, the way my children treat me.  

Mind you, the nanny state does seem to be having an effect on one major advertiser this week.  There is an increasingly vociferous debate going on over the advertising of children’s food – particularly in the light of increasing obesity problems and the direct link to the amount of junk food being eaten.  

Thus, for instance, there has been criticism that McDonalds, the experts in fast and fatty junk-food, should be seen as sponsors of the Euro 2004 football tournament.  Why should they be sponsoring sport?  It doesn’t seem consistent.  There are a lot of other firms I could mention, but McDonalds came particularly to mind as they have reacted to these kind of accusations so that, at least in Britain , there are now salads and a few healthy options mixed in among the burgers, chips and coke.  

Now they’ve taken it one step further as they start to positively promote a “healthy lifestyle.  That means, according to the Independent Newspaper,  that they will actively promote four messages to children and parents: keep fit, eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, drink plenty of fluids and "not to have too many treats".

Andrew Taylor, the chief executive and chairman of McDonald's UK , stated, "It seems to us that this is a responsible step for us to adopt. This is not peripheral activity.

How peripheral will be tested, I guess, by the proportion of healthy items that become available at their restaurants.

I guess 6 metres of hair is a lifestyle choice – a personal decision that will not affect my life or, too much, the lives of those around me.  My son is proud of a T-shirt that displays the message, “You laugh at me because I am different.  I pity you because you are the same.”  I think free choice is important.  I think the ability to be able to make the right choices is crucial.  And that’s not just in the areas of hair length, dress code, or social lifestyle, but also in those more weighty matters of life, health, death, and eternity.  I may resist a “nanny state” infringing on the edges of my life – however well intentioned – but I’ve come to appreciate the guiding principles the Bible offers – maybe summed up best by the three-fold love affair of Luke 10:27 (NIV)  

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.”

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